My last day of work was on Friday. I taught four classes, had lunch, gave a speech to the 9th grade and then went home. I really didn't think I was going to cry. I only teared up a little at Tobu-sho, my favorite school two weeks ago. And I didn't cry a single tear at Tobu-chu, Takamatsu-sho, or Okusa-sho.
Each of those schools had short ceremonies where I gave a speech and they presented me with a book where all the students had written me cute little messages that all said the same thing. (Thank you for always teaching me English. Your classes/games were very fun.)
Tobu-chu's student message was funny in that it mentioned the lesson where I talked about the differences between American bathrooms and Japanese bathrooms. Apparently the radical idea of the shower and toilet being in the same room had the most impact in three years.
At Okusa-sho we didn't really have a ceremony but we spent what normally would have been class time playing dodgeball (American rules because I've never quite understood the Japanese version) and then playing water basketball in the pool.
And during none of this did I shed a tear.
Then I gave my very last speech to a group of students who have been with me almost since I got here. Yusuke and Taiki who used to throw themselves on the floor if they couldn't answer "What sports do you play? during the Q&A warmup. When they could answer they shouted as loud as they could "I PLAY BASEBALL!" And the boys in 3A who spent last week asking me to sleep with them. And Koyo whose name tag said "Koyo da yo!" And Sachiko whose English was always very good and whose sister Ayako I taught before too. Touru, Akinori, Rino, Manami...and dozens more whose names I never remembered because I taught 1200 students a month. They presented me with a picture book and beautiful yukatta. I gave the speech in English and then I read it in Japanese. It wasn't until I was reading the Japanese that I started crying.
The last 3 years have been fun. At first I didn't speak any Japanese but you all were so kind to me. Thank you! I studied Japanese hard and you studied English hard and then we could communicate. I had fun talking with you. Soon I'll go back to America but I'll never forget Tahara Junior High.
I managed to only sniffle when I said goodbye in the teacher's room but I cried all the way home. I can't believe I'm really done. I have the sense that I'm doing the right thing even though I don't have anything lined up next but I have really enjoyed my three years here and even though sometimes I could get so frustrated with being in Japan I always had fun with the students.