What we’re thankful for

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving last Thursday! As promised, here are some photos of student work from Clara Campoamor’s Thanksgiving celebrations. Students from 2˚ESO and 2˚Baccalaureate reflected on what they are thankful for this year.

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To celebrate Thanksgiving, I had a lovely dinner with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins, who were visiting Madrid last week—though sadly I didn’t get to eat any of the traditional Thanksgiving foods. While I was here, my parents, brother, and grandmother, along with numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins, gathered in New York for a Thanksgiving feast of their own. It was extra special because they were also celebrating my grandmother’s 80th birthday. Here are some photos of them preparing and enjoying their meal! See if you can spot any of the traditional foods: turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, the 4th Thursday of November, people in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday is traditionally marked by a giant feast featuring foods suck as turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and pumpkin pie. It is common for people to spend the day with family and to reflect on what they are thankful for this year.

Many classes at Clara Campoamor have been celebrating Thanksgiving, and we will be sharing more photos and excerpts of student work in the coming days. But to start us off, here are some of the things the 2nd Baccalaureate C students are thankful for:

I give thanks for my life.
I am thankful for having my mind and my imagination.
I am thankful for having an awesome, caring, and loving family.
I am thankful for being healthy.

I’m so glad that I have the school choir and such a good conductor.
I am grateful for all my friends and family who have helped me in hard moments.
I give thanks for my brother.
I’m so glad that I have poetry.

As more classes write their sentences of gratitude, we will put them together to form a turkey—each sentence will go on a piece of paper representing one of the turkey’s feathers. Pictures are coming soon! But until then, here is a photo of my great aunt chopping sweet potatoes yesterday. She was already starting to help prepare my family’s thanksgiving feast in New York!

Preparing for the Thanksgiving meal
Yesterday, my great aunt (my grandmother’s sister) was already helping to prepare my family’s Thanksgiving feast in New York! Here she is chopping lots of sweet potatoes.

Study Smart!

It’s getting towards the end of the first term and we’re entering into a time of lots of tests and assignments. I think I can speak for all the other assistants and teachers when I say we know that studying can be hard and that sometimes it feels like you’re just not getting anywhere no matter how much you study! So, here is a little picture (courtesy of one of my old university lecturers) to reflect upon when things are hard. Remember, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’! Good luck to you all! 12107859_10153326027787857_3052650423624037001_n

Remembrance Day

11th November is Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, Armistice Day or Poppy Day), an important event in many parts of the world, when many countries take time to remember the soldiers that have died in the line of duty while fighting for their country, and to pay tribute to the sacrifices they made.

A Poppy worn on Remembrance Day
A Poppy worn on Remembrance Day

This date was chosen because it is when the peace treaty between France, Germany, Britain and the USA was signed, ending World War One “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. Therefore, in Britain and most Commonwealth countries, a moment’s silence takes place at 11am to mark the anniversary of the exact end of the war.

While Remembrance Day began as an occasion to commemorate World War One, it is now a date to pay tribute to all soldiers who have fought in the many wars since.

The Cenotaph during Remembrance Day observations
The Cenotaph during Remembrance Day observations

Remembrance Day is often celebrated with military parades, by laying wreaths of poppies at monuments to the dead, and marches of the surviving veterans. In the UK for example, there are two different ceremonies, Remembrance Day on the 11th November, and Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday of November. Members of the Royal Family, top politicians and public figures gather at the Cenotaph in London, along with the general public and veterans, to pay their respects in a formal ceremony.

Poppies are used as symbols of remembrance, not only because they grew in the fields of Flanders where so many soldiers died in World War One, but also because their bright red colour signifies the blood spilt in battle. Poppies are sold in the run-up to Remembrance Day by the Royal British Legion, a charity organisation for the support of servicemen and their families, with all money going to the support of the charity and the servicemen.

You can find out more here and here.

The Darker Side of Social Media

We now live in the age of social media where it seems that people cannot even leave their front door without taking a selfie for Snapchat or Instagram. Indeed, one of the first questions students asked me in my first classes was: “Do you have Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/Facebook” etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, social media is an incredible tool for keeping in touch with friends abroad, letting friends and family know what you are up to or, in the case of the Arab Spring, kick starting a revolution. However, many news outlets picked up on a story this week which highlights the darker side of social media and the effect it can have on young people growing up in the age of the selfie. Essena O’Neill seems like a regular 18 year old but in fact she is one of a growing number of teenagers and young people who are making a living out of social media. Companies would pay her to pose in their clothes or use their products in her Instagram photos that were then shared to her 1m+ followers. However, this kind of lifestyle is incredibly high pressured and Essena has taken the radical step of showing just what goes into the ‘perfect’ Instagram shot. She has changed the captions on many of her photos to describe the process behind taking them. These new captions include “Didn’t eat for 2 days” and “We are a generation obsessed with likes and comments”. You can read about Essena O’Neill’s decision here: http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a31635/essena-oneill-instagram-social-media-is-not-real-life/

Why Learning a Language is More than Translation

Here at Clara Campoamor, our students work hard to improve their language skills. Students study Spanish, English, French, and Greek. And while many words can be directly translated from one language to another, there are other factors involved in mastering a language. For example, different languages have different syntax and grammar, and these factors can change the meaning of a sentence even if all the individual words are directly translated.

For this reason (among others!), learning a language means doing more than just translating word-for-word. It also helps explain why using digital translators, like Google Translate, is not a perfect method for figuring out how to say something in another language.

Check out this cool animated video about how digital translators work. It can help us think about the differences and similarities among languages and brings up some interesting points about multilingualism.