Tag Archives: farewell

The Final, Final Farewell

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been transferred to new schools, which is sad because my school-until-today has been awesome.

The goodbyes, though, they just seem to go on and on. Yesterday, the final FINAL farewell happened.

First, popped in to school in the morning. Got a present of a big blanket and a seat cushion from the English teachers, because the town my new schools are in is apparently rather quite a lot colder than where I have been. Also, they are old schools, so no reliable heating system. I appreciated that. Got a bunch of “I’m leaving too!” farewell sweets (I’d distributed mine a week earlier).

There was a bit of a do in the staffroom where the principal (he’s retiring, so was the leader of our leavers’ group) gave a bit of a farewell speech on our behalves. We were each presented with flowers. (This was the second “you’re leaving us” bouquet in 8 days for me, and the third separation-bouquet since March 8.)

When, students and remaining teachers saw us off while the band played “Time to Say Goodbye”.

Then the farewell party happened in the evening. There, we got pamphlets in which each of the leavers had written messages to the other teachers (above and beyond the message we conveyed in our goodbye speeches last Friday). Then, we had to get on stage, and they gave us each 1) more flowers, this time two big potted plants 2) monetary gift to cover the money we’d paid for the farewell party 3) our “graduation report card”, which had messages to us from the teachers were weren’t leaving. Also a bag of shiitake mushrooms?

Then we had to give ANOTHER farewell speech. By this time, I was running out of things to say. In the message in the pamphlet, because people would be reading that on their own time, I was able to say some of the things I posted about previously, so that was nice. But now what to do? I was caught a little unprepared for this, and so ended up rambling in something like unto the following (but in Japanese).

I came here in 2004. I taught at a JHS in Toyama for 5 years. After that time, I had to move on, it was the way the system worked. A sixth year was impossible. For me, parting has always been easy. When I came to Japan, it wasn’t a difficult thing. I was a little sad, and I was very nervous, but it was okay. This was a new story that I had to start, and so parting with friends in Canada and coming here was fine. After five years in Toyama, it was the same sort of thing. I wasn’t happy to leave Toyama, but it wasn’t particularly sad, either. Though I had strong bonds (here I brought out the 絆) there, five years is a long time, and I had accomplished what I could, and that story was over. It was time to write “The End”, and start on the next story. So parting then wasn’t difficult.

The next time I had to part ways was in March 2011. This parting wasn’t entirely difficult either. I had been at six elementary schools, so being someplace different every day, having no downtime or chances to socialize, I didn’t have very strong bonds to those places.  Additionally, I had just turned 30. On top of that, the Great East Japan Disaster had just happened. This time, it wasn’t so much, “This story is over”, but rather “A new era is beginning.” (時代が変わった). And when eras change, there are partings. It wasn’t difficult. It made sense.

So yes, for me, usually, parting is easy. But this time… it’s different.  I don’t know if it’s because I was changed by the Disaster, or if it’s just because everyone at this school, teachers and students, were so great to me, but I feel a very strong bond to this place, to you all. It makes parting difficult.  Furthermore, I’ve only been here a year. This story, I don’t feel it’s over yet. It’s like going to a movie, and half way through saying, “Wow, this is the best movie ever! Okay I’m going home,” despite it not being finished. So yeah, this time… parting is difficult.

Then I started rambling REALLY aimlessly, caught myself, and ended with a thank you for a great a year. Too bad I didn’t have an end for it, I was pretty happy with how it came out unprepared otherwise.

After dinner and whatnot, we went to the second party, but due to my having to catch the last train (which is hyperearly in the inaka), I could only stay for half an hour. The final, final, final farewell, was a couple of teachers asking me if I would be able to manage my mushrooms and potted plants and ALL THE THINGS on the train. I assured them that I’d do my best, and bid them a drunken goodbye.

I still didn’t cry. I welled up when trying to come up with a speech in the moments before I went on stage to give it, but that was more panic and nerves than anything. As I said last time, I must have gotten all that out on my final drives to school the last week.

So that’s it. It’s over. That story has ended in the middle of an act, and no author could possibly be happy about that. Who allowed this to be published? I want to lodge a complaint. I want my money back for this book without a proper ending.

I have beat all the life out of that metaphor. And now I am rambling again, much like I was at the end of my speech last night.

So, thank you for a great year. Take care of yourselves. Until the day we can meet again here, goodbye.

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.