Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Back to School in the USA

We interrupt this Luxembourg Wrap-up series to bring you the news that Daphne and James have now started school in Oregon. The elementary school is just across the road from our old house and it's where Daphne attended kindergarten four years ago. James was just four back then.

our friendly crossing guard
supply drop-off and meet your teacher day

hot chocolate and donut holes on the first day
I'm pleased to report that they had a good first day. James was impressed with how nice his teacher is ("She promised that she never yells!") and with the class set of iPads, and Daphne approved of her teacher's numerous classroom management tricks. They've already been on computers and websites and apps and watched videos and played lots of games. Pete said to James, "Looks like you've traded your fountain pen for an iPad." James said, "What on earth does that mean?"

Welcome (back) to American school, kiddos.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Luxembourg Wrap-up: Drawing Contest

Each year in Luxembourg, a bank sponsors a drawing contest for all the public school children in the country. Every child must submit something--it's not optional--and they all have to complete a detailed rough draft first. It's serious business and they spend a good deal of class time on it. The contest is quite long-standing, because teachers and parents I've talked to remember entering their own pictures when they were kids. Prizes are awarded by grade/cycle, and students are assigned a different theme every year. This year's theme was "Heros" and for Daphne's cycle the sub-theme was "Anyone can be a hero." 

Daphne drew her dad running into school with a library book she'd forgotten at home. (Aww)

In May, we received a letter home from the bank and a call from her teacher explaining that Daphne's drawing had won 2nd place for Luxembourg City for her cycle this year! The picture would be automatically entered in the final contest for the whole country, with prizes like iPads and bicycles at stake.

Meanwhile, were invited to the local bank branch to collect Daphne's preliminary prize for the city contest. We showed up for a sweet-but-very-awkward meeting in a conference room with two bankers, with treats on the table and other prize-winning drawings from other grades displayed around the room. 

After a few minutes staring at each other across the table in mostly uncomfortable silence, they told us we should take a photo of the drawing because we probably wouldn't get it back.

looks remarkably like her actual hallway at school
Then they presented Daphne with her the prize--a backpack--and were apparently immediately overcome with guilt that her little brother got nothing, so they ran to the cupboard and pulled out a small puzzle game for him as a consolation prize. And then they must have felt even more guilty/awkward, because they ran and fetched one for Daphne as well.

Not knowing what to do next, I snapped a couple more pictures of the drawing just to be sure I captured it, and then we excused ourselves from the room. I'm fairly certain I missed some cultural cues along the way of what we were actually supposed to do in this little award ceremony, especially because there was food there. That part always throws me off in Europe; it's hard to know to what extent to partake and how long to take partaking. But we eventually escaped.

The winner and her prize backpack.
We never heard back about the results of the national contest (nor did we expect to, really). And although Pete was disappointed he didn't get to keep his daughter's drawing of his heroism, he did use the photo as his desktop background.