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Tears and Tears and Tears

August 5, 2011

Listening To: “I Second That Emotion” – The Manhattan Transfer [Feat. Smokey Robinson], Tonin’
The Gettysburg Heston Interns have been doing our best to support each other’s activities all summer, and going to Miss Aleks’ ESL classes at the LIU have been one of the best parts of this experience. Laura and I have been joining Aleks every Tuesday and Thursday, and Cam and Emily come along whenever they can, and it has been absolutely fantastic to be able to make a relationship with the parents of some of my students from summer school, as well as just the adults in the area who are in need of support.
Today was the last day of classes for the Heston interns. I had the pleasure of going to the morning class, to which I had never been before, and Cam, Laura, and I were all able to help Aleks out at the evening class. It was clear how much the classes meant to Aleks as she said her goodbyes to the students and couldn’t help but cry as she told them how much she appreciated her time with them and would make sure to visit, and the students (as well as Jorge) were incredibly appreciative of all of the effort that she had put forth.
The best part of the night, though, was not only seeing how much Aleks had been influenced by her time spent with these students, but also how Cam, Laura, and I were all affected by the experience. Even though the ESL classes had not been our personal placements, we couldn’t keep from crying as Aleks made her final speech telling the students that they knew more English than they thought they did and that they were the best people she had ever met. I have truly been inspired by the students who attend these classes – their eagerness to learn the language, to persevere even when they clearly have no idea what we are saying (and we are unable to translate or explain in a more effective manner), and to welcome us into their lives. Every single student told me that they would see me tomorrow at the Campus Kitchen/LIU picnic, and they all left tonight wishing us luck in our future and inviting us back to lessons and even to their houses for dinner or to learn how to make tamales (with chiles!).
I feel like I am on the verge of crying at all times – either because I am sad that I am leaving and because I know that there is no possible way that my life can stay like this forever (although I truly wish that I could be a Heston intern for years to come), or because I am so inspired by the people I have met, relationships I have created, and the work that I have seen my fellow interns and all of our community partners and community organizations do. This has been an incredible experience and I know that tomorrow, our last day, will be an extremely emotional one. I am glad that so many of the students tonight wished us luck, because it looks like we are going to need a lot of it tomorrow to make it through in one emotional piece. I’m just glad to know that I have the support of the community and my fellow interns to help me through the day.

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