The year was 2014 when the career of the lifetime “newspaper guy” ended.
But, as it turned out, not his employment dealing with the news of the day.
His one-year stint with the Metro daily paper had come to a stop when the London, Ont., version closed.
That was after 16 ½ years at Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. And two stints at the London Free Press (one stint in which he overlaps with Sun Media) adding up to 24 years.
Ok, yes he’s old, but doesn’t act that way. Sometimes, you wish he would.
Newspaper mail boy and copy boy, sports writer, sports desk editor, photo editor times two, sports editor times two and finally back to sports writer.
The end was not what he wanted, despite the long haul. Where would he go?
Joining the team at our ESL school
Maybe head back to the golf club where he worked in the pro shop as a teenager. Or back to where he started, delivering The Globe as a 10-year-old in Owen Sound, Ont., or the London Free Press in St. Thomas, Ont., as a 12-year-old.
He was too young to retire, too poor to run away to Jamaica, too energetic to not be dealing with people on a daily basis.
Within days, CultureWorks Founder and President Tina Bax invited the “newspaper guy” for lunch. She had an idea how to keep him employed.
And if you know Tina, ideas are not something she has in short supply.
Within minutes, she explained how her “vision” was going to work. At this point, there was no staff for the project, no name attached. But it did sound much like a newspaper position.
A few months later, it became a reality.
An English as a second language class about news and current events
This new online course would allow students to practice their listening and speaking skills anywhere there is internet access. Carried out in real time, this is focused on daily current events, guided by a course moderator. Topics include a mix of international, national and local news.
Students completing their intensive English training have the opportunity to critically reflect upon the news, share opinions and discuss a variety of topics within an intimate class format. The size of the online class – no more than 8-10 students – allows regular conversation in English, helping students build up the confidence needed to reach their goals. And the online forum is always encouraging and never intimidating!
In the fall of 2014, the vision came into play. Plenty of discussion on how exactly the class discussions would be shared with the moderator, ultimately the newspaper guy’s role in this online class.
A name had to be attached and a group of downtown London staffers sat down and worked on the ultimate name game.
By the end of the day, the official name was sent to us from a New York taxi where several members of CultureWorks administration were on their way to the airport and home.
Feelings were not hurt. The suggested name from the taxi was perfect – the Daily Boomalang. Sounded much like a newspaper name, was a takeoff on the boomerang and perhaps had something to do with the newspaper’s guy last name.
The Daily Boomalang started out as a separate project with London, Oshawa and Ottawa students included. Then it became an elective and finally a weekly class for all London-based CultureWorks students.
Three nights, 50-minute classes, several different news stories, too much Donald Trump, too little baseball, too many plane crashes, too little on global warming.
Mornings are spent selecting the news stories for the evening classes. Newspaper guy loves it. Essentially a split shift, allowing him to go for a run in between.
And allows the newspaper guy to step aside for one absolutely necessary Daily Boomalang component.
That would be IT expert Peter Choi who puts together the photos and videos and makes certain all students are connected in each class from their home-stays or whatever site they may have chosen to be seated.
The Masters graduate in computer engineering is required to “baby sit” the newspaper guy, also known as the guy with a Blackberry.
And we also needed the keen students from China, Vietnam, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.
At this point, the newspaper guy becomes the moderator when the students hit the online classroom. The students have had a chance to review the news stories, links posted earlier in the day. He leads the discussions.
Soon after, the newspaper guy turns into something different as he works his way through the daily online English as a second language classes.
He becomes a fan.
He smiles a lot. He becomes a cheerleader. He watches and listens. He wants the students to do well. He wants to join them in their CultureWorks outings. He wants all of them to not miss a class.
He also combines with Peter to capture the students on video clips, talking about the news stories of the day, the week, the year. He spends time learning how to pronounce Jingxuan’s name.
And now five years later, he wants to meet the alumni and hear about their successes.
The newspaper guy clearly enjoys being part of the CultureWorks family.
Would you like to join the CultureWorks family?
Learn more about enrolling in our ESL school in Canada!