Natural Val is a knowledgeable health care professional who we are lucky to have on the site. His teaching background makes his answers easy to understand and he loves to share his knowledge. On the site, you will find him as a Mentor, Senior Supervisor and Silver Contributor. Offsite, he is a man of many talents: graphic artist, photographer and mountain climber – and he has some awesome stories about survival in the wilderness. Check out Valentin’s interview to learn more about this intelligent and dedicated contributor.
What is your first name?
My first name is Valentin, pronounced Valenteen. Most people call me Val because it’s easier to say. I would like to think that my parents named me after the three Roman Emperors named Valentinius, but since they were silent movie buffs, they were probably thinking of Rudolph Valentino.
What is your occupation?
I have had a few different careers associated with either photography and graphic arts or allied health care like massage therapy, and now nursing. And, since I am so much of a people person, I consider myself as being mostly a health sciences educator.
What is your Answers.com username and how did it come about?
I have always loved nature and the great outdoors. I was teaching at a massage therapy school in North Carolina when I first joined Answers.com. The name of the school was the Natural Touch School of Massage. I liked the name so much that I incorporated the word ‘natural’ into many of my usernames. And so, for WikiAnswers Natural Val was a natural choice. Pun intended.
I come from what is now known as Serbia-Montenegro. When I was born there it was called Yugoslavia, but in Europe a person takes on ethnicity and cultural affiliation from one’s heritage and one’s parents, and not according to the borders where one is physically born. My father is Romanian and my mother, Hungarian so I was a misfit because that was considered a mixed marriage. Because of a difficult political situation, my family, which included my parents and my older sister, Ofelia, immigrated to the United States when I was five years old.
How did you discover Answers.com?
I was doing research for an anatomy and physiology class I was teaching, and found a link to a question that I could not resist answering myself on Answers. A week later, after I had answered a few more questions, a Supervisor invited me to join because she liked the way I answered questions.
My proudest accomplishment is being polyglottic and that means lots of glotts, which is the Latin word for tongues. I have learned to speak seven languages throughout my life. Five of those I learned to speak with native fluency by the time I was six years old. In order, they were: Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Italian, and American English. It was later that I learned conversational levels of French and American Sign Language (ASL); more like what people call their second language, only they were my sixth and seventh. I even taught ASL and English reading and writing skills to deaf adults at the Deaf Community Center of San Diego for a while. These were people that had been born deaf and had minimal, if any, communication skills and no formal education. They had family that brought them here after they, themselves, immigrated to the US from other parts of the world; places like Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia, Mexico, and Ethiopia. I consider being their teacher here in America as a sort of a coup d’état considering my earlier situation when I was the foreigner without a clue as to what was going on.
What accomplishments on Answers.com are you proud of?
I am proudest for starting the category of Massage Therapy. I was not only its first Supervisor but, at the time there was no Alternative Health category, so it had to be added to make a place for Massage Therapy. I was also the first Human Anatomy Supervisor.
My three wishes are to end all wars, end all world hunger, and end all disease. If that ever happened we would probably overpopulate the world and that would make all three of those wishes impossible to attain as long as we all stayed on just this one planet. And so, since we haven’t started inhabiting Mars, yet, I have to take back all three wishes and choose another one, and only one. And that would have to be that we learn to share the Earth; not only sharing it with other human beings, but with all of life that has a home on this wet rock flying around a star in one of the 200 billion, or more, galaxies in this vast Universe. There may be enough room out there, but since we are all still here, let’s make the best of it.
Do you view the glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’?
I view it as half full. But you probably could have easily guessed that by now.
The most challenging thing is to figure out what the questioner is trying to learn. In other words, what is the question? I try to enter the mindset of the person who wrote it, and that means I try to guess the approximate age and level of knowledge or experience the person may have with the subject. I especially love the questions that children ask because they are usually from a perspective of either curiosity or just plain awe about the world around them.
What are you most passionate about in your life?
I am most passionate about my life. My definition of life is the period of time when a biological organism uses its will and intention to influence changes in its internal and external environments. So, life is about having opportunities to make changes.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“You should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” – Albert Einstein. After that it would have to be: “And don’t call me Shirley!” – Hollywood movie classic, Airplane.
Who is your inspiration in life?
My grandparents from the Hungarian village where I spent the first part of my life are the biggest inspiration for me. My grandmother was the village doctor, nurse, and midwife and my grandfather was the most skilled farmer, craftsman, and animal tender in their town. Everybody respected them both. My grandfather’s philosophy was to make friends and visit with everybody, but stay true to your own beliefs and ways while respecting others.
Do you have any special talents?
One of my proudest achievements is solo camping in the Cascade Mountains of Northern California where I spent three days and nights with no tent, no sleeping bag, no flashlight, no matches, and no modern camping equipment. All I carried was a knife and blanket. During those three glorious days I explored the local plants and wildlife. Those three days and nights are burned deeply into my memory.
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