Monday, May 22, 2006


These last few weeks have been a blur of activity and this weekend was no exception. Friday night, Joanna, Anne and I played host to a pack of 17 rambunctious middle schoolers in a night of crafts, cards and cooking. Joanna kept order during rowdy card games while I taught the basics of crochet and Anne oversaw baking and frosting sugar cookies. It was really fun for me to be able to interact with the kids I teach in a non-class setting where we can relax a bit more and, if not shrug off completely, at least loosen the bonds of teacher-student relationships.

Then Saturday was Jazz Jam, an annual music event taking the form of an outdoor café-style concert. The advanced jazz students performed music ranging from big band swing to the canteen music from Star Wars and students and staff took turns reading poetry, sometimes even original compositions. The audience was arrayed at tables in the Quad and in theory there was food. I say “in theory” because they ran out of all the good food (momos, pizza, ice cream floats, etc.) within about 20 minutes of the start of the program. Alas. But we still had a grand time. Louise and I cha-cha’d in the back and cheered on our friends Melanie and Scott as they wowed us all with their swing abilities, much to the fascination of the students who really aren’t used to middle-aged British couples flinging themselves about.

Sunday was the last chapel of the semester and the devotions were given by staff members leaving at the end of the year and seeking to impart a few last words of wisdom. It also happened to be Brian’s birthday so twelve of us dutifully trooped back to his house after chapel for cake and cookies and ice cream. In the dark, as it turned out, since the daily thunderstorm brought with it the daily power failure. But there’s something fun about birthdays by candlelight. And the sight of Brian opening his gifts with a headlamp attached to his forehead will not be soon forgotten by any of us!

For the first time, though, the weekend’s festivities took on a bittersweet tone in light of the impending farwells. As I sat in the Quad, listening to Laura croon to “Girl from Ipanema” or smiled at Kevin’s devotion in Chapel, I couldn’t keep the sadness from creeping in, just a little bit. One month from now I will home again having said goodbye to India and many friends, perhaps forever—friends who have been like family this year in this strange place where home is so very far away for us all. Woodstock is a transient community and every year brings with it countless goodbyes. Leaving will be hard for me and I imagine it must be even harder for those veterans who linger on, making new friends and saying goodbye to them in a never-ending cycle of happy memories and tearful farewells.


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