Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Graduation & Some Hot Water

Bishkek weather is like Melbourne weather: changeable, frustrating, four-seasons-in-a-day type weather. You never know if you’ll be needing an umbrella, sandals, thermal underwear, or all three in a single day. I don’t know if that’s why I’ve been getting so sick lately, but it’s as good a reason as any. I’ve been feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, and for my lungs which threaten to cough themselves up any day now. And, to exacerbate this self-pity, the hot water got turned off yesterday. Apparently this happens in Bishkek every year on the tenth of May and lasts the whole month, while the pipes get 'refitted'. My apartment has a little hot water heater above the bathtub - my landlady's dour husband, who speaks some English but is profoundly uninterested in matters relating to his tenant, had to come around tonight and show me how to make it work. So it was a thankfully brief stint without hot water, and a good reminder to be grateful for small mercies.

The term is winding up - already! A third of my teaching time here is nearly over, with only four weeks until the summer break. My Grade Tens are sitting their IGCSE English exams, starting tomorrow. My Grade Sevens and Eights are busy rehearsing and performing Romeo & Juliet with gusto. My Ethics class are working industriously on projects. I'm up to my elbows in grading, and strangely not minding it too much.

The Grade Eight class, all five of them, had a graduation dinner last Friday. We gathered at a Chinese restaurant with their parents and teachers. After a curious feast of pseudo-Chinese food, each student gave a speech which acknowledged their teachers; they shed tears of gratitude as they tried to express their love for us. I'm not kidding. Each of these kids has already had a profound impact on my life, with their soft hearts, their desire to learn and grow and love, their compassion and humour and maturity. I'm beginning to realise how hard it will be to leave this place and these students - I've never met their equals.

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