Throughout the course of a volunteering experience there are many fulfilling moments, but I think the farewell is one of the most poignant for any volunteer.
I left Chile two months ago, and as such it just so happened that it was the last week of December when I had to say goodbye to the children, to other volunteers and to friends. My departure was mixed with all the Christmas celebrations, something that’s emotionally hard to deal with for the children that we work with, given that are constantly reminded that they don’t have a family with whom to share their Christmas. Furthermore, my family came to visit me and I was a bit nervous about having them meet the kids during this time of year. Yet it was a truly great experience: showing my parents and brother what had been my life for a year as well as showing the children what was my family like. I think it worked great, as the children laughed at my father and brother’s jokes and they really had a good time participating in the games my mom created, and my family told me that they were “touched to their souls” while meeting my “other siblings”.
It was hard for me to say goodbye. It may not be forever, but when I think hard about it, it probably will be. For a while I was torn by two contradictory feelings. On one hand, I didn’t want the children to miss me, I wanted them to be able to forget me easily without disturbing their lives. These children already have many important adults who have disappeared from their lives, and I did not want to be just another face that waltzed into and then promptly out of their lives. On the other hand, I wanted to feel that I had been important to them and that my time with them had been significant, so I have to admit that a part of me did in fact want to be missed. (more…)