We hear it all the time, the world is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to adapt to that change. Education is (should be) all about preparing our future leaders for change and to be able to not only cope with change but to be the change-makers themselves by having the relevant life skills and confidence to use them. You can never be 100% sure what is going to happen and therefore that temptation into a comfort zone is potentially a dangerous place to be found in for too long. Many people have asked us why we are leaving Thailand; leaving our home, leaving jobs that we both loved, leaving ‘paradise’? Of course it was a big and courageous decision to make but one that we have never regretted since making it back in late 2013. We knew it was the right time for a change and we were prepared to take on the unknown factors that this change would throw our way and to learn from them. Deep down we always knew the hardest factor would be saying goodbye, something I have never really been particularly good at. I like to think I will always see people again and continue where we left off but maybe that is just dodging the truth and taking the easy way out of a hard goodbye. I follow the blog of a well respected and experienced headmaster of a Round Square school in Canada, Mr. Simon Bruce-Lockhart, and really enjoyed reading one of his posts in particular regarding saying goodbye – the post is titled: Take Time to Say Goodbye.
People handle goodbyes in many different ways and approach it with different attitudes, sometime gifts are exchanged as a sentimental representation of time spent together or as a message to take with you into your next adventure.
When I left the UK in August 1999 I was given a brand new suitcase by my friends with whom I had played local village cricket with for many years. It was a complete surprise to me that these ‘lads’ had put some thought into a gift which I had never expected from them. 15 years ago it was a top of the range suitcase and perfect for packing my few possessions to take with me to Thailand for the next two years. The sentimental feelings are just as strong as I pack it full of family possessions for our return trip to the UK tomorrow. It has served me well and I am pleased it is coming home with us.
I have found it interesting how attached I have become to some of the material things that we have owned. Part of this transition process has meant selling our cars and of course leaving our family home. I am not really a car person but have had a couple of (brief) sentimental moments when finally handing both cars over to their new owners and realising that there will be no more family adventures in them. Thousands of kilometers of nursery rhyme CDs, playing eye spy, making up awful jokes, tantrums, arguments, tears and laughter all confined in a metallic cube – gone! It’s not like I am ever going to own a pick-up in the UK – and let the kids ride in the back is it?
As a teacher I always tell my students (when they ask me) that I don’t have favourites – but if I did have a favourite class then the class I taught Geography through Year 7 to Year 11 would have to be one of them. I also taught many of these students ICT (well they actually taught me!) as well in Year 5 and Year 6. When it came to their graduation and leaving the school they presented me with a rock, knowing that I like rocks and talked about them quite often in my classes with a certain amount of passion. Each student had signed the rock and they were very pleased with themselves when they presented it to me and told me to take good care of it. It was an effective way to say goodbye and to acknowledge what we had learnt and been through together – it had real meaning. I have of course kept the rock ever since in my office at home and just realised the other day that it did not make the packing with the 91 boxes of shipping. For a split second I though this cannot go to the UK, it is just a rock, but the emotional attachment and meaning soon came bursting out of me and I placed it in a suitcase ready to be packed.
One of the students in that Geography class sent me a poem the other day as part of her Global Citizenship reflection. Her father saw it when visiting Japan and had sent her the translation. Even though I have not seen this student since she left school over six years ago, we still say ‘hello’ to each other whenever we can and share our thoughts and ideas about the world. I thought it was very poignant to receive this poem at a time of big transition and occasionally stress and anxiety for me and my family. The hardest thing about change is the unknown and saying goodbye to the familiar. Tomorrow is a the biggest day for our family so far and I am sure it will be a roller coaster ride of emotions but I also know it is going to be the best day. If I do not see you again, ‘hello.’
Each day is the best day
Whether it rains
Whether it shines
Each day is the best day
Whether I cry
Whether I laugh
Today is the very best day
Because it is a precious day out of my life