Trisha Remetir: California Days (or the week of cutie pies!)

February went quickly, didn’t it? After the weekend of birthdays I had a flurry of other projects to plan for, like the weeklong English speaking event California Days as well as my spring break trip. That as well as figuring out my plans for the next year (a source of unending worry, as it seems).

But the spring break pictures will have to wait, because I have to backtrack to California Days first. Since August, the teachers and I have been talking about–and then later planning–an English language event at the school. These are school-wide events that involve student participation in various projects, presentations, and even music. Previous years have been Irish Days, Australia Days, and though 2013 was already planned to be New Zealand Days, they changed the theme to my state, California, since I’m… from… there. It felt really weird for a single American state to be the theme for the whole event, but I consoled myself with the fact that California is actually bigger than a lot of European countries. Also, we got to focus on a number of really great things I miss about home, like California literature and Bay Area culture.

The beginning of the week started with the ol’ regular classes, but on Tuesday my CA bud as well as guest of honor, Grace Osborne arrived to Nachod, where she stayed with me in my flat. There we hurriedly put together our presentation on California. Wednesday we got up bright and early for the beginning of the students’ presentations.

Piled up on the stage

Okay, so at this point I feel like I should explain the cheesefest that makes up half of the title of this blogpost. I’ve lately been teaching the younger classes, making my way from the oktavas down to the quintas and quartas. Every month, the students become a little more shy, a little more eager and attentive, but mostly just plain cute. I’m not gonna lie: the most memorable classes I’ve ever taught are the ones during which the first lesson I first walked into a room and witnessed terror in their eyes. Not due to my disciplinary skills (admittedly, I have none), but due to the fact that I am American. And also a few years older than them. And (perceptibly) taller than (some of) them.

So little!

So while a lot of their presentations carried similar themes (Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, famous Californian movie stars), it didn’t matter because it was so endearing just to hear them speak.

A couple of primas talking about Hollywood

And why they’re cute isn’t because the students are unintelligent – Grace and I got to listen to an impromptu concert by some very gifted prima students–it’s just that their intelligence is packed into such a small physical space (aka, their height and miniature clothes) that there were some times Grace had to tell me to stop saying how cute they were.

But still, they are and I can’t help it.

I still attended some regular classes on Wednesday, but the beauty of being a teaching assistant is that I just continued the Californian spirit by playing trivia games with the quintas. Afterwards I took some of their pictures. I have to say, this class is not only hardworking but makes me laugh.

FCE students yeah!
Really good students!
They wanted me to take a couple of pictures with them.

California Days ended with two seminars. Grace and I had a postcard making workshop, where people sent postcards from places in California. (I got a lot of Golden Gate Bridge pictures out of it.) The last couple hours of the day were then spent in a literature seminar, where Grace and I got to hear some Ginsberg-esque masterpieces from the older students.

Writing on the piano.
My mentor Zdena talking to a student.

By the end of the week I was completely spent, but again full of tenderness for all the people at my school. And also for Grace, who was a real trooper and woke up at 6:30 in the morning with me everyday. I should also make a shoutout to Andrea and Jakub from the Fulbright Commission, who trekked all the way over to my gymnazium to see the students as well as give study abroad presentations to the septimas and oktavas.

Overall, it was a lovely experience and probably will be one of the best memories I have of my Fulbright teaching experience thus far!

This article is taken from the blog of Trisha Remetir, 2011-2012 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in the Czech Republic. 

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