Olja Milosevic has been involved in second and foreign language teaching at all levels in primary, secondary and tertiary education. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and is primarily interested in second language acquisition and maintaining mother tongue. Olja is also interested in teacher training.
(This interview appeared first on the ELTA newsletter May – June 2017)
Today I am interviewing a wonderful lady from the ELT world who also happens to be president of ELTA Serbia. I think we all deserve to know her better.
Vicky : Dear Olja, I am so happy you have agreed to do this interview with me! You are the President of ELTA Serbia and a lot of people know you. But I am also sure that you are quite a private person and do not share a lot of details about yourself. Can you tell us a few things about you so that everybody gets to know you a bit more?
Olja : I live in Belgrade and I teach English as an additional language in the International School of Belgrade. I teach grade 6, 7, 11 and 12 students. They come from many different countries and teaching them is a privilege. In my spare time, I love to hike and to spend time in nature.
Vicky : Would you like to share with us something that most people do not know about your life (an achievement, a quality of your character that is not easily discerned , etc.) ?
Olja : Most people do not know that I taught English to the elderly. That was 65+ club, but many of them were well over 80. Teaching them was a great experience.
Vicky : You are a member of the C Group, among other things. In your bio for the C Group (Creativity Group) website, I read about you: She believes that only creative teachers could stay sane. Can you explain more about what you mean with this statement?
Olja : Teaching is a wonderful profession, but also a very stressful one. Including creative elements in my lessons helps me to ‘destress’ students and when they feel well, I feel well. Also, for me, being creative means doing things differently so you are not bored, and when I enjoy the class, there are better chances that my students will, too.
Vicky : What is your motto? What is the main belief that you follow in your life and guides you?
Olja : One of my teachers told us once that you may compare your life to a piece of writing. One of his rules was that each essay we write should have a margin. The margin makes writing easy to read and pleasing to the eye. To have a successful life you need to draw a margin (a line) and have a life outside of work / school / university. I love my job, but there are so many other things that are important and not related to it.
Vicky: We were only introduced last year for the first time but I was pleasantly surprised by you because, most of the times, women in leadership positions, have frequently be described as unapproachable, dominant and/or aggressive. You, on the other hand, are a very warm and kind person. Theorists argue that this has been the case with women because in trying to attain these power positions they have to assume a more male role in order for them to be identified as ‘leaders’ themselves. Do you think that strong women today can balance between power embracing their femininity more successfully, when they are in leadership positions?
Olja : I am not sure if I could act any other way. Part of it is my Balkan background. When we have guests, our sole aim is to make them feel happy and you were our dear guest, Vicky.
As for leadership, there are different leadership styles and I just happen to be comfortable with being approachable.
Vicky: What makes you such a successful President in ELTA Serbia? What are the main difficulties that you have to overcome every day?
Olja : Thank you so much for your words of praise. However, the words of praise should go to the whole team. And I guess that the success comes because we all work hard on different aspects to promote and develop our association. My biggest difficulty would be the lack of time.
Vicky : What are your plans for the future?
Olja : We are trying to develop a self sustained project for teachers. That will be my big project for the next academic year.
Vicky : Thank you so much for your time and for answering my questions. It has been an honour!