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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's the Purpose of School?

It's #TeacherAppreciationDay!

Good thing I have something to tell you that happened just last week!

Our school sends out a bi-annual magazine. In this spring edition I learned that Mr B, my high school history teacher, is going to retire. 

Now history has never been a favourite subject of mine, no thanks to every history teacher I have ever had, except Mr B. 

He only taught us for a year or two, unfortunately, but during this time he managed to convey contents in a hands-on and targeted manner. Up to this day I can remember a page in our history book that was talking about food stamps after WW II. 

Photo Source

I was thinking about the share of deadbeat teachers we had, and how lucky we were on the other hand to be taught by caring and resourceful people like Mr B and others, so I went ahead and sent an email to the editor of this publication saying how much I appreciated attending Mr B's class and that I wished him well. 

They forwarded my message right away to Mr B who then promptly replied thanking me and talking about how we were some of the first kids he had to pleasure to work with. He seemed to remember my classmates and me, which impressed me. He must have met several thousands of students throughout all those years!

Mr B at Lenzburg Youth Festival 2008
Photo Source

I tried to imagine how teaching high school kids must have changed over the years. 

Pre-Internet we had to look for information in the library and take hand-written notes. 
These days students have to weigh which "facts" that they have googled are trustworthy.

When I was a student, if I had bad grades, I was the only one to blame.
These days angry parents blame the teacher for not teaching their precious child the right way.

How does school even come up with a sustainable curriculum in this fast-paced, ever changing world?

Of course, the first years are a given. Kids need to learn how to read, write and do math. Languages are important, networked-thinking, self-management.

It may be an HR thing, but apart from the basics, I think social skills become more and more important. Communication! Listen to others, being able to address and discuss an issue, accept other opinions, find a consensus - those are so important qualities in private life and in the business world. 

Do we necessarily need school for this? 

Nope. Except recess was intentionally designed to practice communication skills ;-)

Where can we learn to communicate and interact with others? Literally everywhere!

In the sandbox, the swimming pool, playgroup, daycare, soccer field, (<-- we like to joke and say they are whiners, quick to complain about the opponent having shoved them ;-)
ice hockey rink, anywhere where other kids / people are. 

Not in front of the TV or staring at the smart phone, though. 

Maybe the purpose of school is so kids can't watch TV during that time?

Kidding aside, I just think that in order to become a functioning person, there is so much more to learn than school currently provides. I like this graphic:

In view of this, I don't agree that parents have a secondary role in their children's education!

Coming to an end I'd like to give a shout-out to Mr S, my son's elementary teacher. He has been doing a fantastic job keeping those 6 - 8 year old boys and girls together, teaching them far more than the alphabet!

After summer break (10 more weeks to go, booo!) Colin and his friends are starting 3rd grade with a new teacher. She's got some big shoes to fill!

Monday, May 2, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge 2016 - Epilog

And just like that, April and the A-Z Blogging Challenge is over! From Preview to today's post, this journey has been fabulous!

I have to say, for me the 2016 edition was so much better than last year's. 

One of the reasons was my unexpected trip, which gave me 
  • The subject for this challenge
  • A clear head and Inspiration
  • Uninterrupted chunks of time to write

Another reason was that I was much better prepared. 

  • I carried around a paper notebook in which I was collecting ideas whenever they hit me
  • I uploaded pictures every day so I didn't have to scratch them together in a frenzy
  • I wrote posts ahead, especially considering school spring break, meaning Colin and I would be on the go

If you don't know what the h*** I'm talking about, here goes: 

Throughout the month of April, a good 1,500 bloggers who signed up for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, were posting every day, using every letter of the alphabet. 

Yes, Q, X and Z, too!!!

Here are all of my posts. 

There's also a fancy Pinterest board containing every single of my A-Z posts

According to my stats 

were the most successful posts. I know I have my friends of this awesome little new group of Swiss Bloggers to thank for, especially Rachel at can't google everything who runs weekly and daily share parties!

As for me, I am most proud of my creative posts like

If you've got some time to spare, please head over, check them out and let me know what you think!

Also I would like to introduce you to some cool blogs of fellow A-Z writers I got to know this month:
  • With Love - Mandy & Justin spending Christmas and NYE in NYC, Paris and Germany
  • Guide to Finding Happiness - looks like they found happiness and stopped at F, though!
  • A Postcard a Day - I already met this lady last year. You wouldn't believe the postcards she's got(ten)
So, as I was saying, it was a good month! Super busy, but truly awesome!

Time to relax and celebrate, as one reader suggested.

Well, we did that Saturday night! Doris and I went out for dinner at Trattoria altes Landsgericht, 

We attended Angela @ Warm Wellness' class on how to use essential oils in everyday life:

Just as we got used to use our nose to sniff out all the different scents, we changed locations and went over to Urs @ Caveau Vino's wine tasting!

You know me, though. I am not going to sit on my butt. 

Here's a preview for May, I have posts in progress on:

  • #momittment - a reply to the lady who requests a meternety leave for non-mothers
  • What do we really learn in school - in honor of teacher appreciation day
  • Salad in a Jar - a very pinteresting food idea, not invented, but tested and approved by me
  • Our exchange student - there is going to be a new addition to our family!
  • Apple Cake containing apple sauce as a main ingredient
  • 25 tips for things to do with kids around Zurich on a rainy day - which was published in a magazine, so I have to find out first if I'm not violating any rules if I post it here, too

There's probably going to be more as I go, so please follow my Facebook page, Pinterest account and / or Google+ profile and just drop in here often and give me some comment love! 

PS: Got some unpleasant news in the mail:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - Z is for Zurich

Zurich is my home base where airports are concerned.I talked about the airport (where I used to work) in last year's A-Z so this time let me take you to the city. 

Join Colin and me on a gorgeous spring break day on the town!

Well, at first we weren't so sure about gorgeous. It had been raining in the morning, so we only drove into the city before lunch time. We like to make our own pizza by choosing from the 30 or so ingredients at Sam's Pizza Land.

Aren't the trees pretty?

When in town, check out the toy store!

 The blue sky is coming along nicely! Bahnhofstrasse, our Fifth Avenue.

Colin was done with his hair appointment and ready for a snack. 
The macaron of the month is strawberry/rhubarb.

Let's hop on the tram that takes us to the ferris wheel!

Whooo-hooo! We're pretty high up!

Look how small the cars are!

Mom wants a selfie to capture the happy moment!

Back on the ground we admired the pretty flowers.

More pink trees.

The young man must be going through yet another growth spurt. More snacks, please!

I don't know where he gets his questions from, but out of the blue, over his sandwich, he went "how can we be sure that Jesus existed?"

I said we can't be sure, we just choose to believe he did. And that there probably was a man who was doing good things to people, and word got out, but you know how it is, everybody tells his story in his own way, and by the millionths person the "facts" have changed. Kind of like the telephone game.

Either way, to me it isn't all that relevant if there was a Jesus or not, I think it's much more important how we treat each other today and tomorrow.

C nodded and went to the bathroom to wash his hands.

That's when I witnessed a modern day's Jesus. 

The lady whose back you can see, noticed that the woman who sits across from her entered the restaurant and studied the menu. She must have looked hungry, and something told lady #1 that lady #2 didn't have the money to buy herself a sandwich.

She approached her and asked "may I buy you a sandwich?"
After some back and forth they went to the counter and ordered.

I was stunned and delighted. 

You can see people begging for money at the train station and in front of department stores, and many times when you ask them what they need it for they say "food", then you offer to buy them food, and they tell you they'd much rather have cash for later.

Lady #2 didn't look homeless, but she seemed confused.

I didn't catch the conversation they had once they sat down because I told Colin about it when he returned from the men's room. 

"How did lady #1 know that lady#2 didn't have money, and if she didn't have any money why did she step into Subway in the first place?"

We don't have all the answers, but we can watch and learn, right?

This encounter made my already perfect day even better.

Just as we got ready to leave, our Jesus lady left, too, and we gave her the thumbs up.

We usually park next to the observatory, and I always tell him that there is a bar on top, but we never go. This time, with hubby out of town for business, and it being spring break, and just because - I said let's go up there!

So this is the view from the 10th floor. Pretty cool, isn't it?

All of a sudden he jumped up and said "I think something isn't right with this pineapple juice" and ran. All I could do is shout after him "there is no bathroom on this floor, you need to go downstairs, will you be OK?"

I paid for the beverages and followed him, meaning, waited outside the men's room.

"Let's get out of here" he said. "Maybe I'll have to throw up, and I probably shouldn't do so in the elevator."

When did he become so grown-up?

We sat on a bench, and I was desperate to say or do something to make him feel better.

Bingo! The Panini Album! It's a sticker album for European (or World) Championships in soccer. Colin's friends gave him the stickers they don't need, and I got him the album that day, so he was busy going through it, and after a while he felt better and we got home without any incidents.

Zurich is not Switzerland's capital, (Bern is), but Zurich is with 400k citizens in the city and 1.8 mio in the greater area the largest and economically most important Swiss city. 

If you're a student, chances are you attend Uni Züri or ETH, and if you're a banker, you most probably work in Zurich. The first Starbucks store in continental Europe opened 2001 in Zurich. That's about everything you need to know ;-)

Thank you for keeping me company throughout my A-Z journey! I hope you had fun!

Friday, April 29, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - Y is for you only live once

You only live once - except you're James Bond. Then you live twice! ;-) 

I saw this oldie but goodie on my flight to L.A.

As I was saying when I was scrolling through the meetings with my Los Angeles and Seattle friends, it made me think of something...

I don't want to sound morbid, but here goes: 

A trip like this is something I might do if I got a diagnose like "you only have a couple of months to live - you can try and get treatment, spend what little time you have left in hospitals or go out there and spend it with people who are important to you!"

I'm glad and grateful that I got to do this while being young and healthy and without the bitter taste of "this might have been the last time we saw each other."

Even though you can't really know. 

Last year we lost a bunch of friends and family members. In that post I mentioned my father's youngest sister, C. She also attended the funeral, and I told her about the many funerals I had been attending. 

As it was going to turn out, this was going to be the last time we saw each other, too.

She hadn't been feeling well for a while and went to see a doctor in December. They told her that  things were not looking good at all. Cancer cells in the large intestine, liver and lung. The first chemo treatment must have been really bad, so she decided to quit. 

On Valentine's Day she sent a message to her siblings, my Dad being one of them, informing them that she was probably not going to make it. She asked us not to call. She didn't want to talk about it, and basically just wanted to be left alone.
"Maybe if I feel better we could meet for a picnic in spring" she suggested.

This was the first time I heard about her being sick. 

I thought about e-mailing her. Only what was I going to say? 
How unfair is this, you have been living as a health nut, being a vegetarian, taking long walks with your dog, and this is what you get? Only 66 years old? (Same age as my Mom. Don't even get me started..)

Then my surprise trip came up, and I had other things to think about. 

A few days prior my departure there was a strange envelope in our mail. Lime green with birds on it, not doves, more like flying something birds.

She had prepared her own death notice. 

John Lennon's "Imagine" lyrics, a few personal words, don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened...

She never made it to the picnic.

So what I'm gonna do here, is to share some picture of our last family get-together when my brother and two of his kids were visiting from Israel.

It was a super hot day in July. We went to an area in the forest that was full of caves and hollows.

We used to come here when my brother, my cousins and I were little.

The lady on the left is my aunt C, in the middle my cousin, and on the right my brother

My Dad with two of his grandkids, Colin and Neil, my brother's middle son

My lovely niece, Liv

On the right my Mom with C, my Godfather and his wife

So this was going to be the last cheerful event I was going to share with my aunt. 

What does this tell us:

Don't postpone things that are important to you! Big and little things! 

Take that trip, move to that house, tell this person you love them or that you're sorry! 

You can't be sure that everybody is going to be around "later" or "as soon as x or y is over".

You only live once - make it a good life!