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Jack Foks, Tutor (Politics), Committee. Member since 2010  

Jack’s story 
My mother was born an Austrian in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.  One morning in 1918 she woke up to learn that she was now Czechoslovakian.  She went to Berlin in in 1929 and performed in various artistic circles until the Nazis came to power in 1933 and she moved to Paris.  There she continued her artistic endeavours until the Germans marched on Paris.  She fled south where she met my father.  As things became more difficult they escaped across the border into Switzerland.  There they were picked up by the authorities and placed in a refugee camp where I was born in 1943.
My mother and I left Europe for Australia on a French cargo ship in 1947.  We stopped at several French colonies on the way.  The one I remember most vividly is Saigon in what was then French Indochina.  When the noise of the city died down at night I could hear the guns in the jungle as the Viet Minh fought their colonial masters.
After docking in Sydney we came on to Melbourne on the Spirit of Progress.  Although I became a little Aussie I was actually stateless until we were naturalised in 1953.  I learned much about human nature in the St Kilda boarding houses in which we lived until I was twelve – at one time there was a Russian professor in the room next to us and a prostitute on the other side.  My more formal education took place at St Kilda Park State School, Middle Park Central, Melbourne High and Melbourne University.  I loved St Kilda Park while my best memories of Melbourne High are the adventures my friends and I had escaping from the place – on one occasion we were smuggled out in a furniture van.
The best job I have had was part-time work at Grand Central Car Park while I was at university.  We dealt with floods of cars coming in before the pictures started and floods of cars streaming out after the shows finished.  Job satisfaction was instant as we knew immediately whether we had managed to bring in and park the maximum number of cars possible.  Other than that I have taught in Queens Secondary Modern in the UK, Oakleigh Technical School and RMIT Technical College.  I went on to become the Head of TAFE Distance Education for Victoria for fifteen years and my final seven professional years were as an educational consultant.  Much of that work was to help set up new approaches to distance education in post-apartheid South Africa.  Now I am retired and a doting grandfather and enthusiastic bridge player. 
In 2010 my wife and I were due to head off to Berlin for a holiday.  I enrolled in U3A’s German conversation class to brush up on my German.  After we returned from out trip I re-joined the class, not just to continue practising my German but also to listen to the often very moving, funny and exciting stories the other members have to tell.
As a result of too readily offering my opinion in various forums, I found myself enlisted to teach a politics course and to join the Management Committee.  Oh, and I also dobbed myself in to develop some online offerings.  But it’s been an absolute ball, especially the tutoring which I hadn’t done for such a long time.
Jack Foks, March 2012