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Leaving Nantan – Pt I

July 13, 2007

I was this close to tears today.

Of course, being a real man, none actually slipped out, but still. Today was the last time I will visit two of my shougakkous. In the morning, I had my final two classes at one, and in the afternoon I had my final two classes at the other.

The first school was one where I have been ever since I got here a year ago. It's also pretty close to my house. So these kids I know pretty well. In between my two lessons, I was called into the gym to find the entire school all gathered on the floor for my farewell ceremony. The principal got up in front of everyone and explained to those who didn't know that this was my last day here, and that I would be leaving the area in a few weeks. And it was sad, but everyone should do their best. All the kids were looking at me with huge watery eyes and sad faces, and I'm sure a few of them were crying – especially in the 6-nen-sei – about 11/12 years old – the final year of shougakkou, and the ones I've spent the most time with.

After that, I went up and made a speech. I prepared one yesterday and am keeping it in my pocket unless I ever need to pull it out. I wrote it in Japanese, so there's no way I can remember it.

After my speech, a group of about 5 reps from the 6-nen-sei came up and read little speeches to me, then handed me a little book they'd made, where all the 6-nen-sei had written little messages for me, all in the theme of "We had a really good time, your lessons were always fun. You are a good teacher. Thanks to you, I could learn some English, and now I like English. After you leave, please don't forget about us. We won't forget about you. Good luck". They were so cute, reading it out of their little crying faces. After that, a rep from the 5-nen-sei presented me with a monster boquet.

The 6-nen-sei lesson I had immediately after that ceremony had kinda a strange air, but it still went down pretty well. We just played a game 🙂

After that, I went off to my second school, one where I have only been working since the changearound in April. After classes finished, the kids all assembled to walk home together (since it's in the mountains, the kids have to walk home in large groups as a deterrent to being eaten by bears). At that point, I was thanked for all my hard work, and presented with another book where all the 5- and 6-nen-sei had written little messages for me, along with a bunch of photos of me with them, taken throughout the time I've been there. I gave my little speech to them, too before they all walked off into the rain. After that, the teachers called me into the lunch room where they'd ordered a bunch of cake and coffee for a little party. They presented me with another boquet. Ironically, this came from not the 5- or 6-nen-sei but from the 3-nen-sei, who I've never taught, but who I helped clean the classroom a few times. They really liked me. I also got an A4 size photo of me at work.

I eventually got dropped off back at home and unloaded my haul. It's so touching to finally be told that what I do is really appreciated. And I'm glad I got to say my bit to the kids before disappearing from their lives. I have final classes at two more shougakkous on Tuesday, then the last day at my chuugakkou on Friday. Cute wee things. Moving from countryside shougakkou into mid-city High School is definitely going to be a change.

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