From Na Bpong School
|All my students lined up to give me strings|
|with the village elders|
From Thai Samakee School
|I had at least a hundred after the week was over!|
It was definitely hard to hold back the tears as each and everyone of my students, teachers, and community elders tied a string around my wrists. I cried anyway, the tears just came rushing forth as I felt the presence of grace and warmth envelop the room, encouraged by the physical links of hands, arms, elbows, and shoulders. (Traditionally, this string tying ceremony encourages the physical contact to emphasize the interconnection of the community: welcome to the human network!) As the students lined up, preparing to tie their strings, so did lines of memory rush forth, conjuring ordinary yet special impressions of my teaching life. When I think about the meaning, significance, and magnitude of this single act of well-wishing, I am so deeply touched of how the local community embraced me as part of their family in the past year. While the strings may be gone now, I will always feel their presence, a reminder of home in a distant land, and that ever-persistent tug to return.