A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of ideas for my classes. I had an eighth grade class to teach and our class textbook, which is famously dull, offered nothing in the way of guidance. On a whim, I remembered that one of my students said that she wants to be a journalist, so I had the class practice asking questions. After a short overview of the 5 Ws and how to ask open questions, I told them that they could ask me any question they wanted.
There was a range of questions, from the standard, “What Azerbaijani food do you like?” to a little more thoughtful, “Do you like it here?” and “Do you miss your friends and family?” I was honest with them and explained that being here can be very difficult. I told them that I think like I do back in America, but here I can only express myself like a child. Not understanding what people say, let alone, why they are saying it is only slightly less burdensome than not having people understand my own words and actions. I think they understood what I was talking about, even though I don’t think they could really grasp the idea.
A later question was said in both jest and seriousness: “Will you miss us?” It’s a topic that I’ve thought about a little bit here and there but has been coming up more recently in my inner-monologue. I said that of course I would miss them. I’ve spent to years of my life working with them, watching them grow, and getting to know them. To think that one day I’ll just walk out of here and doesn’t seem real to me. Leaving America was easy because I always knew I would come back. Leaving Ujar (I’m in disbelief as I type this, here’s why), is going to be really mess with my head because I know that I’ll never see these people again.
I got a little emotional talking about the whole thing with them. It was one thing to just think about these things, and then counterbalance the weight of leaving this place with the fact that America is going to give me familiarity and comfort that I lacked for two years. But sitting there in the classroom, looking at them all in the eyes when I said this was really kind of heavy.
Any reader of this blog would know that I don’t exactly have a sunny disposition. I’ve been called a pessimist and a hater, and even though I try to temper my thoughts on this blog and write fair and controlled posts, I’ve been told by people who have read it that, “not exactly optimistic.”
Maybe it’s the new year or maybe I’m overcompensating for the long, dark winter, but I can say this unequivocally: I love my students.
They are incredible people. From the younger ones who don’t quite understand how different I am from everyone else, to the older students who are turning into their own people with hopes and dreams. I’m lucky to have come across them in this world.
What happened to Jeff and why is someone else writing on his blog, you’re probably asking yourself. I know some of this probably sounds corny, and maybe even a little forced, but it’s really how I feel. How could I not when one of the girls in my seventh grade class approached me at school and handed me this:
You’d have to have ice running through your veins not to find this adorable.
At the end of the school year I’m going to have to figure out what every teacher must go through and figure out that these kids are going to go on without me.