Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Have you ever thought which words describe you? Do you think if there is anything that can be a key of your character? Our conversationalist, Kevin Wieser from Switzerland will display himself a bit: let’s go then to discover the reality outside of comfort zone and check which decision led him to the point where he is now!
Maria Skoczyńska: So, so, so... I will start with, maybe, a bit risky question: how would you, Kevin, describe yourself in one or two words? What is the most important value for your identity at this moment?
Kevin Wieser: One word that describes me: responsibility.
Sounds serious! Why did you choose this exact word? What does it mean to you?
I strongly believe that taking responsibility gives meaning to life. In addition to my demanding job, I am also president of a hard of hearing organisation called Jugehörig and responsible for the processes and organizing events. Taking responsibility is not always easy and can be tough but in responsibility lies credit and satisfaction. Taking responsibility also brings me further in life, forcing me to leave my comfort zone. But this also includes knowing where my limits lie.
/The poster of Uncle Sam in the background: "KEVIN FOR PRESIDENT!" Sorry, I had to say it! / You're completely right, development always happens outside of comfort zone. But it also means that you must have gone a long way to the point in which you are now - let's take the time machine for a moment and come back to the past times... When did you make these very first steps into hard of hearing world? How did it happen that finally you're a grown up, responsible (is anyone here to deny this fact now? ) president of Juhehorig?
I grew up in the hearing world and apart from my sister, who is also hard of hearing, I had no contact with other hard of hearing people until I was 23 years old. At the age of 23 I visited some events of the Swiss association Jugehörig out of curiosity. The contact and exchange with other hard of hearing people helped me to create a new self-confidence with my hearing loss, which I never had before. This has led me to join the board in order to strengthen the cohesion between hard of hearing people. When I wanted to join the board of Jugehörig, the position of president was vacant. Moreover, nobody was willing to take over the presidency at that time. I said to myself: Why not? So after a few visits to Jugehörig Events I already became its president. I hold this office now for 7 years already.
Oh, you're really good president for the last lucky 7 years then! HoH world gives you self-confidence-for what did you use it already? Because I've heard some gossip that you also have other special skills and hobbies...
When I was young, I felt insecure about my hearing aids. I knew I was special in the hearing world and I avoided things like conversing with hearing people, telling them to speak louder or looking for certain jobs because I thought, I can't do it because of my hard of hearing. Through contact with other hard of hearing people I realized the only way to overcome my fear was to face my fear. I have to do the things I was most afraid of. It was not easy and I encountered a lot of obstacles but through the experiences I made, I got braver and braver. I also learned that my hearing loss is an identity of mine. Today I no longer hide it but stand by my hearing loss. I also have met many HoH friends nationally and internationally. The association and the exchange have already enriched my life so much that I am simply grateful for it. Something that also became apparent was that I probably have good visual abilities due to my hearing loss. A big hobby of mine is therefore drawing, especially cartoons and comics
I remember first moment when I've met you for the first time ever in Finland-you spoke in public about the dream of being a cartoonist. Why did you start to be so keen on this topic? Did you have any exact inspiration, motivation to start drawing?
When I was little, I didn't like to read books. Instead I looked at many graphic things like comics or cartoons. In the library I was always in the comic corner. Especially the comic series Tim and Struppi (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé inspired me. Soon I wanted to make cartoons myself and noticed that I like doing it. Word soon got around at school that I like to draw. With my cartoons I quickly made teachers and classmates laugh. I like to make other people laugh with my cartoons.
In other words, you were bringing some sort of happiness to the daily life! What is the main topic of your cartoons? What is the most important for you to capture in the comic?
My cartoons contain many different random characters. Mimic is especially important for me. I think because I am more of a visual type, I probably perceive facial expressions better than many other people. Therefore I pay special attention to the facial expressions of my characters when drawing. Often I also draw funny experiences from everyday life. For me it is important that people enjoy my comics and laugh. Topics that are often used are hipsters, coffee, smartphones and social interactions. I know it's a weird selection but I like weird cartoons with a special sense of humor. One of my cartoons was about a guy who asked the waiter in a restaurant, which menu looks best for making a photo of it for Instagram. He would choose that menu. This really happened! Surprisingly, hearing loss does not occur in my cartoons. I noticed that recently. But I will pay more attention to this in the future.
Well, I think that nowadays we're getting into creating really blurry connections between virtual and real world, creating our life via technology, so this sort of selection is quite understandable!
In your opinion, why doesn’t hearing loss show in your cartoons? Aaaaand which tools do you use to create your cartoons?
Why doesn’t hearing loss show in my cartoons? Hmm that's a good question. I think it's probably because hearing loss is so normal for me in my everyday life that I rarely get the idea that I could draw something about it. But there is a lot of potential here I make sketches on the iPad with the Apple Pencil and I use a Wacom Tablet for coloring and fine drawing.
Did you have any moments of realization that having hearing loss is something unusual in this world? And do you use any social media or other ways to display your cartoons?
Yes, especially when sleeping. When I sleep at hearing colleagues houses, I can sleep all night long without any problems, even if they are still having a party with loud music in the next room. It does not bother me, because I can’t hear it. Sometimes I switch off my hearing aids at work in order to concentrate better. But this confuses my co-workers when they speak to me and I do not react to them until I see them. But of course there are also frustrating moments like per example at the train station when they announced a track change only via loudspeaker and I can’t understand it completely. You can find my cartoon mostly on Instagram.
At least every situation has its own bright and dark sides, right? Thanks for the link, let's expect some more followers... You mentioned your co-workers...then let's also show to the public who you are as a person in your daily life, except for being involved into Jugehorig activities and drawings? And where do you work?
Indeed, every situation has its own bright and dark sides Now who am I in everyday life? I am a caring and helpful person. I am also more of a quiet person and enjoy the time at home alone and among other people, I am a good listener and can remember a lot about a person. I also make sure that I eat a healthy diet and keep fit. I also enjoy spending time with my close friends and family, which means a lot to me. I work as an IT system engineer in a hosting company in Switzerland. I am responsible for the operation of critical systems such as large online shops which have to be highly available.
It's important to be able to describe yourself like you did-being HoH in my opinion impact on our self-esteem. Great that you could describe yourself and what's important to you (by the way, I will be careful what I say around you if you actually remember a lot about a person.. who knows that you're not a spy!!!!) How did you get this job? It sounds like very demanding work. Could you explain more about making these operations of critical systems? What you do to check if large online shops are available?
Well I'm not so sure if a hard of hearing person is also a good spy I studied computer science at the university of applied sciences. After I graduated, I got a job at a hosting company quite fast. People with computer science background are just wanted. In my job I am responsible for the server infrastructure of various customers in the e-commerce, healthcare and government sectors. I need to make sure the infrastructure runs 24 hours a day, all year round. On a typical working day I monitor the servers and look for bottlenecks. Is there still enough disk space, does an application on the server consume too much power? Are more users suddenly accessing an online shop because of an advertising campaign? Together with the customer I discuss the next steps. Do we have to increase server capacity or can we fix this by tuning the server? Of course, this also means that the systems always remain up-to-date and are protected against attacks from the Internet. This is a versatile job with a lot of responsibility.
Whoa, sounds impressive-for an amateur almost like if you have your own World Management Center. And here we come back again: to responsibility, the word that also defines you Speaking of this, as the last question from me I would like to ask you what is the most irresponsible moment in your life that had a positive result?
Well, I can't remember the most irresponsible moment. Definitely worth mentioning is this irresponsible moment and how it came to the IFHOHYP AGM 2019 in Switzerland I was at the AGM in Istanbul in 2018 and was asked at the beginning of the AGM if we from Jugehoerig could host the AGM 2019 in Switzerland. I refused because I thought we don't have the resources for doing this. And then at some point I said without much consideration that we could do the next AGM. We were suddenly a potential candidate for the next AGM. At that time, I had not yet spoken to my board or obtained their confirmation. So it was quite irresponsible But afterwards the board was pleased to agree the proposal and with a great team we organized an unforgettable and great AGM in Switzerland, which was also a highlight of this year for me. Sometimes it takes moments like this to create something big
…And with this accurate sentence we finished our journey in your world! What does responsibility mean for you, guys? Would you go Kevin’s path through the comics, leading role in organization or work in hosting company? See… phew, no, hear you soon! 😉