Dear Friends and Family,
It has been an emotional last week of the school year. I've experienced each moment with intention and focus on creating lasting last memories to carry with me and to leave behind in the hearts and minds of my most precious vessels of love and light: our students. Not only are they such kind and wonderful human beings, but they are also the most well-behaved, positive, inclusive, and cheerful cohesive class. As they frequently remind me, we are family. I am proud to be their friend, mentor, depository for secrets, co-conspirer, and teacher.
On the last day of actual lessons, Mitch and I orchestrated a rip-roaring inter-class game of capture the flag employing over four giant tubs of water balloons. It was yet another example of our brilliant leadership and creative teaching methods. Of course we used English! We played capture the flag in English, see? Introducing the game rules was a mini-lesson in and of itself. And besides, it's tradition.
Our senior two class, the students we with whom we started the school year and have followed through with so many months of fantastic adventures in and out of the classroom, performed a farewell ceremony for me. It was exquisitely heart-rending and beautiful, reducing me to tears. They prepared a circle of flowers on the floor, and brought me into the classroom to stand in the middle of the flower ring while they sang a song I taught them months ago. I thought they had forgotten it, but they sang it perfectly and in round, "Rose, Rose" with soaring harmonies. Then they segued into "Hey Jude," a song we had been practicing for the English talent show and competition, which brought up the energy but still made me wistful and misty. I gave a short speech about everything they have accomplished and how brave they should be about going into their next adventures because they are well-prepared for their international experience soon to come. They really are such an inconceivably wonderful bunch of sweethearts, and I don't say that just because I am their proud teacher. They just are /that/ glorious.
The senior one class that we've had since the beginning of the second semester had their own farewell party for me, which was considerably more light-hearted and entertainment oriented. While they are sad to see me go, they have no shortage of spunk and verve, and organized a variety of games in their extensively-decorated classroom. We did crazy things with balloons, fed each other fruits, sang songs, and fervently declared our love for one another. They presented me with a chop which I immediately used to stamp their textbooks, uniforms, hands, and faces. They are a jolly bunch and will certainly be a force of good energy in their continued carousing together as a bonded class.
My boss invited me out to lunch with several colleagues, Mitch, and the freshly-arrived teacher Nick, who will teach next year. I successfully avoided getting @#$%-faced during the ceremonial foisting of alcohol, in which one must accept the beverage challenges or lose face. I don't actually enjoy that custom, but it was good to get in one last drinking experience with those knuckleheads, testing our mettle and ability to hold our liquor.
The whole process of saying goodbye has been drawn out for quite long enough. I am ready to move on, though I am nostalgic and nervous about leaving and already planning what I might do when I return for a visit. My "HauHauHauHauHauHauHauHauXieXieBaiBaiZaiJian" book is almost full, with dozens of creative and emotional entries, and it is just left to me to pack up my things and take off. As I gather the belongings I will carry into my next life, I am pleased and amused to find that over half of my possessions are digital.
Well, that brings us to the end of my Massless Massive Mass-Missives from China this time around. If you've been following along up to this point and you want to be included in the next batch of letters and pixels from Thaibodia and Beyooooooond, you must *EXPLICITLY* tell me so in a response to this letter. Even if you are my primary kin, please just drop a note mentioning you are willingly receiving my ramblings, as I am loathe to spam anyone.
I am off to Thaibodia 2008 with a courageous companion, and shall likely not be writing much from the road, but I'll be popping pictures like a paparazzi and will post the gems after I decompress State-side. I leave you with an open letter to China, and I'll see you when I do.
For the makers in the group: mollybee.org/china/chpics69.html
Odds and Ends: mollybee.org.china/chpics70.html
Love and Light,
I love you. That is first and foremost.
We haven't been communicating very well lately, what with your Mandarin thing and me with my English fixation. I don't know if you've noticed, but I've also been withdrawing a bit recently. Since it's hard for us to meaningfully talk face-to-face, I decided to write down some of my thoughts in a letter.
I'll come straight out and say that I'm leaving you. I hope that doesn't come as a complete surprise as I've been hinting left and right, and yesterday you saw me packing up my things. I don't want to hurt you baby, but I don't feel it's right that we stay locked in this strained intimate relationship.
You've changed a whole lot in the last year. I don't mean to put this all on you; I've also changed a great deal. I am stretching out in new directions and things are progressing to a point where I'm ready to move on. You've been very protective of my interactions with others, enforcing a ridiculous time-zone discrepency so that I was limited in my real-time interactions with friends back in the States. Even though we agreed we'd have an open relationship and you are seeing over a billion other people yourself, you were very controlling with my schedule and hesitant to let me explore outside of our partnership. But I'm ready to start seeing other countries, and in fact I've already been plotting and planning in secret to do just that. Don't be bitter and vengeful, but I'm eloping with Thaibodia.
I don't mean to be accusative after it doesn't matter anymore, but I thought it was rather bad form of you to go through my email and censor my internet use. Not only is it excessively controlling, but it is also super rude. If you don't trust me enough to let me have free access to websites and chat with my friends without defaming you behind your back, then we really have no basis for a relationship and no business being together.
Another item worth mentioning: please hon, stop smoking. I hear you hacking and rattling every morning, noon, and night, and it just about breaks my heart. It also really cramped my social style, since I couldn't go out with you anywhere, what with you sullying all communal airspace. To tell you the truth, I almost left you nine months ago for just that reason. I will not miss that aspect of our shared experience.
I /will/ miss so many other things though. My time with you was rife with excellent educational experiences and amazing adventures. I have no regrets about our sojourn together, and I hope that you gained as much enrichment from me as I did from you. Just because I am leaving you physically does not mean that I will be taking your influences out of my psyche. Mandarin is now flowing in my veins and I will never cease studying Chinese, wherever I go.
I hope that we can remain friends and keep up communication. I know that other people say that to other countries and those are sometimes empty words, but I really mean it. I want to hear all about your progress and growth, all your successes, challenges and triumphs. I know you're excited about the Olympics coming up soon. I want to see your pictures and read your stories!
Thank you for everything-- thank you even for testing my patience and finding me worthy. Thank you for your time, energy, vibrant memories, and the 64 dingle-dangles I'm carrying away. Thank you for the red bayberry and lychee seasons; it was very thoughtful of you. And thank you most of all for caring for me, keeping me safe, and providing more than I can ever give back.
I still love you-- you know it's true. But I feel it's right, I'm ready to head out, and nothing you can say will make me change my mind and stay. I'm leaving tomorrow.
Be well always!
P.S. I'll be back in a month to pick up my stuff, please don't destroy anything in anger. You can keep everything except for my suitcase of dingle-dangles and souvenirs-- I need them as gifts.
P.P.S. Will you please take care of everyone I leave behind? They need regular feedings and lots of exercise. Thanks dear.