In 14 days I will be leaving China, just 14 months after arriving in Shanghai. Bittersweet. It is hard to believe that it was fourteen months ago that I wrote about the bittersweet day I left the Casey Eye Institute in my post Here we go: 2011. In some ways, it feels like it was a lifetime ago, in other ways, it feels like only yesterday I began this adventure. Yesterday, was my last day of teaching at Kid Castle. No more of all the crazy little kids. All the times I couldn’t stand them, they drove me crazy, they drove me to tears. All the times I came to the realization that my sister is absolutely insane for choosing to be a teacher as a lifetime career and that I could never cut it! (Love you sis – insane but I am eternally grateful for you and other people who have a passion to teach children.)
All the ups and downs of teaching. The spoiled children, the crying, the yelling, the playing and not paying attention, the dear child that vomited all over the floor of my classroom on Wednesday, the parents that drove me mad, my lack of creativity that sometimes made me feel incapable of planning a lesson to hold the attention of 18-20 small children.
But there were the hugs, the sweet words, the children that GOT it and were so bright and amaze me everyday with their abilities to learn English. There were the screams of JULIA! JULIA! JULIA! when my students saw me. The high fives, the laughter, the amazing bonding and friendships built with my co-workers.
This week it came to an end. This week, I saw the emotion in the faces of my children. I saw tears from a class-clown, the funny boy, the tough boy, the little bit naughty, but very smart so I loved him anyway boy, he drove me up the wall… but I really liked having him in class. As I said goodbye, his eyes filled with tears, he was quiet, not yelling and shouting, not acting out… he was silent tearful and sad because I was leaving.
My little student, Michael, who hangs on me, never letting go. Always coming into the office to sit with me, giving me the biggest hugs each time he sees me. At six years old, he told me (in Chinese), that he was going to study English really hard so that he can come to America and visit me.
I had some of my older students asking me for my phone number in America, since I don’t know what my number will be and I don’t think they would actually be calling, I wrote down my email address on the board for them instead. My students scrambled to jot down my email address, as my co-worker and I stood there saying to each other that we didn’t think any of them would actually ever write. Thirty minutes after getting home last night, I received this email:
Julia,I like you.Don’t go away.
My students may have driven me crazy. But they love me, and for the most part, I love them back. My coworkers surprised me with a wonderful going away present and almost brought me to tears with the messages they all wrote for me. They have made me feel so welcome, they have helped me out so much, they were such a part of my life for just over a year and they definitely sent me off feeling the love.
I have a feeling there will be more bittersweet days to come in the next two weeks, as I move on in life, from one adventure to another…