Glimpses of America

glimpses of america

Poster by Lino Neves

The American Culture Week (well, it’s two weeks and some, in fact) is under way. This year’s guest was Richard Zimler, and what a session it was: poetry reading, testimonies and a song completed a warm and insightful talk that everyone loved – Ilha Teresa: My Life in Reverse.

See below some photos of the event and the exhibition, as well as the digital projects contributed by the students.


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Irish Breeze

From March 28th to April 4th we celebrated the Republic of Ireland, with an exhibition of students’ projects and a live session on March 31st. This session had the special participation of the Irish writer Peter Murphy, who gave a short conference on the topic “Finding your voice in the world”.

See below some photos of the event and the exhibition, as well as the digital projects contributed by the students.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey – Samantha

A clear long-term memory is something Samantha had never been able to pride herself on having. And that small flaw in (what she thought was) a nearly flawless human being was the cause of all her problems.

Having been told all her life about certain events she had been a part of and could simply not recall, Samantha began to accept them as if nothing could be done to prevent this. Of course, being a young a healthy teenager, she knew it was not a medical condition, but rather just her inevitable fate. And even though it is not the best trait a person could have, it had no relevant negative influence in her life – or so she thought.

The less striking memories from 5 or 10 years before were completely relied on her childhood friends to remember and retell. Nevertheless, the most important events still remained alive in her brain several years later. However, this was still a source of disturbance for her, since Samantha firmly believed that our past experiences (and what we take from them) are the most effective way to learn and progress as humans. That being said, it was clear that she was not, at all, learning everything she could learn from the experiences she had. It was as if she had to be put through these experiences over and over again for something worthwhile to come out of them.

For a teenage girl, Samantha sure had a lot of confidence in herself. Behind this there was a complex support system that was it to crumble, would ruin everything that took almost two decades to build. That system included her long-term friends, whom she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world; and her family, whom she appreciated above everyone (even though they didn’t know that). Having in mind that everything in her amazing life would fall apart were they to leave, she always acted true to herself and, above all, very thoughtfully. Now, that didn’t leave much space for spontaneity or freedom. But that wasn’t nearly as important as having those people in her life. Samantha was determined to never let them slip away, and so were they.

As analytical and observant as she had always been, Sam began to create this figure which represented her life. Each edge was for each thing that her existence revolved around of. There were 3 main points, managed to work out harmoniously in simultaneous. These were: her friends, her family, and school. This equilateral triangle was to be kept stable and organized, which she did without even trying, resulting in the comfortable easiness that was her life. She was happy, she had always been. Over time, however, Samantha began to realize nothing ever grows in that safe, unchanging place.

The best things happen unexpectedly, right? Right, but she had no idea. Up until when another edge started growing in her triangle. Another person came into her life, someone so important they deserved their own edge in that figure – which quickly became a square. This was Samantha, always very influenced by the people that surround her and their state of mind. Until then she lived lightly, weightlessly, owing to the fact that she had never been truly hurt by anyone. However, this was about to change, not because she was hurt, but because she knew she was going to be. Was anything done to prevent this? Apart from delivering all of herself to that person, nothing was.

Samantha was ruled by her emotions. Her present feelings and wishes determined 100% what she was going to do. That easily explains why she was such a procrastinator, but also why she managed to keep her relationships with other people so well. It may seem this could work as a setback, as a negative influence in her life – being controlled by what was being felt. But it was actually the best trait she could ask for, since these feelings were nothing but positive and sincere at all times, resulting in a deep emotional attachment to the people in her life. Nonetheless, not everyone was like this… Especially not that fourth edge of the square.

He was everything she wasn’t. He was careless, spontaneous, detached. There was an aura to him that she had never seen in anyone before. Every second in his presence felt rare and precious. Samantha had never been very independent, but she was now completely in the hands of a person she had just met. Everything happened so fast and there was no turning back now. All her friends advised her not to let that happen. Not to become so dependent in someone that would eventually leave her broken and astray. But they had no idea what it’s like to seek safety in other people; for home to be wherever you lay your head as long as they’re by your side.

No harmonious triangle becomes an equally harmonious square. And certainly not with the way he dominated her thoughts every second of every day. For Samantha, this was surprisingly okay. She didn’t seem to mind that everything else crumbled apart. But this was her in-the-moment way of being, of course… Her selective memory did not help at all. Had she the ability to clearly remember how she felt in the past, she would’ve been a lot more careful in how she acted. Meaningless as the other 3 edges seemed at that moment, they were as meaningful as ever – and would become even more when the fourth edge decided to leave (which would inevitably happen).

He influenced her in every way; Samantha knew she was never going to be the same she was before. But she didn’t want to. Apart from the most negatively affected edge in her life – the academic life – there was nothing she would do to change how things went. Samantha had reached a level of happiness she could never dream was possible! It felt incredible, and everyone in a 5 mile radius could notice this. Her decadent school grades were offset with a permanent state of happiness and well-being. Her motivation to get up, to look good, and to do well in everything now came from this one person who most likely had no idea how significant he was. Samantha felt alive. Alive as she had never felt, as it took finding that special person to teach her what living should truly feel like.

Maria Eduarda Lapa
Nº17 12ºI

The Hundred-Foot Journey – The Well

I’m not dumb, nor am I empty. I do not consider myself an ignorant person. I actually think a lot about everything – sometimes more than I should –. But I’ve got plenty of time to do it, down in the Well.

When I’m up there I read a lot, I play the piano and I sing and I write. I do a whole lot of different things. I’m not dull. I’m not dumb, nor am I empty.

But lately, I haven’t felt motivated to do anything at all, whether it gives me pleasure or not. Because the Well…you see, the Well goes deeper and deeper. And darker, and colder. And its walls are thick and impossible to climb, and the surface seems unreachable. So here I linger.

Oh, but I do think. I do think and I keep thinking until I cry. Until I get to the point where I just can’t take it anymore. Until I fall asleep in the depths of the Well.

It all began when they took away my home. It had been mine since I can remember, and every corner of it was filled with memories. The windows held my dreams and the doors hid all my secrets. And the marble floor would kiss my naked feet and tell me stories through the mysterious shapes it formed. At night, I used to walk through the house when all was dark and silent. I’d do it every night. But it came to pass that one of those nights was the last one, because nothing’s permanent.

Yes, that was the turning point. When I was thrown into the Well. And it has been a hell of a journey, trying to get out if it. A painful, exhausting, heart-breaking journey. From that night on I’ve been slowly losing everything I once longed to keep. Everything I held dear. From that night on I lost myself in the stillness of remembering what I had. And sometimes I feel scared; I’m terrified that it won’t stop. The world I know today won’t be the same in forty years. It’ll fade away and I’ll be old and weary of life. And there will be no sailing into the west with the Elves for me. For all I am is dust and bones.

And so I fall, deep into the Well.

But I’m not dumb, nor am I empty. I swear to you that there is still light inside me. Time has taught me to endure. And some days I know I’m not from here. My eyes are in the oceans and my hands are in the branches. My smile is in the flowers and my voice is in the breezes. And I will climb the murky walls of the Well.

So you may tear down no matter what dream I have, you may win whatever it is I own, and you may break everything I’m hoping to achieve. Because, in the end, I’ve grown stronger. And even though I’m still collecting the shattered pieces of my soul from the endless bottom of the Well, I can find comfort within myself.

For I have a Mind Palace through which I can see my home rising again beyond the Well. And I still walk through it at night, with nothing but the Moon to enlighten the corridors. The windows look the same and the doors still hide my secrets, and I can still feel the cold marble floor beneath me.

And I’m not dumb, nor am I empty. No. I’m not from here. My hair smells of the wind and is full of constellations, and I move about this world with a healthy disbelief. *

Alice Ruiz

*By Miss Jewel Kilcher, in I’m Not From Here.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – She

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to your-self or to someone else.” —  Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

“She” doesn’t have a name, an age , a specific  appearance. Maybe the protagonist to is one of the many “Shes” that finally stopped being in the middle of the story, trying to climb her way out of a hole which She doesn’t even know how She fell in, in the first place!

She’s the hero who tried to battle a war by herself, too ashamed to ask for help because that would mean that She had failed not only herself but manly the ones She loves!

“She” is everyone who has ever initiated the one hundred foot journey of recovery by finally being brave enough to ask for help.
She used to be terribly sick. She was always struggling with accepting herself, She had also lost all sort of interest in life, nothing felt right.

She had always underestimated the ampler of being numb until the very first day where She looked into her parent’s eyes and felt nothing else but pure anger and indifference. It only got worst when that feeling became relevant to everything and everyone around her: isolation.

I think it’s part of the human survival skills to deny the existence of mental issues as there are so scary and difficult to heal.
The first thing She thought when She accepted the fact that She was indeed mentally ill was, “well, I can’t just show up at the doctor’s and ask for a prescription or some vaccine”. She felt doomed.

Despite living in a society where medication and medical assistance is very easy to reach, She only realized how powerless She was when She stated that what She has always known as her “life saver” could not save her at all!

She can still hear today the doctor’s voice as She walked out of his office, after confess-ing her mental disorder: “good luck” he told her, as if luck was going to determine whether or not She would make it.

Sitting  long hours in front of a therapist to talk about life and death and everything in between results in her feeling even worse about her own issues. So She stopped attending the sessions and started talking to herself, instead of paying someone to listen, and tried to make peace with her own demons.

Because, really, the problem started with her and it only sounded right to fix something that She, herself, had managed to break.

Her father always warned her about the fragility of trust, and how difficult it is to regain it. She underestimated that as well until the day where She stopped eating and her body started eating itself.

She had betrayed it.

She doesn’t know when and why She suddenly felt more alive.

She just did and She’s thankful every single day for it.

She’s not here to say that recovery is easy because the truth is that recovery is the hard-est thing She has ever had to deal with, but every single day is worth it.

The day She understood that her appearance doesn’t define her was the day She became free.

“She” may not be a story yet, but She is trying her very best to make it ! She’s a fighter! And despite all the difficulties I know, She’s going to be successful because by choosing recovery, She chose Sunday mornings around a warm breakfast with her friends. She chose Christmas gatherings and vanilla ice cream on the beach with the one She loves. She chose laughter, road-trips, concerts and memories.

By choosing recovery, She chose life. And this was the best decision of her entire life.

Elisa F., 12º I, 2014

CCWC 2016 winners

We are really proud of the students who contributed to make today’s Awards Ceremony an amazing event. First and foremost, the talented writers who participated in the contest, but also the Minecraft animation, the quality of the hosts, and the talent of musicians and singers made for a great show. Check out some photos below (taken by Lino Neves).

CCWC 2016 winners

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