As I sit at my desk during my final free periods in Mongolia, it starts to dawn on me. This is it! My last day has arrived. People have been counting down here since January. The stubborn part of me refused to do that – we still had over half of the school year to go – but I still knew in the back of my mind how many weeks we had to go, and it seemed like alot. Now I have six days left in Mongolia and none left at work. I knew when I looked back it would have flown even though at times it felt like I was walking through treacle towards the end of the year.
Today it feels different though because it’s not just the end of the school year, it’s the end of an adventure that started in December 2014 when we said we were going to take the plunge and look for international jobs. When I have said goodbye to people in the past I have known that I would probably see them again. Since leaving school I still meet up with old friends, since leaving university I have met up with friends many times, since leaving my various teaching jobs I still bump into people in Deal but there are a huge number of people that I will say goodbye to today, knowing that I will never see them again. For the Mongolian staff I am grateful to them for allowing me to share their amazing country with me and for the expats, I am grateful for them keeping me sane. The people I have grown closest to, I know I will see again but never again will we all be together chatting in the corridor about a particularly tough day or a funny remark by a child.
Out of my classroom window, I have the most amazing view that at times I have taken for granted and barely looked at as I pull the blinds in the morning. The sun rises over the mountains and in the winter months that didn’t happen until half an hour after the children had got here. Now it’s summer, the sunlight streams in my classroom every morning. I will never have another classroom with a view like this.
I am listening to a playlist created by emails sent to our colleagues asking for songs with end/final/last somewhere in the title or lyrics. We have often had music themes, sent between the closest members of our team. It has helped keep everyone positive and today as I listen to many songs, as uplifting as we have all tried to make it, most of them are actually pretty thought provoking and emotional. Thinking of everyone working their way through the eclectic mix of tracks whilst working in their rooms makes me smile, I have tried to find a Take That track to ensure my reputation continues but so far am found wanting. Whilst listening, people are coming in and out of my classroom to say goodbye and thank you. It is funny how you often don’t know what people think of you until you part and today is a true reflection of that sentiment. One of the canteen staff who walks past my room 3 times every day with a trolley of food for pre-school came in to take my photo and say thank you. She knows who I am but we have never held a conversation. Secondary teachers who I have chatted to but not worked closely with have come in with tears in their eyes to say goodbye. So far all of the comments have been really lovely, people don’t know who will steady the ship once me and Pete are gone and it’s lovely to think that that is how people have seen us. Life moves on, the school will continue to grow but for those returning in August, they don’t know what path it will take. There is a huge turnover of staff this year which could be very positive but it in turn means there is a huge responsibility on the remaining staff to continue the good work, and for them it is a big unknown. For the Mongolian staff, once again they have to say goodbye to people who have become close colleagues and friends.
Working here has been unlike anywhere else I have ever worked, it has been extremely hard and frustrating and I have lost count of the times that my jaw has hit the floor with the pure ridiculousness of a situation. There have been raised voices many times in SMT and board meetings and more recently shouting, slamming of doors and fist pumping on the table – not by me I might add. There have been many mis-communications, many last minute demands, very difficult parents, very difficult colleagues to manage, near firings of several perfectly good teachers, but no firing of teachers who have pushed the limits of professional conduct, staff who have walked out and not come back, but above all of this, children are children. I have seen the two classes I have taught make huge progress, they keep me sane, and have had real personality. I have had a lot of fun with them. They are sad to see me go but we know that children’s loyalties change at the start of every year, they will have a new ‘best teacher ever’ in September. People have talked about how working here is not a true reflection of international schools around the world, I’m not sure I will ever be able to make a comparison but what I do know is that despite all of these difficulties I have just spent 2 years at a great school with an amazing team of people most of whom I am sad to say goodbye to.
They say life is an adventure, well the last two years have been a huge adventure, with its ups and downs but one that I will look back on with fond memories and one from which I have learned a great amount.
I quite like this little quote that I found and think it sums today up nicely,
‘It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.’