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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Farewell Party & Appreciation

My school took most of the day off and all the teachers went to the beach to spread out tarps and have a feast in my honor!  The Principal, Vice Principal and Teachers gave speeches and there was an Islamic prayer session.  They presented me with a ring with the name of the school engraved inside.  I tried for 4 hours to include a video, but my internet connection is too slow.

They even had a cooked turkey. I am holding its neck and head in the photo at the end of this blog.

I feel so loved here! I have such good friends in the states who have walked this journey with me, just an internet connection away, amazing Peace Corps Volunteers and staff who have been an integral part of my stay here and students and teachers who will always be in my heart.

My daughter, Katrina, who was a PCV in Africa (Malawi 1997-2000) said it well:
Those last few weeks are REALLY hard, probably as hard as or harder than the first few weeks. You're mentally straddling two worlds, trying to prepare for leaving one of them pretty much completely. It's hard to stay engaged when you know you're leaving soon. These weeks are going to fly by.

And they have. One more day to pack, one day to teach, one day for graduation, then I leave my village, 3 days in Surabaya to complete reports, check for TB, parasites, do a hard core malaria flush, close bank account, take a language competency test, turn in books, life jacket, bicycle helmet, unused medicine, write my description of service for my permanent file, the last volunteer report form with details about the education progress of all my students, a final interview with the country director then I'm on a flight home!

I want to share with you the bounty of love that I have received recently -
Appreciation from friends, fellow volunteers and students:

Dear Colleen
I just read your blog.
Have a safe trip back to the U.S.
You are an amazing woman!

(My reply)
Oh thanks so much, A.
I got tears when I read your message.
I really appreciate all the love and support you have given me during this journey.
I really am not amazing. I am sitting here - it's 4:38am, I woke up with the call to prayer, I'm already sweating and I feel too tired to go outside walking like I usually do because I'm coming down with a cold and I realized that I sent out that email and didn't even spell the word "only" right and the first version of the blog had a email attached at the bottom that originally inspired me to write but I forgot to delete it!
I'm a mess.
It takes someone beautiful to see something amazing in all that!
Love and a hug and see you soon.
Wonderful blog, Colleen. I think part of it should be required reading fro every new PCV recruit.
I think you may enjoy this song about senior moments - not that you or I have any of them.

Dear, dear Colleen -
My apologies this is not the nice hand-written note I had planned on the beautiful paper sitting on my desk beside me just for this purpose. Things happen.

I am so completely sad that you are leaving us. I comfort myself in the fact that you are probably so completely not sad to be returning to your family and grandkids. It has been a long road, and I think you've served your time to deserve some quality time with them.

Before I came to Indo, your blog was one that I read most. I even showed it to my mom and said, "See this is Colleen. She is doing it. Maybe we'll be friends and she'll show me how things go." I am not sure if it comforted my mother, but I hope her knowing I'd have a role-model here would help a little. After that, she still asks about you, and I believe she is still a devoted follower of your blog (you'll maybe have to start a baby-sitting blog so she won't lose out on that connection).

When we first arrived, it seemed like you were really the only one trying to prepare us for things, to try to leave some trail for us or make the path easier. With the blog of things we should know, plastic bags for the ladies, maps of Surabaya left at swearing in - these are things that should have been provided - but if not for you, we never would have had them. I thank you so much for those little things.

You also gave me probably the best piece of advice I've received for serving. After showing us how to put a condom on a banana : ), you told us that our first job was not teaching English, it was not secondary projects or even representing America - it was getting ourselves through to the next day. It was doing what we need to do to make it to that next day and to find a way to be happy here. That, above all things, has kept me going.

I was also super-siked to get to travel to Bali with you - to share bus and train experiences, crowd into a little room with you and 3 other ladies, see you finesse drivers and master all directions everywhere, to hear all about your wonderful life and your matter-of-fact take on experiences - to have you meet my brother and to share that horn implants are not an immediate deal breaker in a relationship. Colleen, it has been a supreme treat to be able to be here with you for a little while. It makes me wish we had longer together. You are such an inspiration in all you do, and I am certainly better for you having been here to show me the way.

I am so happy you will get to enjoy your time with your family, and I really hope you will visit NY at some point if I can ever make it back there after this.

Thanks again, Colleen. I can't wait to see you on the other side (the US)!
Much love,  E

(my reply)
Oh E,
Thank you! All the love you expressed has made me cry.
I honestly, really, truly, do NOT deserve all this praise.
I survived. Not especially gracefully or with any mega wisdom.
Thank you so much for this message. I really feel appreciated I do hope we get to meet up on the "other side."
Love and hugs,  Colleen

"oMaa,..............I never forget yOu,,...
i will remember you in my life forever,,.......
I LOVE YOU,,...."

And finally one from a person I will label “anonymous”

Dear: Oma Collen Young
Oma, I know there must be a farewell meeting in every.
It feels heavy when I had to part with you, but it is the truth.
The time you work in Indonesia has ended.
I hope you will always remember me, my school and my country.
I also hope we can meet again someday.
I am writing this letter to the accompaniment of tears oma…
Because the weight of when I know I will not see you again and maybe may English lessons will boring without you.
Oma pray, I can be successful, so I can visit to your country and meet you…
This might be my gift is not expensive, but maybe it makes you always remember me
Oma I like you eyes, your smile and the way you teach, you can make we laugh
Thank you so much oma
If one day you miss me, please send a email to me, and say that you miss me.
Oma, please don’t tell anyone if I’m sending you a letter, I expect this to be a secret between you and me….
Please replay my letter….

Dear anonymous,
I am sharing your secret letter with the world. They need to know that wonderful students like you are waiting for them if they too sign up to be Peace Corps Volunteers. But I will keep your name a secret in my heart.
I really enjoyed your letter.
I do hope that you will always remember me too.
It would be wonderful if you continued to be an excellent student and one day would come to America! Yes, that would be great~
I hope your life is going well.
See you in school for the rest of this week.
PS - Your gift is perfect! I just have a little card with some pictures that I will give to every student on Friday, but I want you to know that YOU ARE SPECIAL!

Here's the turkey...

And here's the card I have all the students, teachers and staff...

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