I am no longer an English language assistant. I said goodbye to my students all throughout the week, and I said au revoir to my colleagues on Friday.
What is it about saying goodbye that makes you really feel a part of something?
While the other teachers were nice to me all year and made an effort to get to know me, and some of them I even saw outside of school or had great conversations with in the teacher’s lounge, I always felt a bit a part.
This was partly because of the age differences, partly because they already knew each other so well, partly because I was only going to be there for a short time, and partly because it was my second year as an assistant, so I already had a group of friends outside of the school thus making me less clingy towards the English teaching staff.
But on my last day there, the English teachers I worked with presented me with a card full of “mercies” and well wishes, as well as some gifts.
It was totally unexpected. It was so nice of them.
I loved all the gifts (a Paris t-shirt and two French novels that take place in le Nord).
I went around and faire-d la bise with them all (as is the polite way to say merci to someone after they give you a gift). I even gave the fellow American teacher an American hug.
Then when it was time to leave, everybody wanted goodbye bises (cheek kisses) as well.
I had honestly never felt more a part of the group than in that moment. It was great to know how much they appreciated my work and that they liked having me around.
Although I was ready to be done with having to wake up at 5am in order to catch the train to get to work on time, saying goodbye to the wonderful teachers I met while being an assistant made me wish I could stay till the end of the year.
With a lot of them, it was the first time we had ever faire-d la bise, and due to the French in me, it made me feel like a boundary had been broken between us. I was no longer their English assistant. I was becoming a friend.
All of them expressed a desire to keep in touch, and I really hope we do.
I hope it really was an au revoir (until we meet again) and not an "adieu.”