This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Peace, Love and Farewells

I still have so much to write about and already it’s time for the Farewell Post! I’ll add more pictures later of events still undocumented.

Yesterday was goodbye at Dokkyo University.

We had our last Westgate English class on Tuesday (the students still have other classes and exams until July 26th), culminating with a wonderful party in the evening, enjoyed by over 100 students from all five classes and organized by our outstanding Program Coordinator. Tables were set up with lots of food and drinks, pictures were taken, email and Facebook addresses exchanged, speeches made and some tears given up.

About half of my students. Many had jobs and couldn’t make the party.

It’s been such a privilege to know these students. They are reserved, witty, charming, observant, mature, and give new meaning to the word “polite.” I loved watching them when they were engaged in English conversation with their classmates. They regarded each other with a kindness and respect that was at once profound and subtle.

Eating and drinking and merry-ing!

Maito, Yudai and Takashi – a few of my awesome students. (Yudai’s monogrammed shirt says “Big Fat Dance Hall” in fancy script. I’ll miss Japanese fashion.)

We had a band! Momoka, Colm and Ryo playing “Imagine” by John Lennon.

In one of our EC (English Challenge) classes, Ryo and I had an enlightening conversation about the phrase “the bee’s knees.” It was a new term to him and after explaining the meaning, he asked the $64,000 question: “Do bees have knees?”

During the party, he came up to me and with his signature big, happy grin said, “Robyn, it’s the bee’s knees!” Most definitely, it is.

Ambitious, dedicated students – Machi, Emi and Takafumi.

Mayumi, Risa and Asumi, holding their Boulder, Colorado postcards.

At the end of our party, my students presented me with a memory book they’d been working on for the last few weeks. Mayumi and Risa had organized it, taking everyone’s pictures, gathering their notes, and putting this sweet book together. I’d maintained my composure just fine until they gave me this:

Each page had sweet notes, pictures and designs. I was so touched by their kindness and planning.

I was on the verge of a teary meltdown, when Yudai called to me, and, with a rather pointed look, said, “Robeen, don’t cry.” I took a breath and calmly looked at every page while they waited.

We were in a crowded room with no air conditioning and it was super hot (Japan is very steamy right now), but that didn’t stop anyone from having a great time and staying until the very end. It was difficult to say the last goodbye, exchange a final hug or handshake. But soon, Nalin and I tore ourselves away and made the long walk to the train station… where there were more students and more last goodbyes! Ah, well…

It’s been a crazy, busy three months, with a packed teaching schedule during the week and chasing around Japan on the weekends. I’ve experienced much of this country in amazing ways. I’ve been part of a community of teachers from all over the world and been involved with Japanese students on a daily basis. I feel I’ve just found my stride and now it’s time to go.
My two suitcases have already been picked up (courtesy of Westgate) and taken to Narita International Airport. They’ll be waiting for me when I get to the airport in 48 hours. Tomorrow (Thursday) I have to clean my apartment, which will be inspected in the afternoon. On Friday morning I’ll take the train to the airport to catch my flight which leaves at 2:55p.m. After a stopover in L.A., I’ll arrive in Denver at almost the same time and on the same day that I left Tokyo. That part makes my head hurt.

Perhaps I’d be more despondent if it weren’t for the happy fact that my contract was renewed at the end of June! I’ll be returning on September 19th for the fall term, which ends on December 15th. It’s likely that I’ll be returning to Dokkyo University, but I won’t know for sure until August.

So, this isn’t Goodbye, Japan, Forever – just Goodbye, Japan, For Now!

4 responses to “Peace, Love and Farewells

  1. Patris July 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Ah, time travel! I can’t believe the time has flown so fast! But I’m glad you like it and will be going back! Can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Lillian July 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Lovely :)
    Enjoy your return visit…

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