Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Wonderful School Visit in Braga, Portugal

Time has been flying, while I've been focused on writing a draft of my next mystery, based in Braga, Portugal. But I finally got time to download pictures and my first Braga post is about a wonderful school visit I had.

The school is Escola básica e secundária vale d'este, Viatodos. The students, ages 13, are learning English. Their English teacher, Alice Faria, is the friend who invited me. (Some of these pictures were taken by her and/or the other teachers who were present.)

 First, a sharp young man introduced me. He had memorized all my bio and author information, and I think he only had consult his notes once. I was really impressed. Then, I had to be wired up with a microphone,  since I have a very soft voice that doesn't carry well in large gatherings. (Each of two classes had about 60 students!)
The young man who introduced me.
Wired for action.
Reading from one of the books

                                            After reading excerpts from Carnival of the Animals and Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, I took questions, circulating among the students. I always like to circulate among students at a reading. It brings you so much closer to them, and in my case, I hear the questions more clearly and can repeat them over the mike for the other students, who often can't hear them, either.

Their teacher, Senhora Alice Faria,
(in the front of the room) was so
helpful at every turn. 
Some of their questions really made
me think: Example: "What is the most
unethical practice in publishing, in your
opinion?" I finally came up with "Piracy."

I must say, would that I were as fluent in either Spanish or Portuguese as they already are in English! They asked some pretty cool questions, too!
This young man wrote a story with
a surprise twist at the end that made
me laugh out loud. (Rajan, too!) 

  The students were wonderful. At the very end, Senhora Faria gave me stories they had written and printed up in the form of scrolls (which you can see below). The stories were really good.

Stories on scrolls. I read every one of them and
have them in a special place in my writing area.

Other teachers came in to listen, one an art teacher, another a French teacher, both warm and welcoming. The school also presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Believe it or not, that bouquet made it all the way back to Monforte, Galicia in our car the next day and has become a beautiful "vase bouquet" in our apartment.

Rajan, me, Alice Faria, art teacher, French teacher.
The bouquet in a vase after a 2&1/2 hour drive
the next day.

To the school, and to  the teachers  especially Alice Faria, many thanks for the wonderful opportunity to visit your school, and read to your students. They were just terrific. I enjoyed the morning so much. 

How about you? For those of you who write, do you make school visits? If so, what do you enjoy most about them? What is your favorite age group to read to? 


Elephant's Child said...

That sounds like a truly wonderful day. The bouquet handled the trip well and those scrolls are a treasure.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, E.C. A treasure is right. I treasure these scrolls and stories. They were so unexpected. And the flowers still look gorgeous — a gift that keeps on giving! I don't know my flowers well enough to figure out what they are, but I think they will outlast our trip. :-)

Geo. said...

What a wonderful and rewarding experience! I doubt you could find a better audience than Portuguese students. We have a history of absorbing invading cultures and adding to our diversity. My family name in the Azores is Inácio, and we customarily leave off the last two vowels. If you fly over Pico, wave to my relatives. Your excellent adventure furnished a most enjoyable read.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Geo.! Yes, it was so rewarding. I didn't realize you had Portuguese heritage, although I have discovered there is quite a sizable Portuguese population in the Sacramento area. We love Portugal and have made some good friends in Braga. I hope I can keep writing this series forever so we can keep going there! Hope your poetry and gardening are going well. Hello to Norma.

Kate Larkindale said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience. I haven't done any school visits. My son's English teacher asked me if I would, and I agreed, but I think my son put her off because he's embarrassed to have his mum come to school. Whatever the reason, a date and time was never set...

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Oh, what a shame, Kate. If she asked you for the visit, you could always follow up and ask if she's still interested. She may have just been too busy. (I'm a former teacher, and I know how busy the daily routing can get.) It's probably worth a follow up email or phone call.

Rosi said...

It sounds and looks like a terrific day. Those stories on scrolls must be quite special.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, 'Special" is the word! It's such a unique remembrance of such a lovely morning!

Mirka Breen said...

I find myself globe-trotting vicariously through your posts. DD was recently in Portugal for an international piano competition, and I have a friend who lives in Lisbon. Maybe I should pay a non-virtual visit one of these days... What a lovely experience for you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mirka, I'm glad you find these posts interesting. My husband and I love Portugal (well, we love Spain, too!). If you have these connections in Portugal you would probably find a real visit lovely. When I was younger, I never thought I would get these opportunities. Now I am mindful of the advice of a friend (passed away, now) who said, "Do it while you can."

Vicki Lane said...

What a nice visit! I have done a few school visits in the past, some very nice. One, however, with high school seniors and scheduled at the first period in the day, was memorable for the young man who fell asleep and drooled on his desk. (The rest of the group was engaged and interested,)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Vicki, that is so funny. For a few years I taught middle school, and that first period was full of sleepyheads, so I can well imagine. Yes, it was a very nice visit. I was so impressed. In Portugal, they start learning English now at three, and by third grade they start learning other languages. It's amazing how many people in Braga speak English, French, and Spanish, as well as, of course, Portuguese. I was a little envious, because the earlier to start to learn a language the easier it is.