“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

— Japanese Proverb

I woke up this morning with honest dread, because today was a day I did not want to experience– the farewell ceremony at Namekawa Chu. Being on vacation for two weeks allowed me the luxury of dodging the proverbial bullet of reality, but today it caught up to me. But I will tell you about the traditional, Japanese junior high leaving ceremony.
I arrived at school like normal, but found that my school had changed greatly since I’d been gone. All of the leaving teachers had moved their stuff out, new teachers had moved in, and everyone had changed seats. They even moved my/the ALT desk. The other departing teachers and I– 18 of us in all– gathered in the kojo-sensei (principal)’s office to wait for the ceremony to begin.
All of the students, including many of those who just graduated, along with all the teachers and the PTA, gathered in the gym and stood to applaud us as we filed in the back and walked to the stage and sat down. I was so terribly nervous. I don’t get nervous that often, but my hands were freezing and shaking as I sat on stage. The kojo-sensei read through the list of our names, how long we’d been at Namekawa (some had been there shorter than me!), and where we were moving to. Then we each proceeded to make a short speech.
Thankfully I was last so I knew about how long they should be. Also, several of the teachers started crying during their speeches so I knew it wouldn’t be terrible if I cried. Finally my turn came and I prayed for the strength to at least get the words out. I thanked the PTA for their support, the teachers for their kindness, and told the kids how proud I was of them (in more words than that, but that was the gist). My voice shook a little, but I didn’t cry. Then we all sang the school song (such a catchy tune ;) ) and a student representative (one of my favorite little students) read a message on behalf of the student body for each of us. I don’t know exactly what mine said, but he ended it with “goodbye”, which was cute. :) Then all the teachers filed out again and we were all given a nice bouquet of flowers by the PTA. Here is mine:

Hana ga daisuki desu. I love flowers.
Then was the great walk. The road of no return. :) Maybe not that dramatic… All the teachers and students lined up along the entrance way and clapped and wished us well as we left the school. I will admit there were some tears shed then. But it was nice. One of my dear students, Ayana, who I coached for a speech contest once, gave me an awesome present:

If you can’t tell what it is, those little things are tiny oragami cranes. They are strung together and there are several strands. I don’t know if she made it or bought it, but it is so thoughtful! Once upon a time she was in the teachers room and she had a tiny crane and I told her how cute it was and how much I liked it and she gave it to me. And now this. Too sweet. Finally, after all was said and done, one of my fellow departing teachers, who is also a friend of mine, took me home.
Overall I handled it well– didn’t fall apart, got some closure. Thanks to God for giving me the strength and peace to make it through and really be able to enjoy the moments.
Oh, but that was only the first half of my day! After lunch I went up to the office to meet my new boss, Mr. Hosoya. He is Mr. Suzuki’s replacement (see last blog entry). I had heard nice things about him from everyone, and I had a great first impression. I was sitting at the ALT desk when he came in, and when he saw me he smiled really big and started waving at me. :) After talking with him I think I’m really going to like him. He’s very nice and always seems like he has a few too many things on his mind, which is kind of charming in it’s own way. Shortly after our meeting, Mr. Hosoya drove me to Hidaka Chugakko to meet my new English teachers, kojo-sensei, and kyoto-sensei (vice principal). Everyone was great, and I am grateful that I will be working with more nice people.
So there you have my day. Today I said my final goodbye to Namekawa and said hello to my new bosses and school. Talk about changes.
Lest you think that I have it all together, let me be honest. I’m having a melt-down. Reality has struck and I’m scared of all the changes. I can’t do this on my own– I need the grace of God to carry me through and the support of my friends, who have already been wonderful so far. So please keep me in your prayers through this time of re-starting.
Tomorrow’s my opening/entrance ceremony at Hidaka. I’m nervous again. Please pray for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

PS– The proverb at the top is more wishful thinking than actuality, I’m afraid. :) But gambattemasu! I will try my best!

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