I considered skipping this post because, well, I knew it would get a little sappy, but I figure that if you’ve stayed with me this long, you can handle a little sap.
Yesterday was my last day of teaching at the Apáczai Nevelési központ 1. Általános Iskola (“A.N.K.” for short) in Pécs. I’ve been teaching English to 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders two days a week this past semester and it’s been, without a doubt, the most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of my time here in Hungary. I’m not sure how much I taught them about speaking English, but we did connect, I think, pretty deeply and I know I’ll keep these kids with me for the rest of my life.
With about ten minutes left in my last class (a small but very energetic group of 8th graders, including my own son, James), there was a knock on the door and one of my 5th graders stuck her head in. EVERY student I taught this semester, maybe a hundred kids, filed into the room and sat down. It may have been the first time they did anything quietly. Fortunately I had put my camera into my backpack that morning, so I gave the camera to James and asked him to take some photos. I wanted to remember this. It turns out that James knew ahead of time that the kids were planning something — kudos to James for keeping a secret.
One of the 8th graders, Mira, spoke on behalf of the students (in perfect English), thanking me for teaching them, and then she gave me a present from the students.
Here are a few pages from the book – click on the image to see a larger version:
In case you’ve never see it, here’s a link to the OK Go! video.
Then I said a few encouraging words, trying VERY hard not to get choked up – I’m pathetic in these situations. I almost didn’t make it through my own wedding.
Some of the kids gave me presents, including two beautiful table cloths (one each from a pair of Vietnamese/Hungarian sisters). A few kids wrote little notes with pictures.
Afterwards, the teachers took James and me up to a classroom for a little tea and dessert, courtesy of a young teacher, Alexandra Besenszi. Take a look at this thing below – it’s home-made! And the teachers all said they could make it as well. “It’s compulsory for Hungarian girls from 1st grade,” one said.
Many kids gave me their email addresses and I’m already FaceBook friends with several of them, so I’m hoping that we will stay in touch. It would be great to see them in the U.S. someday.
Last thought – if you’re not a teacher, and you’re ever lucky enough to be asked to teach kids, say yes.