My name is Tita Ashton, and I am the Managing Director of EBC, the only Trinity College CertTESOL course provider in Madrid, Spain. Let me set the EBC Trinity College CertTESOL course scene before introducing Jannik Blair, our featured student.

The Trinity College CertTESOL course is not your usual walk in the park TEFL training course. It is demanding, structured and student-focussed. The milestones for success are demanding, and right from the start, you know that you are getting into a challenging yet rewarding course. A recent newcomer to the EBC family was a graduate of our July 2019 course. Although all our graduates are special, everyone who has met this guy has only good things to say. He even managed to charm the Trinity College CertTESOL moderator on his 1 to 1 interview!

I am talking about Jannik Blair, and we all fondly think of him as our Jannik.

It all started in March 2019, four months before his July course. We received an application from Jannik and scheduled his preadmission tests. In one of the initial phone conversations, Jannik informed me that he was in a wheelchair. We had never taught anyone in a wheelchair before, so I was apprehensive. I asked him what special arrangements we must make, but he casually replied: “Don’t stress, I’ll be fine.” He also told me that he was a professional wheelchair basketball player at this stage. He also added that he competed in the London and Rio Olympics, representing his country, Australia and that he was now living in Bilbao playing professional wheelchair basketball for a Basque team.After speaking more to Jannik and doing some Google research, I found out that we would train a famous sportsperson! I was in awe as I did not know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if he would be super demanding or if he would want to be treated in a special way because he was pretty famous in his own right.As it turns out, the Jannik Blair who chose our course over all the other courses in the market is a 1 point wheelchair basketball player.

He was selected to represent Australia at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in wheelchair basketball and going into the London Paralympics; his team was ranked number one globally. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, he was part of the Australian men’s wheelchair team that won silver. He was a member of the Rollers team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships, and in 2016, he was selected for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2018, he was a member of the Rollers that won the bronze medal at the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. Many professional basketball coaches spotted him from all his international competitions. He finally decided to play professional wheelchair basketball for the Bidaideak Bilbao BSR, a wheelchair basketball team in Bilbao, Spain.

I’m sure there are more awards that I haven’t mentioned, but what made Jannik special was how everyone just loved him. From his tutor to the staff, his classmates, the teaching practice students and even the Trinity College external moderator! As the external Trinity College moderator said after his 1 to 1 interview, “After 10 minutes with Jannik, you forget that he’s in a wheelchair. It’s so easy to talk to him, he’s a confident speaker, and he knows how to capture your attention.” But, of course, we could have told him that earlier!Throughout the 4-week Trinity College CertTESOL course, Jannik went through the day with so much confidence and energy that we all saw him as just Jannik and not the Jannik with whom you had to be so careful.

I have had the privilege to observe some of his teaching practice classes, and without sounding like a “groupie” (I did forewarn Jannik about my “groupieness”), I was impressed. His rapport with the students and the patience and support he gave his students made me so proud that he chose to train with us.To top it all, he manoeuvred the wheelchair as if it were a light wicker chair, he went with his classmates to a dusk to dawn open-air concert, he went with us on lunches, he was so much fun, and we just forgot that he was in a wheelchair!

Jannik got one of the highest marks on the course, and the Trinity College moderator gave him the second-highest score on their Trinity College CertTESOL grading system. Yet, despite all this, Jannik was the same down to earth, uncomplicated, humble person I spoke to in March 2019 when he first applied for the course.

To Jannik, on behalf of all of us at the Trinity College CertTESOL certificate course, thank you for choosing to train with us and making us see that despite the endless adversities and surprises life may bring, life will still be what you make it out to be.

His infectious energy reminded us that you can be anything you want to be and that nothing is impossible if you want it.

Thanks again, Jannik, for the fantastic four weeks we had with you, and I’m sure all my colleagues will agree when I say that you’re one of a kind.

Suerte y Gracias amigo!

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