BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
History and German students visit Berlin
A journey of grazes and bruises ending with a triumphant sense of achievement best describes the process of publishing the first issue. What initially started as an idea between friends borne out of our collective desire for our voices to be heard became a reality through the help of two teachers, without whom this project would never have left the ground. While a mutual feeling of shared enthusiasm motivated all of us, the stress of its creation, added to members’ personal endeavours such as university applications, made the prospect of the actual publication seem like a distant possibility. Yet, we persevered, with a singular focus maintained through our weekly meetings. We’ve grown alongside one another, collectively carrying and helping each other through our complementary advantages and disadvantages. By capitalising on each member’s speciality and individualised creativity, this harmony has resulted into a first issue reflective of the different facets of BSG student life. Fitting with the date of publication, our first issue’s theme is ‘Christmas time’. What exactly is Christmas, and what does it mean to the students of BSG? In this issue, we will delve into the emotions of Christmastime through written works, fictional and non-fictional.
Valentine Mberu, Robert Devin StanleyJones, Gianna Andrea Harness, Patricia Dela Pena, Mia Juliet Harness and Julian Canlas
Without further ado, we present to you twenty pages filled with our pride and hard work. Please, read and enjoy.
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
TALK OR LISTEN By Mia Harness
TALKERS VS LISTENERS
By Mia Harness
We all know someone who just talks and talks and talks and never seems to stop. These people talk without listening and think that whatever it is they have to say is fascinating and that everyone else feels the exact same way. But why do such people feel the need to keep blabbering on about some ever so important event that you have no interest in whatsoever? And what can you do to get them to shut up? More importantly, what if you’re one of those people?! *cue scary music*. With that being said, I think it’s safe to assume that most (if not all) humans crave attention. Even if the amount of attention craved for varies from person to person; we all want our voices to be heard and feel important. And very quiet people are by no means an exception. They might not vocalize their feelings/thoughts as much as others do, but they still find a way to express themselves through other mediums. Art, music, poetry, blogging, etc. are all forms of communicating. Just because you’re not physically talking or voicing out your thoughts doesn’t mean that you don’t want people to know what you think. But why do we prefer talking over listening? Think of the human mind as if it were a modem filled to a capacity that disenabled it from transmitting data from the outside in or inside out. A reason as to why we’d rather talk than listen is that our minds, like the modem, are filled to capacity; consequently, if we listen we face the risk of overloading our brain’s circuits, causing us to forget what we were trying to remember and worry about taking on the responsibility for dealing with whatever we are being told. And if we don’t process what someone is telling us, we run the risk of that person becoming upset and going into a fit. Listening is essentially a sensory function; while we listen we detect information from our senses. When our brain/mind is at a sensory overload we don’t have enough space to store anything else. Talking, however, is a motor function. A motor function is the ability to use and control muscles and movements. Once we’ve got past the first 20 seconds of sharing whatever information it is we wish to communicate, talking becomes a way of relieving stress through getting rid of daily worries. By doing so you are able to free space in your mind and in your brain’s circuits. The problem with this, however, is that by going over the first 20 seconds of talking you start to dump more than your share into someone else’s brain. And guess what happens if their brain is as overloaded as yours? Nobody listens.
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
SPORTS DAY By Valentine Mberu
‘GO! GO! FASTER, YOU CAN DO it!’ Anahid and several others are shouting at the top of their voices as Chevanne takes a gigantic stride, which puts him neck and neck with flying Timothy. The rest of the competitors careen down the track; muscles taut, eyes set; not a long way off behind them. The spectators hold their breath as it looks like it’s going to be a close call. Just a few metres now…As they cross the finish line, Mr McCrea notes down the results on the score board amid cheers and shouts of triumph. Looks like we have a winner! On a sunny Tuesday summer morning, the students of the British School of Geneva excitedly filed into the school. The air was heavy with anticipation, vibrant with the promise of a great day ahead. After a short briefing from the Sports’ co-ordinator which included a reminder on the day’s expectations of the students and a quick roll call to assemble the various teams, it was finally all systems go, full steam ahead towards a glorious day for all. Ezekiel, a Year 7 student at the time, knew what was at stake, as he says, ‘Everyone wanted to win.’ Even teachers appreciated the need for competition as Mrs Louise Prior said, ‘What’s important is taking part but we’re all human and enjoy winning so I was keen to see who would be in my team.’ It was a beautiful day and what better way to kick it off than a quick basketball relay sprint! Competitors took their place, nervous but very excited. Team leaders gave a final word of encouragement to their participants. The teams’ first grasp at success was on the line… Then silence as everyone waited for the green light. Once the signal was given, competitors sped off as fast as their legs could carry them, as comfortably as their hands would allow them to keep track of the basketball they were bouncing and as quickly as they could pass the ball to the next team mate. Edward, a Year 10 student at the time, sums it up quite well, ‘I mostly enjoyed the basketball relay, mostly because it was made equally difficult for everyone because of the terrain - in truth it was the only fair race.’ There were cheers from the electrified spectators watching; teachers, parents and students alike. Those on the field were determined to make their
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team proud, pounding the basketball up and down the distance, fiercely competing with their rivals. The enthusiastic crowd watching was not left unappreciated as their cheers lent an edge to each and every event. As several participants admitted, ‘You can’t really put on a show without a good audience.’ The egg-and-spoon race was a favourite for many participants. The simplicity of the task made it even more gruelling, as the steadiest of hands wavered in the face of this small challenge. It was truly a challenge that underscored the need for control in a situation. Next, it was time for the notorious sack race. Many competitors shied off from this one as it was not for the faint-hearted. Some, like me, felt too embarrassed and scarred by previous experience to even attempt getting into that sack. Even the thought of it made me blanche; I wouldn’t be able to do it and there were no two ways about it. What was my horrifying experience? The details are too embarrassing but you should know that there was some video footage which got repeated and repeated and repeated. Like a sore that gets picked and picked and picked, that left a throbbing scar of humiliation. However, there were some brave competitors who took the challenge head on and contributed as much as they could, whether they were on the field or off. It became apparent that in order for the team as a whole to succeed, there had to be contributions all round; both big and small. Such was the ambiance for many of the other races that followed. They were all carried out in the same fashion: participants as well as non-participants giving their all. It was with spectacular team work and effort that all the teams contributed. As in all competitions, there could only be one winner walking away with a trophy as well as individual badges for the team members. Mrs Prior, the team leader of the winning team was more than proud of her team, ‘It was a close run thing at times so I cheered louder, jumped higher and ran along the side-line in encouragement. It’s always great to experience success: I was thrilled the team won. I remember the day fondly and look forward to next year’s sports day,’ she adds, ‘I felt very lucky that day as we had been blessed with the perfect ingredients for victory.’ All in all it was a great day for the whole school, where each and every individual could learn a few things not only about themselves but also about a fellow teammate, in a different setting with the aim of creating better appreciation for each other under the healthy influence of competition.
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
OPINION By Valentine Mberu and Julian Canlas
What do you think of the new uniform? Teachers Do you like the school uniform? If yes, why? Mr Lille: Yes, because it projects a smarter image and ensures that all the students are wearing appropriate clothes for the weather. I think it also takes away the risk of bullying based on ability to buy fancy brands and labels. Mr Wiseman: Yes, I think it is tidy and this means that all the scruffy kids won’t look as scruffy as before. Do you think it has affected how students behave? Mr Lille: I think for the boys, they carry themselves much better now; they stand straight and sit up better in class, which shows that they are a bit more confident. As for the girls, the uniform has guided a more appropriate choice of clothing. I think it has also taken away a level of selfconsciousness for some students, especially because we are a multicultural school. Mr Wiseman: Personally, I think that was the idea behind introducing the uniform. However, it is true for particular individuals, especially those who were here before the uniform was introduced. Would you like other schools in Geneva to follow suit? Mr Lille: Honestly, I don’t think that other schools in the Geneva area have any bearings on us. We have little contact with other local schools because we are a British school in Geneva; we have a different curriculum. I think our uniform sets us apart from other schools in Geneva. Mr Wiseman: No, I think the uniform makes BSG stand out. I also think that because we are unlike other schools in the area, we have a bit more of an edge.
UK before. I think it is a good idea in terms of distinguishing home from school and helps students assume a school personality which may include following rules. As a parent, I think it is very practical and helpful, especially as I have a pre-teenage daughter. In addition, it also saves the hassle and takes pressure off my daughter because she doesn’t need to think of what she’ll wear anymore. Are you satisfied with it? It certainly helps to level any differences that are bound to arise especially as we are an international and multi-cultural school. Benefits? It promotes a school identity and enables students from different backgrounds to feel freer to assume any role they want without having the limitations of their cultural or ethnic diversity. The students, especially teenagers, have one less thing to worry about and parents don’t feel the pressure from their kids to get them trendy clothes. Overall, I think it is a positive experience.
Parent of a new student: Nina Leumann
Parent of an existing student: Jackie Smith
Was your child previously in a school that had uniform? No, she was in the public Swiss system and in Switzerland traditionally there is no school uniform. How do you feel about the introduction of the uniform? Do you think it was a good idea? Personally, I’ve always found the idea of a uniform very exotic and attractive. I associate uniforms with British schools in the UK, having lived in the
Was it a smooth transition and how do you feel about the change? I feel quite positive about the change and there was no difficulty with the transition. My daughter was quite pleased to get a uniform as she knew that she would find it easier. However, as we are dealing with adolescents and pre-adolescents, there will always be issues with certain students not liking the uniform.
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OPINION Aklesia (Year 10): No, I don’t like it. Molly (Year 9): No, it is too dull and pointless. Gareth (Year 9): I think it’s alright and it is something we as students have to live with now. Glenn (Year 10): I don’t like it and I think the colours are boring and dull.
Do you think the addition of a uniform has had any effect on your child’s behaviour? If yes, why and how? As far as I know, my daughter behaved properly even before the addition of the uniform. However, I do think that she now takes pride in a sense of belonging to the school. Would you like to see more schools in Geneva introduce a uniform? That’s a tricky question, but I do think that by being the only international British school in Geneva that has a uniform it makes us unique. Being unique is rather nice. But as a teacher and a parent, I think it encourages more positive behaviour, so yes, I would encourage other schools to introduce it. Benefits? It is definitely cheaper for the parents as there is less money spent on buying a range of clothes. No peer pressure – students don’t feel the need to go to school dressed in a particular brand or label because of the influence of others Sense of belonging- students can now form a closer tie with each other as barriers that were previously there have been removed.
Students Chevanne (Year 11): I like it but I can’t really modify it. Hayley (Year 11): With the temporary white shirts, I like it, but if we are to get the pinstriped blouses and shirts that will definitely change.
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What did you think when you first heard about it? Chevanne: At first, I was excited about the idea of a school uniform, but once I found out what it looks like, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it. However, I like the fact that Year 11s are allowed to wear black jeans. Hayley: From the beginning I didn’t like the idea, and I was strongly against it. Aklesia: I thought it would look good. Molly: I groaned but realised there was nothing I could do about it. Gareth: I was annoyed but accepted it all the same. Glenn: I thought it was ridiculous because BSG would be the only international school in Geneva to wear a uniform. Is it comfortable? Chevanne: It is really comfortable. Hayley: Yes, actually. Aklesia: No, if I wear a skirt, I have to be cautious of how I sit; in addition, the trousers don’t fit well enough Molly: Yes, it is. Gareth: Yes. Glenn: I think different parts of the uniform are comfortable. The sweaters are fine, but the trousers are not. How do you feel about being seen in public? Chevanne: I am not particularly bothered about being seen in public in my uniform because once school is over, I remove my school jumper. I feel more comfortable in public when I do this. Hayley: I feel embarrassed. It feels really awkward because everyone knows where I go to school now. I don’t like strangers to know where I go to school. Aklesia: I don’t like being seen in public in my uniform. At first, I couldn’t bear it. Now, it’s still uncomfortable when I’m out in public but not as much as before. Molly: For me, it doesn’t feel any different. Gareth: I feel a bit unusual. In the UK, everyone wears uniform but in Switzerland, very few schools wear uniform. It just makes me stand out unnecessarily. Glenn: I feel embarrassed when I am in uniform out in public.
OPINION What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of the school uniform? Chevanne: I don’t think the addition of a school uniform has any advantages or disadvantages. Hayley: Benefits — it regulates what students wear, especially girls. Disadvantages — it’s dull and I find it strange how everyone wears the same thing every day. Aklesia: Benefits — I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear every day anymore. Disadvantages — I only have two sets of school uniforms. Molly: Benefits — everyone wears the same thing so there is no chance for people to be judged on how they dress. Gareth: Benefits — creates a sense of belonging and school community. Disadvantages — I feel like I stand out in public. And if I am going to go somewhere after school, I’ll have to carry a change of clothes. Glenn: Benefits — I stand out in the crowd, I know that could be both positive and negative depending on what you are doing. Disadvantages — I don’t like the dullness of the uniform; the fact that we have to wear it every day, we should have a non-uniform day once a term. Another disadvantage for the boys is that if we want to play football during the breaks, we have to bring a spare pair of suitable shoes, because it is very uncomfortable playing in the leather school shoes. Do you feel that the school uniform promotes your identity as a student and/or creates a sense of community as a school? Chevanne: No, I don’t think it does anything of the kind. Hayley: It doesn’t make me feel any more of a student, but it does create a sense of community as a school. Aklesia: I don’t think it does anything about my identity other than inhibit it, but it does promote the school. Molly: It doesn’t promote my identity, because it only takes it away. I’m not sure about whether it creates a sense of community as a school. Gareth: I think it makes me look like a part of the school and nothing like what I truly am. Glenn: I don’t think it promotes my identity as a student but it is definitely free advertising for the school. Do you think the uniform makes students behave better in school and when they are out in public? Chevanne: No, I don’t think the uniform makes anyone behave any differently. Everyone behaves the same as they did last year. Hayley: Not really, everyone acts the same but the addition of a uniform has made the idea of
rebellion even more attractive for some students. Aklesia: No, I think people behave just the way they would normally. Molly: I think the addition of a school uniform just creates another rule to break. Gareth: No, I don’t think it affects how student behave in our outside school. Glenn: No, probably not. It is still the same group of people. There is no way making them wear uniform will change how they behave anywhere. When do you take off your uniform: at home or immediately after school ends? Chevanne: I take off my jumper immediately after school if I’m planning to go to town. Hayley: When I get home. Aklesia: At home. Molly: I take off the cardigan after school because of the school logo. Gareth: I change in school if I’m going somewhere after school ends. Glenn: When I get home. Final views? Chevanne: The whole issue doesn’t really bother me. Hayley: I think it would be more natural wearing a uniform in the UK than in Geneva. The uniform just makes me feel very conspicuous. Aklesia: I don’t like it but I can’t do anything about it. Gareth: It doesn’t bother me and I think it is something we have to live with now. It’s too late to change anything now. Glenn: I think we should have a non-uniform day at least twice a year.
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INTERVIEW Julian Canlas interviews Melissa Baseya ‘After BSG’ is a collection of interviews with past students at the British School of Geneva who have completed their A-level studies. Whether they have decided to take the university path or have opted for a gap year, they provide insight on their interaction with the system, and how they managed to cope successfully with the stress of A-level exams and deciding for their future as adults. Eighteen-year-old Melissa Baseya has left the British School of Geneva last June, 2013. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, she arrived in Geneva Switzerland, in the summer of 2011, before having been in Roermond, Netherlands, for four years. A model student and a proficient linguist, she is fluent in English, Dutch, German, Kinyarwanda and French. In this interview, she gives us a look inside on her first semester as an undergraduate in Actuarial Sciences at the University of Kent in Cantebury, England. What exactly are Actuarial Sciences? Actuarial Science involves calculus, mathematical modelling, risk management, probability and statistics. You can work for a bank or even an insurance company once you have your degree. The first semester, although it’s only been around three or four weeks, now, is going well. Everyone is still getting to know each other, and you try to manage a proper schedule for yourself where you have enough time for your studies and for social activities. How different is it from BSG? How are you coping with a larger class and consequently with a larger number of people? The lectures are very different of course, because sometimes you have one lecture with all the people from your school and mine for example has about 250 students, so the lecturer is just there to do his/her job. But there are also seminars/ classes where you can ask questions and where some of the material covered in a lecture gets discussed again. Larger classes are good because you basically meet new people every day. Do you miss the sort of intimacy between teacher and student BSG offers? Sometimes yes, but I guess that’s because everything is still quite new. The whole being independent thing does belong to becoming an independent adult. Talking about independence, how did you feel
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leaving the school? Do you miss the school and the people? Maybe more the people, not so much the school, because you just know and feel that it is time to take this step into adulthood. Then, can we say that BSG was a good stepping stone towards your university career--maybe due to its flexible schedule? Or would you just attribute that to life experience? Or a mixture of both? It’s not so much life experience; I’d say that it depends a lot on your work ethic and selfdiscipline. But BSG’s flexible schedule and ways of teaching the sixth form are definitely a major advantage. I have seen people struggle here because they just don’t know what to do with their free time. And instead of spending that time productively, they just waste it. That’s definitely a great insight. In a way, I guess that BSG fosters independent learning due to the short hours of subjects, but long periods of classes, then. What would you recommend for the school to improve in order to ready its A-level students better for the upcoming university year? Yes and the fact that we’re used to three hours of class at BSG makes all the lectures seem fairly short. Whereas for people who went to schools where they had classes of 45 minutes, it just seems to be lasting longer. I’m not really sure what I would and could recommend to the school. It all kind of depends of which university you go to. Kent is just very similar to BSG in a way, because it is very international as well. It just feels like I’m in a bigger version of BSG sometimes. But surely the amount of work there is bigger than what was given to you in BSG? I haven’t been here long enough to actually be able to make that comparison. But the material you learn here is heavier, so in a way, one single lecture of an hour could lead to several hours of research on the Internet. So speaking of which, would you have any tips for students doing their coursework or preparing for the exams? *laughs* These tips are always the same, but also very true. The first one is definitely that you should start on time. And also, find the way of learning that suits you best, whether it’s revision cards, mindmaps, etc. Oh, and don’t forget to relax in between revision! Three times ten minutes is more useful than half an hour.¨ Any plans on coming back to Geneva? Sadly, my parents have moved to Zurich, so I won’t be coming back for a while.
BERLIN TRIP By Mia Harness
The snores of the 11th grader History and A2 German class were the only sounds that could be heard echoing through the halls of the Geneva airport on Thursday the 17th of October. Everybody was exhausted; the flight was at 7:10 am and few teachers and students had got more than 4 hours of sleep the night before. But despite this lack of enthusiasm experienced so early in the morning, excitement hung in the air: it would be the first visit to Berlin for many students. The 3 teachers, on the other hand, felt slightly more apprehensive; what if the plane crashed? What if a student went missing? What if the food wasn’t tasty? This last question was the most worrying….. After the hour long plane ride, the group took a train (known as the S-Bahn) to reach their hotel: ‘Meininger’, in Oranienburger Straβe, in the East of Berlin. For all of you that paid at least one ounce of attention to your History class, would know that a wall separated East from West Berlin (from 1961 to 1989). This was one of the reasons for BSG’s Berlin trip: to visit the historical sites that offer a glimpse into Berlin’s dark and gloomy past. And who better to introduce the remaining cultural differences between the East and West than a slightly deranged Trabant owner?! The Trabant is an East German car, last produced in 1991; the name ‘Trabant’ meaning satellite. The car stood outside the Meininger Hotel where the students had crowded around it in order to get a better look. “Stop, weg von meinem Auto!” (stop, get away from my car) screamed the owner who suddenly appeared from the middle of nowhere. His rage, however, soon turned to pride when he realized we were just students interested in his car. While his knowledge on the mechanics and design of the car was extensive, he failed to explain why dolls from a German TV-series known as the ‘Sandman’ took up the seats. And, just as quickly as he
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appeared, the owner left; blasting the Sandman’s theme music as he drove away. “What a great first impression of the Berliner mentality” one of the teachers joked as the group ate kebabs (Berlin’s best foreign food) later that day. The rest of the Berlin trip flew by and was spent exploring Berlin’s history. The group visited the DDR and Checkpoint Charlie Museums, the Jewish Memorial, the Berlin Cathedral, the Siegessäule and the light show at the Brandenburg gate. However, the trip was not just educational; the group also visited a cinema complex and did some shopping.
COMMENTS ON THE BERLIN TRIP The Hotel was amazing Saba Awesome Prince BSG should do the trip again Tim S. It was epic Tim I. Nice experience Shraveen Wir lieben Berlin! Tim S., Shraveen, Prince & Saba Amazing nights Anonymous Wonderful experience Daniel Great memories from the trip and we already miss Berlin Gianna & Emily A great group to travel with Ms Leumann
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GRADUATION “At a school as small as BSG, I couldn’t see the graduation amounting to much of an event. And so you can imagine my surprise when it actually succeeded my expectations; the food was great, the speeches were entertaining and it was overall just awesome to reminisce the many memories experienced at BSG. I’ll miss it!” Antonio Soares “I heard it was amazing! Oh boy, I wish I could have gone!” Gilles Bogaert “I loved the graduation. I was insanely nervous to make the A2 graduation speech, but I felt pretty confident when making it! It would have been nice if more of my classmates had turned up, but regardless, it was epic. Thanks to all my teachers at BSG who made the last few years of my youth wonderful.” Alex Stylia “Great day! Fantastic moments!” Ruari Lee “I pretty much spent all my time at the food table because it was THAT tasty! Compliments to the chef!” Tahir “I’m really going to miss BSG. Everybody has just been so amazing and I can’t thank all the wonderful teachers enough!” Zain Abdulla “Honestly, it couldn’t have been any better! Well done to all those involved!” Tarek El Diwany
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
GOOD ADVICE GETTING READY By Valentine Mberu For those of us who are going to sit examinations this year, the whole prospect can be rather daunting. The pressure to excel is enormous in addition, you feel as if you are not doing enough. Teachers and parents are on our case to get started with the revision and yet, you feel as if you are learning nothing. As the exam dates draw nearer and nearer, there is no denying that feeling of worry and you often wonder if you are sufficiently prepared for the exams. Revision can be a particularly difficult time for many students. With the examinations looming up ahead and the expectation from left, right and centre to get their heads down and do their own revision, many students often feel inadequate and find themselves stressed out. What these students don’t realise it that in order for you to get the most out of your revision and studies, you have to find what works best for you- the sooner the better! Here are some tips to help you get those top marks in your exams: • Get yourself together – there is no use studying when you are tired or hungry. If sitting with a book to study makes your stomach rumble, grab yourself a snack. It will make you focus much better on what you’re doing as well as getting rid of those mad munchies. Likewise, have a quick nap if you feel exhausted. A rested mind absorbs information much faster. By the way, switch off your phone will you’re at it! • Have a study partner – This could be a friend or a classmate that you study with. You can share resources and ask one another questions. Take turns to ask each other questions on a subject and try and explain key facts and ideas. Chances are that if you can explain it to your buddy, you will be able to explain it to the examiner. • Make resources – What matters here is finding what works best for good old you. There are many techniques out there; cue cards, revision notes, post-its. Make your own notes with the key ideas and definitions and aim to understand rather than memorise information. With this technique, less is definitely more. Most examinations require you to apply your knowledge to new situations not to regurgitate it onto the paper. • Ask for help if you are struggling - Your teachers are there to help you. If you do not understand something, make sure you let your teacher know. It does not hurt to say you don’t understand something, if anything your teacher would be very glad to go through anything with you. • More and more past papers – Fancy terms used in exam papers such as explain, describe or evaluate seem scary, don’t they? Well not really, if you’ve got the hang of it. In order for you to understand what the examiners require from you, you must be familiar with the exam language and structure. Have a look at past papers and do some practice with them. • Listen and concentrate in class - You will find it easier to revise if you listen to the teacher during a lesson. In addition, complicated principles or ideas will be easier to get your head around when you know something about them rather than getting stuck on the basics. • Plan ahead – It doesn’t make much sense starting your revision a few weeks before your exams. Start early and you will have less to do when it starts getting hectic. • Take care of yourself - It would be useless to prepare so well for your exams but you don’t perform your best because you feel horrible on the day. Make sure that you have adequate sleep the day before your exam and that you eat healthily. A healthy brain is more likely to perform better. • Stay positive – Having a positive and open mind would mean that you cut down on stress. You will find it much easier to revise if you stay positive.
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TOO MUCH TO DO, TOO LITTLE TIME? By Valentine Mberu So you have two English essays with a word limit of 800 words each, a history essay of at least 1000 words on World War One, a major math test, several science worksheets and a French grammar test on the same day? On top of that, you have teachers hunting you down for nonsubmitted homework as well as incomplete classwork that was due almost 2 weeks ago. Don’t forget your parents are down your throat, nagging you to keep your room spick and span, help around with the chores as well as keeping your grades up. If that wasn’t enough, you have to learn that song sheet for your piano class or even baby-sit for the neighbours this weekend. Somehow, you are also expected to fit in some time for your friends and family. Relax. Take a step back. Breathe. For many students, keeping up with schoolwork can be a nightmare. Usually, the school year starts with a perfect homework record. Everything is in order until a piece of work that they put off for a few days and forgot about, comes back to haunt them. Henceforth, it’s all downhill, spiralling down to an abyss of confusion and more non-submitted pieces. All this can be very stressful and often leaves students feeling overwhelmed and distressed. Did you know that stress has detrimental effects on your health as a student? The effects range from insomnia to headaches, to skin problems like eczema to recurrent infections and anxiety or depression. So what can you do to minimise your stress levels? The answer is; manage your time better. The goal of this technique is to ensure that you have better control of your life which will lead to a healthier you. Here are some suggestions that we think will help you organise your time better. You’ll have yourself to thank once you get into it. • Make a schedule and stick to it – More often than not, we make a plan of what we are going to do but never stick to it. It would be helpful if you tried to put deadlines on a piece of work. Making a schedule will help you to fit in everything you would like to do at a particular time. Try and be realistic when doing this. Prioritise your schedule – do the most important tasks first; schoolwork and studying should take the first slot in your schedule. • Divide and conquer – This is a particularly effective technique especially for those mammoth pieces of homework. It is advisable to divide the task into smaller, more manageable pieces and spread them out over sufficient time first instead of doing the entire project the night before it is due in. Makes sense, doesn’t it? • Be flexible – Unexpected events like sickness may disrupt your schedule but what is important is that you try and keep on top of all your assignments. Try working around the problem rather than wallowing in despair and procrastination. If necessary, you can rearrange your schedule. • Have a goal – In this mad rush in trying to keep on top of your homework and other assignments, it important not to lose sight of the ball and maintain a positive attitude. For more information: Read Manage Your Work, Don’t Let It Manage You: Tips for Managing Your Time and Getting Ahead, by Annette Nellen, 2000. Watch GCSE Revision Exam Technique video on YouTube by Jennifer McTaggart
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
LEARNING ENGLISH By Valentine Mberu
Picture this: you move from your home country and live in a country where you are required to learn a different language in order to learn and communicate with people. We’ve all been there once. For some, the whole process can be very nerve-wracking; other slide right into fluently speaking the foreign language. Let’s face it; most of us are more of the struggling type. I know I am. For Han-Soo, a year 9 student in BSG, the process seems to have been as smooth as it can be. At 14, she has lived in Geneva for the past 3 years; prior to that, she lived in South Korea, where she had moved when she was four. In addition, she was born in the USA to Korean-American parents. ‘I’m not that good in Korean, but we speak it at home, as well as English.’ she tells me shyly. When I ask what she prefers speaking, the answer is a quick and solid, ‘English,’ she explains that although she lived in South Korea for a sufficient amount of time, she admits that she has indeed forgotten most of it. As she explains herself, it is hard to believe that Han-Soo only started learning English last year. Once I ask her what she thought of the transition, she mulls over it for a while. ‘At first, I found it very hard to understand some of the accents. It was very frustrating because sometimes I would know what the person was saying but because of their heavy accent I would struggle to communicate with them.’ She assures me that she has since grown accustomed to various accents and that she rarely has a problem now. Just as any other new skill that one has to learn, there are many rules to remember, especially when learning a new language from the basics. Han-Soo explains that she found it very difficult to remember when and how to use some of the rules in English regarding grammar. ‘At first, I found it hard to remember some of the rules in writing things like essays and reports. I can do it better now but I struggle sometimes.’ Like many teenagers her age, Han-Soo has already thought of where she would like to go to university. When I prompt her, she enthusiastically says, ‘Either the UK, Canada or perhaps Australia. Studying in the USA is very expensive but places like Canada are cheaper.’ She knows that learning English was important because if she hadn’t, it would be nearly impossible to study in these countries. ‘I don’t think I would go back to Korea; partly because I want to continue studying in English.’ She pauses. ‘It would be harder if I went back to South Korea because I can’t remember most of what I knew.’ She adds, giggling. Han-Soo believes that being able to speak English fluently has helped her to communicate with people better as well as to make new English speaking friends, which has helped her learning. For Han-Soo, the transition was as smooth as it was, because she had help along the way. ‘My parents played the biggest part in teaching me, especially because we started speaking English more frequently at home. We still speak it at home even now, but obviously we also speak some Korean.’ She adds that teachers in BSG helped too, making the whole process much less frustrating as well as offering some guidelines as to how to go about it. During the course of our interview, I find out that she was previously in a public Swiss school. She tells me that she is not fluent in French and that she finds learning in English ‘better’ than learning in French. As we wrap up, Han-Soo adds, ‘I think learning English has made it possible for me to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do. I don’t speak Korean or French fluently. I needed to learn and become fluent in at least one language first: English.’
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
CHRISTMAS EVE 1961 By Valentine Mberu Christmas Eve 1961. It’s snowing real hard outside and there ain’t nothing out there but a white, quiet neighbourhood. I oughtta be at home with my babies but I’m at bosslady’s house, getting her Christmas Eve dinner ready. Gotta have this turkey ready before the bosslady walk through that door. And after that I ought a get those pies and the meringues into the oven ‘cause she expecting her lady friends over to play bridge. She always make me polish the silverware and set the house up real good when her friends come around. She like me to cook my special meals when they coming because she say I cook real good. I always blush when bosslady says that. It makes me feel good and there ain’t a whole lot I feel good about. Bosslady like the house being clean so she make me vacuum and tidy up while she gets ready. She like making a good impression on her plastic lady friends. She always does her hair up real good too, holding it in place with pins and burning it right down to her blonde roots. She crazy, but she does clean up real good. She don’t like me going around the house when they here except if I’s serving them. She say it’s ain’t my place. Bosslady’s daughter, Angie, is just like her mama. She likes her dresses and her make up. She go around looking like she own the world (maybe she does) and expect me to pick up after her (which I do). She gonna grow up to be just like her mama and have her own help come in, during Christmas and every other day, to help her set her place up real good for her bridge-playing, plastic friends and make dinner for her family. But just like her mama, she pretty but don’t know how to run a house. She gonna end up like a mama, married to some fool who ain’t never gonna treat her right but still gonna pay the bills. She done get her life pretty much sorted and she ain’t never gonna have to worry her pretty little head about anything, and sure enough, she know it. Bosslady come in and ask when the roast will be done. I tell her in a few hours. She blow a gasket and say I better hurry up, because she need me to feed her baby girl. I tell her I’s gonna try ‘cause I’s not feeling well and she smile that strained smile a hers. She tell me to do it if I wanna keep working here. Coupe a thoughts crossed my mind but I bite my tongue. Lord knows I need to keep this one. Too dangerous to say a bad word and mess it all up. After her bridge friends come over and gossip and I go round filling their lip-stick stained glasses with ice tea, bosslady asks if I mind staying behind longer than usual. I try and say something but I bite my tongue. She not asking. What she really saying is: ‘A course you gonna stay longer than usual because I say so’. I force a smile and say, ’Yes, ma’am’ and I gonna sure as hell hate myself for it. It’s Christmas Eve but she don’t seem to realise we maids also have a Christmas. I put my head down and take the damn lip stick glasses to the kitchen. I stay through the night, baking and making my famous casserole while boss lady chats on the phone. Lord knows what these people talk about but she stay on the phone for hours. Summin’ to do with a charity. Bosslady always organising events for her bridge club; she ain’t got nothing better to do apart from going to the hairdressers every week and going around to other bossladies’ houses to gossip and read those stupid magazines about how to keep your man. She don’t know that she gonna need to learn how to run a house first ‘stead of filling her pretty head with rubbish. It don’t look like she gonna hang up soon but I wanna call my babies and say sorry for not coming home. They gonna understand that a course mamma’s tryna get them a better life than I’s ever had. Bosslady come in and there is a sad look in her eyes. I don’t ask what’s wrong. Maybe it ain’t my place either. She stand there behind me and I can hear her breathing. I like doing my thinking in the kitchen and she standing here ain’t making me feel real hot, if y’all know what I mean. It’s so quiet I’m scared she gonna hear my thoughts. And she don’t wanna do that or I’ll walk outta here with no job. Then she says something funny, ‘Mabel, do you think I treat you well?’ I’m so shocked I done drop the glass I was drying. Ain’t nobody never asked me that. Ain’t nobody never cared what I think. Of all the bossladies I’ve worked for, this one sure is the craziest. I think maybe this a trap so I try and smile and be pleasant like my mama told me to do when a bosslady ask me something. ‘Yes, ma’am’, I say, nodding like a goddamn fool. She smile real good as if I’s just told her she just won the lottery and she say, ‘I enjoy our talks, merry Christmas, Mabel. Now, don’t you forget to lock up.’ And she gone, just like she came in. I gonna have to dig my nails into my hands to stop me from screaming. Lord, what is wrong with me? I ain’t never gonna get that chance again. It gone for good. I get mad ‘cause I said what I always say, ‘Yes, mam’. I finish the dishes and tidy up as the clocks strikes one and I realise that sure enough, me, Mabel Brown ain’t never spent Christmas Eve with my babies. I feel a tear coming on and wipe it away quickly, ain’t nobody gonna see me cry in this house. I gonna rather quit. It hurt me bad how ironic that is.
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
CHRISTMAS TIME CHRISTMAS TIME By Valentine Mberu
Feels like time for a treat; Wreaths of golden leaves,
By Iris-Year 8
As well as pine and tinsel,
THE ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Mind don’t forget the pies and The wine flowing with ease; Chicken and briny mackerel
When we think of Christmas, we might think of, among other things, Christmas trees. But why has this become a popular Christian tradition?
Mashed potatoes and peas. We are nestled away by Chilling and bruising;
For many ancient peoples, evergreen was a symbol of agriculture. They also honoured this tree because it has green leaves all year round.
That’s winter’s breeze.
That’s winter’s breeze. Chilling
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a sun god. They would fill their homes with evergreen branches in December, hoping their god would soon show itself. The winter solstice would have just passed so the days would eventually get longer with more sun.
and bruising we are nestled away by mashed potatoes and peas, Chicken and briny mackerel
The Romans would celebrate the Saturnalia festival in honour of their god of agriculture, Saturn. They would decorate their homes with boughs of evergreen, hoping the sun would shine longer and brighter so that their crops would grow. Like the Egyptians, they would hold their festival around solstice time in December. Starting in the 16th century people would chop down entire trees and bring them inside their homes. Germany is known for having the first trees. In fact, there is a rumour that Martin Luther, the German protestant reformer, was the first person to put candles on a Christmas tree.
the wine flowing with ease- Mind, don’t forget the pies, As well as pine and tinsel, wreaths of golden leaves…
In 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were drawn standing around a Christmas tree with their children. This picture was published, and the Christmas tree became popular in England. In the early 20th century the trees were decorated with dried fruit and nuts or homemade ornaments. When people started using electricity, Christmas lights were used instead of candles. Nowadays we just buy our trees and colourful plastic and glass ornaments from a shop nearby.
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
MOST WONDERFUL TIME? The calendar marks December 23rd. Buried under cashmere blankets with a mug of peppermint hot chocolate, you glance out your window to the snow flurried winter wonderland and feel nothing but warmth and affection towards anything and everything, even the picture frame on the wall that never evenly lined up with the rest or all the loose threads on the curtains that made you want to repeatedly slam your head against a wall. Mom’s in the kitchen baking gingerbread men, Dad’s kneeling down under the mantel setting up the fire and Frank Sinatra’s on the record player telling you (well, demanding you, rather) to have yourself a merry little Christmas. Life just cannot get any cosier than at this very moment amidst the spicy aroma of the fire and the string ensemble playing in the background. You begin to doze off to a peaceful slumber of jolly dreams until the violins on the record transform into the shrieking of the fire alarm. Oh great, looks like Mom burnt the gingerbread and the whole kitchen’s engulfed in smoke! The Christmas holidays have long been associated with images of happy reunited families, delicious food and a snow-covered front yard to match your overdone decorating. In reality, not all families love each other the way they do in HBO films, your mother is bound to mess up on one of the main dishes and your neighbour’s yard decorations will continue to outshine yours for the next 20 years. Oh joy, the neighbours have come by to drop off some cookies so bland, you’d think you were celebrating Christmas in 1940. And the long awaited reunion with family from various parts of God-knows-where? The cool ones are stuck in airports on the other side of country and you’re left with that one aunt nobody ever talks to who just sits in a corner eating the fruitcake nobody else can stomach. Not to mention the anxiety brought by having to practice your overjoyed face when you open up a present you’d only keep for gift-recycling purposes. Seriously, if you don’t want to receive a picture frame, what makes you think it’s acceptable to give one? From personal experience and a videotape to accompany it, what you shouldn’t do when you unwrap a brush set you previously thought would be a Barbie is to look up at your mother and show it to her, completely speechless with a Wallace grin. I was 10. How dare they. While we’re at it: No, Santa doesn’t look thinner just because Mrs. Claus decided to make a healthy lifestyle change back home. It’s only a matter of time before your little brother realizes the Santa Claus that’s been dropping by every year is actually your creepy uncle who’s had one too many cups of mulled wine. It appears quite a few of us have consumed the media’s picture-perfect idea of the holiday in a way that only leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths by the time December 25th rolls around. As we grow older, these over-romanticised dreams of crystal ornaments and piles of tinsel become as fake as the Ikea tree we adorn them on. Why do we still bother? It’s clear there aren’t enough Fair Isle-patterned sweaters and red velvet Christmas stockings to cover up the fact that mom burnt the cookies. No, seriously, if I didn’t know any better I would’ve thought I was eating charred reindeer. By Patricia Dela Pena
BRITISH SCHOOL GAZETTE
British School of Geneva International school
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