I was already teaching eager Germans to speak English when I met my lovely husband. I knew what I was doing from the language and teaching point of view, but was sadly ragged when it came to the presentation of my materials, or knowing how to swim in the ocean of German business life. The second thing he did, after showing me how to make my copies much more professional, was to tell me I ought to have a logo, what would I choose?

Hmmn, well… many years previously I had bought this poster:

The penguin in the top left, in the yellow pullover, reminded me of how my dad looked in a pullover I had knitted him for Christmas years before. I loved the silliness of the painting, and so said, à propos of nothing really, that I would have penguins as my logo, and the die was cast.

Since then I have collected penguins, been given penguins, thrown cuddly toy penguins around classrooms encouraging my participants to speak. My students have dressed in penguin suits, brought me penguin clocks/ornaments/hats/candles/thermometers/pullovers etc etc from their holidays – it’s all been great.

Last year I told all my groups that I was planning to take 2021 as a sabbatical, to write a book. They were all so lovely, and supportive and excited for me – although we knew we would all miss our lessons.

Two groups from the Fraunhofer Institute in Bremen clubbed together and gave me a marvellous surprise Goodbye present – as you can see from the header, thanks to them I became the proud sponsor of a Humboldt penguin at the Zoo am Meer in Bremerhaven. I was thrilled. And even more thrilled when, a few weeks ago, an invitation arrived to a Sponsor’s evening, where I could meet my penguin, chat to his/her keeper (hard to tell with penguins) and then enjoy a sausage and a glass of wine at the Zoo.

Humboldt penguins are named after the cold sea current that runs along the west coast of South America from Chile to Peru – which was in turn named after the explorer Alexander von Humbold:

We zipped up the motorway yesterday evening, and had time for a blustery walk along the dyke to the North Sea before the Sponsors’ evening started.

Then, off to the Zoo:

We marvelled, watching the seals and polar bears underwater, observed the Kea enclosure, spotted Malaysian chickens, and mountain lions.

Most importantly, we learned a whole lot about my penguin from their keeper, and had plenty of time to visit with him. (I’m sure it’s a boy.)

Afterwards we went up on the terrace looking over the North Sea and ate our sausages and drank our drinks.

The Zoo’s 24 penguins (some of which are at least 39 years old) were already settling down for the night in their caves when we left.

It was a beautiful evening and a very special treat for us, so thank you to the Zoo am Meer for organising the event, and for taking such good care of their animals, and of course to my dear students… hmmmn, maybe you can invite the penguins to visit the Institure? I’m sure they’d love it!

One thought on “A penguin of one’s own

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