An interview with the Hamori family
Who are the creators of LivEnglish Canada?
We are the Hamori family, Canadians from White Rock BC Canada.
Our family left Canada in 2011 on a gap year and did not come back for a decade! That’s right 10 years as vagabonds travelling with children around Europe.
The children were five and seven at the time. We did not know where we wanted to go exactly, only that we wanted to expose them and ourselves to traditional European culture, languages and travel. We did not have a firm plan as to what we would do for work either, just the idea that there must be more to life than working so very hard and never really getting ahead. It was as if we were on a treadmill, always in one spot. We worked long hours, volunteered at the children’s school, and took the kids to their extracurricular activities and honestly, life was exhausting. Sure we made money, but there was no time left at the end of each long day to truly enjoy what life has to offer.
That’s when the idea of “Time Currency” was presented to me. Click the link to our blog “My Expat Life, That’s Hamori” to read more about our 10 years as Canadian expats living in Europe. The motto of this prolific time in our lives, was that time spent together as a family had real value.
My husband sold his auto recycling business, our cars, and our family home, and I took a leave of absence from my work after twenty years of working there and off we went. We got rid of everything and got down to two suitcases each, jumped on a plane and headed for Europe.
Some people thought we were seriously crazy, but my husband and I don’t regret any of our moves to any of our three countries. The many lessons we learned along the way were worth the initial fear by moving outside our comfort zones. After a while, we just got things done, learned to rely on each other, created businesses and learned new languages as we went. And the people we met along our journey, well, it seems like we are lucky in life. Some the best people we had the pleasure of calling our friends in my entire life.
When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will learn.Confucius
In Europe we started in Budapest Hungary and explored many areas on foot and by car. We loved the city but the dream for Alfonz really was south, a place with more sun. After a lot of exploring along the Danube River through Austria, the Neckar River in Germany, and the Northern regions of Italy, we eventually found a little village in Languedoc – Roussillon (now Occitania) in southern France near the Mediterranean Sea, right on the Canal du Midi. It is called Capestang, and we quickly found the perfect villa, put the children into French public school, and started to reinvent our lives. Our life was biking around the village, going to the square, meeting new friends and enjoying a far slower paced lifestyle. Eventually we started teaching English as an alternative language to the locals.
LivEnglish France was born. Students came to us from all over France, even Spain, Basque, Italy and Monte Carlo to live with our Canadian family. They were learning English through immersion during their vacation breaks. Alfonz and I went back to school to get our TESOL English Second Language certifications and eventually I went back to university to get a teaching degree. Life was beautiful. It was warm, and culturally rich. Oh and the food, heaven help us all. We lived in France until 2016. When we decided to leave, I left a piece of my heart there.
By the end we spoke French, knew the area, created businesses and had a very prolific life in the southern hot sun. But something kept pulling us back to Budapest, Hungary. The metropolitan city was the polar opposite to rural France surrounded by vineyards, and the children, then 10 & 12 were itching for more things to do and see as they grew. Hungary offered another lifestyle, mostly travelling by foot, train or bus, the children could start venturing out, exploring by themselves. We decided to move our business with us. LivEnglish Hungary was created. French & Hungarian students would become part of our program. To vacation with your teacher, that was our new business concept.
I got a job at the French private school where the children attended and we realized very quickly that teaching English from an anglophone teacher was a very rare commodity. Our business grew to tutoring both online and in person. Hungarian and French students living in Hungary were craving an immersion experience, where they are able to use their language and interact in English with native speakers. Immersion programs, like homestay, hosting families, or travelling abroad are truly the most effective ways for students to learn languages. By living inside an English speaking family, you get to practice throughout the day, go to a nearby school and learn English from English speakers first-hand. It was the everyday stuff, those little intricacies of the language that you just cannot pick-up in class time. Most teachers in France and Hungary spoke French or Hungarian during the class time, translating for the students, but this seems only to delay the process of learning. Students then rely on translations inplace of trying to explain themselves using the words they already know. Immersion is far more effective, and faster too!
Budapest is this glorious city on the Danube River; Buda on the hill and Pest down below. The architecture looks like Paris France, or Vienna Austria with grand walk-up style buildings with 4-metre ceilings, giant swinging doors, wide roads, bustling city life, and manicured parks at every turn. Hungarians love to picnic, meet up for walks, lunch in little cafes, or invite friends over for a back-yard cook-out. There are many lakes, and rivers in Hungary, so even though they have no sea, you often forget. We lived in a house we built in Solymar in the Pilis Mountains, which was on the Compostela trail where thousands of people from all over Europe would come through on their pilgrimage. It is a stunning, four distinct seasoned country, with rich food and a beautiful, logical and phonetic language.
After five years in Hungary, and with COVID restrictions, we had to make the hard decision to return to Canada. Truly bittersweet to leave all our friends behind. Daniel, our son, was starting International Business at the Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, so we decided to follow his lead and move to Vancouver Island with him. That’s how we ended up here!
With all our connections in Europe, we now bring students from France and Hungary to Canada to learn through the exchange programs offered in the Nanaimo School District. There are six high schools with approximately 400 international student placements in the area we live. Some are five-month long programs while others are a full 1-year program. They even offer summer programs starting in 2022!
We welcome you into our Canadian culture to experience exactly what we did; learning languages by living them. Live English = LivEnglish Canada, your direct connection to Canadian student exchange programs.
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