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I’m Really Not Very Good At Saying Goodbye

August 7, 2011

7. The first time I’ve ever been this sad to leave a summer job.
I suppose there’s not much competition for this one. My summer jobs have been: Panera cashier, office assistant (at the doctor’s office for which my mom works), and babysitter. None of these jobs really evoked any feelings of excitement about the prospect of going to work. I never began any of these jobs thinking that I was going to learn a lot of relevant things about the field in which I’d like to be involved for the rest of my life. Those summer jobs were always about the money, about ending the summer with some money in my pocket so that I could do what I wanted during the year.
However, the beginning of the Heston Internship was completely different. On some level, I knew that leaving this job would be way harder than leaving any of my previous jobs.
I really never anticipated how hard leaving was going to be, though. As Elle explained, the waterworks began on Thursday night at the LIU. From that point on, it began to hit me that this experience was ending. Since the end of last week, I had said “I can’t believe this is the last week” probably about 100 times (maybe more). I knew how much time I had left but it really didn’t hit me. I still had so much work to do. Surely, the week wouldn’t end before I was done putting the poverty simulation together (I was wrong about this by the way). And then Thursday night at the LIU it hit me. It was time to start saying good-bye and getting used to the idea that this experience was ending.
And then I began thinking about the past 9 weeks. Never in my life could I have known how great this experience really was going to be. I knew I’d learn a lot, but the past 9 weeks have been so much more than that.
I never really thought that the relationships I created with the various people I came in contact with would mean as much to me as they do. I figured I’d meet some new people in the town, get to know their story, learn about poverty in Adams County and start the school year with more knowledge than I left with. This is obviously true, but the relationships I’ve formed mean as much to me as the knowledge I’ve gained.
I’m thinking about one of my friends from the homeless shelter who saw me walking in the Gettysburg town square and called out to me to say hello and then the next day asked me about where I was going. And the Circle Leaders whose children I spent a day in D.C. with and whose stories I’ve begun to hear and care deeply about. And the women at the LIU who invited us to their houses for dinner (and even offered to pick us up from the college campus) and who I’ve enjoyed speaking Spanish with. And the wonderful people who work at SCCAP that I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside of, who’ve given me the liberty to push myself and stretch my boundaries. And of course, my lovely housemates who’ve become some of my greatest friends and allies.
These parts of the internship are invaluable to me because I never expected them. I didn’t return to Gettysburg at the beginning of this summer thinking that I’d receive this wonderful gift of relationships that mean so much to me. I think that’s why it’s so hard to leave. It’s easy to leave behind a job, relationships are much harder. This summer wasn’t just about a job. We were supposed to integrate into the Adams County Community and the way I did that was to form personal relationships with the people I’ve come in contact with. I will be eternally grateful for these relationships but they are indeed why it’s so hard for me to be finished with this internship. These relationships are why I cried at the LIU on Thursday night, why I teared up while saying good bye to Emily this afternoon and why I got emotional when saying good bye to my housemates tonight.
I wanted to thank Jim Heston for this amazing experience. I don’t even have enough words to describe how great this experience is and how grateful I am to you. I also wanted to thank Kim and Gretchen for giving me this life changing opportunity.
It is now time for me to go home for a week. I return o Gettysburg on the 21st with two things on mind: CPS training and the poverty simulation!

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