"But we don't have any stories," they said.
Only three months later we had a groundbreaking class room book that became a classic for "English for Seniors" classes in Switzerland, within the framework of the Swiss Pro Senectute movement.
The diffidents and skeptics soon learned that they had wonderful stories, that they could write them in English without looking foolish, and that what they didn't know in English, lent itself to classroom fun in German. The book is in English and German, with individual biographies, all of them unique, some touching; an index; a Fowlerish glossary; and space for notes.
The book was launched to a crowd-packed Bahnhof-Buffet [the kind of railway restaurant that used to be as Swiss as apple-pie to Americans], with musical sketches and author readings, VIP speeches, and the newspaper press. The course was a one-teacher-three-classes experiment; it now runs with four regular teachers and a corresponding number of classes on all levels.
"To be old is a wonderful thing, if one has not forgotten what it means to begin again." [Martin Buber].
"Take... a group of active seniors who want to learn a new language, or to deepen something they have once learned; and take an enthusiastic teacher with initiative: you're holding the result in your hands. A work book that the classes have created themselves courageously in English too and that comes from the midst of life and learning." [Margrit Brunner].