On Saturday I had a pre-planned party with my library prefects. I say “Pre-planned” because I had invited them for Fantas and cookies before I realized I would be gone a week later. I decided because I’m closer with them than most other students, I should probably test the departure waters with them first. I think there were already rumors because from the beginning they were asking some leading questions about when I would eventually be leaving the academy. I showed them the letter from UCLA and explained I was going to Graduate School and the reaction was a mix of shock and muddled sadness.
“Wednesday,” they kept repeating. “You’re seriously leaving on Wednesday?”
A day later at dinner, I got up in front of the school and announced that I had to leave. The reaction was mixed. I showed them the letter and said I was accepted to go to graduate school at UCLA and was initially met with cheers that quickly died out. A girl sitting almost directly in front of me looked horrified and asked: “But… Doesn’t that mean you have to leave?” When I gave the date, the room quickly devolved into chaos; students were banging on tables and yelling protests. I channeled Eleanor Roosevelt.
For the next ten minutes I am not me. I am Eleanor. I am poised, and unflappable, and completely focused on the task at hand. I am sure as hell not going to cry.
Peter somehow got them to calm down. I don’t even remember what I said exactly, but I was aiming for something vaguely inspirational that left everyone with the feeling that I never intend to say goodbye and would be coming back to see them at Gashora again. I sat back down at the faculty table and began shaking uncontrollably. Peter then evoked an ovation from the students for all of my hard work and dedication to the school which lasted upwards of 5 minutes and I promptly turned to my colleague and explained I needed to leave. I barely made it halfway up the hill from the dining hall before I was bawling my eyes out.
I spent a few minutes getting everything out at my house before walking down to preps in the library. I wore my shirt students had painted on earlier that afternoon during the World Map project at the Health Center. Needless to say, I spent less time actually tutoring to offering any help at preps and more time being drawn on in sharpie by every student in the library. Now I am never going to be able to wash that shirt ever again. The attitudes were mixed but I’d like to think by the end of the night most students who weren’t initially speaking to me had warmed up to the idea that I was doing what was ultimately right for me.
The next afternoon during assembly my co-worker dedicated the “Irish Blessing” to me and another student wrote a poem for me, which went like this:
We are glad you are our friend
Facially with a smile
Written with a pen
Sealed with a kiss
If you are our friend
Please answer this:
Are you going to forget us or not?
So tell us now and tell the truth
So that we say, we’ll always be there with you
For all people we met, we’re getting so much from your care
We are more aware what it meant
To have friendship like the one we shared
You gave so much so often in so many ways which are special
In gentle words of comfort
In happy words of wisdom
Thoughtfulness you always share in everything you do
Make our gift of friendship dearly treasured
We can’t promise that dark clouds will never haze over our lives
Or that the future’ll bring us many rainbows
But we can promise you our respect, remembrance
And unconditional love for a lifetime
We will always be there for you though we’ll take a risk of using facebook
We advise you this: “Find your purpose, live your purpose and you’ll surely succeed in life.”
We are glad you are our friend
Gashora Girls, we promise never to forget you
Miss Jenny we’ll miss you.
I started to cry. So I put on my sunglasses and haven’t been able to remove them yet today.