Spoilt Rotten

Today offered up the perfect example of why you should save a weekly summing-up-style post for the end of the week. Because most of what I was talking about in yesterday’s mammoth entry happened again today, if only in miniature. But because it’s probably ranking amongst the best days I’ve had here yet, I’ll throw it in – if just to find an outlet for the photos I took today.

I should warn you; if you read yesterday’s post, today’s might smack more than a little of déjà vu.

So I went into class this morning and tried to do another round of ‘My Secondary School’ presentation. I must have jinxed the system last night, because it froze no less than six times, requiring six reboots and twenty minutes lost. Still, I managed to get most of the presentation done despite everything. Once you’ve been doing the same lesson for four or five hours a week, you hardly need to look at your notes to know what comes next. You find yourself saying the exact same turns of phrase, making the same gestures and cracking the same jokes, whether they worked or not. It’s a little strange, that. I only notice it when I look back.

My second class of the day was spent half on the workbook, and half on John Lennon’s Imagine. Considering the near-total absence of a choral tradition in this country, they did a damn good job for a class of twenty-nine twelve year-olds. They also reminded me that they haven’t forgotten that I promised to bring them some peanut butter. If mine hadn’t been confiscated at the airport, I’d have obliged them earlier, but as it is they’re getting restless… At least it’s on its way! The things I do for these children, honestly…

My third class of the day was (technically) my last class with one of my favourite groups, a lower sixth bachillerato class and one of the very best. I had a Uganda presentation planned for them, but if I expected them to sit and listen in silence, I had another thing coming. Halfway through OMI’s Cheerleader started playing and the ringleader of the group revealed three bags full of crisps, cups and Coke. After apologising for not paying much attention during my presentation, he explained to me that when they heard me announce that today was my last lesson with them, they arranged on the spot to throw a party. That explains why there was a general hum during the presentation (these kids are usually silent) and why Candi left ‘to take an important phone call’. A lot of hugs, a lot of puñados and a lot of love.

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Yeah, I really need an autofocusing lens. Nobody really understands manual focus

I never even got to finish my presentation; we’d only got as far as Kyambura. But I don’t care. I’m touched. And if I can find a way to claw back an hour with them, even if it’s out of my own free time, I will.

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On to today’s main event. Today is Día de la Paz. It’s something I haven’t celebrated since I was last in a Spanish school myself, which was way back in 2007. I’m not entirely sure why, but English schools (or at least, the ones I went to) don’t deem it celebration-worthy. Must be something to do with the general negative attitude towards anything that might detract from that sacrosanct curriculum of ours.

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Now 2007 was a long time ago – almost a decade – and I can’t really remember what it was we did in C.E.I.P. Miguel de Cervantes to celebrate Día de la Paz. Something similar to today’s events – minus the John Lennon, of course. Melendez Valdés’ plan was heavy on the balloons, anyway. Handy, since I’ve been trying to explain the concept of a balloon race all week.

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We all gathered in a square the patio in the final hour of school, and two representatives from each class came up to the front to read a quote about peace, which was written on a small dove-shaped card and attached to one of many white balloons brought forward by the students.

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I’d brought my camera on the off-chance that Día de la Paz would be a good chance to finally grab some photos of the instituto; for my drawing, if not for the sake of it. Madrid with Ali should have been a reminder, but I’d plain forgotten just how willing kids are to have their photographs taken. That’s reassuring – because they make the very best of subjects. Always.

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When everybody had said their piece (no pun intended), I was called out of the square to lead the recorder orchestra (oh, now that takes me back) and the rest of the lower school in singing Imagine. I guess I should have seen it coming, but that basically resulted in the recorders playing a completely different version of the song to the one everybody else had learned – and, consequently, me singing on my own. Well, I can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Because I did. And in the background, the teachers began to release the balloons and their messages of peace, one by one.

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It’s not been particularly windy for a while, so wonder just how far those balloons will go…

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Here’s to hoping that wherever they end up, the messages of peace they’re carrying with them put a smile on somebody’s face – in irony or in truth, it really doesn’t matter. Just as long as they’re smiling. (Exit Sop, stage left) BB x

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