It’s been a month of saying goodbye and some tears. Last month, my students from last year had a little get together for the teachers. It was a joyous celebration, commemorating making it another school year with all the misshaps: no school due to holidays or exams, being lazy due to rainy days and muddy just about all the damn time. I will really miss the students but I look to them, my now graduating students, to do some good in this world. It is my hope that they will continue to try in this crazy, ridiculous, exciting and amazing world.
As I watched my students from last year, I was suddenly overcome with such happiness for them. This was a brand new chapter of their lives and anything could happen. They all had the potential to succeed but only they could define “success” in their own terms. Watching them and being surrounded among so much positivity, it helped to remind me that in a few short months, it will be a new chapter in my life as well. After high school, I had such positivity and like I could excel in anything. Now, 6 years later, I am little more jaded and a little more of a realist. Sometimes, I wonder “when did this happen? When did I stop believing in magic, fairy tales and creating your own happily ever after?” Life has a way of knocking you down and forcing you to get back up. Maybe isn’t of thinking that things just magically happen to you, I’ve had to learn that you have to work your ass off to get what you deserve. I guess you can say, “I’m all grown up now.” Ethiopia and the people here helped to mold me into a better person.
This month, the teachers threw together a end of the year party and my own students from grade 11 gave me the honor of throwing me my own bunna [coffee] ceremony after their last final. During the teacher’s party, there were beers, kitfo, kocho, dulet, tibs, and injera. During the student’s ceremony, there were bunna, corn, coffee, tea, borde [local drink] and bread. The students gorsha’d me [gave me food] while I tried not to choke and then there was an abundance of dancing. Finally, there was a speech and the speech entailed how I taught well and how they were going to miss me, and so the waterworks began.
There were many times in the second year where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I enjoyed my first year more as I was more motivated and looking to the future. But by the end of the first year, once I knew the struggles and obstacles that I would be facing in my school – it just didn’t seem as fun. I would love to say that I went into my second year with determination but I didn’t. I thought I did a better job at teaching and connecting with my students last year. I thought that I made more of a difference last year. However, looking through my students grades, 7 students failed second semester, meaning below 50 and of 45 students, 4 failed the school year. I don’t remember last years scores but it was slightly higher so maybe, even though I didn’t think I did well, I actually learned from my first year and implemmented different techniques that helped the students learn the material. Also, even though I thought I connected with students from last year more, this year students were the ones who went out of their way to make me a coffee ceremony and make me feel loved. You never really know the lives you will touch during your peace corps service.
My friend Celine, who worked at the clinic last year, also visited with her mom for about a week in Chiri. Celine and I became friends during my first year here and there were many movie nights and popcorn. Popcorn has become my comfort food here and it’s really helped in my sanity. Celine and her mom speak French and anytime there was any spoken, I melted a little inside. This is what people must feel when they hear a “romance” language… I will be learning French in the near future and I hope I can only seduce people with my abilities. Whilst both were here, I made dinner for Celine, Anne and Romeo and it was nice having guests in my house. Habesha have came into my home but it’s just not the same. Ethiopians expect me to entertain them by talking and dancing but when you have limited speaking abilities, it’s hard to do so. With other foreigners, it’s just like being home with people who are there to have a good time. When Celine was back in Chiri, it felt just like old times and I missed her when she was gone.
This past month has hit me that I will be leaving soon. I have taken full advantage of the power being out in Chiri for 2 weeks now to get to spend more time with my friends and loved ones instead of being in my home all day. I value each moment spent with people because I don’t know when is the next time I will be back to Ethiopia. I try my best to remember “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”