More on the 2013 Belgian tour

It has been a good couple of weeks here in Belgium. Yesterday I had my last two performances of the tour, at the school the farthest away. It was in the village of Limbourg, which required that I take three trains and then be picked up in the town of Verviers by the kind director of the school. Fortunately, the trains were on time on the way (delayed on the way home, but I didn't care).

This is the clock in the Verviers train station.

This is the clock in the Verviers train station.

Some of the schools I've visited have been run by native English speakers or are international in scope. Others are English-immersion schools, with primarily Belgian teachers. I have to say, all the schools were wonderful on this trip. The level of English has been mostly very good. I left each school saying, "I hope I can come back here next time!" Believe me, this doesn't always happen. I remember one school in Belgium many years ago where the level of English was very low, the staff wasn't helpful, and the administration seemed hostile. I had none of that on this tour. All of the schools were welcoming, all of the kids responded well to the stories. The hardest part is always the logistical aspect, figuring out how to get to the schools either by public transport or by the kindness of my friend Marie and her trusty Prius.

Here are a few interesting things I saw at the schools. At World International School, the main part of the building was once a house owned by a marble merchant. There was marble everywhere! Mix and match. There was even a slab of marble in front of the radiator. This is the fireplace in the staff room: 

I didn't take pictures at Collège St.-Louis in Liège, though I did last time I was there. I had a fun time with the middle-school kids there. I would have liked to get a picture of the cat in the staff break room. Apparently there are several who live outside at the school. The director prefers them not to go inside, but this one was surveying its domain by the window.

At St. Paul's British Primary School, I had time to look through the school's albums of creative projects the kids do. I didn't go up into the back garden where the children go for recess, but I could see that they have a grand time there. One teacher laughed as she told of a student who had had to change his clothes completely the day before because he was plastered in mud. The play yard is up the stairs in the second picture.


Here are a few pictures from the school in Limbourg. I'm not sure what the animal figures playing instruments are, but I did love the seahorse playing harmonica on the balcony. 


I was in the gym at this school. The door to the bathroom had an unexpected sign on it: 

Comfortable seating in Belgium

I'm near the end of my 2013 Belgian tour. Last week I went back to the European School of Brussels at Uccle, where I've been three times (or is it four) before, and for the first time to the school's site at Berkendael.

Six years ago, I told stories at the ESB site at Uccle. The last day of the performances was especially difficult, as my father had died the day before and I wasn't able to get back to the US. I decided to continue with the performances but get back in time for the funeral (I must say here that the teachers at ESB were especially kind). During the very last session, I had kindergarteners. I was worn out from performances and from grief, so I sat down to perform and therefore wasn't able to see that the small children in back were completely eviscerating the cushions. When they left the room, I was surprised to see pillow guts in a big pile around where they had been sitting. The teachers apparently didn't notice. I was beyond able to do anything about it, so I neatened it up and, I'm embarrassed to say, fled. 

I confessed this to the current librarian. She laughed. She is new since then and told me about sewing the cushions for the children to sprawl out on before the opening of the library this year. She is librarian for both school sites, and at both, the children have many wonderfully cosy places to sit. 

I like a comfortable library. This reminds me of the reading bathtubs in the library in my hometown of Springfield, Vermont. A local artist (Goldie May) lined the inside of old clawfoot tubs with foam, covered them with plush and painted them. Kids loved reading in them. 


Here are the cushions at the two libraries. Pretty, aren't they? 

More on the tour soon, I promise.