Farewell Speech

Leaving my schools was difficult for me. Each of my schools hold so many memories, and so many stories of growth. Over 3 years, I watched a lot of kids do a lot of growing up. I was often awed by their kindness, their enthusiasm, and their senses of exploration and curiosity. I was also frequently annoyed by their twerpiness. Kids, amirite?

I mentioned it in posts before, but I also feel like I did a lot of growing and learning in those school halls. It’s crazy to think of myself in my first few days there – how unconfident and unsure I was, how confused I was as to where I would fit in, and how much I struggled to communicate – even after getting a degree in Japanese. My last few days were wildly different: in some cases, I was more senior and knowledgable about the students and school than my Japanese co-workers. I knew exactly how I fit into the school ecosystem and what my role was there. I was largely (except for the ever present small fumbles and miscommunications) able to confidently communicate with everyone, even to the level of discussing students’ performance and behavior in my class to other teachers and counselors. Growth is incredible to watch in kids, and even more fascinating to see in yourself.

My last days at school coincided with the end of the first semester. The last couple days were spent orchestrating the students in a deep clean of the school and their classrooms. The semester, like every semester, would end with a closing ceremony. My farewell was incorporated into these closing ceremonies, and I was asked to give a speech. Luckily, I was well aware of Japan’s love for speeches at ceremonies, and had prepared a few sentences. I wanted to keep it short, because I was also extremely aware that I wouldn’t be able to get through it without choking up or crying. Here is my farewell speech, with English translation.

今日がXX小学校での最後の日になります。

Today is my last day at XX elementary school.

この学校で過ごした3年間で、たくさんいい思い出を作りました。

During the 3 years I spent here, I made many good memories.

毎日、皆さんの笑顔が私を幸せにしました。ありがとうございました。

Seeing all of your smiles everyday made me happy. Thank you.

私は皆さんの先生だけど、皆から私にも色々なことを教えてもらいました。そのことも、ありがとうございました。

Even though I was your teacher, you all also taught me so much. Thank you for that as well.

先生の皆さん、一緒に仕事ができて良かったです。

To the teachers, I was glad to have been able to work with you.

先生たちはいつも私を助けてくれました。色々お世話になりました。

You were always helping me out. I’m very grateful.

これから、アメリカに帰ります。

I will be going back to the USA now.

アメリカに行っても、XX小学校の事を絶対にわすれません。

Even when I’m in the USA, I will never forget XX elementary school.

この学校に来ることができて本当に嬉しかったです。

I’m truly happy that I was able to come to this school.

コロナウイルスのせいで、本物ができないけど、心の中で皆にハッグをしています。

Because of the Coronavirus, I can’t do the real thing, but in my heart, I’m giving everyone a hug.

皆さん、3年間の毎回授業の始まるの時でハローと言ったけど、今回はグッドバイです。

Everyone, for 3 years at the start of every class, I said “hello,” but this time it’s “goodbye.”

またいつかどこかで会いましょう。

Somewhere, sometime, let’s meet again.

I choked up. Hard. I’m going to give myself points for not outright crying, but I definitely had to stop several times in the middle of the speech to get control of myself. The students at each school also prepared a book with letters from them all that I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at yet. I get a little teary just looking at them.

While I was very prepared for the speech at the closing ceremonies, I completely didn’t consider that I would be asked to do a second speech to the staff afterwards. If you’re an outgoing JET reading this – prepare two speeches! Fortunately, my co-workers were very understanding that this was an emotional time for me and that I had only been able to prepare one organized speech. After the students left to go home, the staff gathered up in the staff room to give me a going away present. I fumbled through some impromptu words (probably with terrible grammar) about how it had been a pleasure to work with them all, that I was thankful for the experiences I’d had at the schools, and that I was truly happy that I had been here. I wish I had prepared something to more adequately express my thankfulness to the staff, but I think my first speech in front of the students summarized everything I wanted to say.

With that, my time at my two beloved elementary schools was over. I walked out the doors for the last time. Leaving places you love is always hard, but I still felt completely at peace as I walked out. I felt proud of what I’d done here, grateful for the experiences, and satisfied. Goodbye, inaka school life. Goodbye.

3 thoughts on “Farewell Speech

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  1. Well done. You served good and faithfully, enriched yourself with your experiences while providing a valuable resource to your students, and undoubtedly left a great impression on your coworkers. Hopefully their next JET is able to fill your shoes!

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