Okay, so I know I promised you a quirky character, but Patricia Braun is somebody everyone should know. She was born in Chile, fled to Sweden as a political refugee, worked in the non-profit sector and got her masters in Chinese Politics before settling down here in your hood to teach you Spanish. Patricia welcomed me into her cozy and quaint home and took me through the long journey that brought her from Chile to Brisbane.

Patricia was one of five kids, her mum was a widow and professional singer, mostly at funerals … Patricia stopped to have a bit of a giggle and said that the kids looked forward to Winter since they ate really well (because more people died)! Kind of morbid but funny nonetheless! They would sleep under the table where their mum would perform at night. Times were tough, but they made it through.

During the political turmoil surrounding Pinochet in 1970s, Patricia fled to Sweden and stayed in a refugee camp until a Chilean lawyer helped her get the financial support to move out on her own. She worked for The Red Cross and attended Lund University in Sweden. She came to Australia on an exchange program to Griffith University, and liked it so much she came back after her degree was finished.

She is a hard worker with a soft, big heart. Having arrived in the country needing to support her family, she started up her Spanish school right in her own home and despite others’ doubts, she got one, two, then nine students and now she’s taught a few thousand. It’s pretty remarkable to see what she’s done with what she has. Turning her home into a classroom actually has such a nice, personal feel to it, and the back porch is lit up with candles and has a great seating area that’s great for company. She said on the nights of her paella cooking classes, they all cook outside and drink sangria in the candlelight (Umm where do I sign up?! Sounds amazing!). Another room in the house has her massive industrial-sized printer which she has for printing her own textbook that SHE’S written. It’s nice to see how she’s personally involved in everything and she actually cares (seems sorta rare these days). She’s really active in all things Spanish in the community. She also started having paella stand at the Saturday markets in West End and that’s taken off too! It must be pretty tasty because 250 people lined up and ate it at the Spanish Film Festival. Seems like everything she does turns to gold cause she pours her soul into it. I’m glad to have met Patricia, she seems like an honest, hard-working woman with integrity and a lot of heart … and I can’t wait to try that paella! *wink-wink*.

Visit spanishlanguage.com.au for Spanish lessons with Patricia