Shall we carry on with Labour Day?


Today, known as “International Workers’ Day” or May Day”, is dedicated to workers’ achievements; it’s a public holiday in many countries, e.g. Australia and France. In the USA, Labour Day is on the first Monday of September. Demonstrations and campaigns for workers’ rights are part of the celebration.


In the 1980s-90s, in Australia, I participated in the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane. It wasn’t only the time for me to rest from my paid job but to show solidarity and appreciate the significant contributions of workers and the labour movement in improving working conditions. I can’t remember someone questioning me about its relevance or the media’s scrutiny of it being a public holiday. Lately, there have been remarks that it is just another excuse to stay home. How many organisations and individuals use this day to recognise and honour the labour movement’s contributions to securing workers’ rights, fair wages, and safe working conditions?


Have working conditions improved since its birth in 1886? It depends on where you are. Then, there’s the industry. “Technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes”, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report (weforum.org) discloses. According to this report, AI is a crucial employment disrupter; other factors include the green transition and geo-economic conditions.


​Generative AI will increase productivity and innovation in high-income countries​. In contrast, developing countries will continue to lag and experience increased unemployment. Demanded know-how will become even more critical​; hence, will there be equitable resourcing for skills development? It’s the old story again—the rich have the means to better themselves. Will Labour Day observances and marches impact the workplace undergoing employment shuffles due to technological changes?


​How attractive and useful are labour​ unions​ in our current digitalised world? Are their tactics and demands ​reasonable and justified? ​If we had to change ​”Labour Day​” to reflect our modern day, what would that be?​ (Labour force includes the employed and unemployed people who are working or willing to work​, while workforce consists of ​individuals who are engaged in some work and excludes those who are eager to work but ​can’t find ​or get work​).


Labour Day is a reminder of the ongoing struggles for social and economic justice — wherever you are and in whatever industry you’re in (high-tech or no tech)!

Hope and Expectations

A fortnight ago, my student mentioned a book she had read about not having hope and expectations because they cause disappointments. This made me contemplate, as “hope” is one of my favourite words. Hope fuels the human spirit to persevere amidst challenges and ignites positivism and pro-activism. If you want something to happen, you work for it.

Expectations, on the other hand, are projections of our desires. They are suppositions based on guidelines and principles. Joy is experienced when an excellent result (i.e. one that exceeds expectations) occurs. However, expectations breed disappointment when beliefs and assumptions are unmet.

Hope and expectations intertwine. They help us endure our trials and triumphs, propelling us on our journey on Earth. Hope fosters a sense of possibility, inspiring us to aspire beyond reality, whereas expectations provide direction and purpose toward a desired outcome.

I hope the war in Ukraine will be over soon. Pundits expect it to end through diplomatic means and not through the barrel of a gun.

It is crucial to balance hope and expectations because they form the foundation upon which our dreams are built and realities are shaped. With such balance, we can navigate challenges and strive for betterment and fulfilment.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”, which means to desire a favourable result while getting ready or making provisions for the worst possible outcome. As a noun, hope can have an adjective before it, e.g. “best”. “Our best hope is that we may be able to identify and avoid those factors that cause it to fail” (Cambridge English Corpus https://dictionary.cambridge.org/example/english/best-hope).

Can we replace “hope” with “wish”? Does the latter cause disappointment, too? To “hope” is to look forward to a potential future outcome. I hope she will get better soon. To “wish” is to focus on desires related to the present or past. “I wish you a happy birthday” (Here, the word “wish” means “hope you have”). “Hope” is more optimistic and forward-looking, while “wish” can imply unavailability or regret. I wish she hadn’t got respiratory tract infections. (Wish + past perfect tense. Hadn’t “gotten” is also correct) ).

 “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow”. – Orison Swett Marden (https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/hopes-and-expectations.html).

So what if we get disappointed? Sometimes, disappointment makes us stronger. On the other hand, it’s cruel to insist on giving hope where clearly there is none, as this causes dispiritedness and resentment — things that make our lives more complicated than they already are.

Connecting people from different cultures

“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive”. – Mahatma Gandhi

The Festival of Migrations and Cultures, one of Luxembourg’s most important annual events organised by the Comité de Liaison des Associations d’Étrangers ( CLAE), took place last February 24-25. There were more than 30,000 visitors and 400 stands. I heard at least a dozen languages spoken by people who visited my English Language Lovers booth.

The multiculturalism of Luxembourg (known as the Grand Duchy), with about 660,000 residents, was showcased. Luxembourg is the seventh-smallest country in Europe and has borders with Belgium to the west and north, France to the south (where I live), and Germany to the east. Its official languages are Luxembourgish, French, and German. It is one of the four institutional seats of the European Union (EU); the others are in Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg. The EU institutions have 24 official languages; English is one of them.

Last week’s event reminded me of Australia’s multicultural festivals (or even private gatherings and national celebrations that look like the United Nations’ party).

In 2018, the New Internationalist (NI) listed these ten steps to world peace: start by stamping out exclusion, bring about true equality between women and men, share out wealth fairly, tackle climate change, display less hubris, make more policy change, protect political space, fix intergenerational relations, build an integrated peace movement, and look within – peace starts with you.  (https://newint.org/features/2018/09/18/10-steps-world-peace accessed on 10/02/2024)

NI’s suggestions are needed more than ever, notably with what is happening in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Connecting with people helps change thoughts, perceptions, and actions; multicultural gathering is one practical way to do this. Why? Because:

  • It helps us better understand the differences and similarities between people.
  • It promotes open-mindedness among different groups of people and dispels negative stereotypes.
  • It provides opportunities for the mutual sharing of traditions and cultures.
  • It encourages the exchanging of information and perspectives, leading to a peaceful neighbourhood, workplace, and society.

“Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste, or any other social markers of difference.”— Nelson Mandela (1918-2013, first Black president of South, i.e. from 1994 to1999).

*The world has evolved; race doesn’t exist, but ethnicity does. Gender identity is wide-ranging from masculinity, femininity, and transgender to agender (genderless or neutral – neither male nor female nor a combination of male and female).

How are you? I’m Busy!

The year 2024 has started with challenging projects and deadlines for me. Like many people who wear several hats, I wish I had more than 24 hours in a day or more than two hands. Thus, last week, I had difficulty responding to “How are you?” It would have been easier and simpler to reply “busy”. Since I felt it was a bit unfriendly, I said, “Alright, and you?” Did they really want to know how I was or what was going on with my life? 

Benoit has told me he doesn’t respond to “How are you?” because it’s just a greeting and doesn’t mean something. If that’s the case, why say “How are you” when you can do it with “Hello” or “Hi”? 

When I say “How are you?”, I mean it as a greeting and wanting to know if the person is well or happy. Therefore, I’m pleased with any of these responses: I’m well, I’m great, I’m okay, I’m alright, and I’m fine. Most people are polite and continue the conversation with “How about you” or “And you?” The chatter can prolong depending on your relationship with the individual (colleague, neighbour, friend, etc.). 

I’m glad I didn’t respond “busy” to “How are you?” because what does being busy mean? Busyness is a choice; you are either busy or not. It’s a relative word and can be positive or negative. Merriam-Webster defines the adjective “busy” (ˈbi-zē) as engaged in action (occupied), full of activity (bustling), foolishly or intrusively active (meddling), or full of distracting detail. (https://www.merriam-webster.com › dictionary › busy).

“Busy” can sound more negative than positive, and if you believe in the law of attraction, it’s one of these words that should be used with care and in moderation, plus the tone. According to the law of attraction, negative thoughts bring negative results into a person’s life, and so with positivism. It is based on the belief that thoughts are a form of energy, and positive energy attracts success in all areas of life, including health, finances, and relationships (Scott, E. 2022. What Is the Law of Attraction? How Your Thoughts Can Influence Outcomes in Your Life. Https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-and-using-the-law-of-attraction-3144808).

Therefore, instead of “I’m busy”, why not “I’m working on/I’m involved in/I’m tied up”? I sometimes say, “I’ve lots to do but not snowed under”. If someone wants you to do something, try this phrase — “I’m afraid I don’t have time to do it now” or “Yes, when I have a minute”. 

Saying you’re busy can be a writing on the wall or a self-fulfilling prophecy. Busyness (noun; busily – adverb) can lead to self-negligence, unrealistic goals, anxiety, and fatigue that may cause burnout. It can become an addiction, and any form of addiction is toxic. 

No one should be busy not to engage in self-care, i.e. having sound and enough sleep, eating nutritious food regularly, exercising, participating in group activities, etc.

“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed”.  – Saint Francis de Sales (Https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/busy-quotes).

(Before getting up every morning, while still lying down, I focus on a particular object or subject for calmness – this is meditation for me. We don’t need to be seated on the floor with our hands resting lightly on our legs to meditate. It can even be done standing).

Prioritisation of tasks prevents busyness.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”. – Albert Einstein (1879-1955, German-born physicist)

In 2023, Artificial Intelligence (AI) dominated societal debates, from how it impacts employment in some occupational sectors to its questionable use in the modelling industry. As a language teacher, I’m not immune from the significance of AI’s rapid evolution. In my writing courses, I don’t discourage adult students from using translators or AI, as they maintain doing this to save time. Instead, I focus on how they can improve their AI-generated texts, pointing out the choice of words and punctuation, reminding them to check the type of English (UK or US) and adapt this to the one their company or organisation uses, and forming or adding phrases to sound human or courteous but impactful. Most importantly, we discuss intellectual property rights, reputable resourcing, and referencing.


A year and a half ago, I started writing a novel. With the arrival of Chat GPT (AI software and platforms show up every day), I decided to shelve it. There are already novels helped by AI or even entirely written by it, and many more will be on the market. How do readers differentiate between human and AI-generated stories?


I enjoy writing, and in 2024, I’ll venture into a non-fiction illustrated/pictorial book that is entertaining (fun to read) yet informative or educative. Wish me luck! I admire people with a good sense of humour, a gift I don’t have but am determined to acquire as a skill. I hope to achieve this objective before AI exceeds my ability to laugh and empathise.


It’s a coffee table book about using English in our globalised and digitalised world. I need anecdotes, jokes, photos, and illustrations related to this topic. All contributions will be acknowledged (i.e. you decide on your full legal name, nickname, or website link that will go with them). You can contact me through the comment section here. I’m the only one who can see your message and email address, which are deleted after I’ve read them).


How about you? What did you let go last year? What are your challenges in 2024?


I wish you, my readers, and your loved ones good health, peace, love, joy, and prosperity. May you’ve more giggles than grumbles this year!

Are hotels obliged to book transport for clients? Have you had hotel dissatisfaction?

Before I talk about this month’s topic, I’d like to express my gratitude to you, my readers. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with you, receive your “likes”, and read your comments.  I wish you joy, peace, and good health this holiday season.

Now, here’s my last blog in 2023.

My flight from London to Luxembourg was at 7:35 am, and I had to be at the airport by 6:00 am. I went to T Hotel’s reception at 5:00 am, requesting them to call me a taxi. They said they’re not allowed to do this. Surprised, I blurted out, “You’re not allowed to help a client. I don’t have an app for it, and I’m having a problem with my iPhone”. This hotel was close to the airport, which was the reason why I chose it, so I asked them the quickest way to get there. The two staffers didn’t have the answer and kept telling me to use Google Maps. They instantly forgot that there was a software bug on my mobile.

After walking for five minutes in a dimly lit street, I wasn’t sure where I was going. So, I decided to go to the nearest hotel M to ask for assistance. I told the young man at its reception my problem. He didn’t only book a taxi for me but offered me coffee.

I’ve been to over 40 countries and stayed at different-starred accommodations; it was the first time a hotel receptionist refused to call a taxi for me. When I returned home to France, I received a feedback form from T Hotel; I rated poorly my experience with them. If they had called a taxi or Uber for me, I would not have made a big deal of the check-in wait of more than 10 minutes. I was impatient as I could hear voices behind the reception desk.

Hotels are not required to book transport for their clients. However, most of them offer this service as a courtesy to their guests. Next time I choose a hotel, I’ll check its customer service policy and practice. About my two-year-old mobile, its warranty has just expired, so I might trade it in with a newer model that doesn’t have a software bug.

For business or leisure?

My hotel story didn’t end in London. On November 18 & 19, I had a stand at the Walferdange book fair. I live 45 km from this Luxembourgish town but decided to stay in a hotel nearby to be rested and alert the following day. Unexpectedly and disappointingly, the room they gave me had a non-stop irritating noise that sounded like a boiler or air conditioning system, which I recorded at 2:00 am, 4:00 am, and 6:00 am. I had enough of twisting and curling in bed at 6:20 am, so I switched on their tele; the screen message was “no connection”. I checked out earlier than planned. When I showed my recordings to its receptionist, she said they would look at it. Was her one-time sorry enough to compensate for losing a good night’s sleep and a relaxing weekend?

What an eyesore!

What an eyesore!

A beggar hates his benefactor as much as he hates himself for begging“.
Oscar Wilde (azquotes.com/quotes/topics/begging.html)

It’s an eyesore seeing the desperation of the most vulnerable people in our society begging. Studies show there is a connection between begging and homelessness.

On my way to work, I often notice beggars, also known as panhandlers. They are at the tram station in a business district in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Isn’t begging illegal? Why do some people give to beggars and many don’t?

Begging is prohibited or restricted in many countries. For example, each state and territory in Australia has specific laws regarding begging and panhandling. It’s illegal in Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania (but not in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia).

Begging is not illegal in most EU countries. However, the European Court on Human Rights declared that a ban on begging violated the person’s right to private and family life in one of its cases. It did not state that begging should be decriminalised, which was wise. Criminalising it can negatively affect the vulnerable, raising ethical, legal, and social concerns.

In Luxembourg, where I work, begging is permitted in the city centre, main train station “Gare” and its neighbourhood, and suburb of Bonnevoie between 7 AM and 10 PM. This ban prohibits people from asking for money but allows them to sit on the ground. The business district of Kirchberg is not on the list; that’s why – as you can see in the photo, the individual is sitting on the ground, begging, and drying her laundry on a shopping trolley.

I have seen people giving money to beggars, but I don’t because I’m uncertain what they might do with it. Will I be aiding and abetting the cycle of abuse or addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs? Are they begging for themselves, or are they forced to do so by others?

Do you give to beggars? Don’t you think the more we give, the more we make begging lucrative and devalue the day’s hard-earned money? If imprisonment, fines, and community-based orders don’t stop begging, what will work?

Summer is gone; here comes autumn

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. – Mark Twain

The school year in Europe starts in September. In France, people exchange greetings, “Bonne rentrée”. ‘Rentrer” (pronunciation – Rahn-tray) means ‘to return’. Although it originally meant “reprendre l’école” (back at school); these days, we also use it to refer to work after the summer holiday “reprendre ton travail” and not only “reprendre tes études” (studies).

Jorge Liboreiro even started his EuroNews Briefing article with: “The first week of September marks la rentrée in the Belgian capital, the synchronised comeback of freshly energised, glowingly tanned eurocrats to their spotless offices” (sic).

Not everyone is motivated to resume or start studies or work. Those with low levels or no motivation depend on external rewards (e.g. high grades, money, promotion, or material things) to get involved, known as extrinsic motivation.

The highly motivated ones are nudged by the sheer satisfaction of being part of the activity or process. They are challenged, curious, or praised. Pundits call this intrinsic motivation. Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan’s theory of extrinsic and intrinsic was developed in the 70s-80s. While extrinsic is a trigger (initial boost), intrinsic is sustainable.

Intrinsic motivation is long-lasting, whereas extrinsic motivation is short-term; both are relevant to personal development.

Perception, judgment, or approval of others can be detrimental motivating factors, particularly in our modern Internet and social media society. Instead, we should focus on positive intrinsic reasons, such as wellbeing and mindfulness, connection with people and our environment, and enjoying what we do.

“Whatever anyone else says or does, their words and their actions are truly about themselves. Don’t take it personally when they rant, even if they direct their unhappiness in your direction. Their negativity is basically selfishness, and their selfishness is about them, not about you”. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Time flies, and memories stay

“Time flies” is a “based-on-a-true story” metaphor. Three months ago, I was so excited about visiting countries in three continents. My suitcase was ready three weeks before departure. I hummed and danced while boxing up little presents for my family and friends Down Under. Today, I’m back in France; where have the days gone? 

July and August have vanished, but memories stay. Memories often enrich our lives and help us through difficult times. They help us better understand ourselves and the world we live in. Reflecting on these memories, we are reminded of what we treasure and then adjust our current and future choices. 

There is a link between memory and emotion; e.g. focusing on positive aspects creates more healthy brain functioning and wellbeing. In other words, memories provide a sense of purpose, continuity and stability, helping us face hiccups at home and work.

Memories are not all positive. Negative ones can be disturbing. What do you do when a bad memory pops up? I go for a walk or do physical activities, socialise with family and friends, and accept that the past can’t be changed (instead, think of a silver lining). 

I thank all our relatives and friends for their kindness to us during our summer holiday. They went the extra mile to spend time with us amidst their hectic schedules and our short notice. One of them Facebooked me after our get together: “The Beauty about True Friendship is no matter the distance or how long it has been since seeing each other, you can pickup where you left off “.

“Humans, not places, make memories.” – Ama Ata Aidoo (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/memories)

Tripping down memory lane

For two weeks now, we’ve been driving in roads lined with eucalyptus and gum trees, which brings back happy memories of daily trips to Brisbane’s northern and western suburbs.

Drive slowly – koalas are crossing road ahead

When I was waiting for the city train, I noticed a poster with a message I couldn’t agree more. Almost forty years ago, near this spot, there was a placard sign that said: “When you’re alone, watch your thoughts; when you’re with someone, watch your words…” I can’t remember the rest.

Before heading to Brisbane, we stopped in Melbourne, where I attended a conference in 1992. It was a cold, windy day; I detoured to a thrift shop for a woolen jacket. Unlike that time, this year’s winter is like summer in Europe.

On July 14, while my friends were celebrating Bastille (National) Day in France, I was at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium watching a friendly football/soccer game in preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, from July 20 to August 20.

Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium: Friendly game – France (0), Australia (1)

In Brisbane, one of the first things I did was to visit the University of Queensland’s alumni centre.

The Atrium in Brisbane – a meeting place of the University of Queensland’s alumni

“Connecting with others gives us a sense of inclusion, connection, interaction, safety, and community. Your vibe attracts your tribe, so if you want to attract positive and healthy relationships, be one! Staying connected and getting reconnected feeds the flow of goodness which empowers our humanity.” Susan C. Young (Source: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/with-connection-people).