Q&A with Fiona Biermann

Basingstoke Gazette: Fiona Biermann Fiona Biermann

FIONA Biermann was born in Basingstoke more than 30 years ago. She attended the two Four Lanes schools in Chineham, and then moved on to what used to be called Cranbourne Secondary School, followed by Queen Mary’s College, where she took her A-levels.

In 2000, she started studying for a degree in psychology at the University of Bath and spent a year working in the Home Office’s Offenders and Criminal Justice Research Department. After university, she moved to Japan to teach English and improve her Japanese skills.

In 2005, she returned to England and worked for the Youth Offending Service, managing a caseload of serious offenders, and then in international relations at Durham University.

But she has always stayed connected to her roots and has been writing about Chineham in the Community News section of The Gazette for more than 15 years. For the last four years she has, with her mother, Chansopha, been running her own local language school, Linguatastic.

1. Who was your childhood hero and why? Miss Honey, the teacher who helps out Matilda in the book by Roald Dahl. I loved the book and Miss Honey, in my eyes, was such a wonderful person – so sweet and kind.

2. What is your most precious possession, and why is it important to you? I’m afraid it has to be my laptop. It has all my photos on it, my music, the contact details of all my friends and family, and my work.

3. What was the first record/CD you bought? The first cassette tape I bought was a Take That album (when they started out).

4. What is the radio/television show you hate to miss? I am a big Radio 4 fan and I enjoy many of the comedies.

5. What is your favourite film? I love to dance and I love watching dance, so if I’m looking for a film to watch to relax, it would probably be Dirty Dancing. However, a film which I think is very good is Hotel Rwanda, although I find it very upsetting.

6. What is your pet hate? Dog poo. I find it so inconsiderate when people leave their dog’s poo on the footpaths, or even on the verges.

7. What are you reading at the moment? Sauve-Moi by Guillaume Musso. It’s not particularly deep, but it’s very gripping. I only wish I had more time to read it!

8. If you were choosing a last meal, what would it be? Something my mum had made!

9. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be? Martin Luther King. I would like to learn more about his thoughts and experiences.

10. If you had a time machine, where would it take you? I’d like to go back to Cambodia, in the late 1960s, before the country became so war-torn and when my mum’s parents were still alive. I’d like to learn more about the country then and, of course, to get to know my grandparents, aunts and uncles and all those related to my mum who perished under Pol Pot and whom I never got to meet.

11. If you were stranded on a desert island, what luxury would you choose to have with you? Warm clothes for when it gets cold at night.

12. What sports team do you support? I’m not really a big sports fan.

13. What was your first job? At the age of 12, I was asked by a mother of a young child to teach her daughter German once a week. I’ve been teaching languages ever since!

14. If you could take over someone’s job for the day, whose job would you choose? I’d like to work on the ground for the Red Cross. I have a great admiration for what the workers do in conflict-affected areas.

15. What worries you the most? I do worry about the future of the environment, and what the world will be like for future generations.

16. What is your proudest moment? Without wishing to sound too cheesy, I have proud moments every day in my work. I see the children with smiles on their faces, understanding and speaking a language which isn’t their first, and I feel so lucky to be in this job, doing what I love and believing in it so much!

17. What would you like your epitaph to be? Something like “She had good intentions”.

18. What’s your guilty pleasure? It has to be chocolate.

19. What one thing could change society for the better? If some people weren’t so greedy.

20. What three words best describe you? Perfectionist, internationalist, sensitive.

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