Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Reception at Vallalodid

The room for the official reception at Vallalodid reminded me of the Painted Dining Hall at Greenwich Naval College. It was smaller and older - the tenth-century building had played various roles, including serving as a monastry and, much later, a twentieth century psychiatric unit. On Tuesday the Minister for Education in Castile-Leon greeted us volunteers for the 'bilingual schools' project.

We were fourteen - more or less. One at least was still tracking down luggage left in Atlanta, and I'm not sure everybody caught the early train from Madrid. On my left in this photo(I'm in the middle smiling at the camera) is the only other volunteer from England -we'd travelled together by metro to Madrid railway station - although there's a Scottish lady in there somewhere. The others are retired teachers from America, Canada and Australia. We met for the first time at a tapas reception the previous night in Madrid.

At the same reception I'd met Richard Vaughan, the founder of Vaughantown systems, a company which brings native English speakers to Spain. It was under their aegis that I'd done a week's volunteering in Extramadura in September 2008.

What a contrast between the grandiose ceremonials and my actual workplace. We've been assigned to small towns and village all over the Castile-Leon region, and this is the playground of Luis Casado primary school -57 pupils and 8 teachers - in Corrales del Vino, (pop. 1,000) a few miles from the ancient capital, Zamora. Lucky for me, the teachers live in the city and drive out to the school.

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