This evening the whole family went to AISL to attend the graduation ceremony.
Rebecca and Nicholas did a song with their music class (entitled "Our School is the Best" ... you can only imagine the variations that have been practiced at home), so we all attended. Nicholas was his typical self, avoiding singing while trying to distinguish exactly how many bugs were on the stage around his shoes. Ian said that if Nicholas put his head any further down, he'd be looking behind himself. At this rate he'll never be a showman. Rebecca more than makes up for him with her, uh, dramatic flair.
The program began on AST (Africa Standard Time = 30 minutes late... as opposed to PST = Philippine Standard Time = 3 hours late), so we had the opportunity to chat with some of the other volunteers at the school. Miss Jennifer helps out in the French classes 3x/week and my girls rave about her. She'll be in-country for the summer and is looking for tutoring opportunities. I'm thinking we might hire her. Rebecca has made her an adorable certificate for being Best French Teacher.
Ms. Frances was also back, she tutored several high schoolers in literature this year in "my" library. She's an older lady, working as a counselor for the Peace Corps volunteers but giving her time to AISL as well. She's a wonderful person.
Back to the graduates... there were four this year, all women (I'd say girls but I'm pretty sure they're all 20 somethings), and all with great plans for their future. I have to say that their speeches really were inspiring. You could see the pride in Mr. Bob's face (the Nebraska coordinator) with his charges. Mr. Diffily, our DCM, was the keynote speaker and also gave an inspiring speech listing the 5 points he feels are key to being a success... doing what you love, being a good listener, being open to learning, keeping in touch with family aka Calling Mom, and hmmm... one I'm forgetting. Mr. Naylor put together a PP slide show of activities through the year, and the new director was announced. Mr. Andrew Dodds, the current 6/7/8 teacher, has accepted the position.
Speaking of Mr. Andrew, he's asked Ian to speak to his class about diplomacy and the Foreign Service on Monday. Ian's great at doing things like that. In fact, he received a thank you note from Condoleeza Rice just this past week for his "hometown" talk at the University of Cincinnati last summer. Well, I thought it was pretty cool!
And guess who received a certificate and an engraved pen this evening? Yours truly, for volunteer work in the library. It's been a long hard road at the school this year, but aside from the politics and difficult personalities, I have been proud of what I've been able to give to the library. With a couple hundred hours of time, several hundred dollars in books and supplies (gotta love ebay), donations from people round the world and a generous supply of elbow grease, the library is functional. What I could have done with a budget! Getting library catalogs makes me drool with what I wish I could accomplish in there.
But that's for someone else to do now, and I wish them well.
So we enter the final week of school for the year, for our time at AISL and potentially for our time in Togo. It's been an eye-opening school year for all of us, and no, it hasn't been all bad even for all the complaining we've done. While you read all my whines (and it must seem like it's all me all the time), there's been grumbling from everyone. OK, not from Jonathon. He's a happy-go-lucky kid anywhere in the world and I don't think he ever registers "Togo" in his ever-expanding brain, so he doesn't count. But for the rest of us with functioning memories we have had adjustment issues (some would call it an incompatibility with West Africa, others would call it being too pampered to cope), but we've had some great times here as well, and there are things I will miss whenever we do leave.
After everything, this really is a fabulous family post. I know I mentioned this months ago, how it's a family post not for bringing in lots of families or catering to families, but for getting to really know your own. I like my family more now than I ever have before, and I've always liked them. I try to listen to them as individuals more. I interact with them more. I play with them more. I'm not just talking about the kids either, it's flowing to Ian as well. We've been together 11 1/2 years and now I feel like I'm truly appreciating how wonderful they are and how much I really like each and every one of them. I imagine this is a life long process that just keeps improving.
With family, loving is a given. Liking takes energy and work. But more than that, it takes time and the absence of distractions. Togo provides more than enough time for introspection and interaction with those you love to firmly create a family of those you like.
For that, I'm extremely grateful to be posted here.