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The milk story

Friends and family play an important role in a student’s journey. We asked Diploma Programme graduates to reflect on a moment when someone they knew had a positive impact on their education.  Learn more about the IB Alumni Network at ibo.org/alumni.


by Lachezar Arabadzhiev

In my previous post, I talked about the importance of exploratory learning and how it impacts our choices in life, whether professional or personal, but I did cover a time frame, where we are all highly susceptible to learning. I mean, in high school and university, the sheer amount of resources and people that are tirelessly trying to help us learn is extraordinary. Moreover, we already have a lot of knowledge about the world.

But what about if we go back? An imaginary time travel to a time when our only source of information were our beloved parents. From a young age, their stories have shaped our childhood and given us the opportunity to grow as incredible individuals, so without a further ado, here is to parents.

Lachezar at his eighth birthday party. His parents, pictured here, encouraged him to think critically and ask questions . Photo courtesy of Lachezar Arabadzhiev.

When I was a kid, my parents always encouraged me to explore and ask a lot of questions, and they did it in such a fun way that certain stories are still stuck in my head until today, because I was so fascinated by them. I remember one time; my dad had just come back from the local store with a bag of groceries. He was about to make breakfast for the entire family.

One of the products in the bag was a weird-looking carton of milk, not the one that we usually bought. The “new” milk looked sturdy and shiny, as if the actual carton was made of a superior, stronger material. I picked up right on that:

“Hey dad, if you drop this milk on the ground, the box is going to burst.”

“No, it’s not. The box is strong enough to survive a fall, this is not the classic cardboard material, see…” said my dad, pointing to the edges of the box.

“But still, regardless of the material, it’s some sort of cardboard, so definitely all the milk will be splattered on the floor” I continued to insist.

This went on for about 5-10 minutes of what I would call a light debate, where none of the participating parties knew if their arguments were the correct ones, nor did they care that much. Then all of a sudden, my dad looked at me with a sense of curiosity and a big smile, holding the milk in his right hand. A moment later, the milk carton was mid-air and by the time it had hit the ground, the kitchen floor was flooded with milk.

I was shocked and the flooding had nothing to do with that feeling. I never thought my dad would actually do it. I mean, who does that? Who throws a full carton of milk, with such an ease, to honor a kid’s silly point. My dad could have just ignored me and focused on the breakfast, but he chose to be a part of that frivolous conversation, because he acknowledged that my curiosity and excitement were at stake there.

When he threw the milk, it was as if he said, “There you go, we got to the bottom of this. It was that easy… and don’t worry it is just a carton of milk.”. Our parents are one of the most (if not, the most) patient and compassionate teachers that we are ever going to encounter in life, and it is important for us to understand how big of role they play in our learning journey.

Of course, in this story it was my dad that wanted to support me and perhaps make me laugh, but because of what he did, later in life I realized that you need to surround yourself with people that are willing to throw the milk carton for you without hesitating. There are so many obstacles that we face throughout our lives and it is rarely the case that we have to overcome them alone. Often, our family, friends and mentors create a comfortable, but yet challenging environment for curiosity, where we can grow and be creative. They never give us the “right” answers up-front, but they set up the conditions, which allows us to find them. Because sometimes it is just about being encouraged and feeling excited about your ideas. From there, anything is possible.

A pleasant comment or a tiny bit of positive feedback can go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. We did lose a carton of milk that day, but I had also gained a brand-new vision of the world. Fair bargain, I think.

If you have made it that far in the article, I bet you are thinking about your favourite childhood story, am I right? Feel free to share them 😊

Lachezar Arabadzhiev

Lachezar has worked for tech-giant Microsoft both in the United States and Canada and co-founded two start-ups of his own – Kaign, a music curation app and Volykos, a wireless charging solutions provider.

Have a great story to tell? Write to alumni.relations@ibo.org and learn more about the IB Alumni Network at ibo.org/alumni.

  • Lee Harris

    If you’re not already considering a career in writing or story-telling, then I would imagine you would thrive in that type of role. Beautifully conveyed, very nicely done.

  • Hi Lee, much appreciated! Comments like yours mean a lot to me, they inspire me to write even more stories 🙂

  • Alessandra Mariani

    My dad did something similar for me. Perhaps due to my somewhat innocent ignorance of the time (I was 4), I couldn’t understand how a rolling car window could break one’s finger. To prove his point, my dad put a pen in it and pressed ‘Up’. Within two seconds, the pen made a snatching sound and it was crushed – one half falling in the car, the other half dropping onto the street. Needless to say that I never, ever, put my fingers anywhere near the car window again. Hah!

    Thanks for sharing Lacho.