Thursday I had a ceremony to go to, at school. I knew it was the official closing of the summer vacation classes I had been giving. It was a day full of emotions and happenings. I didn’t realize that it would all be quite so difficult. All the teachers the students, parents and teachers I had been working with over the past 5 weeks were there to attend this gathering and I was one of the main reasons. I sat up in front of more than 150 people and the principle and head mistress spoke of me and gave their thanks. I was then handed the microphone and asked to say some words and was so happy to because I didn’t want to leave without getting the chance to say something in general about my experience. And because emotions were rising, of course what happened?? Niamh gets all soppy towards the end of the speech (that I hadn’t prepared) and couldn’t say all I wanted because I was too chocked-up. No!! I wanted to say my bit, but I cried instead. But I didn’t an ounce of embarrassment!
What I was trying to say through the microphone - and only managed to say half of - was them giving so much thanks to me was totally unnecessary and that I was the one who was supposed to be saying “thank you” to all; to the kids for being so open with me, to the teachers for taking me in, to the other staff for looking out for me and giving me help and concern whenever I needed it. I started speaking of how special this time with the kids has been to me but not once did I say that this was my first proper teaching experience. Everybody at the school, from day 1 has treated as being a professional teacher and they assumed I have years of experience. They never asked so I never explained. The classes just happened as they did and everybody was happy with the whole concept of what I was doing. I wanted to say that, because it’s my first teaching experience, it has therefore been an extra special time for me in India; but I didn’t. I left it as it was; they know I’ll never forget them. The tears had taken over, so I quickly finished it off and handed over the microphone.
I was given presents and gifts and was asked, again, to stay. I was told how much I’d be missed and that I always have a place to return to. I was asked why I wasn’t staying when I love it here so much and I was asked where I was heading to next. Well, nobody on earth knew what I was doing, not even I did. I had 24 hours before leaving the hostel, so time was ticking. What would be happening next?