Young Algarve Writers

Manuela Istrate, the English teacher at Escola Básica e Secundária de Bemposta in Alvor, wanted to motivate the students in her class to learn English. She thought meeting ‘real’ local writers in the Algarve could inspire them with their writing. It would help extend their vocabulary, increase their fluency and let their imagination flow. 

Local children’s author Peter Cain (P. J. Cain)  presented his books to the students. It went down so well that a story-writing competition was launched. 

There were several interesting entries, but the winning story for older students was written by 15-year-old Felipe Trujilho, a wonderfully imaginative piece published in the July edition of Tomorrow

Representing Tomorrow, Lena Strang went to the school to present copies of the magazine along with a voucher from Fnac. In the presence of headteacher Sandra Tenil and Manuela Istrate, the young writer received prizes, including a copy of one of Peter Cain’s books.

It was a proud moment for all involved. Felipe hopes to start a theatre studies course next academic year. Being a keen musician, too, he would like to be involved in musical productions in the future. We wish Felipe all the best with his ventures. 

“This project has been a real success,” Manuela said. “At first, I thought it would be something small, but it turned out to be much bigger. Sometimes it takes just an idea; from there, we can achieve wonderful things. It’s good for the students to use their imagination and explore the English language differently than we usually do in class. But it also benefits me because I have learned that we can do so much with a little support.”

Manuela will continue with the project during the next school year and start a Young Writers Club, where students can meet, exchange ideas and experiences, and learn new and exciting things together. “I don’t see myself as a teacher in this project, but as a partner for young people, learning with each other,” Manuela added.

Main photo from left to right. Sandra Tenil,, Headteacher at Bemposta School, Felipe Trujilho, Lena Strang, Manuela Istrate, Peter Cain. 

In this edition, there is another winning entry from the school. You can read the story by 12-year-old António Balancho.

My name is António Balancho. I am 12 years old and I love all kinds of sports but what I practise is water polo. I love to read adventure books because when I read, I feel like I’m living the adventure, which is quite exciting. I adore living in the middle of nature and taking care of animals so much that I want to have a farm in the future.

My summer vacation

During the summer holidays, my family and I usually go to Santo Aleixo da Restauração, the land of my grandparents and uncles.

There we normally celebrate my birthday on 1 July. Santo Aleixo is a small village in Alentejo. I really like being there because my uncle has a big farm full of animals: goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and dogs. I take care of the animals and listen to the sounds that they make in the silence of the countryside. I love to spend some time with my grandparents and uncles; our conversations are about school, my grades, classmates, the sport I play, whether I like it or not and the dishes I can already cook.

I spend little time with my cousins ​​because one cousin is at university and my other cousin works in the countryside. When we are together, we spend many afternoons playing ball, playing cards and bathing in the shed. The barranhão is an improvised pool that my uncle built and is made from planks. Every summer we have to take out the old water. It takes a lot of work, but the best thing is when we are going to fill it. My uncle brings cold water from a well as it is always very hot in Alentejo. It is very pleasant.

 In Alentejo, because of the heat of the day, parties are held at night. The best and biggest party is the feast of Nossa Senhora das Necessidades in August.

My favourite thing is that I stay up all night with my friends. There are a lot of people and everyone knows my family, so I talk to everyone. I like bullfighting and, above all, I like having ‘freedom’, not having to walk behind my parents all the time.

It is for the mountain, for the family, for the animals and for the parties that I enjoy being in the Alentejo so much.


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