Emily Leazer’s WorldTeach year in Namibia ended with an uplifting goodbye party where Emily’s school showed their gratitude for her service. The farewell party was a great ending to Emily’s yearlong adventure in Namibia. Read on to hear about Emily’s farewells at the end of her WorldTeach service in Namibia…
Today was one of the best days of my life. It’s been almost a year exactly since my surprise farewell party back home as I prepared to leave for Namibia. I can still remember the emotions I felt that day after I got home from the party; how excited, blessed and grateful I was for the wonderful friends and family that love me and the incredible journey that lay ahead. It is completely boggling my mind that almost an entire year has gone by since that day. And today, here I sit again, halfway around the world, once again on cloud nine and beyond overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness.
The teachers of my school got together and planned the most delightful of farewell parties for me. The event was set to start at 9:30, so of course at 11 things got rolling. It really wouldn’t have seemed right any other way. In addition to my principal and teachers, three people from the regional office came, including one of the regional directors. Talk about VIP status! When they arrived they first wanted to see the computer lab and painted classrooms and were eager to hear about the projects I’ve been a part of. I certainly don’t think of myself as overly modest, but I don’t really enjoy talking about things I’ve done, not to mention I was merely the facilitator of these projects, and the real heroes are all the people back home providing the support and funding for these projects, so for me it was a bit awkward, fortunately the principal did most of the talking.
After the little school tour, we moved over to “the tree” (giant marula tree that provides great shade by the school) and began the festivities. They had an entire ceremony planned out, we even had programs with the order of events. We started with the anthem and a scripture reading and prayer. Next came the speeches. Two staff members, a school board member (who is also the school security guard and the father of two of my learners), the principal and one of the regional directors all spoke. I have never sat through an entire ceremony with people talking kindly, complimenting and thanking me. It was the most flattering, gratifying hour of my life. The words that they said will forever be in my mind and made me feel so valued and loved by all of these people. I had also been asked to prepare a speech, which I amazingly got through without any tears. I think the feelings of happiness were overriding anything else. After the speeches came the “presentation of gifts to Miss Emily.” About two months ago, Kristin and I had Wambo dresses made. I’ve been wanting to wear mine to school for a while, but knew it would cause such a commotion and my learners would likely be too amused/distracted by it to learn in class so I held off. Since today was only the staff and it was designed to be for/about me anyway I decided it was an appropriate time to wear my Wambo dress even if it did draw extra attention. Little did I know, I was about to get a whole Oshiwambo wardrobe! For the gift giving portion of the ceremony they called me to the front where a few of the female teachers bestowed my gifts upon me. This also included them dressing me in my new clothes. By the end of all of this, no exaggeration, I was wearing all at one time, a dress, skirt, shirt, robe/dress thing, shoes, two hats, three necklaces, earrings and a bag. Oh did I mention we’re in the middle of summer. Not the best time to be wearing three layers of clothing, but I was too giddy to care. I was also given three woven baskets and three clay pots. How this will all fit in my suitcase remains to be seen, but again too giddy to care.
After the ceremony concluded it was time for a feast. We had chicken, steaks, boerwors, potatoes, carrots, spinach and mahangu. Heavenly. For the next few hours, we celebrated, danced and had a day to remember. We didn’t leave the school until about 4:00. In my speech to the teachers I emphasized that for everything I was able to teach the learners and give the school, I have learned and been given as much if not more. I’ve mentioned before that I say prayers on my walk to school in the morning. When I came to Namibia my prayer was that God would bless me and keep me (and keep me away from snakes!) and that prayer has been answered to the fullest. That is a prayer that I now say for my learners almost every day. So I closed my speech with the verse from the Bible from which that originates. Numbers 6:23-25 “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.”
I have just spent a year of my life experiencing an entirely new culture, people and land; learning, laughing, loving all along the way. The title of my blog tells you that I knew what I was getting myself into would be an adventure, but I really had no idea. I could have never imagined the trips I would take, the places I would visit, the strange sights I would see, the bizarre encounters I would have, the lifelong friends I would make, the children who would steal my heart, the sunsets that would take my breath away, the man I would fall in love with, the memories I would cherish and the country that has forever changed me. It has been an unforgettable journey and I thank God for blessing me with such an opportunity. To those of you that I will see back in America in a matter of days, I love you and I can’t wait to hug each one of you. And while I’m so thrilled for the missing of you all to end, for me, a new missing of this place, these people and this experience is just beginning.
-Emily Leazer, WorldTeach Namibia 2012-2013