Our Last Day

Flowers received on my last day at work.
Lovely flowers to commemorate our parting.

Today was my last day at my current posting. Oh, I still have a job, but I won’t be teaching at this school ever again (or, at least not for three years). I’ve been transferred because my company lost the contract for this town. I’m absolutely gutted, because I loved this place.

After the end of term ceremonies, we had the “changing-one’s-post ceremony”, which is basically a farewell to the teachers who are known to be moving (there’s another one in April for the other teachers who got their new assignments this afternoon). The principal says some nice things about the people moving, some kids who were forced to write farewell messages come up on stage and read them to the leavers one-by-one, and present them with flowers. Then, the leavers give a speech.

I think this is what I said. I can’t actually remember what I really said. It may have been this. It may have been nonsense. I’m not sure, I honestly can’t remember.

Hello, everyone!

えっ?返事ないの?やぁぁぁぁ~

もう一回ね!Hello, everyone! How are you? I’m good, thanks.

2004年に日本に来ました。2004年から9つの学校で約5800人の生徒を教えてきた。その中に、この学校、今年の四百数十人は一番すばらしいです。本当に。この短い間が○○中の皆さんと過ごして、僕はとてもラッキーと思います。この一年間、消して忘れません。

じゃ、お別れの日になりました。僕の決まりではありません。だから、残念ながら、仕方がないね。

4月から○○市○○小学校と○○○○小学校に移動します。そう!小学校だ!全然違うんですね!どうなるかな… でも、これからもがんばります。皆さんも、がんばってください。

一年間、まことにありがとうございます。

And in English:

Hello, everyone! What? No response? Awww. Let’s try again. Hello everyone! How are you? I’m good, thanks.

I came to Japan in 2004. Since then, in 9 schools, I’ve taught about 5800 students. And in all that, this school, and the 400-some students here this year, are the most wonderful of all. Truly. That I’ve been able to spend even this short amount of time with you all… I feel lucky. I’ll never forget this year.

And so, it has become our day of parting. It’s not my decision, so, unfortunately, nothing can be done. From April, I’ll be teaching at two elementary schools in ○○ City. That’s right! Elementary school! It’s totally different! How will it turn out, I wonder…

But, I’ll do my best from now on. You all, too, please do your best.

Thank you for this year.

There are some things, though, that I wanted to say, to some people (co-workers and students), but I just couldn’t for a variety of reasons. Poor language skills, poor social skills, embarassment, whathaveyou. Though they’ll never read them, I’ll write here what I want to say.

To O.T.: I knew you in elementary school, and I was struck by your spirit. You dreamed big, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop you. But now, two years later, you’ve changed. I know kids change as they grow up and go through junior high, but you’ve changed a lot. I’m worried about you. You can do absolutely anything, so don’t give up. It’s a terrible cliché, but seriously, don’t give up. Don’t let them break your spirit. I believe in you.

To N.K.: With you, there was never any sort of waffling. From the very start, you treated me like a person, and a teacher (a proper teacher, not a tourist vacation pretend teacher). You trusted me. You can’t imagine how much that means to me. After years of being treated like just another child that needs babysat, it was so great to be treated like an adult, and trusted. Because you did this, everyone else in the office followed suit. Thank you. Oh, and one more thing: take care of O.T.? Don’t give up on him, even though it looks like he may give up on himself. He needs help. Don’t let me down.

To Y.Y.: I dunno why I’m so weird. Social awkwardness is a thing I do with everyone, but for some reason pretty girls make me even more socially awkward, which doesn’t even make sense in my case. Anyway, teaching with you was fun. In a way, it’s probably good that I’ve been transferred, because teaching after you’ve gone wouldn’t be the same. Good luck with your new, married life in Aomori. Keep in touch.

To O.K.: It seemed like maybe, just maybe, you’ve finally forgiven me for our misunderstanding in November. I hope so. I know what anger like that, held for a long time, can do. Don’t sabotage yourself to punish me, or anyone. I wish you the best. I’ll watch for your Koshien debut.

To I.R.: You’re a smart guy. You’re one of the brightest students I’ve ever taught. You know this, though. But I’ve been where you are, and let me tell you, you can’t ride that forever. You need to start working. Find something to motivate you, even if it’s nothing more than a simple desire to outgrow your difficult home life.

To K.Y. and K.R.: I really enjoyed getting to know you both during our lunches together in first term. I’m disappointed I won’t get to see you both grow up, see what great things you achieve over the next couple years. Be well.

To S.H.: The only person holding you back is yourself. You deserve better than that, so be good to yourself, put in the work, and reap the benefits. And when you get to San Francisco  in November, know that you’ve earned it.

To I.N.: I wish I’d gotten to know you better. I hope you find a way to do what you love, and, though it’s selfish of me, I hope I get to hear about you when you do.

To K.N.: Don’t be afraid to be who you are. After all, you were born that way. So be proud, and be confident, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that there’s anything wrong with how you are. You’re fine just as you are.

That’s probably enough.

Strangely, I haven’t cried at all today. I thought I might, and I did mist up once, but barely. Maybe I just got all the crying done in the car to and from work over the past two weeks…

Anyway, until the day we meet again, go, bloom, prosper. I expect nothing less.