Ah, that sweet ‘end of the school year’ exhaustion point we have hit as teachers, where I honestly can’t remember what day it actually is, only how many days until I’m on summer break. Where at any point after 2pm you can ask if I want to go out to dinner or happy hour, and the answer is yes, no matter how much I promised myself I’d make it to the gym that day. I just keep pulling on stretchy pants.
That time of year where I have to physically hold my eyes open with my fingertips, staring blinkless at administration during meetings. When any question is answered with “okay….. suuuuure. yeaaaahhhhh.” and none of the usual “well, why don’t we – ” “I think it would be cool if we – ” creative and knowing suggestions we bossy teachers always have.
That June-y gloomy part of the year saying goodbye to students and staff who you know you may never see again. insert sad face. Or ridiculous roomie snapchat.
Deciding to take a Harvard Graduate School of Education course the last two weeks of school, while making slideshows, emceeing Chapels, attending multiple parties and meetings, posting grades, selling the yearbook, leading worship, figuring out ways to entertain high schoolers, enduring end of the year goodbyes, packing classroom AND apartment, etc., was not the best idea I have ever had, but now I can say I ‘went’ to Harvard! Which is cool. But the extra parts of my brain are all used up, and I am unable to make any responsible decision at all.
In Brazil we teach 200 school days. USA has 180. So it makes sense to be so tired. I think I’m at the end of all reason. I’m just saying “congratuLAAAAtions” to people for no reason, eating any candy that crosses my path, and deciding dry shampoo is an acceptable substitute for showering. Plus it’s freezing in Rio – which means below 70 degrees. I only have three sweaters, one pair of black pants, one pair of tights, and one pair of jeans, so I’ve been rotating the same outfits for the last three weeks.
And there’s a huge element added to this end of the school year crazy, that’s really an “all year long” kind of crazy, and exhaustion, and confusion – as a teaching staff living in a foreign country, we don’t speak the language 95% of our parents speak and the country we live in speaks. We don’t understand banking/bills/buses/social norms/sense of time, you name it. Water goes out, elec goes out, you have no idea how to fix anything. Its all different. And our circle of students and staff is ever-fluctuating, because we’re an international school. Half our staff leaves every two years. Students constantly come and go.
BUT. But it’s okay. Man. It’s okay. If anything, the ‘end of the year’ stuff reminds you why you’re teaching in the first place.
We see precious awards ceremonies for PreK classes, and Kinder, and other grades. You hear students who couldn’t speak English six months ago reading “Thank you teachers for helping us learn, you are the best!” into a microphone in front of 150 people. You hug a second grader for the last time in your life, as he moves to only-his-dad’s-job-knows-where. You see lice in a student’s hair and nonchalantly swing your own mane into a bun because you know you’re going to hug them anyway. A student you didn’t expect comes to your room to ask you to sign their yearbook.
You wipe tears away as you watch one of your former students, a Chinese boy with a cleft lip, adopted by Italian parents, being raised in Brazil, attending an American international school, accept an award for “comic relief,” because he’s come so far from the early aggressive and frustrating days that he no longer hits fellow students – now he makes his peers laugh.
And we have assemblies and conferences and meetings that feel too long, and you want them to end but you’re dreading the end, because that means you need to a. really clean your class and b. actually say goodbyes. Which freaking sucks. My best friend is leaving. She’s also my boss and roomie. My other roomie is leaving, my fav couple is leaving, other friends are moving on.
I’m staying in Rio for at least another contract year (I’ll be home in California for five weeks or so this Northern hemisphere summer). The nice bit is that I have so many Brazilian friends at work and my bestie Candice is being promoted to Principal. I’m excited to support her in that role and I’m Auntie Rachie to her babies and I’m not ready to leave that just yet. Also I live on the beach and it’s the Olympics, so that’s nice.
But when I make my way back to start a new school year in August, it will most certainly not be the same. My homies – I protest against these goodbyes. So I won’t do it to your faces. I will not tell you how much you’ve meant to me, or what I will miss most about you. I don’t want to do a big, teary hug farewell.
But I will say, to the class of 2014, it has been an honor and a privilege and trying and hilarious to work and live and play and travel and pray with you. We’ve seen the best and the worst of each other, observing the tan lines and grey hairs growing. We’ve shared many a balsa, a taxi, a bus ride. We’ve stood in countless circles for one reason or another, exchanged mutual eye rolls and had more than enough batata fritas.
We’ve chased sunsets, karaoked, visited the Amazons and a million beaches, tickled sloths, had late night card parties, alerted each other to pastels for snacks, and shared many a “what the what” stories about living life as an immigrant to Brazil.
To my roomies – you let me pee with the door open, endured the many ways I was smashing the patriarchy, were kinder than you should have been when my late night munchies affected your food supply, indulged my penchant for turning everything into a song. I’ll never forget the lazy beach afternoons with Ed and Marli, late nights playing Golf, watching carpool karaoke, girl fails, Outlander, Sons of Anarchy, the Bachelorette. We had a bit of a rough start, but we’re leaving this moment as best friends.
To all my departing friends – thank you for taking me exactly as I am. I was so broken when I arrived to Rio with the class of 2014. A tired, sad, and lonely shell of a me. And I think I’ve grown into the happiest, silliest, unashamed, me-ist me I’ve ever been, being here with you. You have made me feel safe, and worthy, and you have loved me like Jesus does. You are the bees knees.
Tchau for now. beijos beijos beijos.
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