This is the second song Gulya sang for us. It’s a traditional song that’s hundreds of years old.
The day started with giving the last of my bottles to Baba Masha. I got her address so I could send her a postcard from the States. I let her have her choice of candles from my packet. Next, I went to the little post office where I had been mailing my boxes from and gave candles to the ladies who helped me mail my boxes of crap home. I think they appreciated the gesture. When I walked passed her corner, Baba Masha was gone, so I lucked out even seeing her. The rest of the candles are a belated present to Julia, the longest attending member of English Club and now official club physician.
I didn’t expect such a turnout from the students. Ok, so it was only like 10, but still, they went out of their way to see me off. Zulha and Elvina even brought me gifts. My students rock!
Sasha, Katya and their daughter Anya came. It was great to see them one last time. It was also good because there was one last bag of crap to hand off to him.
Amet and his family were there. I’m glad I got to say bye to his mom one last time. She is a really great lady. I wonder how big Kamilla will be the next time I see her…
Finally, the host family. I can’t believe the patience and understanding a family exhibits to invite a crazy American into their home for a month that turns into two years. From adjusting how they cooked to not quarantining me when I was sick, Gala, Nelya and Sergei were always awesome. They are a great group of people. Hopefully that means little Nikita will be equally awesome as he gets older. It’s funny to think I have spent more time with him than I have my own blood nephews. Once he decided he liked me, we had a nice little relationship, I think.
Martin took pictures and actually rode the train with me until Simferopol. I felt bad for him because he was friends with all of us 33ers and now 3/4 of us are gone. He said goodbye last night to Nastia. He had double goodbyes.
I have to say it was hard leaving. So many people opened themselves up to my friendship and to what I had to teach them. Sure, I am a modest TEFL volunteer, but it makes me feel like I might have actually made an impact on people.
Maybe the best moment of all? When we kept running into people from my English Club who asked Martin if there would be a club meeting on Saturday. That’s enough to make me tear up right there.
On Friday the 13th, at 13:00 13 of my friends gathered at Cafe Alie and we all said goodbye together.
My counterpart’s wife wasn’t able to attend, but thankfully a last minute volunteer materialized to take her place. In all, three of Crimea’s four departing volunteers were there. Since there wasn’t a volunteer led goodbye event, I am glad that so many of us were able to get together one last time.
Sam, Anne, Martin, Laura, Noe and Nastia, thanks for coming and thanks for helping me have a great experience and for being a part of the things I accomplished!
Sasha and Katya, thanks for being a friend and for taking an interest.
Hatijay, thank you so much for your patience and understanding. Thanks for taking all those hours teaching me to communicate. Thanks also for opening your home to my friends when we would wander by. Finally, thanks for the gift that will keep on giving: the lagman recipe!
Ludmilla, thanks for always being willing to communicate, whether we used Russian, English or French.
Amet, thanks for being the best counterpart a volunteer could hope for. It makes it easy to work when you are surrounded by people who want to try new things.
Finally, thank you, Svetlana, for being a director who was always ready to let Amet and I try different things. The hospitality you showed opening your school to me and my crazy American ideas proves you are the kind of school director Ukraine needs more of.
Thank you all, friends.
Someone ran over the telephone box. Picture to follow when I have bandwidth.