Well, the week is underway after one of the busiest weekends ESDES has had all year. The festivities began Friday night with our Clausura graduation ceremony. Instead of vespers, we marched in to Pomp and Circumstance and took part in a ceremony put on by our teachers and class representatives. We sat by group and each teacher got up and told a little bit about their group and how they had grown together this year, and then read off each name to give us out "diploma" of Spanish. After kissing our teacher (always go left first!) we had to go through the whole receiving line of all the teachers and staff at ESDES. Even with nearly ninety of us, each congratulated us and told us they were proud and I could tell they really meant it. Even though we've got a week and a half left, lots of us (and our teachers) had tears in our eyes as we said our formal good-byes.

After the presentation of diplomas, Lidia spoke about about the paths of our lives and used some quotes from poems we've read in literature class. About halfway through her speech it really hit me that I was sitting there, listening to a speech in Spanish without even thinking twice. Of course, I know I do this every day in class, but sitting there in the little ESDES church and looking back on that day in September when I wandered down for our orientation and didn't even know when someone said "how long have you been here?" I realized just how great an impression this year has made on my language abilities alone. 

We had two special musics and teacher tributes by two of our class representatives. None of us can really put into words how much these wonderful people have meant to us over the last nine months, but they did a really good job of thanking them on behalf of all of us. 

After Clausura was a reception downstairs in La Frontera where we all had horchata, juice, and received our yearbooks. The teachers stayed around for a long time, talking and laughing with everyone.
These are some of the best teachers in the entire world. Ana is one of the strongest, bravest, most driven women I have ever met. She puts all of her energy into teaching and loving us and I can't imagine ESDES without her. Chelo is impossible not to love immediately. Her energy and passion for learning and teaching transfers easily to all of us, and there's not a single one of her classes that goes to waste. Cristian is, as Ana put it, "aire fresco" (fresh air) of ESDES. He's been with us every single day from the beginning, translating for orientation the first week, taking care of us after the Morocco Incident, going with us on every single ESDES trip, and inviting us to eat and cook at his house. It's wonderful to have a teacher so young that he's really just a friend with the love and patience for teaching.

Of course there are more but I'll wait until I have a few more photos.
When I came to Spain this year, I only knew one girl in this photo: Rachel. I'll get to her later. I cannot even believe how lucky I have been to have spent the year with some of the most amazing friends I could ever ask for. I feel like I've known them so much longer than nine months. These girls have picked me up during all the hard times and have laughed with me during the good ones. I could not have made it through this year without them.
The girls might be the ones I run to in the dorm, or when I need to see if my shoes match my outfit, but I can't leave out these guys who mean the world to me. Justin was the only other person I knew besides Rachel here in Spain on day one, but I can't even believe how much his friends have grown to be mine as well. These guys make me laugh on a daily basis but I have never ever doubted that they are there for me at any time of the day or night.
This is quite possibly one of my favorite photos ever. As the evening came to a close, the crowd shrunk and everyone was talking to Ana and Chelo at the Frontera bar as they poured juice and horchata for all. Ana taught us the Spanish version of "cheers" but instead of clanking classes together, you shout loudly in true Spanish fasion "Arriba! Abajo! A centro! A dentro!" (up, down, to the center, in!). Before long everyone had a drink and Ana led us in the Spanish cheer.

Clausura was such a fun night, but we all realized how hard it is going to be to leave. Saturday night was our formal "banquet" so photos will be up soon from that as well!
Grandma
5/21/2013 05:03:29 pm

Oh Shelby, I had tears just reading your blog! I can't imagine what it must have been like for you during Clausura as well as what it will be like during the coming week. The pictures are really nice and I am so happy to have been there to meet all your teachers and your new friends. I look forward to more blogs and more pictures.

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Sheri Seibold
5/21/2013 06:59:30 pm

Every word about this post goes straight to my heart since I know how incredibly valuable every single one of these people is to your life now. They have become your new family for nearly a year and the wonderful thing is they will forever more be as dear to your life as your family back home (so Justin gets double the duty:). I feel like I did not lose my daughter and nephew to a foreign country for the year, but I was able to get about a dozen amazing kids to call my own through the blog and visit. Your teachers are priceless, as are your friends. You are a lucky girl! love you good, mom

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