1. Our colleague and friend Peter has started giving Slovak lessons for the Americans this school year, and I went to my first one last week. I learned half the Slovak alphabet and a few other phrases. The funniest one that sticks out in my mind is “rubber meat.” We will continue to have these classes twice a week, so I’m hoping to become more functional in Slovak.
2. Saturday, the director of our school had all the American teachers over for an annual welcome celebration. Her family cooked us a huge, delicious Slovak meal. One of my favorite dishes was grilled cheese (not like our grilled cheese) with jam on top. Grilled cheese with jam on top? It sounds weird, but it is actually a great combination. When I cut open the grilled cheese block, the cheese poured out. It was delicious.
Their home was beautiful, and the setting for the meal was in a nice, green courtyard with a long table under an awning. The table setting was so detailed, I almost didn’t want to messy it up by eating.
After the meal, we sat together and shared pleasant conversation over wine and Slivovitz. We also sang songs in the living room as the father played the piano. I forgot how much fun singing like that can be (even if I am tone deaf).
Their dog Bernie (a huge Bernese Mountain Dog) provided never-ending entertainment too, as he snatched up guests’ napkins from their laps and was constantly (but lovingly) being scolded by the family. The director’s daughter (a fifth-year student at the school) explained to us that once her brothers left for university, Bernie sort of became another child. I had to laugh, because that is exactly what my mom’s dog Augy became while I was away at school (or, as she calls him, “my brother”). It was also interesting to hear a dog scolded in another language.
Something that Andre, the director’s husband said during the toast before the meal that I think perfectly sums up our night was this: “In Slovakia, having guests in your home is like having God in your home.”
3. I started reading Fahrenheit 451 this weekend. I really like the book, and I cannot imagine a world where books were banned. I hope it never exists. I am deciding whether to have my third-year students read either that, The Great Gatsby or Catcher in the Rye. Any recommendations?