It is time to meet one of our teachers. Sam, more commonly known as Cebola, is one of the teachers at Lexis Manly.
noun [feminine] /se’bola/ an onion
You may be wondering why I’m known as Professor Cebola. It is not because I make people cry and it is not because I am a multi-layered individual with different levels of emotions. It simply comes back to communication and the misunderstanding of language.
When I was younger, a very long time ago, I was invited to go to a party that was being thrown by a couple of work colleagues. At the time I was busily studying Portuguese as the people I worked with were from Brazil. I was so eager to impress them with my studies, that often at night I would stay up very late practising in front of the mirror – “tudo bem?”
At the party, I was seated in a chair and one of the goers kept repeating ‘cebola’ and looking in my direction. I quickly reached for my phone, but before I could another party-goer rambled some Portuguese words and finished it with ‘cebola’ again, this time looking directly at me.
I was thrilled. I felt as though I had become a part of this culture through all of my hard work and they had welcomed me by giving me a Brazilian nickname – cebola!
As I stood up from my chair I rehearsed what I was going to say in my head, then it just came out; Eu sou Cebola. (meaning I am onion)
The crowd erupted in laughter and I felt happier than I thought possible until my friend quickly brushed me aside and explained to me that they were talking about adding onions to the barbecue. He pointed to where I was sitting and right behind me were a bag of onions.
I thought one of two things.
• I apologise and learn new vocabulary from my mistake.
• Say “I am onion” again and make everybody laugh.
It was an obvious choice. And to this day, whenever I am introduced to someone from Brazil, I tell them “Eu sou Cebola”
It is not the most lucrative story, but it is how I came to be known as Cebola.
Sam…’Cebola’… teaches General English and IELTS on our daytime program at Lexis Manly Beach