A DUNIA MAGAZINE Q & A
Welcome to DUNIA, Dr Ambe. Please tell us a little bit about yourself
First of all, I want to thank Dunia for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas and experiences with your audience. I hope to say something that will inspire someone and bring transformation in their life.
My name is Dr. Nicoline Ambe. I am not a Doctor of Medicine. I have a Doctorate Degree in Law. I taught law for 10 years at colleges and universities in Canada and the US before deciding to become an elementary school teacher. Many close friends thought this was a strange decision, but in life, you make decisions based on your circumstances and priorities. This was the best decision I made to reconcile and balance other aspects of my life.
I am currently a Special Education Teacher in Compton, California. I have been teaching elementary school for 7 years. I also run a private business as an Inspirational Public Speaker after publishing my first book “A Teacher’s Notes: Helping Parents Prepare Their Children at Home for Success in School.” I am a wife and mother of 4.
Through Speaking, Workshops and Seminars, I show parents how to prepare their children at home to be high achievers in school. I believe that if a child is not born with severe developmental disabilities, they are capable of excelling in school, if they are given the right parental structure and support at home. I offer specific tips and strategies on how parents can effectively help their children succeed.
I have recently added a Seminar on “PARENTING and ENTREPRENEURSHIP” to my practice. This initiative is designed to help parents use their own natural talents and ideas to launch and market a small business. I believe that being productive and doing what you love, is a great way to grow yourself and your self-confidence. I believe that when a parent is doing what they love, they feel good about themselves and this translates to better relationships with their children.
Tell us about your life journey and how it has led to this point … especially lessons learned
I grew up in a small town in Cameroon, Africa called Bamenda. If you grew up in Africa, or have seen movies or read things about children in Africa, you would understand that life as a child in Africa is no cakewalk. Many African children come out of their mother’s wombs learning to cope and survive with the harsh realities of the outside world. I was one of them, although the degree of my own life challenges can never compare to the many other children who were in far worse shape than I was.
I pretty much fought for myself my entire childhood. As a girl child, I had many jobs. Beginning from age 8, my initial role was to walk several miles into the fields to fetch water for my family. As I grew older, I was responsible for running the home – cooking, cleaning, farming and taking care of my siblings. I was a very busy child. I saw a video once by Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success Magazine who said that “many people see their childhood as wounds, instead of an opportunity for growth.” I had always believed this, even before I heard Darren say it. My childhood experiences have served invaluable lessons for me as an adult. I am strong. I am disciplined. I am determined. I don’t give up easily, and I always find solutions to problems.
What does success mean to you and why?
I really love this question! Many people align success with material wealth and business success. This is increasingly so when you read all the motivational quotes on social networking sites about never giving up, reaching your goals, dreaming big, striving for more, etc. All of this is becoming cliche to me. I felt this way at some point, where my whole mission was to “fight” for my dreams and to strive for more – more material success, more money, more recognition, etc.
I read an article a few months ago that completely shifted my thinking on what success means. It was a study by a group of nurses who asked 100 dying CEOs about what they could have done differently if they got their lives back. Guess what they all said? Not one of them said they would have worked harder! They ALL said, I would have spent more time with my children. I would have loved my wife more!
When I read this, the light bulb flicked on for me. It was at that point that I told myself that I have been blessed with the gift of life and I will live it fully and completely. I then made a decision that I would live perfectly in what I call the four quadrants of my life. The four quadrants is a way of living my life that balances out all aspects of it. The first quadrant is my spiritual life where God is primordial, the second quadrant is my relationships with my children, my family and my friends, the third quadrant is my health (exercise, fitness and nutrition) and the fourth quadrant is my business (money and finances). These four quadrants are equally weighted and I spend equal amounts of time with each. Living this kind of balance is what success means to me.
What inspires you and how do you stay motivated?
I would say that I am self-motivated and self-inspired. I believe that I have a deep understanding of who I am, what my values are, and what I stand for. I have a very clear vision for how I want my life to go and how I want to live my life. I think that when you know what you want, you don’t need external motivation to get you there. What you need are solutions. So the first step to staying motivated is knowing what you want and pursuing it. Do not be influenced by what others are doing or not doing. Put on blind-folds. Look inward into your own life and personal needs. When you know what YOU want, you will be self-motivated to get it.
I love to stay busy and use my gifts. I don’t like being idle. I get bored easily. I am constantly on the go, and my mind is always at work, thinking through ideas and refining them. I love to read good books. Right now, I’m reading the most powerful book I’ve ever read; “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen. Your life will never be the same again after reading that book. I encourage your readers to get a copy.
As an educator, what is the best way to discipline kids and what should parents guard against?
Values and love come before discipline. Before disciplining your child, make sure that you have taken the time to tell them what your family values are and what expectations you have of them as their parents. Children need constant reminders and repetition. So you have to say it over and over and over again until it because second nature to your child. We cannot assume that children know the right thing to do. If they don’t know it, they won’t do it and you would be wrong for disciplining them for something you did not teach them.
Secondly, you have to love, respect and LISTEN your child. Build a strong bond with your child, a bond that is based on mutual respect and understanding. When you have this bond, it becomes easy to discipline your child because they know you are doing it from a place of love and concern for their well-being. If this bond with your child does not exist, your child will be rebellious if you discipline them. They will argue and fight you back, because they know you have never showed them love. I am not saying become friends with your child, buy them material things and let them do what they want. You still have to play the role of the parent by assigning them responsibilities, letting them know your expectations, yet have a mutual relationship with them based on love and caring.
For me as an educator, the best way to discipline children is to have the above two qualities as a baseline, then if your child does something wrong you emphatically tell them what the right thing to do is. It is not to punish them for wrong doing, but to tell them what is the right thing to do and why it is the right thing. As a parent, you cannot get away with not being logical in your thinking. You have to explain things to your children in a logical way that makes sense to them and bring them to a full understanding of what they should have done differently.
What are some challenges that children of immigrants face in the United States and how can these be overcome?
I think that in terms of academics, children of immigrants are doing really well in school. In fact, studies show that some of the most educated Americans are children of immigrants. So immigrant children are really gaining from the values that their immigrant parents are imparting upon them, many of whom come from very difficult experiences in their home countries and want their children to benefit from the American dream.
The only thing I would say in this regard is that as parents of immigrant children, we have to teach our children to be themselves. To accept their uniqueness and authenticity. To love who they are, and to surround themselves with friends who lift them up and bring out the best in them. We must discourage them from copying other people and trying to be like their friends. We must intentionally build their sense of self and encourage them to know that they are enough.
What in your opinion are the keys to living a fulfilled life – for both parents and children?
It is so crucial to find balance in our lives. To value our relationships with our family and our friends. To take good care of our health. Our bodies are like a vehicle that God has given us to run the race of life. If we don’t oil the engine, that vehicle will break down. It’s also important to be productive daily. To use our gifts and talents to change the world around us and the world at large.
Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?
You know, as the saying goes “man proposes, God disposes.” So while I have a vision for where I’d like to be, God has His own plans for me. My goal is to build a thriving and internationally renowned speaking practice. There is a lot of ground work that goes in to achieving that. I’m grateful for where I am today, and each day I work methodically and strategically to build my practice. I would love to transform many lives (parents and children) through speaking.
Having said that, I must add that I am not at a place where I want to sacrifice anything in my four quadrants in order to be financially successful. My primary goal is to have a good relationship with my children, to help them get where they need to go in life and to effectively balance that against my other priorities.
More about my work can be found on my website at www.nicolineambe.com. I invite your readers to visit the site and join the village community. We are a community of parents who want to help our children rise to their highest level of academic excellence, and stay at the top of the class.
Also by Dr Nicoline Ambe: