If you’ve read this blog even a little you probably have a good idea of how much I love my students. I was going to write a summed up blog post called Ode to my Students, but then I realized that this entire blog was an ode to them, and one more post would be overkill.
I’ve been eagerly looking forward to, and dreading, this weekend for months. Most of the seniors had left school the past semester to find jobs or prepare for further study. So I’ve been missing them and couldn’t wait to see them. In the days leading up to graduation I had some dinners and text conversations with them. But I knew all the fun we would have would be tempered by the fact that at the end, we would have to say goodbye to each other.
I could wax poetic about my students for thousands of words, but instead I think I’ll just show some pictures. (I took almost 1,000 pictures myself this weekend, plus the thousands of others from the students. Needless to say, weeding out just a few to show was quite a task.)
We kicked off our weekend with a giant dinner for all the seniors (180 total) which was awesome because I got to see everyone in one place at the same time. Usually this dinner ends in sobs and crying because it is the last event of the weekend. But due to the restaurant being booked all weekend, we had to eat dinner the first day and therefore it had a much more festive feeling (no tears).
Bright and early I met all the students by the big tree at our school for the official school pictures. Cap and gowns, deans and teachers were all involved. Then, we spent hours walking around and taking other pictures all over the school.
Everyone had the same cap and gowns but each class decided on a matching outfit worn underneath. One class the girls wore white qipao’s, one they wore blue and white long flowing robes, girls of another class wore red and white traditional robes. Boys chose either flashy western suits, or traditional black suits. It worked out to my advantage as I was going between classes and I could keep an eye on who was where based on their clothes.
Sunday morning the students had to do some work, a thesis defense, but they finished by noon and we made plans to have one last dinner together. I was actually worried about this as my two favorite classes were having dinner the same time and I wondered how I could participate in both.
But I needn’t worry because they actually considered me when making plans. They decided to have it at the same time, in the same restaurant with rooms right next to each other so I, and they, could go freely between them.
I walked around for the first hour or so with a pair of chopsticks eating and talking with everyone. And then, as everyone got drunker and drunker, things got serious. One class decided to pretend they were first year students and introduce themselves for the first time, while the other class went around one-by-one and told each other their plans (which quickly morphed into heartfelt speeches.)
A lot went down in those small wooden rooms. A lot of secrets were told and tears were shed, but I’ll keep that between us for now. Let’s just say the memories from those dinners will keep me warm on a cold, lonely night.
At the end of dinner, as everyone walked away arm in arm, I stayed with the 5 who were responsible for paying (though the refused my money I tried to put in.) They walked me to the corner where I went to the left and they went to the right. They stood there, and told me to go first. I walked backwards, waving and throwing kisses and then, when I almost walked into a parked car, I turned around to pay attention to the road.
“Becky!” I heard one of them yell. I stopped and turned around to look at them. In unison they yelled out, “WE LOVE YOU!”
What an ending.