Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Long Goodbye

Well, we've just returned from seeing off the students at 6am this morning. But that was just the last step in a long goodbye. The students have been a big part of our social life here, so we knew it was going to be difficult to say goodbye, and that they'd be leaving a gap in our experience of York. So we worked on saying goodbye in stages:

1) Over the weekend we had learned of disposable BBQs available at the grocery store (the students had been enjoying these on the lawn on campus for the past couple of weeks). So we invited the crew over to enjoy our first BBQ of the season, complete with burgers and hot dogs in delightful sunshine.
[The BBQ Crew in our (concrete) "garden."][Chad grillin' up a burger on the disposable barbies.][Josh's mammoth burger made with "real Scotch beef."]

2) Then on Monday night we had a final "banquet" of sorts at Jaipur Spice, an Indian restaurant just around the corner. We invited the students back to our place for some home-baked desserts that Deanna whipped up: chocolate bread pudding (an English treat) and strawberry tart.
[The last supper, so to speak.][The students all chipped in and got us a mammoth chocolate chocolate chip cookie and a lovely card that we'll cherish. Thanks, guys!]

3) Last night we just hung out at the Independent, our local pub on the corner, and then made a late-night munchies run to St. John's Takeaway, one of the student favorites.

4) And finally this morning was the tough part: We met the students as they boarded their coach headed to Manchester Airport to catch a plane to Chicago and on to Grand Rapids. Some of their British friends who have a band actually wrote a song about our group, and as the students emerged from the dorms, they serenaded them all the way to the bus, where a whole group of British students were there (at 6am!) to see them off. There were alot of tears and hugs, and I thought that the sadness was actually a wonderful testimony of how much the Calvin group had bonded with their new English friends, and how hospitable the YSJ students had been over the Semester. As they climbed on the bus, there was a reprise of the serenade as the bus rolled out of campus.

We were blessed with a wonderful group of students. They were always in good spirits (even for early morning departures) and were flexible and willing to roll with the punches when things didn't go as planned. They looked out for one another and were kind to one another, without retreating into any kind of "Calvin bubble" that isolated them from the British students. To the contrary, they seem to have been the highlight of life in the "halls" at YSJ and will be sorely missed. They also were a big part of our lives here--were always kind to the kids, who really came to value them, and were good friends to Deanna and I. It was also a treat to have a teaching opportunity that involved significant relationships outside of the classroom. In short, it's going to take us a few days to get used to them not being here!

No comments: