|With my advanced English class|
Today was a very emotional, wonderful day.
Anna and I went to the monastery this morning with the expectation that it was our second to last day. While we were correct, we didn’t realize until we arrived that our advanced class (ages 15 to 24) will be gone tomorrow. So we had to say our goodbyes to them today.
At the end of class, several of the monks thanked us for teaching them. They repeatedly told us that they hope to see us again, that we are welcome back any time, and that they have very much enjoyed their time with us. Beyond the obvious good manners, I really felt that they were genuine in their appreciation and invitations to return. It was nice to feel that my affection for them was mutual.
|With Tenzin in my beautiful gift|
Before the end of the day, Tenzin the Tibetan teacher presented us with a shawl on behalf of the monastery. It is a beautiful yellow/gold with an ornate design, and is clearly very special to them because they have a similar shawl draped around a photo of the Dali Lama. He placed the shawls around our necks and told us it was for blessings and thanks.
Knowing that the oldest class of monks would not be around tomorrow, Tenzin organized a photo opportunity and gathered as many monks as he could find so that we could take pictures with each class on steps of the monastery. We then took a group photo with everyone who was available. I will treasure these photos for the rest of my life.
|Many of our students of all ages. Have you ever seen a more beautiful class photo?|
|Intermediate English class|
|Our lovely little monks|
|Many of our advanced English students|
|24-year-old Sonam taking a picture of us with his smart phone|
|Tenpa, an advanced English student, is one of the happiest people I have ever met. I have never seen him without a smile.|
Anna and I had lunch with the monks and then prepared to leave. We were already feeling emotional, and had no idea what was waiting for us.
As we approached the final gate to leave the monastery, we saw several of our advanced students waiting near the steps. They each held something in their hands, but we couldn’t tell what it was until they unfolded them.
One by one, each monk approached us and draped a white or cream shawl around our necks. They gave us shawls for thanks, for recognition of our work, and as a blessing. And I truly do feel blessed.
One at time, each young monk gave us a small gift, and each time a new monk walked up, I cried a little more. At that point, Anna and I were both in tears. I can’t describe how much that moment meant to me, but I will feel it every time I look at those shawls, embroidered with a Tibetan prayer.
|Posing with monk Lodoe after receiving his shawl and blessing, the last of many. We're crying, but fortunately that didn't show up in the photos|
|With the monks who had just presented us with their beautiful gifts|
|Phuntsok, an advanced student who was always gracious and teaching us about Buddhism and the monastery, shows us the embroidered Tibetan prayer on one of the shawls|
The monks waved us off as we left today, and I truly hope that it is not the last time I see them.
Tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to the little monks and orphans.
|Waiving us a final farewell|