Category Archives: Teaching

Year 2012 in Review

2012 has been a good year for us! Maybe not as exciting as 2011, but we’ve had a lot of fun! Rather than send out a holiday card, I think it’s easier to blog about our year!

Pete and Kimmy’s best moments of 2012:

January: This was a pretty chill month for us. Pete finished up his internship at the embassy and I went back to teaching after a Christmas break. At work, I did a week long course for teaching business to ESL learners. I gave a pretty sweet presentation on the large number of Mercedes in Albania. (3 out of 5 cars in Albania are Mercedes!)

February-March: Lots of work and school for both of us! Pete hung out with the missionaries a lot, and we had a blast hanging out with friends we made.


April: This was a busy month for us. We were getting ready to head home. In the meantime, Pete went to Malta (while I froze in Estonia, teaching). We also went on a winter adventure with a family in our branch! We also were able to visit Tartu and Pärnu.

21 pete


May: Pete finished his first year of grad school! Now time to buckle down and work on that thesis. Also, we made it back to America! Coming home to America is the best, whether you’ve been gone for a few months or a bit longer. We were sure happy to be in a home that made sense to us.

An eventful Bird summer: Katie and Kevin visited when Ali and Austen got married and Tyler left for his mission in Riga, Latvia.


September: A proud daughter. My parents went to Italy while I told everyone around me how brave they were to rent a car, ride trains, and more! While they were abroad, we got to hang out with my little sister, Carly.


October: We moved back downtown. We love the city, trax, and overall feel of downtown, so it’s sure nice to be back. We live a 5 minute walk away from Trader Joe’s which is our new favorite place to shop.

November: A new niece was born! Little Evvie is precious and it’s fantastic getting to know Hadley.


December: We watched the whole season of Arrested Development. Again. Might be round 3 or 4. But more importantly, we got a puppy! His name is Zoltán. It’s a Hungarian name. We call him Zoli for short. He is half mini Schnauzer and half Brussels Griffon (another terrier type dog). We are working on potty training, crate training, and sleeping at night. So far, it’s going well, considering that he’s only 8 weeks old!

zoli christmas



Filed under Estonia, Malta, Places, Teaching, Travel

Parents Abroad

Pete and I have been back for nearly 4 full months! We’ve had plenty going on in these last four months, however, I haven’t seemed to be as interested in blogging.

The biggest news around here is that Pete found a job a few weeks ago. He’s working at a digital marketing company called White Label Marketing. It’s just minutes (walking) from where we used to live in Salt Lake City! It’s a great location, one I’m jealous of. There’s just something great about downtown. Pete is a copywriter there. The two other copywriters are either leaving soon or have already left, so as of this Friday, he’ll be their only copywriter. He likes that it keeps him busy, and that it’s a challenge. It’s writing with a plan; so there is more to it than simply writing something interesting. From what he’s said, he gets along with the rest of the employees there; overall, they’re around the same age as Pete, which is nice. It is so great to have Pete working again. The time with him working freelance was great, but I think the structure of a job is good for him.

On another note, my parents left for Italy yesterday morning! We were so happy to see them off, and I couldn’t be a prouder daughter. After my many trips abroad, they have finally taken the plunge and will be in Italy for two and a half weeks! They flew into Rome, and then are driving from Rome to Florence, the Cinque Terra, and Venice. They are going to see it all! I’m a bit terrified for them, simply because I remember all too well how stressful travelling can be, but I think that the two and a half weeks will be perfect for them. My mom has done an amazing job at planning the entire trip, and I think they will be forever changed. Once the travel bug bites, it’s sure hard to stifle! Pete and I reminded them that this is not a vacation, it’s an adventure. Don’t plan on being relaxed–that’s not likely.

Usually I’m the one leaving! It was weird going to the airport, early in the morning, and then being the one driving back home.

In the meantime, Pete and I are hanging out with Carly and Ellie (my little 12 year old sister and our dog). It’s a blast to hang out with Carly! She and I haven’t spent much time in the same house–I moved out when she was 3 and have only spent one summer living here since. She is a hoot. We can’t wait to make her branch out with eating. So far, we’ve already got her to eat beefalo burgers. Which she loved!

And, I’ve been in charge of cleaning out my stuff that’s in the basement. I found a million pictures of me during my travels in Russia and Ukraine (before I had a digital camera) and have been scanning them into the computer. It’s been years since I’ve seen a lot of the pictures (and luckily, I put post it notes on the backs of pictures with students’ names. I had no idea what some of their names were). What good memories.

A few of the girls from my Russia 2004 group

Girls in my oldest group who I taught at an all-girls’ school in Boyarka, Ukraine. 2006

My bathroom in the apartment I shared with another teacher who was Ukrainian. 2006

Amazing cafe in L’viv, Ukraine. 2006

A few of my younger students. Voronezh, Russia, 2004.


Filed under Italy, Places, Teaching, Travel

Travel Advice: Letters from my students

This is a birthday post for my mom, but if you’re in need of travel advice (or you just like to read blogs), then keep on reading! Also, a special welcome to any of my Year 12 students who might be reading! 

Happy Birthday, Mom! 

I figured a fun (virtual, rather than literal) birthday present would be to have my students write you (and dad) letters of advice about travelling abroad. They’re my Year 12 Exam Course students, and they’ve all been abroad for travel, so I knew they’d have some great advice for you!

I told them about how the two of you are going to Italy this Autumn, and that it’s your first time leaving the US (other than Tijuana). And I also printed out a few pictures so they could see who they’d be writing to (hope you don’t mind, mom and dad).

I hope you enjoy reading their letters! I think they all gave excellent advice. (I’ve corrected any grammar mistakes, but there really weren’t that many–these students are fantastic at English in all areas).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading these letters! (They’re in no particular order)

Dear Steve and Suzy,

We are writing you to cheer you up a little bit. We heard that you are going to Italy, so we would like to give you some advice about how to deal with the local people and how to understand the atmosphere.

First of all, Italy is a very multicultural country, but in general, the way of thinking, manners, and habits are very close to Mexicans.

The second thing is that they have such a thing as “fiesta”. Yep, they sleep during the day. It is normal if you find that all the shops are closed for one hour.

All Italians drink wine. No exceptions. And we strongly recommend you try the local sorts of wine.

We would also recommend you to their local ice cream–it has a special taste. If you are considering to eat at McDonald’s–forget this idea. Italian food is the best thing you can find.

Rome has a special way to travel–so named “Hop-on-Hop-off” buses. You can buy a ticket for a day and enjoy Rome’s sights by listening to a guide using earphones. We would suggest you enjoy the first bus tour from the beginning to the end. It helps you to understand which is interesting for you and during the second tour you can “hop off” where you want. Also, it is easy to travel by underground.

And the last but not least. Do not ever mix pasta with ketchup. Locals wouldn’t appreciate that.

Yours sincerely,

Roma, Kate, Jan


Dear Steve and Suzy,

We are glad to hear that you are having a holiday in Italy. The country you are going to visit has a very open minded view. People there are very friendly and talkative. One thing to bear in mind is that their way to greet people is to kiss on the cheeks which may cause culture shock. Do not be afraid of it, just go with the flow because they actually wish well.

However, there are some things to be aware of while being on a tour–you should keep an eye on your things because you cannot trust anyone 100%.

We would also like to recommend to you some places to visit there. First of all, you should visit the Vatican, which is the smallest country in the world and home for the Pope. Another place you should go to is Venice where you definitely have to ride the gondola. It is good for you, Suzy, that the gondola men talk a lot about the history and culture of Venice and Italy in general.

It is a must-have to eat the dessert called gelatto (ice cream), that you have to try there. They offer many kinds of tastes for every person.

We hope that this will be your new anniversary since Italy is a very Romantic country. We hope you find some good tips from our letter.

With the best regards,

Sven and Maria


Dear Mr. and Mrs. West,

We are writing to you to give advice about how to prepare for travelling abroad. We will talk about travelling in Central Europe.

Firstly, we recommend you to be informed about what the weather will be like in this area, where you are going, because that can help you prepare most of the clothes. Secondly, you should know that there is no need to take any specific transport like a taxi because you can use public transport. It is cheaper and more effective. Also, you can get some useful information from passengers that could help you find some places that you should visit. The last thing but not the least important is money. Don’t take with you too much money in the local currency because if you change currency in your homeland you get less than if you change them in the place you go.

Another few things you must know, because it is very important, that if you go to Italy, Italians are very emotional people. Because they are very emotional, they cannot control themselves sometimes. So, if you are talking with them, carefully choose your words.

Best trip to you.

Yours Sincerely,

Fidan and Mike


Well, there you have it! I hope you (mom and anyone else who read it) enjoyed the letters!


Filed under Culture, Estonia, Places, Teaching, Travel

How many Estonians have I offended!?

Sometimes, you just don’t learn about the cultural differences of a place till something awkward happens. Or, you don’t realize it’s awkward… until you learn about the “rule”.

Example: I learned, just last week, that Estonians do not compliment each other unless good friends (not even acquaintances compliment each other). Of course now that I’ve learned that, I’ve been thinking about all of the conversations I’ve ever had with an Estonian (um, I’m a teacher to Estonians–this thinking process has taken me awhile). I don’t remember complimenting any Estonians unless I consider them good friends (like at church or something). But I talk a lot. So who knows? I might have complimented an Estonian and completely freaked her out!

I’ve asked my students what their reaction would be if they did get complimented in a strange situation (trying to assess the type of damage I may have caused), and all they’ve told me is that it’s weird and that they don’t understand why someone would compliment them. I guess they’re just confused and don’t understand what the person doing the complimenting wants.

So. Well. In America (or at least the America I know), it’s normal for girls to compliment each other, even when they’ve just barely met. Is that right, American friends? Or am I super weird for complimenting a girl’s cute shoes or something when I don’t really know her?

I need to know–is it ok for a girl to compliment another girl (just casually, like about her clothes or something normal) when you aren’t good friends or have I been breaking some rule that I didn’t know exists?

It’s clear to me that I shouldn’t EVER compliment girls who I don’t know well here. Now I just need to know if I should give up on compliments while in the US, too.

UPDATED: I have learned a few things through this post–1) Posts with dramatic titles will bring people to my blog. I don’t know if that means that I should continue with such sensationalism when posting or not. Probably not. My life isn’t that crazy to make every title so exciting. 2) Russian-Estonians do compliment each other like normal. So it is just Estonian speakers who are uncomfortable with it. 3) Americans (thank goodness) do compliment complete strangers!

I can now rest easy and spend the last bit of my time here complimenting the heck out of my Russian speaking students while terrifying my Estonian speaking students by introducing them to my habit of complimenting. Very good news.


Filed under Culture, Estonia, Places, Teaching, Travel


I’ve been taking lots of random pictures on my phone and I figured I’d share them–seeing how I haven’t blogged for a bit! You can click on an image to make it bigger.

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Filed under Culture, Estonia, Food, Places, Teaching, Travel

New Semester

Hello! I’m not very good at blogging ever since we’ve arrived here in Tallinn. So, maybe I should get better at that. I usually think about writing something, but then it never happens because I’m too busy or not really in the mood. But it’s Saturday morning here, and it’s suuuuper windy outside so Pete and I are too scared to go outside to go to the market for some cheap food. Luckily we have a little pancake mix left, so Pete’s making that as we speak.

I started my new semester of classes this last week. So far, so good. The  amount of teaching hours is fine, even though some days are a bit spread out (on Mondays and Wednesdays I get to the school at 8 and leave at 7:15 or so).

Mondays and Wednesdays I teach a one-to-one with a guy who used to play football (aka soccer for my American friends). He’s pretty chill and laid back. I think it’ll be nice to keep working with him.

I’m also teaching an in-company class at a factory out near the airport (it’s always really foggy out there because it’s right by the sea and huge lake–very mysterious scenery). There are three guys and I think I’ll like the class. They want a lot of technical language that has to do with the machine they work with, so I’m using my amazing internet skills to try and figure out how I can go about teaching them about something that I don’t understand at all.

M/W I also teach an elementary level (they’re adults, but they are new at learning English) class at the school. They’re are 3 Estonians and 4 Russians, and they seem to stick together. They’re all super nice and I can tell that they have a lot of great things to say, but their language abilities limit them. But we can still talk about most things at a basic level.

Tuesdays and Fridays I teach at another in-company. I’ve been teaching them since September, so it is fun to see them advance. I really like the class; they are willing to do whatever I throw at them, and they always do their homework.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach a one-to-one. He’s still in high school (I’ve been teaching him since September, as well). He’s a really dedicated student and takes learning English very seriously. He’s quite advanced, so we’re able to have great conversations. He loves history, so we seem to talk about that fairly often.

Fridays I teach a Year 12 (grade 12) test prep course. At the end of their 12th year here, students have to take a test (basically like the ACT/SAT in the US). The students are 16-19 years old (because kids don’t start at school until 6 or 7 here, so they are older when they graduate). They seem like a good group of kids. It’s kind of funny teaching teenagers, because there is a completely different feel to the class. When we talk about our interests, it’s things like music, dance, etc. I like the variety. They are all at a decent level of English, so I’m sure we’ll be able to have some nice conversations in the future (yesterday was my first class with them).

So, I don’t know if anyone really is interested in what classes I’m teaching, but hey, I don’t really journal anymore, so this way I’ll remember what I was teaching. Anywho, the classes are great, and hopefully they will stay the same throughout the semester so that I can get into a great routine! I love it when my weeks are fairly stable and consistent.

Pete’s still out of school for the rest of the month. He has two papers he’s working on that are due soon. They will be interesting, I think. Of course I’m super jealous that he gets to be in school studying such interesting things (too bad he isn’t studying something that I wouldn’t be interested in–then I wouldn’t be jealous at all). He keeps busy by working as an intern at the Embassy (his last week is next week, though). He also has a freelance job as a proofreader/editor for a local company. They’ve given him one assignment, so hopefully they’ll give him more–yeah for money! He’s also working on a story that he might start posting snipets on here. It’s pretty dang funny, if you ask me (but I’m biased). Pete’s also keeping up with the Republican candidacy race–we have plenty of fun watching the debates/ads/The Daily Show/The Colbert Report.

So, there you have it! There’s our life as of right now! Woot!

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Filed under Estonia, Teaching

We ate chicken kiev for our Thanksgiving

My goodness, it has been nearly two months since I’ve last posted. I didn’t expect to be such a slacker, but really, I don’t feel like we even have much to update or say!

Maybe I can share some random Estonian-isms that I’ve discovered while here? Is that ok? Ok, yeah, here you go:

  • People wear little “reflectors” on their coats or purses. They are little reflector buttons to make sure that you are more visible at night. Pete and I each have one and I sure feel like a local at night!
  • Speaking of night–it’s getting light later and later and dark earlier and earlier. Apparently, in December, it gets dark as early as 2 pm.
  • Tallinn Old Town is getting ready for Christmas; they are setting up the cutest little wooden market and there is a giant Christmas tree in the middle. According to Wikipedia, the Old Town in Tallinn was the location of the first Christmas tree! I love Christmas decorations, so I can’t wait for the market to open.
  • I walk home through the Old Town nearly every day, just because I can. It has such a great personality, even at night. I love the architecture, cobble-stone roads, and town center.
  • Pete got called as the branch mission leader at church, so he’s pretty involved with the missionaries and whatnot. He likes it a lot and he’s working on his Estonian so he can understand the meetings he goes to at church.
  • We may or may not have watched several seasons of The Amazing Race in our evenings (after lonnnng days at work, I generally prefer to relax at home, watching tv or something else that doesn’t cost money).
  • I like the classes I teach and am sad that a few of them are ending just before Christmas (although I can’t wait for the 2 week Christmas break!).
  • Teaching articles (a/an/the) is not as simple as you would think! I am working on a chart of all of the different ways we use articles, and it is quite intense! It has been fun putting it together, though.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of! And it turned it more of an update than Estonian-isms–oh well! On this Thanksgiving day (or evening, as it is now), Pete and I are grateful for a comfortable apartment, an income, family, and a lovely (pre-cooked from the grocery store) chicken kiev dinner! Happy Thanksgiving!


Filed under Culture, Estonia, Food, Places, Teaching, Travel

Language Barriers

I teach adults, right? So you would think that language barrier troubles happen all.the.time. in the classroom. However, I feel like I have a harder time understanding the other native English-speaking teachers rather than the students! Crazy, right?


An English teacher and I were talking about language. Because that’s what you do when you’re a language teacher. In fact, I think we were even talking about how it can be hard to understand other English accents. And then this happens (pronunciation according to how I heard it):

Guy: Yeah, there’s a group in London that I can’t understand at all. Called cottonandbriming. It’s like a different language to me.

Me: Cottonandbriming?

Guy: Yeah. They have all of these different words when they speak.

Me: Cottonandbriming? {Still not believing that that’s what it was actually called} What do they do?

Guy: Well, they roym words with each other when they speak and then they change the words. There’s a website that shows you how it works. It’s mental.

Me: How do you spell it? {Me getting ready to type it into my computer}

Guy: C O C K N E Y

Me: Ohhhh, cockney!

Guy: Yeah, cottonandbriming.

Me: Cockney and what?

Guy: Royming.

Me: Ohhh, rhyming!

Guy: Yeah…. {I think by this point he thought I was crazy a.k.a. mental}

Me: {typing into the computer} Cockneyandrhyming

Guy: No, just cockney rhyming.

Me: Oh. {typing in}

Another British Teacher: Will you two just come in and teach my lesson? You have just gone over what I’m going to teach: English language variations.

And finally, we overcame our language barrier. On a side note, the website is pretty cool to look at, and worth checking out!


Filed under Culture, Estonia, Teaching, Travel

Rain in Tallinn… Regarding Foreign Country Job Searches

Since moving to Tallinn, it’s rained almost every day. This can get a little depressing, but my main focus since coming has been trying to find a job. Going on the job hunt is never fun, regardless of where you are, but looking for a job in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language is confusing and very tricky. Like if I was in the US, I could actually go in to various locations and ask if they were hiring; my abilities and job options are much wider in the US. But here, what could I do? Teach English…. And that’s about it! While Pete has been in school, I’ve been spending hours at the local mall using their free WiFi (our internet took 2 weeks to get set up) to search for different places to work (public schools, language schools, etc).

Anyway, here is the looong story of what’s been going on lately (and it does have a happy ending to those crazy enough to actually read this whole thing).

About two days after arriving in Tallinn, I found out that a job that I had arranged while in Budapest had fallen through. This was a huge hit and Pete and I started doubting our choice in coming here. One day, Pete and I were walking around a store, trying to get pillows and other things for our apartment. We had just come from the immigration office, and had been very discouraged with how complicated visas and becoming a resident of the country was for us (especially with me being not employed; it is impossible for me to be a resident of the country if I didn’t have a job). At the store, we both were contemplating flying home—not at all what we were expecting to consider after arriving to Tallinn, but in the situation we were in, it sounded like a good (and easy) option. After wandering around the store, trying to figure out life, we decided to go forward and figure everything out here.

Later on, we discovered that we didn’t need to get residence permits asap, as we had thought, so that was a relief. Pete started going to his orientation and classes, and was enjoying the university (I’m super jealous of his classes, so luckily he takes great notes and we continue his class discussions at home). We also went to the branch, and were instantly welcomed in and felt quite at home there. But, after two weeks job of searching (I emailed every single kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high school in search for teaching jobs), I was beginning to get pretty hopeless about the situation. I even emailed a bunch of hotels to see if they were hiring cleaning ladies, but even those positions require speaking Russian, Estonian, and English! So, after lots of dead ends and prayers, I had several strange things happen within a very short time frame:

Wednesday, September 7: I had emailed a language school (let’s call them Language School A), seeing if they were interested in hiring me. They responded in Russian, saying that they teach generally in Russian, could I handle it? I responded saying that I didn’t know Russian, but that I am a competent teacher who has taught students who didn’t know any English, and I was confident that I could help their school, and my language limitations wouldn’t be an issue. (This email I sent was in desperation, obviously, and is much more confident than usual. Being unemployed makes you do crazy things).

Thursday, September 8: Got a phone call to do an interview from another language school (let’s call them Language School B) where I had applied online. He wanted to meet that day, so I went in. From my point of view, I was not quite qualified for the position—it was a position who was searching for a teacher of adults, and I’ve never taught students older than 14. But, he still wanted to give me a chance to prove myself, so I set up a time to come in on Monday to do a lesson with a group, while observed by the school, to see how I am as a teacher. After leaving the interview, I got a call from the Language School A, saying that they’d like me to do a mock lesson for very beginners on Monday so that they can see my teaching style.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Freaking out about the fact that I was doing to test lessons on Monday—scary!

Monday: Went in to Language School A and did my presentation. It went really well! I was impressed with myself, and they liked it, too. They didn’t have any specific classes to put me in to right away, but they were still interested in trying to make something work. Went to Language School B and had 45 minutes to prepare a lesson. Taught a 45 minute lesson to adults. I enjoyed myself, and the evaluator thought that I did a nice job. Said that they would call me to let me know if they had any classes for me.

Tuesday: Went to the elementary school where I’ve been teaching 4 hours a week (but it was terrible pay, and took a super long time to get there and back, because it wasn’t actually in Tallinn, and it was expensive to get there by bus). On the way there, that morning, I got a call from Language School B, saying that they could take me on for a 2 hour class that was held once a week. I accepted, but was bummed that it was such few hours. Nevertheless, I figured it was a foot in the door, and if they were impressed, it could possibly grow into more hours.

Wednesday: Went in to Language School A to film a little “about me” video that they could put on their site. Got a phone call from Language School C (you read it right, a third language school!) who wanted to interview me that day. Went in to Language School C to interview. Liked the school, told them I was interested in the full-time position. Knew we had to work out some technicalities to start working, so I wouldn’t be able to start for about 10 days or so. The pay offered was ok, but not awesome.

Thursday (today): Went to Language School C to work out visa process. Told them that I needed to call Language School A and B to tell them that I wouldn’t be working for them. Went home, emailed Language School A (sad day) to tell them. Was literally seconds away from calling Language School B to tell them, but then Language School B called, I told them that I had found another full-time position, so I couldn’t work that 2 hours for them, but then he said that they had a full-time position they’d like to offer me. Decided that I would go in to Language School B to chat with them about the position. Went in to Language School B, decided that it would be best for me to take this position for several reasons: better pay, potential to get certified as a Business English Teacher in January, and by teaching mainly adults, it is a great way for me teach adults in the future. Chatting with Language School B went really well, and I feel great about the position! I signed a contract, and I start Monday! Woot!

So, after a lot of faith-filled prayers, stress, and tears, I am finally employed full-time! Pete and I are so happy that we’ve decided to stay. And we surely can’t get over how when it rains, it pours, here in Tallinn!



Filed under Places, Teaching

Last Day of Teaching

Today was the last day of teaching, and I must say, I am so sad to be leaving the kindergarten and Budapest! I had such a memorable summer with some of the funniest kids out there. I tried not to cry too much while the kids sang a goodbye song during lunch. The school director asked me to write a little article about the summer camp for their quarterly magazine, so I figured I’d include that here, seeing how I haven’t really talked about how the summer camp was, day to day.

One of the English Garden Summer School teachers was Kimberly Bird from Utah, USA.

Here is Kimberly’s summer diary:

The first week’s theme was Cooking, where we were able to cook together as well as take a day-trip to Nobu and Sugar. What a fun first outing! We were all excited to see the “behind the scenes” of a sushi restaurant. I loved watching the kids learn to roll the sushi and make their fruit cocktails, but I think the most memorable part of the trip was at Sugar, where the kids saw all of the incredible different cakes and desserts. The students talked about all of the different creative cakes, such as the Japanese styled cakes, volcano cakes, and animal cupcakes. The students also had a wonderful time decorating their very own cupcake.

After such a successful first week, I was excited about the second week’s theme, Musical Theater. Fae from Dramaworks came to direct the students. The kids focused on learning songs from “The Lion King,” “Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang,” and “High School Musical.” The Juniors group especially loved singing and dancing to “I Can’t Wait to Be King” from “The Lion King.” It was so fun to watch them singing the song to themselves while they were coloring or playing. I must say, the performance was quite impressive! The Juniors sang and danced energetically to “I Can’t Wait to be King” and the Seniors were incredibly powerful and enthusiastic while they sang and danced (especially to the “High School Musical” songs).

Week three’s theme was Drama, and Fae came back from the previous week to coach the students. The students all became very attached to Fae and her friendly personality! After a day of practicing, we had the Juniors draw a picture of the Aesop’s Fable that they were going to perform; we then had the students dictate the story to us. Hearing the stories in the children’s words was wonderful. It was fun to hear the parts that they emphasized. The week ended with another successful performance, and the kids were so proud of how well they had memorized their lines!

Digital Photography was the theme for the fourth week. Each child brought in their own camera with much excitement. Throughout the week, we talked about different types of photography, and then the students were able to try it out on their camera. I loved how the different themes (portraiture, architecture, and nature) allowed the students to truly observe the world around them. I was also impressed with the quality of nature photos—the students loved capturing pictures of flowers, bugs, or plants.

Week five was Puppetry and Storytelling. This week, the children were able to really use their imagination while they told stories with the hand puppets and mini theater. Also, this week’s highlight was the trip to NOHA studios where the children made innovative spoon puppets (either Red Riding Hood or the Big Bad Wolf). After the exciting craft, we watched one of the funniest plays I’ve seen—it was a creative version of Little Red Riding Hood, but the actors used unique props. The performance was so entertaining that everyone had a great time laughing and watching the actors.

Design and Technology was the theme for week six. We were able to make and design all kinds of fun devices! The Juniors designed their own mobile, painted their own castle (as well as designed the wallpaper and flooring for the castle), and made their own felt ball. This week, we also visited the Challengeland Ropes Course at Orczy Park. The kids were able to test their minds and bodies to figure out all of the different rope routes. I had fun helping the kids from rope to rope!

Week seven’s theme was Film and TV. Each day, we talked about a different type of film (cartoons, black and white, and real-life). We were able to practice our filming skills by doing interviews, advertisements, and reality TV shows. The most memorable moment was watching the final film clips with everyone. The Seniors were incredibly creative with the script-writing and storylines, and the Juniors loved participating in all of the films, so once the filming was finished, we had quite a wonderful film to watch. The students were also all excited to design their own DVD cover and take home a copy of the week’s filming.

The final week, week eight, was all about Dance. We had Kristy from Fusion Dance come, and she choreographed three fantastic dances! The boys loved dancing to their very cool sailor/pirate dance. The girls took their dance (an Indian inspired style) very seriously and enjoyed practicing their dance moves in the garden. Throughout the week, we had fun talking about different international dance styles by looking at pictures and videos of the different styles. And of course, the students loved the final performance, and they even got to take home their tie dyed shirts!

Overall, this has been such a wonderful, fun-filled summer! I had loved all of the themes, and most of all, I have loved getting to know all of the students at the summer camp. Whether it was playing in the garden, doing creative crafts, or telling stories, it has been fantastic to work with and create relationships with all of the students at the English Garden Summer Camp!

And finally, some pictures of the kids I’ve been hanging out with this summer (a lot of the kids are on holiday this week, so I didn’t get any pictures of many of my favorite kids). And don’t pay attention to my sweaty face (it was nearly 100 degrees and super humid today) or terrible undereye circles (anyone know how to get rid of them?):

Ilona, from England

Rebecca and Charlotte, sisters (mom is from Chile, dad is Irish)

Riccardo from Italy

Maria from Italy, Katya (mom is Ukrainian, dad is English) and Zosia from Poland

Dami from Hungary

Bori from Poland

I am going to miss the kids and other teachers!


Filed under Culture, Hungary, Teaching, Travel