July 22nd was another surprising day of activities for e-teacher scholars. We started the day with breakfast at The Grits. Next we got into the bus to go to the Baltimore Art Festival. As usual, the bus dropped us at our first destination - the Baltimore Art Festival - and we were told it would pick us up in about three hours. From then on we were on our own. I really like the configuration these group strolls take. We generally depart with a group of friends and change our strolling peers as we walk and get called by someone else or get distracted by our uniqueness of interests. This unintended group arrangement provides an opportunity for a bigger variety of interaction and is itself a very enriching personal and cultural experience.
Apart from the human and interactional side of this excursion, the Art Festival in itself is fantastic. The festival is one the biggest of this kind in The U.S. Part of the downtown area streets are blocked for the event. As you walk up and down you can see lots of interesting works of art. Works of art range from paintings to handcraft and from glass miniatures to installation art. There was even an impressive collection of insect replicas. Besides that, there were food stands with a great assortment of choices in case visitors got hungry. I did and I got myself some smoothie and a gyros. Really a great choice for a Sunday morning.
After the art festival we got the bus and headed to the Baltimore Aquarium. Sitting at the harbor area, this is a four-story building displaying a fascinating collection of water creatures in their different habitats, some rain forest insects and frogs and tropical botanic garden. Again we constantly changed our walking, chatting, picturing peers. I personally found it a very enriching educational experience. As I walked with Valentina, she shared very interesting stories related to animals and the discoveries one can make while closely observing animals in general. We talked about how kids and adults as well can benefit of such experiences and develop a deep respect for all species of life surrounding them. I kept wishing I had my English Access students and my nephews with me. It was so interesting that we had to rush to mange to get a glimpse of everything before our bus arrived. The aquarium showed some of us a world that some of us had only seen on television and it allowed us to share our personal stories about the ones that were familiar to us.
After so much walk, we felt tired and hungry. So, the next stop was the Mezze Restaurant. For this early dinner we sat in parties of five, six, or seven. On my table we talked about so many things. Some of the topics were: food (of course), our students and schools, vacations, what we watch on television, our native languages and their peculiarities and similarities. Needless to say the food was delicious, and being such an unskilled cook, I could not name all the dishes that we were served. The conversation was fantastic, and to be honest, with such wonderful conversation and conversationalists, I could probably go hungry for another two hours. This reminds of a scene of one of my favorite movies AI (a project of Stanley Kubrick directed by Steven Spielberg). In this scene the mother is taking the now unwanted boy robot to disposal ground on the woods. The boy robot, unaware of his “adoptive mother’s” intentions strikes a conversation. The mother is extremely sad and really does not want to abandon him because she has grown to love the robot boy. It goes more or less like this.
” What will we have for dinner today? ” asks the boy robot.
” You never eat.” the mother says. He is robot and he can’t eat. If he does, he is seriously damaged.
” But I like to sit at the table.” Replies the boy robot.