The final semester

This week school resumes for the second semester of the 2013 school year, my last as a teacher in Lesotho.

Truthfully, I am nervous.

This time off has been a welcomed restart. My winter classes were some of the most productive and smoothest of the year and I had the chance to rebuild relationships with a few students after a pretty rocky first semester. I rarely woke up to an alarm and was able to gently start the day with tea and a good book. I played with my host nephew and started a new clique of six-year-old girls that like to visit me daily and sweep my stoop or play with my tennis balls. I visited a few volunteer friends and toured Mozambique without any disasters, which have become all too common on my outings to South Africa.

It was a good break and I am not really ready for it to end. The first five months of school were so hard and I am terrified that these last four will be similar.

But living in the fear of the past is not a very good way to live.

Every day, I have small glimpses of the time that is passing me. Watching darkened figures move across the horizon, with buckets on their heads. The non-judging mountain landscape as I travel from one end of the country to the other. The chaos of the taxi rank. A student’s poem so simple yet profound for a second language. These fragments halt my present with the realism that one day they will only be memories. It’s time to enjoy us now, they scream.

Yes, this job has been hard and riddled with mistakes and failure, but I harbor no regrets and miserable is not an accurate description for even the toughest moments. Because the pain is comparatively little to the joy I’ve had in Lesotho and the gifts I’ve been given.

This next semester will not be free of stress – that is life, and I doubt that there is a single job out there that is free of such tough days – but the good ones will always out shine. Make the most of those and the rest will not matter.

A friend once wrote that a fellow volunteer advised him not to get senioritis in his last months of service, rather finish strong and without regrets. I have never been one to coast into the finish line, instead leaving every ounce of energy and guts on the course because I knew I would regret it an hour later on the bus ride home if I didn’t.

This final semester is that last quarter of a mile. It’s time to dig in deep, disregard any prior struggles and finish so hard that there isn’t one shred of doubt that I gave it my all. That is how I want to finish this school year.

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