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Anna Kopyto

"I want people to see me through what I know and what I can do. When I am at a construction site I swear from time to time or go for a smoke with the construction manager. Once you get to know the people better, they'll see you know what you are talking about."
 

 

 

I first came to London in 2004 for my 18th birthday, and I fell in love with the city straight away.


For the next three summer holidays, I kept coming back to work in the capital's coffee shops and earn some money for studies. I remember thinking back then how great it would have been to live and work here - but it seemed to be no more than a distant dream.


I particularly struggled with the complexity of the Tube, thinking that surely I would never get myself to remember all the lines.


Today, several years later, I am a TfL engineer, and I know the best part of the Tube by heart as it part of my everyday's job. The sections I know particularly well are those that I either designed or modernised over the last few years. Each time I pass by I tell my friends with particular pride that I worked on these 500 meters of tracks or that platform.


When I came here three and a half years ago, I thought I knew English reasonably well, but after just a few meetings I realised my colleagues speak a language of their own. Do you know what are the turbots and the salmons? These are the wagons used by Tube engineers to move elements of the trackway around.


It took me some time to get to grips with the industry's slang. There would have been moments back then when I had to fight hard to be heard in our discussions because I was seen merely as an inexperienced migrant woman in the men's world.


This has changed now because they see on a daily basis that I am capable of solving most complex, technical problems arising in our work. Sure, from time to time someone working on the site tries to wolf-whistle or catcall at me, but I concluded it is just best to ignore them. I focus on getting things done. When I give them orders, they just do it. That is what matters.


Despite being here for only a few years now, London has secured an exceptional place in my heart. I am currently working on a major project aiming to upgrade four major underground lines that will make the life of millions of Londoners commuting across the capital significantly easier. I quite like to think this is my contribution to this great city.


I have never voted in local elections in the UK. However, as it is the 100th anniversary of women securing the right to vote this year, perhaps it is the right time to change this and vote this coming May?

 

Words: Jakub Krupa

Picture: Jadwiga Brontē

 

© 2012 Ministry of Foreign Affairs