Un Abrazo Fuertísimo
My time as an undergraduate came to a close today after I handed in one final paper. I had toiled over this research throughout the entire semester and spent the last two weeks almost entirely devoted to writing my paper on it. It was the last remaining requirement for my anthropology degree, and I had always imagined that the moment of completing my senior capstone would be triumphant and rewarding. So I finally finished my paper early this morning, and I trudged through the violent wind and rain to at last hand it in. When I left the building, there was no big “hurrah” or celebration. Besides experiencing some moderate sense of relief, I left the building feeling quite underwhelmed.
In this last week as an undergraduate, I experienced many “lasts”. I spent hours finalizing this last paper. I took one last written final. I worked my last shift at my student job. I used my I-card for the very last time. But the only “last” I think that will be truly memorable for me, was my last day volunteering at Leal.
On Monday morning, while all of my house-mates were sleeping, I struggled to get out of bed at 8am to volunteer at Leal for one last time. To be honest, I was not very excited about it. I had already worked 30 hours, 2 hours more than the course’s required 28, and was exhausted as the semester came to a close. But as I had committed to volunteering throughout the semester, I did not want to back out. Moreover, I felt that I needed some sense of closure from this wonderful experience, and I needed to give a proper farewell and thanks to the teacher and students that I had worked with.
I’m so glad that I resisted the temptation to sleep in that morning and call it quits early. Seeing these students for one last time (unless I come back in the spring, that is) was a great experience. As they worked on writing words and drawing patterns, I could really see how much they’ve learned in just a few months. And even more than before, Spanish and English speaking students are increasingly improving their language skills. Just before the kids left for lunch and I left to return home, I said my last saludos y gracias. In a moment I’ll never forget, I was met with un abrazo fuertísimo from 19 powerful little talented, creative, (and bilingual!) munchkins that I will never forget. Despite its inevitable messiness and disorder, I have come to absolutely love working in this kindergarten class. I went to my last day as a Leal volunteer feeling sleepy, and left excited, refreshed, and reflective about my rewarding past as well as my uncertain future.