Friday, June 19, 2015

School Visit in Braga, Portugal

Wonderful students at Escola
Secundaria Maximinos
It's been such a busy time, that I'm opting out of the "Celebrating Small Things" blog hop for about two weeks to catch up on events in Portugal and Galicia. Then I'll get back to it, as I really enjoy all the friends I've met there.

Now that book events of the last week are winding down, I can get to a school visit in Braga that give me the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful students at Escola Secondaria Maximinos, a secondary school equivalent to our middle and high school levels in the United States. (Braga is divided into civil parishes, and Maximinos, where the school is located, is one of those parishes.)

The visit was arranged by Carla Pereira, a lovely person I met on a previous trip while doing research who has become a dear friend, and one of the teachers at the school. Carla had corresponded with me and asked if I would visit her daughter's school. Of course I said yes! The teacher who set up the event, Senhorita Carminda, arranged for us to meet in the library, which provided a warm and welcoming environment.

Carla, her 12-year old daughter,
Beatrix, and me.

Carla's daughter, Beatrix, is twelve, but the majority of students were between 13 and 15. Students from two 7th grade classes and two 8th grade classes met in the library, which hosts visitors and various programs. (You can learn more about the library programs HERE.)

A table had been set up at the front of the room, and what really amazed (and delighted) me was a screen that had a picture of my book cover! I had bought posters to pin up, but they were entirely unnecessary.

What to my wondering eyes did appear.

Senhorita Carminda, me, and a charming
supervisor from the school district. I'm
sorry I can't tell you her name. I met a lot
of people all at once. But she was warm
and welcoming, like all the staff. 

The students were a great audience: attentive, curious, serious, well-behaved. They understood English and asked interesting questions: everything from what made me come to Braga (another book I'm writing), what did I like about Braga (oh so much!), how long I had been writing (all my life), and a few other questions.

Following along. . . (you can see my
husband, Rajan, near the door.)

The students were pretty focused.

And attentive.
I really enjoyed their questions.

Some of the students told me they write, too. And -- impressive -- one young man is studying both Spanish and French, in addition to the English he already has been learning. Here are some
    pictures of these cool young

 Altogether, the visit took about 45 minutes, and the time went by very fast.

Before it was over, I was presented with a gift from the school - a pen with a wooden shaft in a beautifully crafted wooden box. And because they do things in such a special way, the box was wrapped in paper with a picture of my book cover!
The wrapping.

The special pen. My poetry pen. 
Even though I write my fiction on the computer, I write my poetry by hand, and this is now my poetry pen, which will always hold special memories for me of this lovely event. (I took these pictures when we got back to our house in Galicia.)

After the students went to their next class, we had some pictures taken with our hosts, two hard-working librarians who also teach classes. They set everything up for us and created this inviting and comfortable atmosphere.

Rajan, Senhorita Carminda, me,
supervisor, and 2 gracious librarians.

Senhorita Carminda, Beatrix, Carla,
me, and charming supervisor. 
But there was another surprise, too! I actually received this the day before when I walked over to Casa Stop to arrange with Carla the meeting time to go to the school. Casa Stop is a cool shop with a little bit of everything, including needlework. (I waited until we returned to Galicia to take this picture in our little dining area.) The embroidery work featured is a logo of the Sé Cathedral in Braga.

A beautiful apron and potholder, and a little "pocket" to keep them in. Of course, I wouldn't dream of cooking with them. I'm a cook who sometimes spills things. These are a gift I will treasure, along with my new poetry pen, and the memories attached to them - examples of the generosity and kindness so typical of Portuguese culture.

Thank you, Carla! Thank you Escola Secondaria Maximinos! 

Next week: A very special Fado singer. Stay tuned.


  1. Looks like you had an amazing trip!

  2. Yes, T., amazing is the word. this trip will probably stay with me for my lifetime.

  3. It looks like you're having a great time in Portugal. All the kids look so attentive. Congrats! :)

  4. What a wonderful day! I'm happy for you.

  5. Thanks, Lexai. Yes, we had a wonderful time. I love the Portuguese people.

    Rosi, thanks for the good wishes!

  6. My dear Elizabeth, was a pleasure and an honor to spend this time with you! Thank you dear friend! I thank you a thousand times and Secondary Maximinos too! I hope you return to Braga soon! My kisses and Beatriz!

  7. Thanks, Carla. It was a great experience for me, too. I like your daughter's school! Hugs to you both.

  8. What a wonderful experience and what great forever memories.

  9. Hi, Sandra. Yes, these are very special memories indeed. I really feel blessed.