Monday, April 7, 2008

Uh, thanks for the notice

So this morning I was walking back to my apartment at about 8:30 and stopped by the second floor to see the director of foreign affairs, Miss Shan, to see when she wanted me to bring down my passport so she could go pick up my new residency permit.

When I popped in she told me I wouldn't have class with my juniors this morning (that class was supposed to be at 10:20) and I said OK, because I've grown accustomed to the Chinese style of giving no notice for anything. Then she kept talking and I wasn't really understanding what was going on and the next thing I know she says, "So you won't teach them anymore." Ever.

Apparently in that moment my biweekly class with 68 smiling 14 year olds came to an abrupt end. I didn't have any advance warning, no time to prepare, to decide how to say goodbye, to even say goodbye at all. The class is just over. It turns out the kids are preparing for their high school entrance exam and so they are going to be in review classes for the rest of the term and so my oral English class was deemed unnecessary.

I told Miss Shan that I needed an opportunity to say goodbye to my students, to let them really know how important they've been to me this year. She told me she would talk to their head teacher and work out a time when I could go in and say goodbye.

I'll still see the kids once a week when they are on the high school campus for P.E. class and I'm sure I'll have the occasional run-in on the street, but I'm crushed that I don't get to see them every week anymore. I came home to my apartment, sat down and started to cry.

I had always assumed I would make some sort of impact here in China, but I didn't at all expect how deep and impact my students would make on me. I've been thinking for a while now about how hard it will be to say goodbye to all the people I've met here, the people who have really touched my lives and taught me about China, themselves and myself. I knew it would be hard, but now that I've come face-to-face with the issue I am finally realizing exactly how hard it is all going to be.

I think leaving China is going to be more difficult for me than leaving America was, and I don't say that as any offense to anyone back at home, if anything I mean it as a compliment. When I left home, I knew I was going back. I knew all of my friends and family would be there for me and that I'd be able to see them all again as soon as I returned from this one year hiatus. With China that's very unlikely. Most of the people I've met here I'll never see again. And that crushes me every time I think about it.

I'm a different person than I was eight months ago, not drastically so, but enough that I can notice the ways in which I've changed and I know I owe the positive changes in my life to the people here. People I'll probably never see again, but who I will carry with me forever.

1 comment:

sheila said...

Welcome Back Erin,
We have missed these wonderful updates sharing all your adventures and interesting stories.
We look forward to hearing more and more as the weeks continue. You are so brave to be able to try such a variety of differnt things.I am confidentyour students will never forget you and the impact you have made on their lives as much as you will forever carry the memories and stories your students have shared with you. We feel as if we too were beginning to get to know them especially their pen pals. Enjoy every moment that is left and continue sharing your amazing journey with all of us back home. WE are so proud of you and we miss you lots and love you lots also.