Saying Goodbye

Our WorldTeach Thailand 2009 volunteers are getting ready to wrap up their year of service. How does one go about saying goodbye to a community and friends that have defined "home" for the space of a year? Volunteers Haley Boone and Kate Mast write about the difficult process of closing this chapter in their lives.

"Leaving these students is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It hurts more than any goodbye I have ever had to make and leaves a grief that aches in my entire being. My heart both swells and breaks with every hug I am given, every "love teacher Kate" note I receive and every tear I see fall. I am so grateful for the year I spent as here at my school and , I am a better person because of these students and the joy they have shown me. It was an honor to be their teacher. Today was my last day teaching so I dedicate this post to the students I said goodbye to and will miss and love forever." -- Kate

Kate and her students

"Tomorrow is my last day of teaching my sweet students here in Nakhon Phanom! I can't believe this day has finally come... my heart hurts when I think of walking home from school tomorrow, knowing that on Monday morning I will wake up in Bangkok and be nowhere near Anuban NKP School. I'm still getting really cute gifts, still tearing up often, and still having small get togethers with those who have played a huge part in this year for me. I could write for hours on the things that I will miss about Nakhon Phanom, but the end result would probably be me curling up in a ball and sobbing. I'm doing my best to focus on spending the last two weeks embracing everything I've loved about this place... I plan on eating lots of good food, doing a lot of karaoke, playing lots of games with my students, hanging out with my Thai family as much as possible, and continuing to build the relationships I've made with many Thai friends so that I can be sure they will last when I leave here.

Today, two of my wonderful Prathom 6 students met me at the door of my last class to whisk me off to their classroom, telling me the entire way, "Teacher, very big surprise! Very, VERY big surprise! Teacher will like so much!" I got a little worried when I saw a blindfold, but I could hear their excited whispers as they led me (blinded at this point) into the classroom. After asking if I was ready, Justin Beiber of all people started blaring through the speakers, the blindfold was whipped off, and I was greeted by the entire class with flowers and balloons! It was the most adorable thing... the whole room was decorated with balloons that they had written little messages on, such as "Love you more than words can say" (a song Thai people love) and "We are love you very much!" and my personal favorite, "Here.. welcome you forever!" Their teacher was gone for the entire afternoon, so I found out later the students set the whole party up themselves, even leaving the campus during their lunch hour to go and buy balloons and snacks! So I'm sure at this point you are wondering what happens at a Thai surprise going away party?? Well, there was a lot a picture taking, a lot of hugs and promises to stay in touch, and, of course, a lot of dancing to the latest Korean pop songs. I was shocked when they asked me if I knew the YMCA, and they were happy to learn it was a popular party song in the USA. I was the shocked one when they told me they had the song on their Ipods... by SuperJunior, a hugely popular Korean boyband with a whopping THIRTEEN members. We danced the afternoon away, taking breaks to snack a little and take a few pictures." -- Haley

Haley and her students

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