Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tearful goodbyes

Tonight I had the opportunity to go to properly say goodbye to my junior students. I cried on Monday when I found out I wouldn't be teaching them anymore, but I thought I had things pretty together to say goodbye tonight. I walked into the classroom and the kids seemed really happy to see me. When I got two sentences into my goodbye I broke down and started crying in class. This only made things harder because half the class was already crying and then most of the other kids started to join in as well. I looked around the room at all of their sad faces and knew I needed to pull it together. Once I stopped crying and finished thanking them for being such a great class and for welcoming me so warmly as their teacher we headed outside to take a group picture. When I snapped the last picture of just the kids they all shouted, "We love you!"

After the group pictures the kids came to give me hugs and say goodbye to me one at a time. This was really hard because I've become so attached to so many of these kids. They came up and hugged me and most of the girls were crying, telling me that they love me and they will never forget me. I had one girl give me a drawing/card that she and her mother had made. Another girl gave me an old key chain of hers that she looks at whenever she is sad.

There was one girl in class who seemed particularly distraught about the whole thing and she had come to hug me several times while I was at school. Finally she stopped crying for a few minutes and came over to talk to me. She said, "A few weeks ago I was crying at school. It was the first time I have cried at school (she had gotten bad scores on a recent round of tests, and she is one of the top students in the class). On that day you comforted me and gave me confidence like no one has given me (I told her the exam was in the past and she couldn't dwell on it, that she was a smart girl and if she had a positive attitude she would do better the next time around) and I will remember you and miss you always."

Of course I started to cry again.

The kids all told me that the loved me and they would never forget me and thanked me for being their teacher and their friend. I don't think they realized that they meant as much to me (probably even more) as I did to them. I got choked up every time I tried to express my gratitude to them. They were great kids and I really will miss them.

I told the kids that now they just have to work hard so they can come to America and we can see each other again. In the mean time I gave them all my contact information and told them they have to keep in touch.

While I was at dinner I got a text message from one of the boys in the class saying even though he was a boy he cried when he found out we wouldn't have class together anymore and that he was glad he had a teacher, and a friend, in me. Ah, I can't go on because it makes me head and my heart hurt to think about how much I will miss all 68 of these fantastic kids.

Saying goodbye was really difficult, but the good thing is this was the class that was going to be the hardest for me to leave. I have other students that it will be hard to say goodbye to, but it will be easier to say goodbye to other classrooms full of kids. The only other goodbyes I'm really dreading are Ross and Landy and David and Amy. I try not to think about it.

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