Thursday, December 25, 2008

Malena’s Family: Jose's Essay ( First Year)

In my English class we are talking about families. Malena told me about her family and here is what I remember.
My family is small but Malena´s family of is very big. Her parents are Jose Ramon and Maria Teresa. Her father is a retired pharmacist and he's eighty seven years old. Her mother's a housewife and she's eighty years old.
Melena’s got seven siblings. Her sisters are Maria Teresa and Sole and her brothers are Jose, Manolo, Enrique, Miguel and Joaquin. Malena's got three children. Her son is fourteen years old and her daughters are sixteen and nineteen years old.
Oh, let’s see, cousins… well, she's got many, fifty-five in all, so I can’t give all the details. Let’s say there are a lot of them! (Jose, first year student)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Swan Maiden (for our students at Xmas)

A young peasant, in the parish of Mellby, who often enjoyed hunting, saw one day three swans flying toward him. They settled down upon the strand of a sound nearby. Approaching the place, he was astonished to see the three swans remove their feathery attire, which they threw into the grass. Suddenly, three maidens of dazzling beauty stepped forth and sprang into the water. After splashing in the waves awhile they returned to land, where they resumed their former garb and shape and flew away in the direction from which they had come.
One of them, the youngest and fairest, had, in the meantime, so smitten the young hunter that neither night nor day could he tear his thoughts from her bright image. His mother, noticing that something was wrong with her son, and that the chase, which had formerly been his favourite pleasure, had lost its attraction, asked him finally the cause of his melancholy, whereupon he related to her what he had seen, and declared that there was no longer any happiness in this life for him if he would not possess the fair swan-maiden.
“I know what you should do,” said the mother, who was a very simple person but filled with great wisdom. “Go at sunset next Thursday evening to the place where you saw her last. When the three swans come, give attention to where your chosen one lays her feathery garb, take it and hasten away.”
The young man listened to his mother’s instructions and the following Thursday evening, he found a convenient hiding place, near the sound where he could impatiently wait for the swans’ arrival. The sun was just sinking behind the trees when the young man’s ears were greeted by a whizzing in the air, and the three swans settled down upon the beach as on their former visit. As soon as they had taken off their swan attire, they were again transformed into the most beautiful maidens, and, springing out upon the white sand, they were soon enjoying themselves in the water.
From his hiding place, the young hunter had taken careful note of where his enchantress had laid her swan feathers. Stealing softly forth, he took them and returned to his place of concealment in the surrounding forest.
Soon thereafter two of the swans were heard to fly away, but the third, in search of her clothes, discovered the young man, before whom, believing him responsible for their disappearance, she fell upon her knees and prayed that her swan attire might be returned to her. The hunter was, however, unwilling to yield the beautiful prize, and, casting a cloak around her shoulders, carried her home.
Preparations were soon made for a magnificent wedding, which took place in due course, and the couple dwelt lovingly and contentedly together.
One Thursday evening, seven years later, the hunter related to her how he had sought and won his wife. He brought forth and showed her also the white swan feathers of her former days. No sooner were they placed in her hands then she transformed once more into a swan and instantly took flight through the open window. In breathless astonishment, the man stared wildly after his rapidly vanishing wife and before a year and a day had passed, he was laid, with his longings and sorrows, in his allotted place in the village churchyard.
(This story is from Sweden—where there are many quiet sounds (in Spanish, estanques) where swans frolick—but swan-maidens figure in many European folk tales. In fact, in his classic study, The Science of Fairy Tales, Hartland devotes a whole chapter to swan-maidens. This version of mine is adapted from another one I read a long time ago in a Jane Yolen anthology.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Delmar Lemming's Tale of The Three Travellers

(Here is a tale we used in class recently. It is my version of a longer story told by my friend Batya Podos of El Paso, Texas. Please note that this tale is for sharing so pass it along. I provide just the basic story sketch. Use your own imagination to embellish and develop the tale. Make it your own!)

Three friends, a carpenter, a tailor and a holy man, were travelling together through the countryside. They grew tired as night approached and decided to camp in the woods for the night. They built a fire for warmth and agreed to take turns keeping watch. First the carpenter was on guard while his friends slept. As he sat by the fire, he spied a log of wood on the ground nearby and decided to carve it. He worked for three hours until it was his time to give up watch. He had carved a beautiful woman. The tailor woke and took his place beside the fire. He spied the beautiful wooden woman and thought it was a great pity she had no clothes. From his rucksack, he pulled out satin, velvet, cotton, lace and other materials. In three hours he fashioned a gorgeous dress which he put on the wooden figure. She looked like a real live woman. When he finished, he went to sleep and the holy man took watch. He saw the wooden woman and decides to call on the great spirits to breathe a soul into her so she can be a real flesh and blood woman. He prays until dawn and nods off to sleep as the morning birds greet the dawn. At dawn, the woman stands before the three sleepy friends as they wake. She greets them with the news that she is love and she wants to marry one of the three men, the man who has captured her heart. But I can’t remember which one he was! Let me know what you think.

Ana's Essay about her Family

My mother’s name is Ana. She’s seventy-eight years old but she’s still young. She’s always been a housewife. My father died twenty-two years ago and she stayed alone as a widow ever since, but not for long because my brother, Jose moved home from Madrid, they’re living together since then. My brother doesn’t like cars and he can’t drive so he always walks or takes the bus to go to work.

My eldest daughter, Elisabet, is twenty-five years old. She’s just finished her studies to be a teacher. Now, she’s looking for a job. She likes to work with children. Her boyfriend is also a teacher and now he works as a gym teacher. They’re saving up as much money as they can because they want to marry soon.

My other daughter, Amabel, is twenty-two years old. She studies at the University in Tafira. She studies economics. This year is her last year, I hope. She likes basketball very much and when she can, she goes to the gym. She hates dogs because when she was a little baby a dog jumped near her and she was scared.

My son, Lionel, is eighteen years old. This year he starts his University studies. He would like to be an engineer. He plays basketball and he also trains a children’s team. He has a girlfriend who also studies at the University in Tafira. He loves cars and speed and his dream is to become a F1 pilot, but it’s just that........a dream. (Ana J, NB1A EOI Sta Brígida)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pilar Morera: Those one hundred pesetas

(In our advanced class, we used the one-hundred pesetas note, with its engaging color and memorable portrait of Manuel de Falla, as an inspiration for a creative essay and trail down memory lane! Many students did a great job, but this was my absolute favorite. Thanks, Pilar! -- David Shea )

I can’t remember when I last had one hundred peseta-note in my hand. It is strange how quickly we forget things. Our mind is becoming increasingly selective when the time passes by and we mostly remember the highlights of our life and the nicest time. At the same time, we try to forget the bad memories –which is good, or things which haven’t really been so important. However, all of us have special memories which don’t seem so important but they probably have contributed considerably to our history and personality.

When I think of those hundred pesetas, I think of my family, all of us together on Sunday afternoons. My father had a small business and he had to count the money he had earned during the week and he had to sort out his bills and payments. My brothers, sisters and I gathered around my parents. The youngest would play while the eldest helped. I was very young and I didn’t know the real meaning of money. I didn’t know the value of one hundred pesetas, but I remember clearly the sensation I felt. It represented stability. I noticed my parents happiest when things run well and worried other times. I thought that my father was wealthy –he wasn’t, when I saw him with his one hundred peseta-notes. They were not really important to me, I was too young, but they now remind me how comfortable I felt in the warm atmosphere of my home knowing that everything was right.
Other memories about one hundred pesetas are even more remarkable. The same to other boys and girls I looked forward to Christmas every year. I lived that time with a huge excitement, from November –when it is my birthday, until the 6th of January. I spent Christmas waiting for Epiphany or Little Christmas. I performed in the Annunciation for several years. I loved to rehearse the presentation and I loved to do the performance in the main square of my village the 6th of January. After that, we went to my grandparent’s house. It was wonderful to meet all of my cousins and to play cheerfully with them. We knew that each of us was going to receive the special present of my grandmother: one hundred pesetas. She was such a wonderful person, so sympathetic, lovely and always willing to act with complicity with everyone. We loved her so much. But, we yearned to receive discreetly our note that day.
I hold my note, I saved it in my pocket and I didn’t really know what to do with my one hundred pesetas. But, I felt that I could eventually make some of my dreams come true. Maybe I could get a pretty doll to cradle tenderly. Maybe I could buy a new swimming costume – the old one got very small. Maybe I could get a new satchel, or a new pencil case - I loved the smell of those wooden cases. Lots of dreams. After a little while my mother asked us for our notes, she was afraid we would lose them. I didn’t see the note again. I spent the winter waiting for the good weather to go to the city to buy some of those things I had dreamt, but my mother always delayed it. Then, at Easter my mother bought us a new dress and shoes, but she didn’t buy me the pretty doll or the swimming-costume. Little by little I was forgetting my note. I was happy anyway. Things happened in the same way the following years. I looked forward to my note. I had new excitement and new dreams.
I realised years later that “those one hundred pesetas” were not real, they were just a dream. I was not disappointed with it, I was happy. I’m grateful to my mother and my grandmother who managed to maintain and feed my dreams without losing the view of the reality. I learnt to enjoy the small things of life, keeping my hopes and dreams at the same time. I realised much later that “it is not silly to have dreams, it is really silly not to have them”.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Delmar Lemming’s Recommended Books: Harraga

Last year I heard Canary-based author Antonio Lozano talk about his 2001 novel Harraga. As I had read the book twice, it was great to learn Antonio’s insights..
Novel writing is a hobby for Antonio who teaches French teacher at a high school around the corner from his home in Agüimes on the south road just beyond our international airport. In the late 1990s, after years of ruminating, he wrote his first work Harraga which was followed by four other novels. All have garnered national prizes and international recognition.
Harraga is the story of a young Moroccan man, Jalid, who abandons his job waiting tables at the Café de París in his hometown of Tangiers. He gets caught up in drug running across the Straits of Gilbraltar to Spain and other illegal activities. His nadir comes when he begins trafficking people in precarious rafts. The story is mostly told by Jalid from prison where he is being tortured and eventually driven crazy and killed, though his death is termed suicide by the corrupt police. It is a miserable study of the underbelly of a very seedy culture, but the characters are portrayed with kindness.
Antonio grew up in Tangiers and his widowed father still lives there. So the book is brimming with precise detail and insights that only a local resident could know. The reader learns a lot about Islamic culture as seen through the quite strict Moroccan society.
Although Harraga deals with the social aspects of Morocco and is charged with political overtones about Magrebi and African development more generally. In this sense, it reflects the concerns of Antonio, who with his wife Clari, is quite politically active here on the island. But Harraga is much more than a social treatise. Its plot development and character analysis both enthralled me. As Antonio Lozano has been so successful in his subsequent writing, I was taken by the great affection he feels for his first book. The nicest part of the evening for me was when Antonio read a chapter aloud as I recorded him on a digital recorder which I always carry around.
Antonio enjoys a privileged lifestyle in that his wife Clari and his best friend next door and his best friend’s wife all read his work and provide useful criticism. Best of all, they take an active interest in his writing and make a fuss over their “neighborhood author” which must make writing even more appealing. To be surrounded by readers who want to read your stuff must be heaven. In fact, he dedicates his recent novel Donde Mueren los Ríos (Where the Rivers Die) to Clari. It was nice to see literature carried on amid such warmth and affection.
If you manage to find Harraga in a local bookshop, buy it. I recommend it, particularly if you are interested in the topic of human migration in our area. I should warn you, this is a difficult book to find but most local libraries have copies.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mari Carmen's Hommage to her Grandfather, Don Fermín

My granddad’s name was Fermín, he was born on the 26th November, 1901. He lived his first years in Las Lagunetas, but at the age of 9 he had to emigrate to Cuba with his father, looking for a job to bring some money to their home. There he worked cutting sugar cane enduring very harsh conditions. He also had the opportunity of getting to know a different culture and developing his two great passions: horses and Cuban music.
He came back home when he was 19 years old and enlisted in the army. During this period he met the love of his life, Carmen. They were wed two years later, so at 21 he was already a married man, and soon the children arrived in his life. He was the loving father of nine offspring. At that time he was working in a massive farm house as a butler. He was employed there for more than thirty years. He lived in that house and there he brought up all his children.
Little by little he saved enough money to buy his own farm house nearby, in La Calzada. So when he was sixty he still had to work hard to carry out this new project and he did it quite well. He was an endearing man, but also serious and respectable. It was common to see him singing or whistling while working. He lived and worked there until he died on the first of January, 1999. A special date for a special man. (MARY CARMEN NA-1)

David Shea's Band Mixti Fori Video Clip

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leanor's Essay about Michael Jackson

Essay about my childhood hero, Michael Jackson:

When I was ten years old, I loved Michael Jackson and his wonderful, pop music and dancing.
I discovered him with his second album “Thriller”, and my favourite songs were Thriller, Billie Jean and Bad. His clothes were very unique. His jackets, shiny shoes and white gloves fascinated me. Twenty three years ago I liked to dance, and Michael Jackson was the best dancer, in my opinion. I wanted to sing and dance like Michael Jackson and I dreamt about meeting him, the king of pop. (Leonor)

Vicente's Essay about Angela, Our English Classmate for a Day

Here is Vicente's essay about our English friend, Angela.
I hope you enjoy reading it!

Angela has been our foreign classmate for a day.
I first met her when she arrived at the Official School of Languages with Pilar, one of our classmates in the 5th course of English, in the cold evening of 9 January.
Physically, Angela is a long-legged well built woman, of average height and a little thin. She is in her middle twenties and has a fine boned face and a straight nose. Her straight long hair is dark brown and she often brushes it back. Her almond-shaped brown eyes show her humour and friendliness. She prefers wearing casual, modern clothes.
Angela is a very sociable woman. She loves going to parties and dancing and last year, she had the opportunity to study in Las Palmas University for one academic year. She is studying Theatre and Spanish in Canterbury University. She is from the port city of Portsmouth in the south of the United Kingdom. She has been working in a pub to pay for her university studies.
Her hobbies include reading and sports, but she has no time to practise. She hopes to take up tennis and swimming soon.
During the last year she has had the opportunity to live with Canary people. She loves the Canary people’s behaviour. She thinks that it is completely different to English people. In her opinion Spanish people are more “open hearted” than English people and they say something in all sincerity.
All in all, Angela was the perfect foreign classmate.
Vicente Simón – 5º Inglés
12th January 2008 – EOI Sta. Brigida