Monday, June 4, 2012: “This isn’t goodbye, just a see you later.”
I assigned homework last Friday asking the students to write about their experience taking level 4 class. They did and shared their thoughts in tonight’s class. I was moved by the thank you and “I love you my teacher” messages. Many said they are more confident speaking English, and feel they can now pursue their goals. One student shared that she can now speak to her son’s teacher without having an interpreter. Unanimously, my students said “We will try our best” a message I told them in the beginning of class. I was touched. Afterwards, I thanked them for sharing and appreciated their comments. The students smiled and nodded their heads. I smiled briefly as I took a deep breath. “I have something important to tell you. This isn’t easy to say, but unfortunately this will be my last week here. I am leaving CPC.” As I looked across the room, I saw their faces drop; some holding their heads down, some looked surprised. I began to cry but kept talking. “Due to personal reasons, I have to go but want you to know this has nothing to do with you or anything you did. It has been my great honor to be your teacher. I appreciate you being so dedicated and come to class every night. I know it’s not easy to work full time, take care of family, and come here at night just to hear me talk talk talk. I am proud of each and every one of you. I thank you for allowing me to be your teacher.” At this point, a student came up and gave me a tissue. I wiped away tears as students remained silent. After a few minutes, one student yelled, “I will miss you!” This echoed throughout the room. I said, “I will miss you too but this isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later. We will keep in touch.”
After class, a student walked up to me smiling. Suddenly she said, “I will miss you my teacher,” and hugged me. I could tell she was crying. I cried too. We exchanged emails and I told her, “I appreciate you so much; you are not only my student but my friend.” She said thank you and left. The door was open, blackboard erased, empty desks, I stood looking around. I remembered how many times I stood after class and reflected. This time was different. I couldn’t control my tears from flowing. I knew this was the end. I began unplugging the radio when my co-worker walked passed and said, “Hey!” I replied, “Hey,” and sniffled. He came in and said, “What’s wrong, are you okay?” I told him what happened. He looked unhappy and said, “I’m sorry to hear that, what happened?” I said, “I’ll tell you later” as I grabbed my things and walked out. We stood by the bus stop when I told him how happy I am to have met him. He shared the same sentiments and hugged me. As he left, I waited for the bus. I stood against the school’s gate and reflected.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012: Building my writing skills
I attended a grant writing seminar at the Foundation Center where I learned how to write grants for non-profit organizations. I always wanted to learn this skill, and believe it’s a step up in my writing pursuits. The class was great and so was the instructor. I networked and learned a lot. I look forward to attending more seminars.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012: NASW and class party
I attended the 44th annual addictions institute hosted by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) at Fordham University. It was an all-day conference discussing how to best help clients who suffer from addictions such as substance and drug abuse. Walking in the university and picking up my name tag and folder of information I felt great. Although this event was out of my comfort zone (I’ve only attended teacher related conferences), I didn’t feel out of place. After all, I am a member of NASW. I had a chance to meet other social workers and express my goal to become one. I received some good advice, and additional information about getting involved in the field. I enjoyed the plenary where I gained new perspective about people who suffer from both an addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I did a paper on this topic in college. Before leaving the conference, I received a free tote-bag. That’s always a bonus!
5:30pm: We had a class party celebrating my students’ successes, enjoying each other’s company and taking lots of pictures! I brought my pulley bag filled with dictionaries, journals, and miscellaneous school supplies. They laughed when I told them I lugged this bag around at the conference. I also shared that one exhibitor thought I was a presenter at the conference. Maybe someday I will be (It’s a dream of mine to present at a conference). The students all loved their gifts and asked me to autograph their dictionaries. One student yelled, “Superstar!” I thank them for making me feel like one. The food was great, the pictures came out nice, and we all wished each other well. I didn’t walk away in tears that night, I walked away proud that in the six years I taught at CPC I accomplished my goal; to teach English and make a difference in the community. I walked away with a smile.
This is just the beginning for me. Let’s see what next week will bring. I predict it to be a good one.