I knew, of course, when I arrived, that today would eventually come. And, back in October, when I had no apartment, no easy way to stay in contact with my family, no community, no sense of my place, no idea of how to connect to my students, and little to no command of the language, I was counting the days. I marked them off on calendars I made myself.
This was my last day of school here. I can't believe it. It's unreal that I won't come back here after the vacation; unreal that there is a good chance I will never see many of my students again. It is my students who, along with a few other (very, very special) people, made life here beautiful.
Hearing Pierre's maximum-volume HELLO I-RAANNN! as he sped past my classroom to German every week (no one here pronounces my name right, but that's okay). Petulant Adrian who refused to say goodbye but wrote me a 'hello note' instead. Sweet and funny Claire and Léa. And the two-hundred-some others, all of whom somehow became a part of me. Who came to say goodbye today and cheered for me and made me cry.
I have their photos and I have their notes, and I have a tiny pair of garnet earrings from them. But I would rather have another year.