Señor Labadie, as he was known during his teaching ASH days, has a charisma about him that immediately makes him admirable, engaging and completely unforgettable. For many alumni, he stands out as an absolute favorite teacher for his dynamic method of educating, and ability to teach and transmit language on a wavelength that reached every student in his classroom. This mastery of sharing language reflected his capability to make meaningful and lasting connections, one that he recognized early on as the key to moving effortlessly through the various walks of life.
Born in Curaçao and a native speaker of Papiamento (a native creole language), his love for words came early as he scrutinized the local Readers Digest with his aunt, soaking up new words and their meanings in the most “gezellig” of contexts. This passion for language was always an underlying thread, even when he tried to resist it. At university, he switched his studies form International Economic Affairs at Rotterdam (as he had diplomatic aspirations) to studying Spanish in Amsterdam upon invitation, and took up an impromptu job of teaching Spanish to KLM cabin crews. His charisma, ability to make meaningful connections and mastery of language opened up even more doors - when the wife of a friend who worked at the early TASOTIS (ASH, in its younger years) asked if he was a native Spanish speaker and he said yes. This promptly led to being invited for an interview for a high school Spanish position. Fate stepped in, and when the actual teacher failed to appear for class on Jorge’s fateful interview day, he was thrown into the classroom to teach Spanish for three hours - a very intense way to start your teaching career!
This slightly unexpected start in the classroom led to decades of inspiring teaching for thousands of students as a Spanish teacher at ASH from 1966 - 2005, and a Spanish and Papiamento professor at Leiden University from 1975 - 2000. His love for language has always been his passion, one that drove his professional career and personal path as the main thread of his life. Out of the classroom setting, Jorge was able to explore his passion in other contexts, expressing himself through his own written word. Between 2013 - 2017, Jorge worked on sharing a set of poems written over a particular period in his life, first in his native Papiamento and then translated into Dutch, with his passion project culminating in the publication of his first book “No ta abo so/Jij bent niet de enige”. All of the writings (poems) are autobiographical in nature and resonate on a personal level with anyone who reads them.
We were lucky enough to have Jorge share his reflections on this passion project with us in a special interview. In the below video, it is evident that Señor Labadie is as charismatic as ever - the teacher many alumni love and remember from their Spanish classes - now a propagator of passion projects as a Linguistic Cognoscente. As he said of himself “I can't stop being a teacher”.