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.



  • ..::Wozz::.. 7y

    Your students... your mind :)
  • muwen 7y

    一日为师 终生为师
  • Jon Christall PRO 7y

    too true. a few tear-jerking assemblies are on the agenda for the month of march. this being my last year here in japan, i suspect it will be a little rough.
  • ckm2005 7y

    a touching story!!...i solute you my friend....
    (sleep tight, have a sweet dreams, everything gonna be alright)...
  • Pierre '♩♪♫♬♮♭" 7y

    Great story! Feels like honnest emotion.
  • Fried Toast PRO 7y

    A touching tribute to your students. Having only met you once, I feel a bit of loss that you'll be leaving and that I didn't make the effort to spend more time getting to know you. I've marveled at the shots that you post on Flickr and think it's fantastic how you weave narrative into your shots. I can only imagine that you've done similarly with your teaching and that your students will miss you dearly for it. I'm sure they're better off for having had you as their 先生.

    Before you do head on out, let me know. I'll make it a point to head down for an afternoon shoot or something. Something a little more substantial than the Tokyo Game Show ;)
  • BabyJD 7y

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story, Amir! You sound like a kind teacher and I really hope that you will continue to teach because the profession brings with it many rewards =)
  • AJ Brustein PRO 5y

    wow, great post. I was in Japan for 8 years only teaching English to adults for a couple of months while I was in school and never imagined how profound an experience it could be. Thanks for posting your story. And nice photo too!
    Seen on your photo stream. ( ?² )
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Taken on March 1, 2008
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