Farewell Speeches

I have a lot of farewell parties coming.  I am really awed by how many people want to through me goodbye parties.  As a result, I am putting quite a bit of thought and effort into my six (or so) different goodbye speeches.  So far I am pretty happy with most of them, but my favorite is the speech I will be giving to the whole school as part of the closing ceremony on July 14th.  The speech is mostly original, but I did get ideas from a Google search of what to say in this kind of speech.

Dear Kocho-sensei, Kyoto-sensei, my fellow teachers, and students of Tomishima High School, good morning.  I was fortunate to be placed at Tomishima High School and I have been surrounded by truly amazing people during my time here.  My thanks go to all the teachers and staff who have helped me.  The most important thank you of all goes to the students.  Thank you.

You may never have any idea how important you were to me, but every moment spent with you is something I will remember.  Everything from offering me food during Ensoku or Marathon Day to simply smiling and saying hello to me in the halls are memories I treasure.  In the future as you graduate and leave Tomishima, please remember something: I will always be your teacher.  If you ever have a question about English or America, anything I can help with, you are always welcome to e-mail me. When giving a farewell speech, you want to say something important.  Something that people listening will always remember.

I have two pieces of advice: First, please be confident.  Be confident in your own abilities, in your knowledge, and even your English.

None of you students were here when I first arrived, but even after studying Japanese for five years in America, I could barely speak. Conversations had to be carried out with a dictionary on hand and a lot of gestures.  Even still, I survived.  This is the amazing thing about language. You do not need to speak perfectly to communicate. All you need is to be creative and willing to laugh at yourself.  No one will ever judge you for trying, but they will judge you for giving up.

Second, leave Japan.  At some point in your life, get a passport and leave Japan, whether it’s a weekend trip to South Korea or attending university in Canada.  You don’t even need English to do this, but it is an empowering feeling to say something in another language and be understood by a native speaker.  Japan, as beautiful and amazing as it is, is just a small part of the world.  Expose yourself to ideas that challenge your own and make you think.  This is how we learn and grow as people.

Sometimes, there is a strong emphasis made in Japan about “Japanese people” versus “foreigners.”  However, if you travel, you will learn an important truth: there is no such thing as foreigner or outsider.  People are just people.  This is one of the strongest lessons I have learned during my time living here.  Be confident.  Leave Japan sometime.  Meet new people. This speech is difficult for me, not because it is in Japanese, but because it means saying goodbye to all of you. For four years, this school and you all have been my life. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know one thing: this will always be my second home.

 

And the Japanese version that the students will actually hear:

校長先生、教頭先生、先生方、そして富島高校の生徒の皆さん、こんにちは。

富島高校で素晴らしい方々と共に過ごせて、本当にラッキーでした。私を助けてくださった皆様、本当にありがとうございました。生徒の皆さんにもかんしゃの気持ちを送りたいと思います。ありがとうございました。みなさんは皆さんが私にとってどれくらい大きな存在だったのか、想像もつかないと思いますが、皆さんと共に過ごした時間は決して忘れません。遠足で食べ物を分けてくれたり、運動会で一緒に応援したり、廊下ですれ違った時に「ハロー」と声をかけあったりしたことを決して忘れません。私はこれからもずっと皆さんの先生です。このことを覚えていてください英語やアメリカについてなど、私が手伝えることがあったら、いつでもメールしてください。

お別れのスピーチをする時、大切なこと、聞いた人が忘れないようなことを伝えられたらいいですよね。私には二つあります。一つ目は自信を持つことです。皆さんの能力、知識そして英語力にも自信を持ってください。私の一年目の時、皆さんはこの学校にいませんでしたね。アメリカで5年、日本語を勉強しましたが、日本に来た時はあまり日本語を話せませんでした。会話は辞書やジェスチャーを使いながらでした。それでも、なんとか生き抜きました。ここが言語のすごいところです。完ぺきではなくてもコミュニケーションがとれます。必要なのは創造力と自分の失敗(ぱい)を笑えることです。何かに挑戦することを非難する人はいません。でも、簡(かん)単(たん)にあきらめることを非難することはあります。

二つ目は日本を離(はな)れることです。いつかパスポートを持って、日本を離れてください。例えば、週末の韓国旅行でもカナダに留学でも、どこでも、何でもいいです。必ずしも英語が必要ではありませんが、現地の人とコミュニケ―ションがとれたらステキでしょう。日本は素晴らしい国ですが、世界は広いのです。自分の考え方を改めて考えさせるアイデアに触れるようにしよう 。そのようにして私たちは人間として育っていく。時々日本では「日本人」と「外国人」という言い方をします。

でも、旅行をしたら大切なことがわかります。「外国人」「外人」という区(く)別はありません。人間はあくまで人間なのだ。これは私が日向市にいた4年間で一番学んだことです。自信を持つ、日本を離れる、そして、新しい人に会う。この3つです。このスピーチは私にとって、難しいスピーチです。それは日本語だからではなく、皆さんとのお別れのスピーチだからです。この4年間この学校と皆さんは私の生活でした。将来のことはわかりませんが、一つだけわかっていることがあります。いつか日本へ、宮崎へ戻ってきます。ここはいつまでも私の第二の故郷です。

 

Other than this one, I have to give two speeches to the teachers: one at the morning meeting and a less formal one at my farewell party.  Plus I want to have a few speeches prepared for my various volunteer groups incase they ask me to say a few words.

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4 thoughts on “Farewell Speeches

  1. Ms. Jodi:
    You are indeed a treasure and your students and school will surely miss you.
    Thank you for representing LEARNING and America well. I think you know
    how proud you have made your family and friends. Continue to teach, learn,
    laugh and LOVE LIFE as you always do. Find your future and conquer it with
    gusto. Fear nothing. Congratulations and Good Luck. – W.C.C.

    • Coach Camp,

      As always, thank you for your kind words. I am humbled that you still read my blog even after all these years. I will do my best to find my future and I am looking forward to the adventure ahead of me.

      All the best,
      Jodi

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