How time flies. I’ve got 80 minutes left of my last day of regular school, after which all that will stand between the end of my adventures in Korea is a bit of deskwarming and two weeks of summer camp. This morning I was whisked into the broadcasting room to deliver a live goodbye speech to every student via their classroom TVs. I even slipped in a bit of Korean, but I’m unsure whether it was understood, or even noticed. The day’s been a bit of an anti-climax as I haven’t had any classes since Wednesday and I’ve been seeing kids for the last time since the beginning of last week. Grade 6 have written me a lot of goodbye letters: all are very cute, most make sense, about half contain email addresses and/or phone numbers, a few are professions of undying love and one is from “Lionel Messi”. Grade 5 did the same, only theirs are copied from a template and hence identical, significantly reducing their sentimental value.
However, we did have a few tearful goodbyes in our last-ever after-school party lesson this afternoon. Children have a tendency to nod and feign understanding even if they haven’t got the slightest idea what’s going on, so when I told them at the beginning of the lesson that it was to be our last together, everyone nodded and “ahhhhhhh”d in unison.
“What month is it?”
“How about next month?”
“Good! In August, Joseph-teacher will go home to England”.
“So today is our last lesson together. Final class. Finished”.
“Teacher, today vacation”.
“Yes, so I will go home”.
Our ‘party lesson’ consisted of pass the parcel, musical statues and laughing at photos from when Mum and Elle came to watch a lesson. Then, when it was time to leave, and I’d given them all their little acrostic poems (Lisa Is A perfect Student! Nana is Always happy, Never Angry. Lily, I Love You!), they started to cotton on that something was different. My co-teacher explained that this was the last time we’d see each other. Ever.
“Teacher, you go 영국 [England]?”
“Because my family is in England. I miss them”.
And then it hit me too how sad it was. I managed to hold back the waterworks – just – but some of these lil’ guys I’ve seen every school day since September. Since none of the teachers really talk to me, they’re my best friends at school. We don’t share secrets or talk about our relationships or have sleepovers, but I really am gonna miss them.
Here are some of those photos.