Hope to see you soon. It was a pleasure to work with you. We won’t say goodbye but see you later. This is truly the hardest part at the end of a school year. It is the time of the year where you know you may never see this person again. You hope you do and some friendships can last through social media and WhatsApp. Maybe a few relationships will continue through Skype. You could also be lucky enough to work with another international teacher in another country in the future. Maybe you will both travel to the same country? But the realization that the last days at a school still hurt each time and it does not get easier every time. It gets harder because the hope you have that all the beautiful friends you met here may never talk to you again. It is hard realization.
Tips for this hard moment
- Find a way to keep in contact. Both parties should agree if keeping in contact is through Facebook. Maybe, you decide you will skype occasionally? Like family members back home, make time for those who are truly special to you. Exchange contact information or update your contact information as you change countries. I find comfort in knowing I can speak to the amazing friendships I made in Kuwait and China. So, knowing that I have lifelines in Venezuela feels good. I make it a goal to send a message to my close friends bi-monthly. Yes, sometimes I miss a month. But I want them to know I am thinking about them. I also want to keep up with their lives. Although we do not live in the same country, I want to know all the new adventures they are going on. Even if their adventure is binging on Netflix! I binge on that too!
- If you can or have the ability to plan a face-to-face visit, do it! I met my best friend in China. I have seen her every other summer since we met in China. Or is it every summer? Either way, both parties tried to make sure we see each other for at least a few days. It does feel like you start from where you left off. You laugh at the moments you experience together. But you also celebrate how different your lives are now. I know my BFF is a mommy of twins. She moved to a new state and recently went back to school to further her degree. I am traveling the world still and did end up meeting the man I will marry. Both of our lives took a great and unique direction. The most important aspect is we celebrate each other for what they are doing now! She also has never made me feel guilty for my choice to work abroad. It is sometimes the easiest to talk with her because I am not expected to fit her mold of a successful life.
- The hardest part for me is comparing new friends and colleagues to previous friends and colleagues. Everyone is different. All the friendships that you form will be different. One close friend, I only speak to twice a year, but that is A LOT! While others I message virtually monthly. I also compare how the friendships turn out. I remember thinking in Kuwait. “Wow, I like working with non-teachers. They are easier to get along with.” I move to Venezuela. “Wow, I like working in a larger school. There is more opportunity for friendship.” But, China was only 8 foreign hires in the city! I find myself also looking at the greener grass instead of celebrating and appreciating the green grass I have in my life. I am sure in Mongolia, I will wish I have a Mongolian mommy who loved me like one of her daughters.
While everyone cries the last day, stay as positive as you can! Make sure you give and show the love to the people who matter to you in the school year. Make sure they know how much you love them. This can be gifts. But this can also be just your warm presence.
Remember and talk about all the fun times! Remember and thank them for all the times they stuck by you and helped through that difficult time. Remember that they were an intricate part of your life and it is your decision to decide if they stay that way. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to talk to all the staff you worked with. However, I do find that I have a close relationship with 2-3 people a year.
I found myself done this over the past few years is pull away. I think this is a protection strategy. I know I will cry but I do not want to cry in front of people. It is a fear, but I always find I cry in front of people once during the year. I cried yesterday, so maybe I can stay strong until I get home. Peter get those tissues ready!
Letter to My Venezuelan Momma
Since last year, maybe you did not know it, but I always felt the closest to you. I felt like we are the same person but born a few years apart and in different countries. Over the course of this year, I met your beautiful family and fell in love them as well. You are truly and beautiful person. Although my Spanish sucks and you believe you speak like the step mom on Modern Family, we found common ground and love that can’t be explained or taken away. I send my prayers every day for you and your family and I hope that one day we meet again. Maybe in Venezuela! Maybe in the USA! But, I still hope and pray that our paths will cross again. I hope we WhatsApp throughout this time apart and I hope we continue to find common ground and connections miles and countries apart. I will love you and your family forever!