Friday, June 24, 2011

Three nights and you're out!

Considering baseball is America's great pastime, I figured I would use a phrase from the sport to name this blog. Though I took the liberty to tweak it slightly to make it a little more fitting for me personally.
I have been traveling a lot lately. It seems as though as soon as I unpack it is time to once again pack up. Within the first twelve days of being back I have spent a night in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Lancaster Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Philadelphia. In just a few short hours I will leave for Seattle.

Thus the reason behind my lack of posting and lack of emailing. I apologize - but hope you understand.
Though traveling can be tiring, it has been phenomenal to reconnect with a lot of family and friends. It has been tremendous catching up face to face and talking.
For those I haven't seen yet... I hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Graduation




As I briefly mentioned last week we held our graduation ceremony this past Friday. There were 6o seniors in total who walked across the stage, diploma in hand, ready to take the next step. It is quite difficult to put into words the significance of graduation here. While in many ways it is similar to any other high school graduation, I believe it is vastly different, and far more significant.



Similar to all other high schools the students needed to pass certain requirements in order to be given a diploma. Homework had to be turned in, tests taken and passed, lockers cleaned out, etc. From the outside perspective things look normal. Students complete their years of high school, exit the door and enter the world. Yet the majority of the 60 graduates did not spend their entire high school career here. In fact, there were five seniors who spent only their senior year with us. When this class were Juniors, they welcomed 20 new students. At least 25 of the 60 graduates spent two years or less at BFA. Only one student out of 60 completed first through twelfth grade at BFA. While the majority of our graduates will further their education at a collegiate level, the location of that next institute is spread across the world. Here in my dorm we have a "sign out board" for the students to indicate where they are going during the day. As they left for the summer we wrote down where they would spend the next two months (or college). These are the countries listed on our board; Poland, Germany, Switzerland, China, S. Korea, Mongolia, USA, Canada, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, England, Ukraine, Australia. In a dorm of 21 guys, we have 14 different countries listed!


The most difficult thing about graduation is the emotional aspect of it. Students come here for however many years, not knowing if they will return or if they will ever see their friends again. For an average American high school graduate they can anticipate seeing friends during breaks. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or summer break. Though not constant nor consistent, they share a 'home-base' with their classmates. That is not the case with my students. For them, Germany is a home away from home. It serves as the home to their high school, but not the home they will visit. When they come across summer break, most likely they will not return to Germany, but somewhere else in the world. Graduation represents the last time they will all be together. It signifies the end of a journey traveled together, and the start of a new beginning.

With that in mind the students soak it all in. They cherished the remaining moments they had. Knowing this is my final year as an RA, I too have found myself cherishing every opportunity with this senior class. As I have written before, and told many others, across the entire student body I am closer with this senior class than any other class. I feel blessed because I felt as though I could wander into any one of our dorms and feel as though there is at least one student there who I have a solid, personal, encouraging relationship with. I have invested in this class and poured into them so much. Tears poured from my eyes in the days prior to graduation, knowing what was ahead. I woke up early to get in one last run with a student, went to bed late to squeeze in one final heart-felt conversation, wrote one last note to hopefully once again communicate the message I am here to deliver, "God loves you. I love you." Watching them graduate was one of the most bittersweet events. I am so proud of them, so excited for them, so happy for them. Yet, there is a void that has been left by their absence.
They have left the school, the country, the continent. I am confident they are going to do marvelous things. They are the greatest students in the world.



On a different note: I will be returning to the States for about 6 weeks starting tomorrow. I will be traveling a lot spending time in: Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington. I would love to see as many people as possible, so if I am coming anywhere near you, please let me know. Even if I'm not, let me know where you are and I'll see if I can swing by!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today is the day

In just a few short hours 60 students will walk across the stage, and graduate from high school. Today is a day of many emotions.
I will write more next week, but wanted to let you know what was happening today.

Today will be extremely hard. I love these students and detest saying good-bye to them.