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 BrĂ­gida)

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”.