I’m sorry that I’ve been scarce for a while, but this week I started a new job of sorts, teaching German to refugees. It’s very rewarding, but also quite stressful, particularly in the first week of class, where things haven’t settled yet.
My students are all adults. Most of them are from Syria and Iran, though I also have someone from Eritrea. They’re all highly qualified people who had good jobs in their respective countries and they’re eager to learn, which makes a pleasant change from teenagers who all too often aren’t.
The class takes place not at the school where I usually teach, but at the same high school I attended some twenty-three years ago. And while I visited to website of the school looking for something else, I came across a real blast from the past, namely my graduation photo from 1992:
The grungy black and white look was all the rage back in the early 1990s. At the time, it was considered arty, now it just looks like a grainy newspaper photo.
I’m the girl with the long dark hair and the leather jacket in the top righthand corner BTW, standing between what were my two best friends in those days.
Looking at the photo I’m stunned by how many people I don’t recognise at all, let alone remember their names. Particularly the boys all blend together and there are so many more of them than I remember. I think half of them were named either Nils or Sven or Jens or Oliver or Christian or Thorsten or Tobias. I can’t even find the one I used to have a crush on (named Oliver, of course). The girls are a bit more distinct, though again half of them were named Claudia or Britta or Nicole or Annika.
The curious phenomenon that all school photos from a given era tend to look alike doesn’t help either. For example, my parents say that when they see elementary school photos from the 1940s or highschool photos from the 1950s, they immediately start looking for themselves, even if the photo is from a completely different school in a completely different city.
Meanwhile, I tend to look for myself on any elementary school photo from the late 1970s, highschool photo from the 1980s and graduation photo from the early 1990s. For example, take a look at these random graduation photos from 1992, the same year I graduated. They all look the same, down to the grainy black and white look.