I’m in a particularly weird place now, because I have officially said goodbye to all my students and coworkers at school, but haven’t actually left yet. My last week at school was December 23-27. Of course, American Christmas falls during that week, but Ukrainian Christmas doesn’t so we worked anyways. I planned a special last lesson for my classes that included teaching them the words to, and then singing, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The little kids LOVED it, the older kids not so much, and I got super tired of hearing/singing that damn song, but I think the lessons went well. That is, the ones I was able to teach. As always, there were tons of last minute schedule changes that meant I only got to do this lesson with about half the classes at the school. A bit disappointing, but it was ok I guess. I said goodbye in my own way to the rest of the kids.
The goodbye parade started off on Tuesday the 24th, when I came into school with a bunch of cakes and coffee and tea. On one of the breaks between lessons I officially said goodbye to the teachers and let them have at the treats. They were basically overjoyed about the eating and all of them started talking to me, even the ones who I dont know at all because they never said a peep to me in three years. Obviously, I should’ve bought these people some cake a long time ago. This portion of the goodbye was not particularly emotional, as there is pretty much no love lost between me and my coworkers, with a few exceptions. For those people, there were boxes of candy given separately.
Then on Friday the 27th there were three separate New Years parties at school, ALL of which I attended. First, at 9am, was the fifth grade party. They did some singing and dancing for their parents, who also attended. “Grandfather Frost” and his little snow girl helper (Ukrainian Santa) showed up and was obviously one of my 9th graders, which amused me greatly. I love those kids cuz theyre cute.
The fifth grade New Years party
After the party was over, I went to the teachers room and waited for the next party to start at noon. While I was there, Ludmila showed up and we had a nice long conversation about nothing in particular, in which she was not mean. I swear to god, this person is bipolar – one day she’s so mad at me that she won’t let me teach my goodbye lesson to the fifth graders, and literally the next we have a perfectly pleasant conversation. Bizarre.
The next party was for the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. This time the party was for themselves, not their parents, but the activities were largely the same – singing, dancing, some games, giving out a bunch of candy, etc.
After the second New Years party, with some of my favorite girls from the 8th grade. And Ilya – trouble maker from the 7th grade – popping up in the back.
I was already feeling quite emotional at the end of the party, because Sophia (one of my 7th graders) gave me a gift bag and started crying and saying that I am the best teacher. Then the girls who were leading the party ended it by saying “We know this is Jordan’s last day at the school and we wanted to say (in English) Thank you special teacher, for helping me to know the things I need to learn to live my life and to grow. I feel good with you because you make me see that if I work at it I can do it!!” I, of course, at this point was sobbing like a small child and attempting to hide my face from the kids. They came over and gave me some cards/candy and hugged me for a long time and we did some dancing in a circle. At this point, I needed a moment and pretty much fled the premises and sat silently by myself in the teachers room for a moment to collect myself/sob in peace.
Goodbye gifts – The cards I got from the kids, as well as one of the magnets and the glass kitties. The rest is from the vice director of the school.
There was another period of waiting ahead of me and the other teachers there, so we pooled our money and bought some lunch and champagne and candies. We had a nice little lunch, then took pictures together in front of the New Years tree they had set up for the parties. Again, a bizarrely pleasant interaction with a group of people who basically shunned me for three years. I guess its easy to be nice when you know you won’t see someone anymore.
Teachers in front of the New Years tree. Santa is the director of our school and the person standing awkwardly on the other side is my former landlord.
The final goodbye was on Monday the 30th. Most of the teachers, including me, got together at 11am (early much?) at the bar to celebrate the New Years holiday. We all pooled 100 griven each and there was basically endless food, vodka, wine, champagne, mandarins, cake, etc. We were the only people in the bar so they turned on some music and I was forced to “dance,” by which I mean shuffle my feet while standing in a circle with my coworkers, each of us painfully aware of our drunkenness with the exception of the one teacher who was sexy dancing in the middle of the circle. I was there for like 5 hours, which was plenty of time to say goodbye. The director sat next to me and we had some nice conversations. It felt like a nice close to my time at school.