Friday, September 25, 2009

Goodbyes, Part 2

I spent the last few day signing the backs of worksheets and blank pages in textbooks and notebooks. Every time I sat down in between class, a line of students wanting my signature instantly appeared. Students have been coming by my office all week with presents; there were a few material items, but it was mostly letters. Wonderful, precious letters full of broken English that they wrote themselves, letters they couldn't have written when I arrived a year ago. I've been torn between wanting to spend the week behind the lens of a camera, capturing every last detail of my school and my kids for posterity, or just enjoying these last few days.

Today was my last day of school and oh, it was hard. I knew I was going to cry when I left and I did. After I untangled myself from students wanting one last hug, one last reassurance that I wouldn't forget them, I sat down on my bus and silently cried, tears running down my cheeks while I watched my school and the town disappear. What I wasn't prepared for was walking into my classroom for the last time, one last quick trip to throw away the last of the trash from my office, and starting to sob. Great, noisy, undignified sobs because despite all the frustrations, I've been so happy here.

The boys were a bit rambunctious and the boy to my right was being crushed. He kept shouting, "Help me, please! Help me, please!" It's a fitting end of my year here: we started studying Chapter 12: Will You Help Me, Please? today.

After school, I went out for samgyeopsal with friends. We ate at an outdoors galbi restaurant along a pedestrian road near our apartments that is overrun every night with dinners. We had beer and pork and kimchi and a metric ton of cooked garlic (that might have just been me) while we talked and toasted Korea and watched squids bob for freedom in the tanks at the restaurant next door. A good way to celebrate the end of a good year.

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