That is completely untrue. Goodbye is the hardest word. I know some of my recent goodbyes are because of my choice. However when you leave these kids. The kids that just become an extension of your family however the difference with your real family is you can keep in touch and know their immediate future whereas with these guys you don't know what may happen next. What with some of the monstrosities that are going up in Phnom Penh these guys could suddenly be kicked out of there homes by the corrupt government. Such as what happened to the river people. All their lives they have lived on the Mekong and then suddenly some Koreans pay 180 million dollars to make an island on their homes. Well they say 180 million...really the sum was 90 million as the rest was paid to the prime minister to make sure it happened.
However back to the issue at hand of saying goodbye. It was hard, I managed to not cry, just about. It's weird knowing that come Monday I will not be going back to them. One of the few constants i've had was of having my class and now it's gone and it's time to be an adult. An adult who has veered off of life's usual pre-determined path of school-uni-job. For me it's school-tefl-Cambodia! I always felt the way I was treated and others were treated by Chesham Grammar School was a little bit unfair when I said I wasn't coming back or others said they weren't going to uni. It was as if you'd hit them with a rotten fish. There is no forward thinking. It's as if everyone must go to Uni and it's not always the answer one wants to hear or should be hearing. In the modern day it's not necessarily practical with the fees you now have to pay. However people take the path and yes in a few years time I may be taking this back saying, I've hit a ceiling and am unable to go further. Whereas others who have a degree will be able to delve further into there field. However that is for a later date and by that time things may have had to change in England.
For my last day sadly, it was a slight impromptu bank holiday so I didn't get to say goodbye to some of the other classes as they weren't there which is sad. On the other hand I had nearly full capacity for my class even though they knew they didn't have to come in. Whether it was because of my leaving or because of the food I had we'll never know.
There were upset kids. Some saying 'stay teacher.' I wish. One got his knickers in a twist because he was upset I was going. He was one of my favourites. A story one of the other teachers told me was that a child wanted to draw a picture of a lion (his nickname) and me. He got very upset when he couldn't draw one and had to go to this teacher for help. Which touched me. I was sad some people didn't manage to come in. Especially one kid who would come in on and off who I liked a lot and this last week I didn't see him at all so I hope he is okay.
I don't know if they all say the same to every teacher but I certainly feel that I was able to get a bit closer with these guys due to slight similarities in age, speaking khmer and knowing cultural rules. One day I will go back certainly and see them again. They wanted me to come back around Christmas time as they have a party for all the kids. So that seems like a good target. It's not too bad for me because at least I am still in the same country for the time being.
One of the hardest bits was saying goodbye to my morning class. Every day both classes will say 'Good morning/afternoon teacher' then at the end 'thank you teacher, see you tomorrow' just as a sign of respect. But this time they said 'Thank you teacher, see you again' And there it was, the hard lump in my throat, the sting in my eyes, the voice wavering. These children with their endless laughter at my stupid antics and their hope at me coming back. How many times a year do these guys become attached to someone and for that someone to say 'I'll be back' or 'Khgnom nu'ng mul ven' just for it to be a lie and for that person to go back to their life of comfort never to return. That's what tore me up nearly. Their childish hope, none of the seriousness of reality that an adult has. I miss that and I wouldn't want them to lose it but I feel as though it's too late as many have to look after their brothers and sisters whilst their parents are out begging/looking for money. It's just not fair. Then whilst in school all those responsibilities are gone and they get to be children again where the hope and glee returns whilst they are with their friends. I vow now that I will go back at some point this year so that hope doesn't fade into another 'oh he was just another teacher here.'
Also saying goodbye to a friend I have been with for six weeks was just as hard. It should be made illegal sometimes how difficult it is to say goodbye. She has given me confidence and words of advice for the future and of living here. It has been very weird these past couple of days when I go out to walk somewhere for her to not be next to me. I wish Mel the best of luck in Vietnam and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
For now I must focus on myself and get somewhere to live which may just be sorted by the end of this weekend. Just in time for my birthday that I have no idea what to do for. Then to focus on getting myself a new school. With a new set of kids to teach and enjoy. Wish me luck.