T ’was the last day of teaching, and spirits are low.
With home fast approaching, we’re sorry to go.
We’ll miss all the children we’ve met on this trip.
Goodbyes are hard… so are poems, so this is the end of that attempt.
Day 13. I can't even believe we’ve been here for two weeks already. Last night, Ryan, Sam, Linda, the Katies, and I stayed up super late to finish the bracelets we were making for the fourth grade. After about 3½ hours of work, we fell gladly into bed. This morning was our last breakfast at Cinnamon Bay (as always, it was great). We turned on the radio when we got in the car, and the same playlist that we’ve been listening to every morning started playing. We sang along (as usual), but with more volume and energy than ever before. At school, there were pictures, hugs, presents, and even a few tears (one of the 4th graders started sobbing on Ryan and I). We gave the bracelets to the 4th graders, and they really seemed to like them. My 7th graders, even the ones who cut class the other day, wanted to take pictures with us. I didn’t even know they liked me! After school, we hit up a spa. The Katies, Linda, Sam, and Emma got some “beachy waves” in their hair, and Ryan, after much persuading, got her hair straightened. Katie B. and I had our eyebrows waxed, because mine resembled caterpillars and something needed to be done. Then, it was time for dinner. Linda and I split shrimp dumplings, a Geisha sushi roll, Shrimp alla Vodka, and Crème Brule. It was all so good. We also got some really cute pictures. Later, we went home and packed, and fell readily into bed. Kinaé gave me a note that I’m not supposed to open until we get on the plane, and I’m excited to read it tomorrow.
5/30/15 was our last day of teaching and our last full day in St. JohnL. Today was bittersweet because although we were eager to go home, we were sad to be leaving our students. The day started off with the eighth graders; however, only 6 were in class. With the eighth graders, we worked on the Hour of Code practices on code.org and took the last 20 minutes of class to take pictures and say our goodbyes. We did this for the seventh and sixth grade classes. For the fourth grade class, we continued with Scratch for the first half of the class and took the second half of the class to give out the bracelets that we made for them. We were especially sad to leave the fourth graders because we’ve gotten to know them really well throughout the two weeks. Many of the students wanted our phone numbers and were eager to find us on Facebook. At the end of the school day, a lot of our students came to see us to say goodbye and to take pictures. At this time, I was able to see the students that I was unable to see that day. Upon leaving the school, all the students were standing on the sidewalk while we were walking away. This was really sad to see because at this point, I could really tell that the students enjoyed us being there and that they were really going to miss us. The days before today I thought that the kids were just there because they were forced to be and that we were there to just teach but the last day proved that that our trip to St. John was more meaningful than we thought. I really miss the kids and hope everything goes well for them because they truly are good students and they deserve the best. I wish them good luck for the years to come!
Despite this melancholy goodbye, we were very excited to get our “hur” done for our nice dinner that night. We spent 3 hours at the salon because there were six of us. Once we were all dressed up and had our hair and makeup done, we drove to a nice resort (it was mosquito free) to have dinner. Just as we arrived, the sun was setting so we all got our iphones out to take pictures. Afterwards, we had an amazing dinner. Overall, this trip has been so fulfilling and most definitely worth the bugs and not ideal living conditions. I would recommend anyone to go on this trip next year because it was life changing.
Today was our last day of teaching. It is always a bittersweet day. Everyone (myself included) is anxious to get back home, but we are also sad to be saying good bye to our young students. Many relationships develop over the two-week period, and it’s hard to let that go.
Our schedule today started with the 8th grade and the 6th grade back-to-back in the morning, then after a short break, the 4th grade, and we wrapped up with the 7th grade. All but the 4th grade moved on to Hour of Code activities, which was a great way to end the two weeks. At the site, there are puzzles to help students think logically and use tiles to program an object to do things like go through a maze. They are pretty self-directed activities, so the CSG girls helped solve the puzzles when needed and kept the students focused. We took group photos in all the classes, which you can see in the photo gallery. We even got apples from one student who went during lunch to the market to get them for each of us! The apples were still cold when she handed them out. What a sweet gift! Metaphorically as well as physically.
The fourth grade was a little different. They are the youngest students and we’ve seen them the most because their class meets daily. For them, the girls had made friendship bracelets which they handed out to each student. There were tearful hugs and good byes, and the girls all seemed really sad to say good bye.
After school the girls went to get their hair done and hang out at the spa. Hollis and I walked to Solomon Beach to relax before our nice celebration dinner at Caneel Bay. The dinner was exceptionally special to me because of the conversation we shared. We went around the table sharing stories and more importantly, sharing each person’s biggest challenge and biggest success. (Bugs were disqualified from being use as the biggest challenge.) What came from the girls made all the months (and years) of effort putting the program together worthwhile. I can’t describe the feeling, but suffice it to say that they had a phenomenal experience.
Overall, this trip has been as good as ever. The things that all the students learn, CSG girls as well as JESS students, is immeasurable. We will never know what impact comes from this experience. For some, it might be life changing. For others, maybe not. Of course I hope for the former, but I do understand that what we do is not for everyone. What I do know is that we make a difference.
As you’ve read over the two weeks, the CSG students have been exceptional. They’ve adapted to different circumstances, stepped up when needed, been friendly, positive, compassionate, hard-working and flexible. They’ve witnessed tears from students who come to class with unknown weight on their shoulders from home, friends, or school. They’ve seen strong, hard-working students, and students that don’t even want to come to class. They’ve had to coax, motivate, and coach to the best of their abilities. They’ve learned a lot of coding! (Nothing hones your skills like having to teach that skill to someone else.) They’ve done a lot, including learning about themselves in sometimes difficult circumstances. Signing off until next year.