We kicked off the month by sharing stories and storytelling traditions from around the world. As we recalled tales from our childhoods, many of us were able to remember vibrant storytellers from our respective pasts, be it a teacher, a parent, a grandparent or friend. Universally, stories help us to understand the world in which we live by helping us to share observations, experiences and emotions, and the session leant itself well to discussion about various words and meanings, and ended with a beautiful description of the word ‘Imagination’ from one learner who referred to it as ‘The Magic in your Mind’.

The Beginner-Intermediate group continue to look at new vocabulary which can feed into the main sessions. Chicken drumsticks and cauliflowers came up in our topic on Food and, though there was much discussion about the current trend for using the humble cauliflower for all sorts of things – including cauliflower rice! – there was a moment of hilarity when it became apparent that no-one in the group actually liked them!  Love was on the menu the following week as we approached the traditions associated with St Valentine’s Day. After a discussion in the Beginner group about the term ‘Puppy Love’, we moved on in the main session to discuss wedding and relationship traditions.

A decision was taken to plan a conversation around Celebrations. It was, perhaps, a risky choice of topic during this strange time of cancelled plans but, as ever, the EfW community turned it around and it quickly became a very positive discussion. Celebrations are definitely still happening, we’re all just doing things a little differently and there were plenty of examples of virtual baby showers, extended phone conversations and online birthday parties. An additional observation noted during the session (and one which everyone agreed with) was that we should make time to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small.  The happy conclusion of the session was that celebrations which cannot happen at the moment are not cancelled, merely postponed!

There was plenty of laughter in the Beginner-Intermediate session on Money, as it quickly became apparent that we rarely use cash anymore. This is partly to do with the fact that we are shopping less at the moment, but it is also a consequence of how trends have shifted and so we looked at vocabulary such as ‘Contactless’, ‘Apple Pay’ and ‘Bank Transfer.’
As we moved into the main session, it was the learners turn to take the lead as we celebrated International Mother Language Day and asked people to share phrases and words from their first language. Again, much hilarity ensued when we asked for a translation of ‘cake’ in Dari and discovered it was still pronounced ‘cake’! It was a really lovely session with a wide variety of first languages including: Spanish, Turkish, Dari, German, Bulgarian, Italian, French and Welsh.

The last session of the month was an opportunity to find out a bit more about each other as we talked about life Outside EfW. We know that some people fit the sessions in around their work but there were also many hidden talents that we didn’t know of until people spoke about their hobbies! Beautiful paintings and drawings were displayed plus stunning examples of sophisticated crochet and knitting designs; we have bakers galore, and members who also undertake volunteering roles within other organisations such as food banks, fostering panels and charity shops. The session provided plenty of talking points and proved a wonderful opportunity for everyone to talk about the things which are important to them.

A point often made during the team de-briefing sessions is the remarkable longevity of the online sessions. We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of running EfW online and, rather than dwindling, learner participation continues to increase which is testament to our wonderful team of dedicated volunteers and their warm welcome, encouragement and support. EfW has always attracted the majority of its new learners via word of mouth and we are still welcoming learners online who heard about us through a friend or relative which is lovely.

At the time of this post being written, the UK government has just made its announcement regarding the ‘Roadmap’ out of the current restrictions. The EfW community long to be able to meet again in person and it seems we are getting just a little closer to making this a reality – wonderful news!

Take care and stay safe,

The EfW Team