July began with my one-year anniversary in Hong Kong and is ending with the conclusion of my first full-time job. It’s been an emotional time and I think I summed it up decently in my final weekly newsletter, sent to my students’ parents:
For my last newsletter, I'd just like to write a huge thank you to the many students, parents, grandparents and helpers I've gotten to know during my time at this school. I'm not usually one to get overly sentimental, but I have really been blessed to get to know all of you. During these last two weeks, I've been quite humbled by having received so many well-wishes for my future.
From my first day here until now, I have learned just as much if not more from my students as they have learned from me. Watching so many kids transform from babies into inquisitive, clever children is something very few people get to see and I will never forget this experience. It's also confirmed my belief, from the Beatles, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!
I wish each and every one of my students all the very best as they grow up.
I really haven't had an experience like this before—saying my goodbyes and thank yous to so many people at the end of a life chapter. And by so many, I mean 150 students and their families plus nearly twenty colleagues. The closest was probably graduating university but that grand finale had been known by everyone involved from the get go and the majority of my friends were leaving with me. Announcing to the students and parents that I was leaving was probably the hardest step in the process but bidding adieu to the tight-knit colleague group was nearly as tough. After spending so many hours with certain people, you develop quite an attachment.
In these last two weeks, with the end in sight, I felt what an impact these kids had on me and vice versa (I hope/think?) and that was something that really brought into focus the fact that teaching could be a career path for me. Of course, I'll need a lot more training to develop teaching skills beyond what I have now. But more than ever before, working in education seems like a pretty solid way to pass the weekday hours and try to make a difference.
As I posted earlier, I start at the primary school on August 20th. I’m looking forward to (and also a bit nervous about) broadening my teaching experience and comparing this to my year teaching toddlers. During the next three weeks, I’ll spend half the time lounging around in Hong Kong and half the time travelling to both Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Guilin, China. Expect many photos and blog posts to come from these two trips.