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Perennial pains

At the moment I am a high school teacher in Japan. But today, as pictured above, is the number one reason why I will not continue as a teacher after I leave - there are too many goodbyes.


Today was graduation day. I have taught every single one of the 240 students who will now go on to their new lives. I have a million memories because of these students - both good (mostly) and bad (not many). They have faced the usual trials and travails of other students around the world. Some have faced more than others, and among the graduating class there were two girls who recently attempted suicide. One of them seems to be back to her usual boisterous self though - as a shout of "AMIIIIIIIIIIIIR" down the corridor informed me.


In a strange way, they mean a lot to me. I can truly understand the sorrow and joy of a teacher on this bittersweet day. You spend years trying to help them be good people and find their place in the world, and just as success appears it is time to let go. And this reoccurs, year after year after year. Soon, more students will come and the process begins again. And again I will reach out to them, knowing that I am once again doomed to the pain of 240 simultaneous losses.


Among the students today were ones who made me laugh, who frustrated me, who challenged me to better myself everyday. Ones who I cared about, and ones who I barely knew. In particular, there was one who inspired me with her simple kindness and incredible talent, who helped me come to terms with some of the bad memories from my terrible time before coming to Japan. I learnt more from her, and all of them, than I can express.


And I will miss them.



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Taken on March 1, 2008