This issue of Refugee Trail is being reviewed in late December. I started to write this post at the conclusion of the month of August, but it never saw the light of day. I thought I’d share what I had written now, although it is incomplete. Here’s what my four-month-younger-self was thinking about at the conclusion of that summer month:
I’m taking a gigantic, sweeping look at the last nine months and smiling ear to ear as I think about what my life was and all of the things and people that I was so fortunate to encounter. My time on Leros has finished, and August proved to be a very fulfilling (and full) month.
As the month commenced, I found myself in the middle of the transition period that I was hoping for. A new teacher arrived about a week before my scheduled departure, which gave me ample time to train her up on how the school works and how to manage a classroom at the Hub (which can be very different than basically any other school…in the world). She sat in on some of my classes and then I sat in on her classes as we swapped over from me instructing the classes to her instructing them. It wasn’t as sad to let go as I thought it would be. Although I care about each of my students, so many had come and gone in my time on the island, so it wasn’t as if I was handing over 23 of my babies that I had watched learn and grow for the better part of a year. A few were with me the whole time, but being as weathered as I was, it was a relief to see that I was leaving the classes in very capable hands.
My final days on the island are a blur to me now, but they were filled with meaning and I slowly closed down my life over the course of the final weeks I was there after returning from the UK. I didn’t feel rushed or irritated with the idea of having to wrap up a life, pack an apartment, prepare for transition, or anything like that.
When I left Leros on August 14, I flew to Vienna to meet up with a friend/former volunteer. We drove down to Bosnia to be with a second friend of ours and we spent a few days there before returning to Vienna. I then returned to Greece, arriving in Athens and setting up home in the neighborhood of Kipseli where I worked and lived for the remainder of the month and beyond. The majority of my time there, in August, was spent cleaning up the building that would eventually become the school I was teaching in.
More on these August stories to come…