Working at an International school has many pros and cons. Every summer the farewells can be draining. The feelings begin early as students and teachers share their plans to move on. Move to greener pastures, to experience something or somewhere different. Students’ families may move because they are at the end of their contracts or for many other reasons.
This year was no exception, although last summer was solemn, this year many more colleagues packed their bags and moved on. For the stayers, we have many sacks full of goodbyes.
The traditional formal ceremony to acknowledge departing peers reignites the pain of parting. Always a member of the congregation, I weep. Weep because of the departing. Friendships made, sometimes the bond and collaboration make us more like family. Especially in this profession when time flies and the workload and timelines are sometimes unmanageable, we depend on each other. We encourage each other through the many stories we collect. Yes, the stories that come to us, making us counsellors, medical people, lawyers and all the other experiences and professions that are anything but the teachers remit.
A colleague reminded me about the fact that those leaving have also to deal with their new home, school, country, the unknown, again. It made me reflect on how selfish we can be when it comes to our emotions. That was a reminder to put myself in my departing colleagues’ shoes. They have to deal with many uncertainties, especially those venturing to the unknown.
I then thought about our new colleagues and families joining in August. Who are the new family members we will gain? It is amazing what this community brings. It reminds me of our local hawkers, they carry their wares on their heads, we carry our emotions but as it is our trade we make sure our goods do not fall. We need to balance our wares so we all come through the experience triumphant.
We experience this, year in, year out. I believe we gain new families, who eventually move around the world and for that, there is a soothing feeling that our family and friends are everywhere, especially when we seek and find each other!