On the first day of EFL just before the testing began she walked right up with her shy friend in tow and introduced herself and her friend to myself and a couple of other team members, “Hello! Are you Americans? I love America and Americans, they are sooooooooo nice! I want to make friends with ALL of them this week, Americans are soooooooo wonderful!” She said a lot more nice stuff, and also asked us a lot of questions. I think they were all of 9 or 10 years old. Talk about precious moments. The two of them were just adorable.

Neither were in my class but I saw them during breaks and lunchtime, in the halls and cafeteria. We always said hello and they would tell me how much they were enjoying the EFL classes. I had introduced them to David and Sue while they visited our team in Slovakia. When David and Sue were making their rounds saying goodbye, she saw me a few minutes later in the hallway nearly in tears and gave me an unexpected hug, saying, “I will miss you so much”. I realized she thought we were all leaving and quickly let her know it was only David and Sue, and the rest of us would be teaching through the end of the week. That seemed to cheer her up a bit.

Friday came, as it always does. The last day of class is the hardest day for me each year, and this year was no exception. We were already cleaning up the classrooms, putting desks and chairs back in their places, and taking the stuff off of the walls we had put up only a few days before.

I saw her coming across the hallway with a large gift bag. It is not unusual for students to bring small gifts of appreciation for the teachers and table helpers at the end of the classes. She stopped in front of me and opened the bag so I could see inside. She looked disappointed as she said, “As you can see I have no more gifts in my bag to give, but I can give you my hug.” She set the bag down and gave me a great big hug. I hugged her back and told her that was the best gift she could have given me.

Is it any wonder that I think Slovakia and Slovaks are so nice?!