Tuesday, June 21, 2011 the 6th grade class of Penglai Primary School, graduated; and I was there to share in their celebration of completion. The entire school buzzed with the excitement, and from the opening ceremony (presentation of flower pins and well wishes from the 5th grade to the 6th grade), to the exit ceremony (6th grade parading each floor then out through the front gates); emotions ran raw.As I walked to school, the sidewalk just outside the school building, became more and more congested. I could smell the aromatic bouquets that were tightly gripped in the hands of the waiting parents. It was as though they were waiting for royalty. Their wait was not a short one, for the graduation ceremony did not begin until after 9am. When they were allowed in, they signed the register and packed the auditorium. There was standing room only.
The end of the school year is always a little hard for me; this year was perhaps even more difficult; because it is not just a “so long” for us; but rather a “farewell”. It is just possible that I will come back here one day to teach; but for now; I long for home.
I will truly miss my students, my colleagues, and new found friends.
I shall cherish every moment, every event of this wonderfully exciting and rewarding year; always. I don’t want to mislead the reader; there were times when I just wanted too give up and “GO WEST- OLD WOMAN”. Days when the temperature was so hot and the humidity so high, that I felt I’d drown just by stepping outside the door; days when the wind was so fierce and humidity so high that my bed was wet when I arrived in my 1 room flat; and although it never got any colder than 50 degrees F, I almost froze because of the wet, and the absence of heaters to knock the chill off ; those were very difficult days; but the days when my childrens’ faces seemed to register _______________; THOSE were the days that tried me most. When the children begun to try to hold conversation with me, outside the classroom, I knew that I HAD to finish the task I had begun.
I look at them now and I see what I came to see; SUCCESS. I didn’t expect them to be able to address the UN in perfectly fluent English; however, I did enjoy hearing some of the speeches that had been prepared for the English competitions. They’ve inspired me tremendously.
The volunteer parents are an integral part of Penglai’s English Village and have been a great help this school year. They accompanied us in our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classes to help the students with NEP (NO English Profficiency). They translated for us (the FETs) only when it was absolutely necessary. They helped us with role-play, handing out and collecting materials, group activites, clean-up, getting the classes settled, and ready to go home. We saw our 2nd grade students on Monday afternoon, the 4th grade on Thursday, and the 3rd grade on Friday), for 3 forty minute periods. 6th and 5th grades were on Monday and Thursday mornings (4 forty minute periods). Tuesdays we had visiting schools. The volunteer parents did not work with us with the 5th, 6th, or visiting school classes.
We celebrated their hard work with a luncheon on wednesday June 22nd and we presented them with a gift (slippers with a picture of all of the English Village teachers). The slippers are very significant because, in the classrooms, shoes are NOT allowed.
We’ve completed the first week of planning for summer camp and we now have just one more week (planning) then summer camp begins; ironically on the 4th of July; luckily it doesn’t begin on the 3rd, because I’d have to miss the first day; that’s my birthday, and I’ve never worked on my birthday.
Summer camp is only two weeks . We will have two 1 week sessions with 45 students each session. The actual time spent with the students will be about 3 -1/2 school days. I Hope to have more to say before I leave on the 19th of July, as we have an end of the year event for the staff (cruise on the river to see Taipei City from that point and dinner) and the Principal’s farewell dinner. I suppose I shall wish to share some of summer camp as well. Love to you all.