A Generation of Values | Ambassador Ariel Fernandez
Argentinean Ambassador to Jamaica Ariel Fernandez told Outlook that lessons learnt from his father helped make him into the man he is today.
Fernandez's parents were originally from Spain, but moved to Argentina for a better life for their family. Born in Buenos Aires, Fernandez grew up on the outskirts of the capital city, and has fond memories of his childhood. His parents owned a small hotel, and they all lived in a small room in the building.
This allowed him to have a close relationship with both parents. He told Outlook that it was his mother who helped him with his homework, as his father did not attend school beyond the second grade. However, this did not equate to a lack of resilience or intelligence. He saw his father work hard - something he always admired. He also got him into his first hobby - reading.
Fernandez's father, who died here in Jamaica, taught him at the age of six (or rather encouraged him) to read the international section of the papers. There he developed a natural interest in the world and in reading. "I am curious," he tells Outlook.
RESPECT AND SPORTS
Respect and being truthful were among the key values that his father taught him.
"Everything would be better with respect," Fernandez said. The importance of respect is something he wants to pass on to his children. Fernandez teaches this to his sons Joakim Fernandez Hagen-Larsen, 12, and Alexander, 7.
Joakim is a football lover and Alexander, seeing his brother as a role model, shares his brother's enthusiasm. Fernandez uses their love for sports as opportunities to teach them about respect.
On one occasion, he saw that Alexander was fouling his brother when he wanted to get the ball away from him. "I told him that he should not foul his brother, that he needed to play by the rules. I told him to anticipate where the ball was going." Fernandez said. He added that the football field is like life. He believes that if you want to see if a man plays by the rules, put him on the field and see how he plays.
As a diplomat, Fernandez and his family have lived in different countries, but keeping their children in tune with their culture is something encouraged by his wife, Helene Hagen-Larsen, whom he met during his previous diplomatic posting in Rome.
His children were seven and two years old when they arrived in Jamaica, so Alexander has little or no memory of Argentina. His wife insists that everyone in the household should speak their own native language to the boys.
Therefore, when she speaks to them she speaks Norwegian; Fernandez speaks Spanish and those who work with them speak English. Fernandez finds it fascinating how the boys can easily flip from one language to another.
Fernandez encourages his children to take education seriously. He said that he was able to follow his dreams studying international relations and political science at the University of Salvador, before doing one year of diplomatic school in Spain and returning to Argentina to take his diplomatic examinations.
He encouraged the youth to respect their teachers, parents and elders. He said he believes that the elderly have a wealth of knowledge and these kinds of interactions helped him to be where he is today.