Yesterday, I spent the morning marking Form III Civics exams and section I of the Form I Commerce/Bookkeeping exam. Many of the volunteers don’t really like to mark exams, but I absolutely love the sense of accomplishment that you get from finishing the giant stack. We went back to the mission house for a lunch break, and then went right back to work at the secondary school. The teachers appreciate our help so much – we’re much faster at marking than many of them are, and having an additional 6 red pens flying at a time really speeds the process along. It’s a tough job, especially when you think about how much of an impact these grades have on the futures of the students, but it also helps you to appreciate what a difficult job the teachers have.
It really didn’t feel like our last full day in Pommern, since the routine was very similar to what I do every day…but as I sat and thought about it, and started to reflect on my experience, I really hit me. I’ve come to feel so at home in Pommern – with the people I’ve met, the jobs I’ve done, and the general way of life. I struggle to put into words how it feels to live in this beautiful community; there’s something about how it FEELS. From the moment that we arrived, I knew Pommern was a special place and where I was meant to be. And as time has passed, that feeling has only become stronger. Every single person I have interacted with, whether it be a teacher, a student, a village elder, or just a “human being” (what Edward calls the toddlers), greeted me and took time out of their day to ensure that I felt welcome. I initially thought that “special treatment” was due to the fact that I was a visitor or a volunteer, but came to realize that this is how they treat one another. Compared to the hustle-bustle attitude with which people in the US treat each other, it seemed unusual to me, but I’ve become so accustomed to this way of life.
We went to tea with the teachers one last time – I’ll miss that morning break (complete with tea and donuts) very much. The headmaster spoke to say thank you for all that we’ve done, and we all had the chance to say a few words. The teachers and administrators really appreciate our help, and they are always so kind and gracious. It’s been an interesting experience, being friends with both the teachers and the students, for I’ve gotten a duel perspective. I understand how hard these teachers work in order for their students to be successful, but I also have experienced firsthand the struggles that they face. With the students, I understand how difficult their circumstances are, but at the same time I’ve seen them overcome these hardships and be extremely successful. We went to the clinic to say a final farewell to Dr. Hawa, and to deliver the final Chinese envelopes that we had been making. She wished us well, and we promised to stay in touch in order to continue to support her at the clinic, hopefully with donations of meds, medical supplies, and by sending more volunteers!
It was really hard to say goodbye…I did not expect that it would be so difficult to leave. Having to say “until we meet again” (I refused to actually say the word goodbye to anyone) to the people that I’ve grown so close to over these six weeks felt almost as if I was leaving people that I’d known for years. The students who I met through tutoring have become my best friends. It still seems surreal to think that less than 50 days ago, I didn’t know them at all. We’ve played volleyball together, studied together, laughed together, cried together, and made memories that I’ll never forget. Complete with tears, I wished them well with everything that I’m sure that they will accomplish in their futures and drove away from Pommern, with just my pictures and memories to carry with me for the rest of my life. Even as I write this, it still seems to be sinking in that I won’t be back at the school or in the village tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. I’ve been incredibly blessed with how incredible this experience has been, and can honestly say that my time in Pommern has changed my life.
I survived the very bumpy, very rocky, very nausea-inducing two hour ride to Iringa today, and will spend the day tomorrow packed (like sardines) into the Global Volunteers van with the 12 other people for the 10 hour ride to Dar. Honestly, I’d cross the world and back for the experience I’ve had, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Farewell for now Pommern, I’ll be back one day!
Me and my school!
The exam marking adventures continue 🙂
Oh, I will miss these donuts…
What the exams look like…very official!
My African sister Sarafina…I’ll miss her so much!
Our last real African meal…ugali and chipati!
Sharing ugali with Edward 🙂
Farewell Mr. Kihoo!
My African brothers…Patrick and Joseph
It’s hard to say goodbye!
I’ll remember my friends forever
Crying crying and more crying
Saying farewell to the human beings!
Best wishes to Dr. Hawa!
Our last picture together…until we meet again!