Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Saying Goodbye

“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.” - Charles M. Schulz

I was uncomfortable informing the Kinderbabies at my Monday school that I would not return after summer vacation. They were confused because they cannot yet comprehend time or space. They believed I returned home to the U.S. every night and then flew back to Japan every morning. It took them a few minutes, but they eventually understood - Gabi-sensei would not return to play with them anymore. Some cried while others hugged me and said,「また遊びに来て下さい」or "Please come back to play [with us] again [sometime]."

My three schools and board of education put in the effort to say a proper goodbye with assemblies for the students and farewell parties for the staff. I was presented with cards and expensive gifts but more importantly, I listened to touching speeches from those who thanked me for my two years of service in Ginoza. I was moved and ultimately heartbroken to say goodbye to my students and the people who were my second family. 

Speaking of second family, I didn't realize how difficult it would be saying goodbye to the OkiJETs until I was ugly crying in the club with my besties. Okinawa hosted a diverse group of JETs who came together during my final year to form a great community and support system. Luckily, I now have new places to visit on my travel bucket list!

I will return to Okinawa someday as a tourist but for now, I bid my OkiJET experience adieu. I'll miss the mad dash out of my apartment to make it to work on time; the rolling hills with the most beautiful sunsets; my kei car and its missing door handle; Hey boy heeeyyyyy; gossiping with my coworkers; all of my past and present kinderbabies; the incredible view from Matsuda Elementary; traveling to nearby countries; "Chill" nights; Thursdays a.k.a. beach days; Joshikai in the bathroom; pushing my students to do their best; Shommi, "I see you;" Spa nights with Yaya (surely); giving everyone the side-eye; Kanna Beach, my thinking spot; the talkative principal who held the longest staff meetings; Snapchatting during those meetings; walking down the hall and hearing "Gabi-sensei;" delicious onigiri, the love of my life; my sweetheart student neighbor; weird Japanese holidays; school lunches; arguing with Ian; scaring students by yelling "No Japanese!" during an interview exercise; eating three bowls of tofu cereal and immediately regretting it; doing eyebrows; obsessing over Nutella; 何人, 美人; having Genki Time with Hayley; my students singing the alphabet backwards; secret changing; Indian food; serious discussion with Nic and Matt; Aly's Line messages of truth; that student who told me my makeup was too dark; Tka's Line calls, discussing fecal matter with everyone; telling Mark he can't get to second base; my sassy dance teacher and the dancing grandmas; the way my students would say "What" or "oh my God;" kissing that cute Hawaiian JET (figure it out haha); popcorn; Bad Bitch nights; talking to my Japanese-American students; the call to assemble the ladies; Tka's dancing during a dancehall song; Japanese chocolate; Ashley's dancing and insight; the male teacher who told me to focus on myself; the teachers who cried with me when it all went down; my frenemy who was actually a friend; the person I thought was a friend, but turned out to be a frenemy; Eisa; not functioning the next morning; and salsa dancing with my instructor.

I'll miss it all! 

As for this blog, I'll add my experience with reverse culture shock and include a few retroactive posts.  But to my readers: whether you stubbled upon my blog, kept up with me for years, or creeped, thank you.  Seriously, thank you and good luck with your adventures.

P.S. can I now say the word "bully?" ;)

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