The last few weeks in Ngoro were one endless emotional and joyous goodbye as we packed up our lives and prepared to end our Peace Corps service. There were tears, hugs, smiles and laughs as we spent our last moments in our village and at our schools with our close friends and colleagues.
Saying goodbye to our friends was the hardest. Harder was having to do it spread out across weeks when we would realize that there were certain people we wouldn’t see again. We did our best in visiting everyone we love. We made it to Batu one more time to see our original host families there, and then they returned with us to our village to see what we had been up to for the last two years!
In addition to our families and schools, we said our farewells to all of the small communities that we found ourselves in during these two years. Amy said goodbye to her aerobics club and we visited all of the food stalls where we had become regulars (and left with recipes or gifts from all of them!). We paid a last visit to our friends that ran the local photocopy shop (you know you are a teacher when…) and the village shops where we regularly stopped for ice cream, flour, eggs and sugar. Our informal english lessons wrapped up with a graduation ceremony for one and a dinner out for the other.
Where we couldn’t say goodbye, because friends had moved away for school or work, there was a flurry of Facebook and text messages.
Our schools held events for us, we threw a going-away party ourselves to treat our friends, and finally our schools took us to Surabaya where we finished our service on June 13th.
Here is an overview and photos of some of the events leading up to our departure. Our next post will focus on our trip to Surabaya and finally becoming Returned Peace Corps Volunteers!
May 27 – Farewell at Amy’s School
Coinciding with the national holiday for the Prophet Mohammad’s ascension to heaven, Amy’s school held a morning-long celebration for the holiday that ended with celebrating Amy’s time at MAN Genukwatu. It was a sweet ceremony as the principal spoke, followed by two students and then Amy’s counterparts. Amy’s counterparts gave a heartfelt and touching speech as they talked about what their friendship with Amy meant to them.
The students presented a series of drawings to Amy, her counterparts gave her a purse and jewelry and her school gave her a gold ring engraved with the school’s name.
Amy then gave a beautiful speech in bahasa Indonesia about all the things that the experience had given her and how much she would miss being part of MAN Genukwatu. The students then all salim‘ed Amy (brining Amy’s hand to their forehead) and the ceremony ended.
June 3 – Farewell at Will’s School
A week later, my school held a farewell party for me and three teachers who are retiring this month. We held it in our school yard and it was very emotional as there were speeches from students about the teachers, as well as farewell songs from the school choir.
I gave a speech to the assembled students thanking them for their friendship over the last two years and then one of my classes surprised me by singing an Indonesian song that we had translated into English a few weeks prior.
At the end of the ceremony, all of the students salim‘ed me and the retiring teachers. Following the ceremony, I visited all of my classes to give them my contact information and wish them luck with the end of semester tests that began the next day. As I was making my way back to the teachers’ office, a student asked me to return to the yard, where a group of students were circled around the keyboard and speaker that had been used for the morning’s ceremony. After Amy and I joined them, they sang me a song in bahasa Indonesia about leaving and then they sang Adele’s “Someone Like You” as many of the girls (and I) cried through it. It was definitely one of the saddest things I have ever experienced.
June 9 – Our Community Farewell Party
Two days before leaving, we threw a party to treat our friends and colleagues. Amy’s counterpart, Bu Kis, worked with us to put together the party and offered her home as the location. We rented the tent from the father of one of our informal English lesson students and he gave us the seat covers for free. The cake came from a neighborhood baker and all of the drinks were prepared and donated by the female teachers at Amy’s school.
We invited the teachers from both of our schools, people from our community, friends we had met throughout our time here, and English teachers from other schools we had worked with. We had a great turnout and we spent a very hot afternoon with speeches from our principals and us and ate food from our favorite warung in town. We received some really nice gifts and everyone that came was invited to take the clothes or other things we brought to be left behind.