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United Kingdom: At Age 77, a Life of Inspiration

7 Billion Actions This post is part of our 7 Billion Actions series commissioned by the UNFPA. As the global population reaches 7 billion, our actions matter more than ever · All Posts

Julie Kertesz is someone who celebrates her 77 years of age as she celebrates life itself. Retired but very active, Julie defines herself as a storyteller and photographer. She is also a prolific blogger, a videomaker and is just getting started in stand up comedy.

She was born in Transylvania (then part of Hungary, later Romania), moved to France at the age of 30, and has lived in London since July 2008.

According to one of her followers on the photography sharing website, Flickr, Patrick Barry Barr, she is a “role-model to people of all ages who desire to lead full and active lives of learning and doing.” He said (in 2005):

Julie70 exhibits a spirit that belies her age, as we tend to think of people in their 70’s, and I marvel at her enthusiasm, the way in which she relishes meeting strangers and sharing her enthusiasm with them. I will be 67 on 11 May, and when I grow up I want to be just like Julie Kertesz.

Self portrait by Julie Kertesz

Self portrait – Julie Kertesz

Julie loves learning and has never stopped studying – not even when it was forbidden by the communist regime of Romania. While working in Paris, she returned to the classroom as a mother of two, only to leave university at age 43 with a PhD in physics.

As she describes in her life story on her blog, there is life after 70:

We are not giving up!
Each of us does something, either to live better or to rest alive.
Alas, I met also old people who looks as if they did already give up, and even some very young ones.
Lonely, in the metro.
Just look at them in the metro of Paris. How different with the man I met yesterday, working in the market. And so many others of us, living our lifes as full as possible.
Ok, we have a certain age, but we do not feel old inside!

Julie uses Flickr, blogs, and personal storytelling to inspire others. In a comment on her blog entitled “Courage to laugh at yourself” (in French) a reader shows appreciation for her endeavors:

[...] tu sais Julie, tu es Une Sage, je le pense. Tu m'aides souvent dans des moments compliqués, je me dis “attends, l'effet Julie va se produire, ça va aller”.

[...] you know, Julie, I think you are a wise-woman. You often help me in my complicated moments, I tell myself “wait, the Julie effect will materialise, it will be OK”.

Perhaps the source of such wisdom is the readiness to dare to experience something new. In the video below, Julie uses her fourth language to illustrate some of her first-time experiences between the ages of 25 to 70:

It was precisely at the age of 70 that Julie discovered photography. In 2006, she created the !afterclass! group, a masterclass on Flickr where 2,500 people get together to learn photography. She also created the people reading group; the never too old group; and strangers no more:

No more strangers. I met them, I spoke to them. I remember them.

This last group inspires people to approach others and, with every interaction, a beautiful human being is unveiled. Click on the pictures below to discover the delightful stories Julie uncovered through “human Interactions” with strangers.

  • Paula Góes

    I enjoyed so much writing up this post! Thank you Julie for being such an inspiration!

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