Galas, Glühwein and Good Cheer


ImageThe above photo is a letter that one of my students wrote to my girlfriend, Laura. I’m currently doing a pen-pal-esque project with a partner school in Cornwall. The plan is to send each other letters once a month with occasional parcels full of lovely typically-German treats and explanations of customs and traditions. For example, in February we expect to receive a package explaining how to make pancakes for pancake day and we will send lots of Karneval-related tat. The above letter came about because I asked the class to write a letter to whomever they wanted, be it friends, family, my parents or even my girlfriend, if they so wanted. The aim was for them to see how an English letter is laid out and to practise their letter-writing skills. It also gave me the chance to see the level of ability of the students. I’ll let you ascertain how much work needs to put in as of January…

I’ve just got home from the first annual Weihnachtsgala celebrations. This is the first year that all three schools in the PAS-Schule partnership have collaborated together to produce a Christmas show for the students as well as the parents. It was an adorable affair. There were students aged from 3 or 4 to 16. The younger students at the primary school “danced” (spun around to music) or played the most classical of instruments: the recorder; or they made lots of noise whilst waiting in the wings to go on and do their bit. The primary school teachers were just as intimidating as their English equivalents, if not more so for the strong Eastern-European glares they were able to dish out, instantly silencing whoever gazed upon it. If I decide to go into teaching, my sole aim will be to master such a glare, much like an old geography teacher from St. Bart’s was able to do.

Unsurprisingly enough, I was asked to perform at this Gala. The theme was “Christmas around the World”. Naturally, I assumed that, what with this being the first year that they’ve ever had an English Foreign Language Assistant, I’d be doing something related to the United Kingdom. I was wrong. France was my “chosen” country. Sometimes, the Germans make little sense. Rather, they make it difficult for me to see the efficiency in their ideas. I performed the traditional French version of “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” wherein the child actively hopes that his Mother will continue to kiss Santa in order to receive better gifts next year. As I walked onto the stage, I was met with an introduction worthy of KISS from the lovely German teacher, Herr Messinger and the screams filled the Jahrhunderthalle, where the Gala was taking place. If I had my own trumpet to blow, I would; I smashed it. The parents, although they had no idea what they were hearing (mandolin combined with French when the majority of those who didn’t study Russian or Czech at school learnt English – back in the good old East German Republic) seemed to enjoy themselves. I had a wonderful time and had a couple of Glühweins outside with a couple of Bratwursts (delicious German hot dogs). I met some of Johannes’ colleagues at the Mayor’s office and he had a little whinge about them in the car on the way back. We’re having breakfast tomorrow at half seven. He’s so adorable in his mannerisms. He’s easily one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

As I’m sure you’re all more than aware, Christmas is readily upon us. When I told my students that I was, in fact, coming back after the holidays, the look of consternation that crept across their faces was something to which I was unsure how to react. The dread soon turned into glee that I was staying until the end of May. I’ll take it as a compliment.

I’m leaving to go back to Blighty on Thursday, which seems like an age away, but is only 2 full days from now. The speed with which these last few months has flown by is incredible. It feels like it was only the other week or so that I was flying out to Leipzig with my Dad to “suss out” the area before I moved here. That reminds me, I ought to get in touch with the Mayoress of the next village, whom I met in September, and thank her for her kind words and to wish her a “Merry Christmas”.

I was in Berlin last weekend for a night. Laura and I met up with the Leeds University German Society annual trip. It was a lovely evening. I could never describe the event as well as Marcus could, therefore have a link to his blog wherein he describes the actions which unfolded (even if Laura and I don’t get a shout-out, it’s cool. Whatever, Marcus):

It’s my last day at school tomorrow and I don’t have to prepare a thing. I have a Feierabend tonight, so I shall play plenty of Minecraft, do some washing and have an early night. Lovely stuff. Juliane (the Art and English teacher) has said that she has plenty of worksheets for tomorrow’s classes. Can’t be bad, can it?

Tschau für now



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