Celebrations. Love. Goodbyes.
Celebration is everything in Peru. With Independence Day coming up, it is more important now then ever. However, as wonderful as celebrating can be, I’m seeing it interfere with other important things…such as the education of my students.
This week has been emotional when it comes to teaching in Pachecutec. Additional celebrations means less class time for teaching, but it also means getting to see my little Maricielo be the star of her class in the Independence Day production. Presentations and performances give me a taste of Peruvian culture that I’ve been missing, but it also takes away the next two weeks of classes that I have with my students…which means that today was my last day. What a terrible surprise. Despite being in Peru for another 3 weeks, I had to say goodbye to my students today and leave them with an uncertain teacher for after their “winter” break. I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was, however after a million hugs from every boy, and a billion kisses from all of my girls…I was feeling it.
The reality hit me though, as I headed out of class and towards the rest of the volunteers and found Maricielo waiting with them. I walk her home everyday after school, however I wasn’t planning on it today considering I finished 45 minutes later then usual. However, like the sweetheart that she is, she waited so patiently for my class to be over, sitting quietly next to the others who were running, playing, chatting, and being typical kids. She couldn’t have possibly known that I was still there, or that I was coming to walk her home at all, but she still waited.
I couldn’t help but burst into tears when I saw her little head perk up as I headed up the hill to where she was. Not only did she see me coming from a mile away, but she stood up and ran towards me, bursting with a smile, arms stretched, waiting for the hug that she knew I was dying to give her. If I had it my way, I would stay in that hug for years. I just couldn’t even believe that she waited for me. Couldn’t even believe it. In fact, I still can’t. My baby girl.
Goodbyes are so difficult. I feel like that is just a fact of life. People meet, make connections, and leave. When is that no longer the case? When people come into your life, make connections and stay? It must be an amazing thing. Clearly, my problem is a result of my inability to stay still, however at some point it has to be the case where that changes. Can’t people move with me? Could that person be Maricielo…?
No school for the next two weeks also means a full two weeks of working with Johan every day. I have such mixed feelings about this. Of course, I am thrilled. I love that little boy with all of my heart. He fell asleep in my arms on Monday, and I essentially refused to leave when the rest of the volunteers were ready. However, I am already bracing myself for how incredibly difficult it will be to say goodbye to him on the 8th. Right now I spend only 2 days a week with him…maybe 3 if I’m lucky. However, 5 days a week…5 days of hand holding, walking, running (yes, running…progress) and food spitting…its going to be impossible.
My parents may just have to embrace the idea of a Peruvian grandchild.
In class today, for my final lesson, I taught the kids all the words in English relating to love…“You are pretty”…”Will you be my girlfriend?”… and most importantly, “I love you”. Writing Te Amo on the board, and then asking if they new the translation was amazing. Without hesitation, my 4th graders yelled “love! Love!”. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it melted my heart. They knew the word, and they knew the importance it has in life, and to me. We proceeded with boys asking girls on dates, girls telling boys they were cute, and finally ended with my star student inching his way to the front of the class and saying – loud enough for all to hear – “Miss, Miss Christine….you are pretty”.
My heart really didn’t stand a chance today. Not at all. It’s a good thing that love can counteract the pain of goodbyes.
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