Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gained in translation

I spent this afternoon translating a letter from Jasmine's class teacher, Herr B.

I wouldn't normally go to the effort of sitting down with a pad of paper and a dictionary (OK, electronic translating device) for a note from school but this was a side and a half of densely printed matter (Germans don't believe in short and snappy unless it's made of leather) and it was all about the six days the class spent in Langeoog last week, so I thought that if I just skim read it I'd miss stuff or misunderstand stuff, far better to read it properly and thoroughly and inwardly digest it...an hour or so and four sides of scribbled A4 later I am in full possession of the facts about last week, embellished with Jasmine's personal anecdotes.

I'll give you the leather* version as I see it:

- not a single child was homesick - I'm sure this will have been a HUGE disappointment to some mothers who were wiping away tears as the children left on the Monday and then again when they returned on Saturday.
- there was no mention of any bodyboarding being done, despite a certain child managing to pack both a bodyboard and wet suit, according to my reliable source (that'll be Jas and not Herr B) the child in question "didn't want to".
- the bumper cake harvest** was enjoyed right up until the last day, they never knew what kind of cake they were going to find inside the tin foil, which in retrospect surprises me, I'd have thought the German moms would have labelled their products with ingredients, use by date and place of manufacture at the very least.
- we parents got a stern telling off for allowing some children (no names, no pack drill - although I interrogated my suspect and received a very honest denial, although she did give up a name during questioning) to take with them more than the 5 euro we'd been forced to agree to as pocket money. The comment went "how can children learn that it is important to keep to an agreement, if their parents don't set the example" - ouch!
- the children appear to hae spent the whole of one afternoon packing their suitcases in readiness for the trip home. Really? It certainly didn't look like it, everything was returned, albeit in a much grubbier and crumpled state than it went, but that's to be expected. Maybe the afternoon was spent trying to locate everyone's belongings, maybe that's what he meant?
- there was the essential misuse of deodorant by boys, a couple of whom sprayed one poor child's cuddly toy and bedding - I'm surprised that 10 year old boys had deodorant with them, maybe the mothers thought that it'd hide the lack of washing?
- Herr B took advantage of having two native English speakers on the trip (Jasmine and Jack) and tried to polish up his English, I shall have to ask him next time (in English) how that went!
- things that received criticism from the children were apparently; the local island swimming pool was salt water (and yet they'd have happily swum in the sea, were it not for the fact that it would have been toe numbingly cold) the man who led the island walk talked over their heads meaning that unfortunately the children are still completely in the dark about the influence on the tide of the moon and lastly, they didn't have enough time on the beach - what did they think it was? A holiday?!

In the middle of November we get to spend an evening at school, watching a video of what the class got up to, reading the diaries they were forced to write every day and I guess looking at the photo-montage and all the related debris they brought back with them. The session is scheduled to be at least two hours long, but hey, at least it includes supper!

Word of the day; die Wasserlinse - waterweed

* i.e short and snappy
** every child was asked to bring along a tin foil wrapped loaf sized cake (the Germans are nothing if not specific)

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