Happy Birthday Teacher Julianne!

Upon arrival at Floran Tristan English School on the 10th of October 2013, I was directed in no uncertain terms to wait outside my classroom while my students shuffled about inside, giggling, Esperanza barking orders at the boys.

A few minutes later, little Joel from Kai’s class ushered me over to the door…I walked in…

The work of my students

“Feliz Cumpleanos Teacher Julianne!”

The shout greeted me as my students leapt out from behind the door of the classroom and presented me with a snow dome with the label “Happy Birthday Teacher” stuck across the bottom of it…well, it’s a version of a snow dome where, upon vigorous shaking, the animals disappear entirely under a sea of slightly polluted-looking froth and it takes about half an hour to get back to normal. However, I’ve never been quite so moved by a snow dome before given that such thoughfulness lay behind the idea.

Then, in front of me on the white board, the elegant handwriting of my student Jesus welcomed me in the form of the words “Happy Birthday Teacher Julianne”.

And yet more! Luz, the eldest student in my class, presented me with a painstakingly detailed handmade card with Snoopy-themed pop-up figures adorning the inside and a lovely message on the back.

Our class party with Kangaroo class

To be honest, I wasn’t completely surprised that they’d planned something. The previous day I’d mentioned that it would be my birthday and later in the class I caught Luz, Esperanza and Daniel passing a note around when they were supposed to be doing something else. Normally I would insist sternly that they give me the note because it’s not really acceptable classroom etiquette. However, this time Daniel’s beaming grin coupled with Esperanza suggesting that it might-just-might be a surprise made me think twice and I let it lie. I’m glad I did. My awesome students came up with the goods and made me feel very special.

The past month has been a busy but successful month in Leopard class. They all passed the exam for the Cambridge Starters Curriculum – with flying colours I might add, everyone got 75% or more – and we had a party to celebrate, combining with the three littler students in Kai’s Kangaroo class. I’m going to be teaching them as part of my class from mid-October so it was a nice opportunity for the two classes to get to know each other a bit more.

I’m starting to discover the big personalities that have been hiding away while my students have got to know me…and now, with just three weeks of my volunteer placement remaining, I feel like I’m only just starting to get to know them properly.

The students happy during their well earned party

As is usual at the end of the month, there was an assembly for the whole school, at which I presented specific students with certificates for enthusiasm, reading and listening. Sometimes I award writing but we hadn’t done much writing this month.

The next thing was writing letters to penfriends in the U.S.A. With a bit of encouragement most members of the class created beautifully written and decorated letters. Every time I do something that involves drawing I’m endlessly pleased and surprised by the talent in the class. They always come up with something beautiful. This is a wall calendar they created in the first month I taught them.

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As for the rest of my birthday celebrations…well, I made the most of what Arequipa has to offer and went out for an exceedingly un-Peruvian Italian meal for the evening of my actual birthday, enjoying a delicious vegetable lasagna to the dulcet tones of live panpipe music (which made up for the un-Peruvian-ness of the restaurant choice!).

Then the Friday night was a jovial gathering of almost all the people I know in Arequipa…which actually turned out to be more than I thought!

Junior, Elisa, Kai and I

An enormous chocolate and cream cake was produced later in the evening…

…which subsequently ended up all over my face and up my nose! Apparently it’s a Peruvian tradition to take a bite after blowing out the candles (and of course get a face-full of chantilly), but I’m not sure who to believe. The cake throwing that ensued almost outdid the cake eating but I managed to enjoy a few slices while watching Team Taiwan and Team Arequipa go head to head in “Torta Wars”…

All of this was followed by plenty of dancing in Arequipa’s boogy establishments and a feeling of general merriment. I slept soundly despite my sore feet and reflected on the past few happy days with the friends I’ve made over the past few months…what a wonderful way to celebrate. I will remember my 31st birthday in Arequipa with great fondness.

Posted by Julianne Ezra

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