Thursday was another full day of lessons. As usual, the children didn’t miss a beat and were ready to go well before the bell rang. We spent the day reviewing the prior concepts and building into new ones. We created mini maps and added in lakes, forests, mountains, trees, a school, a hospital, a zoo, etc. The kids already knew most of the words and we helped them with a few more i.e. sun, sky, cloud, etc. The children all wrote their english words very well and for the most part, had the spelling correct as well. Again, I was surprised at the level of understanding these children had in such a sleepy little village. It’s a testament to the work and effort these teachers have put into these kids over the years. Our last day of teaching flew by once again and we provided the children with folders to keep all of their lessons in. We followed the children out and were able to watch them scatter the village roads as they made their way back home. It’s common for children in more remote parts of China to be raised by their grandparents. Many parents leave to go to bigger cities in hopes of a better job and will come back to visit once or twice a year during Chinese holidays.
Friday was our last day at the schools and we were merely popping in to give gifts to the children and say goodbye. My partner and I had prepared Certificates of Recognition and Stepping Stones provided us with notebooks and a class picture to give. My partner had previously taken individual pictures of all the students and we had those to give each of them as well. We assumed they probably didn’t have many, if any, pictures of themselves. It was clear the kids were obsessed with pictures. During the breaks, all the children rallied around anyone with a camera to get their picture taken. We set the premise early on that the children would only receive gifts i.e. stickers, candy, etc. if they were seated. On Friday, they all patiently sat in their seats as we passed out their gifts and of course, candy. We said our goodbyes collectively and the second we were out of the classroom they all jumped out of their seats and chased after us. You could see it finally hit them once we walked out the door. Of course, hugs ran through the crowd and we made our way into the school yard. We had one student who was clearly the class clown. He was always sneaking over to our stuff and taking our props and hiding them in his desk to be funny. He was a little stinker. I saw him headed towards my partner in the school yard and said,”oh here comes our little trouble maker.” The words were barely out of my mouth when I saw the tears just streaming down his face. Naturally, we both lost it. It was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen. More of the children made their way down to the school yard and you could see the tears welling up or those that had already started with the waterworks. I could even see it in the eyes of the teachers. I was honestly shocked. I didn’t realize our quick 3 day stint would leave these kids in tears when we left. Several boys in our class were crying and we ran around with a second, third and fourth set of hugs for the kids. All the boys crowded together and you could tell they each wanted to say something. Finally, someone mustered the courage to shout something out. “I love you, Franny” came first followed by “We will miss you.” It was awesome. When we pulled away on the bus, the entire school ran out and followed us waving good-bye. It was truly a moment to cherish. I’m so thankful to have such a sweet memory of this experience. It’s not goodbye though…we’ll see you again soon!