Saying Good-bye

Yesterday was my last day of work, last morning in my piso and last day in Roquetas de Mar, the town I’ve called home for 8 months. Feels surreal. I don’t think it’s hit me yet.  Saying good-bye is always difficult, always strange. I say I don’t believe in good-byes because I always feel I’ll see people again, I just don’t know when. I  don’t know when I’ll be back in Roquetas or if I’ll ever return.  It’s always sad to end a chapter in your life and I feel I’ve been distracted with my boyfriend visiting- who helped me pack up my life in Roquetas and now we’re traveling together before I meet my brother and friend in Madrid. I’m also excited for all that comes next- 2 months of travel in Spain and Portugal and then whatever the future brings when I return home to California in July!

At work:

I told my students 2 weeks in advance when my last day would be so it wouldn’t be such a surprise.

After my last class with my third years (15-16 years) on Tuesday, a group of girls and one boy came up to sing a song from their favorite band, One Direction. Every time we talked about music, they’d always talk about this boy band but I never bothered to youtube them.  One song turned into four. 10 girls and a boy singing with joy, excited to have a listening ear. I felt honored, all of them comfortable with me. Meanwhile, my boyfriend taking a video and snapping photos.

Many students asked if I was coming back next year and I felt bad telling them, “No.” For a moment, I thought to myself, “Why not? Why am I not coming back?” But I know why. I told most of my students “it’s time for me to go back to California” and for my students who had a surprise visitor for their last class- my boyfriend, they understood why when I said, “it’s hard to be long distance.”

One sweet student told me, “I’m happy for you. I wish you the best in California” and another boy asked if “are you going to get married?” I wasn’t prepared for that question but it makes sense coming from a teenagers mind.

What I didn’t expect was how many of them came up to me after class and said, “I’m going to miss you” and asked for hugs. Some were students who went unnoticed, were really quiet all year  or seemed indifferent to my presence.That’s the beauty of working with youth- you never know what impact you leave behind. Sometimes you know, in this case, I know many are sad for me to leave but often, we have no idea. Who knows what these students will remember a year from now or five? I know I did things differently- like stretching at the beginning of class, which they resisted the first time I tried.

On my last day, I only had one hour of conversation class with my third years. My favorite year to teach. Then, it was time to say good-bye to my coordinator (who was an awesome boss!) and to all the teachers in the teacher’s lounge. Lots of besos and Pasa lo bien y buen viaje, Have a good time and have a good trip.  And then I slowly waved good-bye and walked out of the high school.

It’s been an awesome 8 months.

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12 thoughts on “Saying Good-bye

  1. Pingback: Transitioning to life on the road and living out of a backpack « Roamingtheworld

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  3. Change is good, there might be a student or two who will look you up in SF on their trip. Wish you well.

  4. I like what you have to say about the beauty of working with youth. I’ve worked with some pretty rough kids in the past who eventually dropped out of school and it was hard to take. But when I bump into them around town and they are excited to see me and want to chat… it’s really nice to make some impact, even if it’s not exactly what you expected. I’m sure your students will remember you!

    • hi Ekua,
      Thanks for stopping by. that’s awesome you often see your students and they take the time to chat. Working with youth is a good reminder we have more of an impact than we often think!

  5. I like what you have to say about the beauty of working with youth. I’ve worked with some pretty rough kids in the past who eventually dropped out of school and it was hard to take. But when I bump into them around town and they are excited to see me and want to chat… it’s really nice to make some impact, even if it’s not exactly what you expected and to hold on to that. I’m sure your students will remember you!

  6. Wow, that was very touching, it brought tears. I bet you had some too. You did a great job writing about your experience, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m just imagining many of those students remembering their experience with you for many years, just like you with them. Maybe you even inspired some of them to travel or who knows what by the many things you must have shared with them. Your presence no doubt opened the world to them a little more. What a gift for everyone. I’m so proud of you. Besos. Mom

  7. Sounds like you had a great experience with them. I know what it means to leave – parting is such sweet sorrow. And you cling to the memories. Enjoy the next two months 🙂

    • Thanks Azra. I’ll cling to the memories and I’ll do my best to savor these 2 months of travel!

  8. I still get teary thinking about my last day in Olivares. After one year I hated not being able to get a hug from my coordinator when homesick or making my students laugh for four months….but after three years! I cried for two weeks straight. I only have three weeks left with my kiddos before I leave my school for a different job, and it’s breaking my heart!

    Sorry to have missed you in Seville, but hope you enjoyed. Buen viaje!!

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