Our second morning in Beja dawned cool and crisp with a bright blue sky.  This was a positive foreshadowing of the day to come. As we all awoke to the tranquility of a small Portuguese town, we all began to realize the transition we had made from our chaotic lives of the United States to the beauty and chaos that is Lisbon. We now move closer to the “target” or  bulls-eye of this project as we are enveloped with the charm and uniqueness that is Beja.And this Tuesday brought many great opportunities and surprises as we explored our new community and its members.
Reba and Arlene had a good day impacting 91 students and had a lot of fun comparing their respective states of Colorado (Arlene) and New Jersey (Reba).  They found the interactive board a wonderful tool to bring their learning alive and to shout out a “howdy” from a cowboy.
Mary and Joe experienced the thrill of “National English Day” and were able to participate by providing the students an education on the American Thanksgiving story.  They continued their very full day by teaching adults in the evening and were very impressed by the commitment and energy these folks have to learn English from native speakers. Paul and Diane had an equally impactful and insightful day the Polytechnic Institute.  The morning class was filled with an in-depth discussion on prejudice, along with the origins of racism and entitlement.  This all led to the final call-out for all members of the global community to become self-aware.   That is the first step to help dilute prejudice and racism in the world.  And it starts in communities like Beja.
Both the morning and afternoon classes participated in a very interactive exercise called “Desert Island.”  Each group had to select 6 members of the society to “save” in order to start a new community on a desert island.  The choices made of a doctor, nurse, priest, pop singer and others all elicited laughs yet very important and serious debate.  Bottom-line, the students demonstrated the ability to “think” in English and have more confidence in talking in front of the class.
At the end of the day, we all gathered and enjoyed our second Portuguese lesson with Joaquin along with a short history of Portugal over the last few hundreds of years.
Dinner was a filling event with wonderful food and conversation but a little too filling for the time of night.  Key word: family style. Reba gave us all a gift by telling us earlier that one of her students that day had told her “she was beautiful.”  I reflected on that gift as I retired for the night.  Aren’t we all beautiful in some way no matter what situation we find ourselves in?  How do we continue to find that inner beauty in everyone?And critical to the servant traveler in all of us, that beauty comes from our ability to make a small yet critical difference in this part of our global community.  And another day awaits…
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