We Are Never Too Old to Make New Plans
Power story by Silvia Josephine Žele, Owner and Teacher at Biseri, language and genealogical education and guidance (www.biseri.eu)
When I agreed to write this post at the beginning of September this year, I had an entirely different idea in my mind about what I would write. My plan was to describe my big adventure of establishing a life and a Sole Proprietorship in Slovenia after 20 years of teaching English and History in high schools in Australia. Certainly, this new life involved dealing with challenges and accepting new opportunities for personal and professional growth. My tale begins 15 years ago.
It was important early on to welcome new possibilities and be open to new kinds of work. Long European school holidays in summer meant it was vital to have income streams other than teaching from May to October. A personal hobby can transform into an exciting side hustle. I began by researching my own family history and realized that the knowledge I gained could be used to conduct research for clients. It has been a wonderful marriage of my love of history with my love of connecting with people about the things that matter to them. It is hard to fully describe the joy of discovering important family links and stories for people. Some of my clients keep in touch and update me on their family stories every year. The micro-community of people interested in Slovene genealogy is also a blessing. I am a member of the Slovenian Genealogical Society and the Archival Association of Slovenia. We are like-minded in our passion for old documents, maps, and books. I am grateful for all the assistance and mentoring I have received from my fellow members.
One of the achievements I am very proud of is that I was one of the 17 founding members of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Slovenia which we established in 2014. Being part of a group determined to improve conditions and education in your field is both satisfying and rewarding. The Association is continuing to expand and we focus on providing training and education relevant to interpreters and translators of a wide range of languages.
I read somewhere that people can be classed into 2 categories, those that join groups, and those that do not. I am definitely one of the ‘joiners’! In Australia, I used to assist in a research project in repopulating an area with bats by placing bat boxes in trees. When I moved to Slovenia, I quickly decided to join the group, SDPVN – Slovenian Association for Bat Research and Conservation, and was, therefore, able to explore caves, church belfries, and castle rooftops when assisting in state-approved research trips. I am amazed at how much of the beautiful country of Slovenia I have seen due to the many groups I belong to. I would certainly recommend joining groups to anyone trying to establish a new life and/or career.
Fifteen years later, I felt comfortable and established with my clients, areas of expertise, and the business world. Covid 19 presented new challenges, but as I had already been teaching online in China for a few years, it was not such a shock to move my Slovene students to an online platform too.
However, my world is about to change again. Sadly, my stepfather passed away in September and I have now joined a group I did not join with any joy. Over 25,000 Australians are now awaiting permission and flights to bring them back to Australia. At the time of writing this, my state of Victoria has not allowed any international passenger flights to land for over 100 days.
My decision is to return to support my elderly mother, my brother, and the people I love there. This is certainly a time of new challenges! Trying to pack up a life in one country with no definite leaving date, while continuing to work and also plan a life in another is exhausting. What work will I do in Australia? Will I focus only on teaching? Translating and proofreading? Genealogy? Or will a completely new career path open up for me? I am grateful for the fact that I find many things interesting and am prepared to throw myself passionately into any projects I select. My expectation is that 2021 will be exciting, stimulating, and full of heart-warming times shared with family and friends.
Connect with Silvia Josephine Žele:
Slovenian Genealogical Society https://rodoslovje.si/index.php/
Archival Association of Slovenia http://www.arhivsko-drustvo.si/en/
Association of Translators and Interpreters of Slovenia https://www.dpts.si/en/
SDPVN – Slovenian Association for Bat Research and Conservation http://www.sdpvn-drustvo.si/ENG/indexen.html