Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Last day

Today has been one of the hardest and saddest days in a long time. There is so much I am feeling that I think I might explode. Saying goodbye to the kids was much harder than I imaged. I am going to miss them so much!! It was rainy and dreary when I woke up this morning and walked to school. The weather seemed to match my mood. There was a brief assembly at school about dengue before classes started. When I walked into my classes all the kids looked devastated when I reminded them it was my last day. The just sat there looking at me with big, puppy dog eyes. That alone made me want to cry. I don’t mind crying in public, but I wanted to try to control myself a little because letting a few tears escape easily leads to all-out sobbing. I did a little teaching and review but a lot of time was spent saying goodbye and giving hugs. Several of the kids told me they loved me and I responded in kind. I hugged all the teachers and many of them took pictures of me with their phones. My first class was fifth grade class B. I love the teacher in this class. She gave me the biggest hug at the beginning of class. All the kids thanked me at the beginning of class for coming to teach them. At the end of the class I took a picture of the whole class. They all gave me big hugs when I went to my next class. My next class was sixth grade class A. When I reminded them I was leaving the all thanked me and applauded me for teaching them. Hearing them applaud and say thank you filled me with joy. I took a picture with the class before teaching a little bit. As I was working with them on a few more things I was suddenly gripped with panic and fear about returning to the US. All these thoughts kept flashing through my mind: I don’t want to be alone on the airplane. I feel like I’m abandoning the kids. What am I supposed to do when I return home? Where do I go from here? What if I want to talk to someone here? When can I come back to El Salvador? I admit that I came very close to having a panic attack in the middle of class. I tried extremely hard to get a grip and not fall apart during class. I told myself that I needed to focus on the kids at that point and I could go crazy when I got back to the house. It took me a good half hour before I felt a little better. After I left that class I was on my way to my other sixth grade class when my fifth grade class asked me to go back into the classroom. They had moved the desks so there was open space in the middle of the room. On the white board they wrote in English: “Alisha- Your classes are very important for us. We need you. We hope for you.” My eyes started tearing up right away; I felt so happy and loved. They had me sit down on the bench. The teacher told me they were going to dance for me. Qué chivo!! Several of the boys put on hats and the teacher turned on the music. I recorded some of it on my camera. They were adorable! Then they all sang me “Happy Birthday” in English. I can’t believe they remembered my birthday is only a week away! I told them that quite a while ago. It was wonderful. The teacher had one of the students bring me a present. It was a jar with a picture of El Salvador on it and candy on the inside. On the lid they had written, “Recuerdo del 5B, C.E. Dr. Alfonso Reyes Guerra, Berlin City, We love you, remember to you.” I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I hugged every student and the teacher again. My next class was sixth grade class B. I did a little teaching and spent a lot of time talking to the kids. They all sang me Happy Birthday as well and clapped for me. I took a photo with all the kids and gave lots of hugs. Then I went to third grade class A. The all told me congratulations for my upcoming birthday and sang me happy birthday in Spanish. I took a picture with all my kids and gave goodbye hugs to them all. Several came back for more hugs. During my last class, fourth grade class A, I felt a little better; like everything was going to be okay. They all applauded for me and thanked me for teaching them. I took a picture with the part of the class that was still there. In the afternoon I went to my seventh grade class. I said goodbye to my kids there and wished them all well. They are lucky to have a teacher that encourages them to learn English. The principle and vice-principle also came to say goodbye. They both gave me big hugs, which I thought was great even though I didn’t get to talk to them that much. They presented me with a small package that read, “Para Alicia: Con mucho cariño y respeto del Centro Esoclar Dr. Alonso Reyes Guerres” (To Alicia: With much affection and respect from the Dr. Alonso Reyes Guerras school). Inside were a keychain and three pairs of earring from a local artisan shop. Part of me says that I shouldn’t come teach again because it hurts so much to leave everyone. But the bigger and smarter part says that this was the experience of a lifetime. I have formed an amazing bond with people here and I feel blessed to call them my friends. I’m really feeling the quote from my blog yesterday: “If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” So if it is possible for me to return in the future to teach I will. 5th grade, class B 5th grade, class B 6th grade, class A I love the bunny ears Alisha: Your classes are very important for us. We need you. We hope for you. Inside the classroom of 6th grade, class B 6th grade, class B Picture with my students Very cool third graders a href=""> Love the poses With my kids Part of my 4th grade class With some of the fourth graders My school!! Inscription on the present from my students I walked home after my afternoon class and thought about how much fun I had teaching. Around 3:00pm Kathy, Mauricio, Kimberly, and I walked outside the house because there were horses going down the street that were going to be part of a parade. We watched several beautiful horses going by. Kimberly and I followed them up the street. There was a marching band playing in a small parade for the festival. We watched for a while and then went to get ice cream. Since it was my last day I got a double scoop of mango and blackberry. I saw several of my students downtown and said goodbye to them one last time. I even saw a guy that I had met last September who was wearing a Hawkeye shirt. I said hi and told him when I returned I’d bring a copy of the photo for him. Around 4:30pm she and I stopped back at La Casa Mia, where she is staying, for a drink. We each had a rum and coke to commemorate my trip. It is a beautiful hostel and the people there are wonderful, but I’m glad I am at the Pastoral House. I love the women here and treasure the time I am able to spend with them. At 5:00pm I went back to the house. I chatted with Kathy, Cecilia, Blanca, and Idalia for a while. I really feel that I have made a strong connection with them. They are my family. I will miss their humor and love every day. I can’t wait to see them all again on my next visit. As we were talking on the stairs outside the house a young man stopped by asking for me. I didn’t know who he was. He was here to deliver a gift from one of my teachers. How sweet!! It was a beautiful little basket with candy, jewelry, and a note inside. I hope that I never take for granted the affection and generosity of people. Around 8:00pm I walked downtown to the festival with Kathy, the ladies, and people from the Wesley group. We watched another coronation, walked around, got some food, and stopped for a beer at the end of the night. We got back home around 10:00pm. Tonight I had packing to do. Unlike my usual over-organized self I had not packed anything much. I’ve been trying to delay as long as possible thinking about leaving. Buenas noches for now. I will probably write one or two more blogs about tomorrow and being back in the US. Horses walking by the casa Marching band Baton twirlers Drumming A drink with Kim Walking home Home sweet home “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” –1 Corinthians 13:13

1 comment:

Matt said...

What a great and difficult last day. I think you got a chance to do something that most people don't. You got to experience your true calling in life and something that you have so much passion for.