Another year begins…
I went to afternoon church the other week. That was unusual because I haven’t been to afternoon church for at least 6 months. Although the interminable Sunday afternoons can sometimes feel like “the long, dark tea-time of the soul” (thank you Douglas Adams), I really enjoy having that time entirely to myself.
This time, church was a special occasion. It marked the beginning of the school year. The tradition is for students to wear their school uniform, and the pastor says a special blessing for them and reminds them of their duties and whatnot as students in the upcoming year. I didn’t catch most of it because my Samoan isn’t up to it, but I got the gist.
However, I was surprised at how I felt. I went to the afternoon service out of a sense of obligation; I went to the service marking the beginning of the school year because I am a teacher at the school, but when I got there, I felt connected. I am a part of this routine, this ritual. Moreover, I’m ready for it. I know what is coming this year. I don’t even remember this service from last year, except that a bunch of kids were in pink and green, and the older kids were in shades of blue. This year, it mattered. Of course not all the students from my school were there, and not all the students at church were from my school (I don’t teach at the secondary school), but I felt so proud of my students. I want them to begin the new school year with a fresh outlook, a positive attitude, and the belief that they are improving themselves by trying their hardest at school. I also felt horribly sentimental and on the verge of tears at one point because – as many people in my village have already pointed out to me – this is my last year. This is the last year I can hope to pass something on to my students. This is the last year I can hope to make them love reading as much as I do. This is the last time I will lead my students into their new endeavors and ideas at school – or really the first year I will lead them at school because I didn’t know what I was doing last year. And then I’m gone. I won’t be at that church service next year. 26 months was unfathomable, but 10 months…is nothing. This is it.