Our teachers will not be able to come to our graduation ceremony at the end of July as they will be in Japan. Not wanting to miss out on such an important occasion, they decided that in our last ever lesson with them, they put on a special Japanese graduation ceremony for us.

This act of kindness really sums up just how caring these teachers are.

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We are the Champions! Out of over 45 people who started this course 4 years ago, we are the 16 that made it to the end. WE ROCK! (Check out my teeth-grin. I’m not sure what I was thinking…)

It was lovely. We sang, we gave mini-speeches, we received graduation certificates. We received words of advice for our future lives. There was laughter, and tears.

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Receiving my graduation certificate

What made it even more memorable was a special guest …live via streaming webcam from Japan- TANAKA SENSEI! Tanaka sensei was much loved by all of us in our first two years, but had to return to Japan a couple of years ago. He’d not used Skype before, but we managed to get through just at the start of class. It was so exciting, such a great surprise!

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Skyping with Tanaka Sensei

Seeing him, and his wife (who also taught us for a time) was a real treat. I think our teachers were just as excited to have the opportunity to see and speak with him, having not seen him since last year.

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Our teachers having enormous fun talking with their ex-colleague Tanaka sensei, much missed by both students and staff

There’s more photos of our ceremony on Facebook.

We have one more class left on this course, tomorrow afternoon. Then that’s it. Just the exam.

I can’t quite get my head round the idea that we’ve finished, and that we’re all going our separate ways. I’ve not really thought about it. Until now. I’m not so sad about leaving the teachers, because I know that I’ll continue to keep in touch with them, and see them when they come to Japan or I visit Sheffield. I’ll probably spend much of my summer in Sheffield in any case, so it really is a while until that goodbye.

But with my classmates, it’s different. The chances are that I won’t see some of them again, and that really upsets me; I can’t help but shed a few tears thinking about that. They’ve been such a huge support over the past few years. Whilst I don’t often socialise with them, they mean an awful lot to me. It’s been so difficult at times, but together we got there.

In our little graduation speeches, quite a few of us mentioned the importance of our friendships. Another recurring theme was that of persevering, of battling on through the tough times. By doing so, you can conquer the most difficult of challenges.

The photo above of all (but one) of us carries with it enormous meaning, and is one that I shall really treasure.

We’ve really done something incredible here. Well done us.