Spotlight on Talent: Kevin Wieser

by Kevin Wieser

When I was little, I didn’t like to read books. Instead, I looked at many graphics like comics or cartoons. In the library, I would always head to the comics corner. Especially the comic series Tim and Struppi (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé inspired me.

In time, I would begin making cartoons myself and discovered I really enjoyed it. Word soon got around school that I liked to draw. With my cartoons, I quickly made teachers and classmates laugh. I liked making people laugh with my cartoons and still do today. With the advent of tablets and digital pens, it has allowed me to now draw professional cartoons.

I have been publishing single pictures in social media (kevinwieser /Instagram) for some time now but always had the dream of publishing my own comic book some day. But I was missing the inspiration for it.

One day, it came to me that my best friend, Steve Schild, actually would be a perfect comic figure. If you read about what he has already done, there is probably  no one better suited to fit the role of a comic figure.

Steve Schild is extraordinary and has had a fixed goal since childhood: He wants to go to Mars. And while on his way of making his dream come true, he has already experienced many adventures. Just to name a few: he has broken two unusual Guinness world records: pushing a shopping cart around for 24 hours in circles and also doing the most ski-rope jumps in one minute.  But that is not all. 

He is also one of the last 100 remaining candidates worldwide under consideration  to qualify for the Mars-One Project; a one-way mission to Mars.

if that wasn’t intriguing enough, Steve also used to be a member of a secret order and has written several sci-fi books. He is currently a finalist for the Swiss Men’s Award and continues to train daily for his dream to go to Mars.

In collaboration with Steve, we have now turned his adventurous life story into a children’s book. The book is entitled “Steve träumt vom roten Punkt am Himmel” and we hope it will serve as an inspiration for all children and also adults to stick firmly to their dreams.  In 76 pages, the readers will become involved not only with various funny, sad and cheerful cartoon pictures about childhood memories and landmark events in his life but the reader will also be asked questions about their own thoughts, ideas and interests along the way. 

We have received feedback from many readers saying that they have never seen such a unique and interesting book before.

I would be very happy to also have you as a reader of my children’s book. So, If you are wondering how I met Steve, please check out the book.  Have fun!

You can find more information about “Steve traümt vom roten Punkt am Himmel” in German and purchase options through this link: https://www.kevinzechnet.ch/buch

And if you are interested in learning what it took to publish such a book, Kevin will be hosting the Zurich Networking Group’s free Zoominar held on 24 September 19:00-20:15. Be sure to register for this unique opportunity here.

The man who lives in uncertainty

written in May 2020 by K. Dhungana,  Katmandu, Nepal / edited by Rose N. Travers

The COVID-19 lockdown has changed our normal lives in Kathmandu. If the situation were normal right now, I would be attending a class at the American Language Center. But I, instead, have been confined to my apartment for the past 70 days, doing nothing worth mentioning. I had been editing and writing news before May 14 from home. On May 15, I found myself editing a long feature written by my colleague, Laxmi, which ended my 28-month long “NepalKhabar’s” editorship journey.

I went to market this morning for grocery shopping. The grocery stores open in the morning only at 10AM now. I bought a mango, about a kilo of apricots, 3.5kgs of watermelon and a liter of yoghurt. I was searching for some mushrooms but couldn’t find any today. I’m not the only person who’s facing this type of difficulty. It is a similar story for over 4 million lives in Kathmandu.

This lockdown story began in Nepal on March 24. Yet my personal experience during the lockdown, though, is a little bit different. In fact, lockdown started for me on October 10, 2019 when I was seriously injured in a road accident in the middle of a pedestrian crossing.

When I awoke 15 days later from a coma, my wife, doctors and nurses say that I spoke with them.  But to be honest, I can’t remember saying a thing.  I think my some of my memory files may have been deleted, so to say.

Altogether, I spent 1 month in hospital and 3 months of bed rest at home to recover. It was definitely the most traumatic experience in my life. I was feeling so low at that time that ruminations of death began roaming around in my head.

Despite my previous recall difficulties, January 13th is the day that will remain indelibly imprinted on my mind for a very long time. That was the day doctors successfully completed my second brain surgery within 4 months. Yes,. that fine day was January 13, 2020. I had been gradually resuming my normal daily life activities. I began eating, walking and talking  Yet, mysteriously, the outside world seemed to be going in reverse and very rapidly so.  I could witness abnormal scenarios playing out in this outer world. The diagnosis was clear. It had contracted an illness:  COVID-19.

I remember that when I had gone to hospital for my follow up health check 3 months before, I wore everyday clothes like a pair of pants, a shirt, smart watch, and shoes. Checking myself in the mirror, I looked okay. But my doctor didn’t allow to me go outside. He instead recommended wearing a mask, gloves and goggles to protect myself from COVID-19. I followed his medical advice.

I live in a historical town called Kiritipur in Kathmandu. There is a Buddhist monastery, meditation center and also a temple situated here. A hospital and meditation center is nearby and I can look out at them every day from my rooftop.

I love visiting the nonsectarian meditation center but it is closed now due to the lockdown.

The government solution to the problem seems to be using lockdown as a “Corona Vaccine without a Roadmap”. I believe that when they experience the side effects of this substitute vaccine, defiantly they will change the Nepal lockdown. I have clearly seen that health, education, business, and economy are all sectors facing uncertainty.

A soft voice inside of me finds a way to offer encouragement to my disturbing thoughts. It says to me: ‘Don’t worry. This, too, shall change.’

Do you want to learn English?

we can do it together

A Personal Story during Lockdown

This article is written for the B1-B2 level student. The hyperlinks lead to English-German translations. After clicking on the links, you can easily change the language to French or another language from within the online translator used: linguee.com.
A PERSONAL STORY DURING LOCKDOWN TIME
Introduction

How are all of you doing?  Are you starting to get used to the lockdown? I feel very fortunate.  Losing over 80% of expected income for the year within a few days was swiftly and effectively counterbalanced by the meaningful financial support the Swiss government and banks provided.  I think for the first time ever during an economic crisis, interest free loans and unemployment benefits in the form of short-time working insurance have been granted to self-employed business owners like me.  So thanks to the Swiss government authorities, I am able to remain calm and focused during these uncertain times!

But I’d like to back up a little and share a personal story with you. Let me tell you how it started…

It was early March and I was feeling pretty good.  I had just recovered from a month-long flu.  Who knows?  Maybe from “the virus” and I started feeling a natural urge to reach out to family and friends that I had lost touch with.   My best friend from home, Ellen, had been on my mind recently.  The last we spoke was about 13 years ago.  

This crisis woke me up by perhaps instilling fear of an unknown future.  The thought of loved ones coming down with the virus was working away at me.  So I began reaching out and in a way that felt easy and natural.  Ellen’s birthday was in March and so I sent a happy birthday message to her. 

I was so delighted to receive a response.  We started sending simple texts back and forth.  Being a bit nervous about talking over the phone, I had asked her in my first message if it would be okay if we kept to writing first. Her answer to me?  “Time is on our side.”

Then Easter time came.  I had hesitated to respond to her last message as it had innocently stirred up some painful times that she wasn’t aware of.  I got stuck.  I wanted to explain why it took me so long to answer without going into too much detail.  On Good Friday, I finally sent a vague message to her. I thought to myself how silly it was that I hadn’t called her yet.  I agreed to myself that it exactly what I needed to do upon receiving her next reply.

And then it happened.

PART 2

Being connected to her niece via facebook, I received an announcement that Ellen had gotten into a serious car accident with a friend on Friday and had been rushed to the hospital with multiple broken bones.  Ellen had been driving.

In a split second, not only had Ellen’s life changed, it seemed mine had, too.  No longer was I basking in the warm feelings of having gotten back in touch or the feeling of relief  or the grateful feeling that I would not be experiencing financial distress any time soon.  All of that went out the window and meant absolutely nothing. 

Instead feelings of fear, guilt and regret consumed me.  Why hadn’t I just called Ellen from the start? Why did I take so long to get back in touch with her in the first place?  So much time wasted. 

Ellen was brought to a reputable hospital in Boston and I even managed to get through to speaking to her nurse.  I’m not even sure she found out about that.  I didn’t feel I had the right to suddenly get all involved.  She had a life that I wasn’t a part of any more and wanted to respect that. 

I found out she was in great pain. Nothing more.  Later, I wrote to her niece who explained that her mom and Ellen’s older sister had created a facebook group to communicate with friends and family about how things were proceeding.  Pam accepted me into the group quickly and so felt grateful.

In the next few days, I was to learn that Ellen had a broken, dislocated neck.  She decided to risk an operation.  She made the right decision.  Afterwards, she could feel her hands and feet again. And by the way, more good news: she had tested negative for COVID-19.  Then, a double surgery came next.  Two surgical teams worked at the same time: one to put in a metal plate by her broken cervical bone (collarbone) and the other to place another metal plate to stabilize her broken wrist.

I had no idea if more surgeries awaited her.  Thankfully, the medical team had finally found the right way to relieve her pain.  I can’t imagine what she must have gone through for nearly a week without proper pain relief.  It was an Easter story that seemed very close to the original one.  

PART 3

In the meantime, I continued to write short questions to Ellen’s niece and sister via facebook.  I was excited to find out about a blog Ellen and Pam started in early 2019.  It is dedicated to telling memorable stories of their past to honor their family history.  It brings to life those family members and good friends they miss who have sadly passed away.  At the same time, it is a gift for future generations who may be curious to learn more about their ancestors.  It’s a family record created in a personal, unique way.

Both of them are great storytellers.  It is something in their blood.  Ellen has always liked to read and keep a diary.  And I can remember Pam telling some really hysterical stories after coming home from work.  I can’t tell you how reading their newsletter and watching their videos caused many sentimental tears to fall.  I laughed out loud reminiscing over the childhood stories they shared.  Most of the stories were new to me but I could vividly imagine them playing out in my mind since I not only knew the people and places so well but also because I, too, hold them so dear.

The feeling of relief for Ellen would be finally come when she had the courage to share a smiling face of herself in her neck brace.  Phew! There she was. She was alive and somehow she looked so calm.  The expression she conveyed to the nearly 200 people worried about her was: I got this!  That was the first night that I could finally sleep. 

After the two surgeries, things began to move quickly.  Within about 2 days or so, she could stand up and the decision to transport her to a rehabilitation clinic was made.  She was on her way.  She had passed the first painful stage and now she was going to the next.  It’s certainly not over yet.  Not by far.  It’s just the beginning.  But I do hope to be back in her life in a big way now so I can accompany and support her along the way.

In honor of Ellen and her family, I would like to share the” Leaving a Life Legacy” blog with you.  I find it very relevant in these times.  Not all of us may be lucky enough to survive this pandemic unscathed.  Writing or sharing our stories may be the key to helping us through any losses we may experience now or in the future. I hope you may be inspired by their stories to do your own thing.  Warning: it could awaken strong feelings in you!

ENDING

Finally, I have to say Ellen has always been able to bring out the sentimental side in me.  I miss that very much.  I haven’t found many people like that lately. With so many shared childhood experiences, she can do it the best!  So in honor of her poetic sentimentality, and my hidden one, I’d like to leave you with this important message that she gave to me as a gift many moons ago.  I still have it today and it remains in my living room to this day.  It’s the picture of the cushion you see at the top of this post. “A friend is a gift you give yourself”. As I now look forward to renewing my friendship with Ellen, a woman that helped shaped me as a person, I hope you can learn from my mistakes.  Give yourself the gift of friendship. And remember everyone: Time may not always be on our side. So, let’s make the most of it.

For those who may have been inspired to write their own personal lockdown story or reminiscent story of days gone by, I would be so pleased to read them. 

Writing about emotions taps into a completely different writing style from business letters.  But it is when we share emotions in another language that the language truly becomes our own. That I know from my own experience.

I’ve got to go now.  It’s time for me to call Ellen!  Wishing you all well.  Keep safe, strong and hope if there’s a story in you, you find time to write it!

 

Serving customers in times of crisis

I came across this insightful article on the website: Help Scout.  It’s an article entitled “Crisis Communication Tips for Customer Service Teams” written by Matthew Patterson at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020. 

Hope you find this helpful in managing customer service calls during difficult, stressful times.  I have chosen 25 words from the start of the article and created a B2/C1 level Quizlet vocabulary set.  

Perhaps this article on how to adjust to working from home  might also interest you?

It would be wonderful to hear from our readers. What advice can you give others at this time? Do you have a story to share?  We’d love to hear from you.