The end of the semester. Or that point at which teachers start complaining about piles of grading and how much they need a break. I get that feeling. I have my own stack of ungraded work right next to me  and I am very much looking forward to the summer break BUT I am also feeling incredible sentimental as we count down the days to the end. Specially when I think of  my final years students who I wouldn’t teach next year.

Part of it is that I am a big softie, I have been known to cry during Hallmark card adverts.

The other part of it is that my final years students, who I had earlier feared where too infected with senioritis to be teachable, have been regularly making my heart explode with pride and affection these last few weeks. Here are just three of the most obvious examples.

Firstly  I watch how they looked after each other. One girl has a serious, potentially life threatening heart condition and the level of compassion and support her classmates have shown her throughout the semester has been extraordinary. Another girl had a baby before the end of the semester and the way the others looked after her and shared her excitement when she delivered a healthy baby boy made this feel like a joyful occasion instead of the tongue-clicking mistake that some of the more judgmental faculty seem to see it as.

Second during a recent conference on cultural diversity in Bhutan, a group of final year student were assigned to be guides and helpers to a group of guests from remote villages in Bhutan who had come to display cultural practices like dance, song, food and craft production. The genuine engagement and respectful curiosity of the student hosts was just heartwarming.  On the final day they helped the visitors cook  up local delicacies, set up tables to display the food and then all of them took turns explaining to the other conference attendee what the food was and how it was made. They were so excited to be able to share what they had learnt and I swear that feeling was infectious. Below is one of my shyer students explaining about a kind of wild potato that has to be cooked overnight to drain it of its natural poisons.

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Finally, for our very last class of the year we had some guest lecturers from a local government entity who came to  talk about GNH and sustainable development  Afterwards they asked the students if they had any comments or questions and when the students were predictable tongue-tied, the guests turned to me for help. I decided to do something I usually never do and called on a student who I knew was working on a research project on animal rights, a topic that I knew she is deeply deeply passionate about. She is  a shyer student so I worried about putting her on the spot but I also knew that she really wanted to see policy changes that took into account the suffering of domestic animals in Bhutan. She stood up flustered and blushing but she pushed through her discomfort and for about 5 or 10 minutes gave a  thoughtful, well-informed and very passionate impromptu  talk on what she saw as the relationship between GNH and animal rights. Everyone was so impressed and she looked so pleased to be taken so seriously. It was just the most wonderful way to end the semester .

The end of semester  is really the point at which you realize that you have really gotten to know your students and how invested you  really are in their success.

And I ❤ that so much.