See You Later Party

A goodbye picnic
The sun beams down on my south-facing balcony and the courtyard is eerily quiet as people have travelled for the state holiday.  The heat has been frequent the last week, and I often hide indoors with shades drawn and lights off to keep my un-airconditioned flat "cool." Today, I'm using the day to put final touches on things here and prepare for my return to the States.  At this point, I'm counting the days till I'm homeward-bound (5), having said most of my goodbyes.

The goodbyes began in the middle of June, about the time of my last post.  There was first a large picnic celebration for some people returning to North America after a couple of years here.  There were also end-of-the-year events at the gymnázium, including a sports day, market day, and a staff grill-out (see images from market day below).

Each event helped regulate and stabilize the often jilting process of saying goodbyes.  In each goodbye, relationships were validated and well-wishes were given.  As I parted ways with my conservatory students, each class happily let me have a class photo, a turn-around from the beginning of the year when I took photos of students in order to memorize names.  Perhaps the most unique goodbye was the party thrown by my gymnázium colleagues (below).

We gathered at Jana M.'s home, as it was also a sort of a goodbye to her (she'll be on maternity leave).  (Moreover, we wished my fun-loving Žaneta well, as she has moved to a nearby town and is moving onto another job.) As always, the exceptional staff had something creative prepared for the event.  I first suspected something when I saw Jana tuning her guitar before everyone arrived.  After mingling and chatting, one colleague remarked, "There is a saying that all Czechs are musicians.  We are going to prove that the proverb is not true."  What followed can be seen below:

I really have been blessed by my colleagues this year.  They are a young, clever, hard-working group of people, who have humbled me with their attention to the students and their diligence.  I hope I will be able to continue my relationships with many of them. (Below: Jana M. and I [left], Pavla and I [right])

Of course, in such a fun-loving group, the gathering didn't end there.  We sang another song, and then we returned to snacks and chatting before moving onto phase 2: bowling.  It was a fun and enjoyable plan.  Bowling isn't really native to the Czech Republic, as evidenced by the dancing English animations on the score screens and the bowling balls marked in pounds.  Yet, in typical Czech fashion, I saw my colleagues use innovative form with positive result.  Moreover, I saw some of my colleagues make great strides in the improvement of their bowling form.  It was a cheerful afternoon and evening, and a lovely celebration before parting ways.

Yet, I cannot end this post as is, because these goodbye parties are a little bit misleading.  I ought to label them with the title of the first farewell party I went to: See You Later Party.  For a return is already in sight; I will be returning to this "specific" and endearing city in the autumn to teach art and English at an international school.  Providence can be credited with this shift in plans, and the many orchestrated situations cannot be quickly recorded here.  Suffice it to say that God has proved faithful again, and that said farewell picnic began a quickly unfolding chain of events that led to an unexpected job offer.  So, to those reading, either see you soon or see you later!


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