Having to move around the city today, I opted for the bus. And then the idea for a small project or lesson on writing came unexpectedly, as it usually happens. Some other factors helped this idea shape and finally an article about photography that I read minutes ago concluded the plan.

have admitted time and again in front of my students that even though the Environmental Issues is one of my favourite topics to analyse and teach, I haven’t learnt my lesson and they absolutely should not follow my steps! It’s one of the few issues I don’t try to lead by example. We always recycle at school and they always listen to me preaching about the protection of the environment. However, the awful truth is that I hate taking the bus! It’s actually the only means of public transportation in my city and I admit that I hate it! Thessaloniki’s metro system is being built as we speak, but just between you and me, I don’t see us using it any time soon due to politics, funding, archaeological findings and any other possible excuse.

34 is the number of the bus of the area where I live in Thessaloniki. I cannot even imagine the number of times I have used it to move around. Perhaps it’s a psychological factor. Perhaps I hate the bus because I have been using it most of my life. Its overuse began years before I graduated senior high school and  I had to attend university preparatory classes downtown. Later on, being a student at our Aristotle university, I had to use multiple lines to get there. And a bit later on, after graduation, it was the only way to get around the city and work or have fun with friends. I taught all over town, carrying heavy bags and running to catch the next bus, but I was already an expert. I knew the exact time of each one’s arrival, even depending on the traffic of the day! Finally, the magical moment of purchasing my first car many years ago meant 34′s extinction from my life! 

Extinction is a bit exaggerating. I still use it from time to time, as I did this morning. My bus’ route is practically the same since I was born! What hit me today was that the landscape hasn’t changed much either! So, I thought right then and there that most of my students, those who have been born and raised like myself in Ano Ilioupoli, my area, would have the same fate as me. Looking at the same landscape every time they take the 34 bus. Just then, it took a turn to Gogousi St. and I glanced at the house of that corner. Exactly the same. Everyone can distinguish it, because it’s the only house among the large block of flats since forever. I remembered looking at it while the bus took the turn, noticing the curtains of the windows, the car of the owner parked in the small yard and a bicycle outside the front door. It never occurred to me to imagine who lives there, what kind of people they are or why they still prefer to live in that house. 

However, my students could! Before I get misunderstood, I don’t mean they should be indiscreet! Nevertheless, the 34 ride could be a fruitful opportunity for them to practice their imagination and pass their time on the bus creatively! I’m thinking of assigning each one to write a short story about something they see every time  they use the bus. Additionally, most people listen to music while travelling-if not yelling on the phone… So, their narration in class could also be accompanied by the song or the piece of music they were listening to while they conceived the story! It would most certainly make the rest of the class understand and feel much more. I would have B1 level students and above partecipating, but some parts and practises of writing could be applied to lower levels, such as A2. 

On the other hand, just in case someone’s shouting on the phone, they should pay attention only in some particular cases. No! I do not mean they should eavesdrop on people’s conversations, but listen to people whose language don’t understand. There are a lot of passengers who talk in their native language, and usually not very common for Greeks to learn, like Russian, Bulgarian, Hindi or Albanian. Students could imagine the possible discussions and situations between the passenger and the person on the other side of the telephone line, depending on the tone of the voice or the passenger’s facial expressions when they talk. Of course students should be advised not to stare and prove themselves impolite! 

Last, but not least, they could also take a picture of the place, but not of the people, they got the inspiration for the story from. Actually their story could be more lively only by adding people’s descriptions.  I’ve just read Chiew Pang’s article, a great educator and photographer if I may add, on how to use a common digital camera and practice some great tips! Consequently, their work could be completed with some images, and artistic ones as well! 

And 34? Well, other than its use as a means of transportation, it helped me pass my time today, thinking of stories while listening to my favourite music. I hope my students will enjoy it too!

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