Wednesday, January 11, 2006

An AFS farewell

As any Ex-pat will tell you, with leaving a Country comes farewell parties- especially in a Country like Japan. One of these parties was held on the 18th of December in the hotel that my host parents just happened to get married in, how’s that for reminiscing! One thing I love about AFS Nagasaki is that 98% of the time there is a structure to the events we have- set date, set time, set venue and of course lots of people (for what is a party without many people?). So without further ado, may I present to you “An AFS Farewell”.

There was a sombre feeling among my host family and I as we left the house that Sunday afternoon for an event that indubitably marked the beginning of the end, the AFS farewell party. I could feel that empty, jingling in the pit of my stomach as I looked over the speech I was to give one last time, my story of an entire year condensed into a mere 3 minutes- 3 minutes just can not do it justice. The car trip was almost in total silence, I don’t think anyone really knew what to say, I was having enough trouble staying calm about giving a speech in Japanese to 50+ native speakers. As we arrived at the hotel I took one final breath before opening the door, “This is going to be awesome. Be happy, don’t worry you have this speech ingrained in your brain” and with that final thought I entered the room smiling.

Meeting with the other exchange students is always refreshing, they are a great group of people and we always have a decent amount of fun together. The party got underway and before I knew it I was the opening speech (why me?). I approached the mic and looked around…. No lectern, no where to hide. I gave my speech with as much confidence and expression as I could muster, finally I was finished. I looked out over the room, many people were crying- hey it wasn’t that bad was it?? Then came my host family, they could barely speak due to their tears but I think the tears say a lot more than words. I returned to my seat only to be hit by my friend Anna “I hate you” she said as she smiled at me and wiped tears from her eyes. Equal amounts of tears were shed as the other exchange students and their families spoke about their year in Japan, by the time the speeches were over everyone was exhausted, it was time to eat. We hit that buffet faster than you could spell the word (buffet), it ended up being a really nice time to socialize with all the people who had helped make our exchanges awesome. Rather than being a sad event it was a joyous event, celebrating friendship for life and a fantastic year, these are the moments that make exchange such a wonderful experience.