The end of term – and two bottles of wine

This week marked the end of another term at FELLOW – we’re on holiday for a few weeks! We celebrated with the customary potluck end-of-term party: FELLOW buys some provisions, learners bring food or drink from their country (or Tesco, depending on how much notice they get), and we play some traditional party games. Pass-the-parcel and musical chairs are long-time FELLOW favourites, but this time we did things a little differently and set up a UK-themed pub quiz using this online activity as our starting point. I’m ashamed to admit that the activity reminded me how little I know about my own country! The quiz was challenging for learners, too, but they were really keen to discover the correct answers and a couple even asked to take home a copy of the answer sheet so that they could study in their own time.

The party was a great success: we had five volunteers to help out, approximately thirty learners to feed and at least one third of our combined weight in Easter chocolate!

I’ve easily attended 10-12 FELLOW end-of-term parties now, but this one struck me as slightly different to most of our previous events. For one thing, there was no musical chairs – but there was also significantly less alcohol. At Christmas we usually prepare mulled wine (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for learners, and for this party we bought some beer and white wine as well as a variety of soft options. In the past, learners always turned up with their own beer – as well as the occasional Evian bottle of homebrew! – and most people had a drink or two. This year, learners contributed more food than alcohol, and we didn’t get anywhere near finishing the paltry supplies we had bought in preparation for the event.

The leftover bottles of white wine at the end of the night made me realize how much our group of learners has changed since I joined FELLOW in 2012. Four years ago, the majority of our regular learners seemed to come from Central and Eastern Europe. These days, the learners that attend most often hail from the Middle East, and most of them do not drink. We haven’t done a survey of FELLOW learners in a while (not since my first – and last – impact report of 2013), and I think it’s about time we conducted another one.

Our demographics may have altered, but routine does not: I’ve just finished collating teachers’ availability for the coming term, and I am about to send it on to the volunteer who prepares our timetables. Are we going to fill the timetable before term starts? Unlikely – but somehow, it always comes together.

If you live in or near Oxford and would be interested in volunteering with us, please fill out the form on the FELLOW website or use the contact form on this blog. I can promise fun, engaged learners and a teaching situation like no other!

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