I am the Grinch

I knew that it would be hard to leave Singa Elementary School even with all the bad experiences of KYY and to be honest there was a part of me that was/would be more than okay with some fingerpointing.  While we’re being honest, I would have stayed another year, if Singa/Principal Yu hadn’t re-signed her, because I would be safe, no one to hit me (or rather try) with their car, no one to correct me almost native speaker level English, no one hitting me or shoving me in class, etc.

Thanks to the strength of the Korean teachers’ union and the belief that Koreans can do no wrong, she’s staying and I’m on my way back home. I am happy about my decision, mostly because it guarantees that I’ll be safely out of KYY’s way.

But today it hit me that I’m leaving the students that I’ve grown to love and the fellow teachers that I’ve become friends with. The third grade bojangnim let it slip to her homeroom class that I was leaving at the end of the year and returning to the States, so today I received a beautiful card and gift from one of the students telling me how sad she was to hear I was leaving and not to leave and not to forget her or our country.

Then three teachers told me that they had applied to teach English next year because they thought that they were going to be able to work with me. For this current academic year, the vice-principals had to force people to be English teachers, which is the norm at Singa, but for the upcoming academic year, they have a decent number of teachers to choose from, which is a novel experience for the school.

Those two things made me cry the minute I got back to my office. We (and this apparently is somewhat more of an American thing) all want to effect change, leaving a lasting (positive) legacy, know at the end of the day we did something that we’re proud of. In the EFL life, you bounce around year to year from country to country, city to city, or simply apartment to apartment, it’s the norm, the way of life. I never really see what I’ve done in my students’ lives, if I have ever had any affect on them, if they will ever remember me, and yes I do worry a bit of what do I have to show for the last 6+ years of my life abroad.

I cried when I left Morocco, because it’s such an important part of who I am now. I cried when I left Ireland because was such an experience. (And I’m pretty sure that I left Korea the very first time that I left.) But everywhere else that I’ve been to, I left excited about the next step in my life, no regrets. But this is different. I’m sure that I could have muddled through another year of KYY, there would be plenty of posts about the newest ridiculous thing that she’s said, done, or worn, but would it be worth it?

I made the choice to take care of my sanity and well-being before anything else and I don’t regret it, even when the ridiculous papers that I have to file for the teachers’ program frustrates me. But I can still be a little sad about leaving right?


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