I just finished my last class with my Elementary ESL group in Ecuador. I’ve been with this group for a long time—some of them for over six months—but now I’m going to start with a different group. It’s actually good for them to experience a different teacher, because each teacher has his or her unique set of talents. But of course, it’s sad to say goodbye.
Well, to my unexpected delight, my students had planned a surprise tribute for me. As I began the last class, one of them said “Look at us.” I did, and this is what I saw:
I was deeply touched, and told them how much I love them and will miss them. They said the same to me, and after that, there wasn’t a dry eye in Ecuador or Mexico!
Of course, this isn’t necessarily the end. I may have some of them again in a later class. I played my own planned tribute at the end of the lesson: a video (with lyrics of course!) of the classic song “We’ll Meet Again.” The song says “don’t know where, don’t know when,” but when it finished one student said, “We don’t know when, but we do know where: You’ll visit us here in Ecuador!” I think she’s right!
But we’re saying goodbye and good luck for now, and as we do, I feel enormously grateful. In a week marked by horror at the US Capitol, an American living in Mexico had a holy encounter with some wonderful human beings (most of them teenagers!) from Ecuador. In a week filled with despair, my students’ wonderful expression of love filled me with hope.