segunda-feira, 23 de dezembro de 2013

MMXIII: “annus horribilis” or “annus mirabilis”?

As we approach the end of 2013, I note that many people are referring to this year as a pretty awful one, for a variety of reasons which I’ll return to below. Some might even go so far as to use the latin term popularised in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth II, when she said, in her Christmas Day speech:

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.”.

Now, the opposite of that term is “annus mirabilis” or ‘wonderful year’, so, in the interests of reflecting on the past 12 months from a personal perspective, I decided to return, after a 6-month hiatus, to this blog, where I shall proceed to look back - not in anger over a love-triangle (as the British playright  John Osborne would have us do with his 1956 masterpiece “Look Back in Anger”) - but rather with a view to establishing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from 2013.

Since I covered the socio-politically relevant events of June 2013 in Brazil in my last blog post, I shall focus on the latter half of this year, not least because it’s fresher in my memory.
As a cinema-lover, let me start by remembering some of the great films that moved or entertained me in 2013... Which of these did you see? 

In no particular order... Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Django, Les Miserables, Rush, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Flight, Elysium, Cloud Atlas, The Counselor, Blue Jasmine, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty... to name just a few.
With some of us on holiday for the next few weeks, there’s always time to catch up before new attractions fill the movie-theatres in 2014... It’s never too late! But what of the music scene? Well, I won’t even get started on some of the catchiest earworms to hit the radiowaves, iTunes, CD stores, nightclubs etc in 2013... that would require a completely separate blogpost!

Academically speaking and specifically (but not exclusively) in terms of English Language Teaching in Brazil and elsewhere, 2013 brought the unforgettable IATEFL conference in Liverpool, UK in April, the Cultura Directors’ Conference in tropical Belém (Pará, Brazil), numerous local ELT events all over Brazil, including The 2nd International Image Conference, organised by Braz-TESOL (of which I am proud to be President until the end of next year), the conference of Latin American British Cultural Institutes (LABCI), held in Lima, Peru (one of my favourite countries in this continent ever since I had the life-changing experience of travelling to Macchu Picchu a few years ago!) and then there was ACINNE, the conference for Cultura Inglesa teachers based in Northeast Brazil, held in the heart-warming city of Recife, Pernambuco. Not content with F2F opportunities for Professional development, I also undertook this year several online courses, ranging from one on Psychology (run by the University of Warwick Business School, UK) to, more recently, the Special Educational Needs course for teachers of English, offered (at a price!) by the British Council. 

My Facebook summary of 2013 also reminds me that earlier this year I received my DELTA Module 3 certificate from the University of Cambridge and I strongly urge fellow ELT professionals to take this step, if they haven’t already, and work towards a DELTA even if, like me, you have already completed a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics.. the DELTA really is a different experience altogether.

In the past few months, we’ve lamented (or not) the ‘passing’ of a few celebrities and beloved citizens of the world... the most notable of course being Nelson Mandella. So much has been said about the accomplishments of “Madiba” elsewhere, that I shall let it suffice to say “Rest in Peace”, although 'rest' is hardly the right word for the nothingness that follows life (IMHO)... making it all the more important to ensure ones life is abundantly meaningful, as Mr. Mandela certainly did!

On a personal level, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the fact that it’s never too late to make new friends and take existing friendships to a deeper level, when the order of the day is respect, admiration, dialogue, openness and, perhaps above all, a good sense of humour to help us through the trials and tribulations that life can throw at us from time to time.

I hope 2013 has been as good to you as it has been to me... I am filled with gratitude to the wonderful friends and colleagues, old and new, who have accompanied me along the way. Here’s hoping 2014 is even better! 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year... or, as we say in Brazil... BOAS FESTAS!!!! 

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