Hellos and Goodbyes: The Life of an International Educator

Part of being an international educator is enjoying moments and letting them go, meeting new people, and saying goodbye, time and time again.

The most obvious example is our frequent travel. International educators take every opportunity to travel and see the world. One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. I meet people in every place I go. We may have one short conversation or spend many days hanging out. Either way, the time always comes to say goodbye. Sometimes goodbye is forever, sometimes it’s more like “I’ll see you on Facebook and we’ll meet up one day”. Nevertheless, we are saying “goodbye for now” without any knowledge of how long “for now” is. I’m quite new to this world of travel, so I’m still adjusting, but I would prefer to be in the company of these wonderful people for an hour, a day, a week, maybe more, than to not have known them at all.

Even when we international educators are not traveling (i.e. when we’re working), we’re still meeting new people and saying goodbye to others because, in the international education world, people are always moving to new countries and new schools. We spend one year or many years learning about the people we work with, spending time with them, forming close bonds. Then, a batch of them leaves and a new batch arrives. We cherish the moments we had with the departing, but sometimes we need to let them go and be happy for what the future holds, just as we do with those acquaintances made while traveling. I’m happy to have friends who I may see one day down the road, but I know there are others with whom I won’t keep in contact. We can’t hold close all the friends we’ve made. 

I’m realizing now, too, that not only is the personal life of an international educator filled with hellos and goodbyes, but this is the exact definition of our profession. I spend 8-9 months with the same group of students, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. I teach them, inspire them, and keep their curiosity alive. They do the same for me, and just like seeing your family every day, we get on each others’ nerves sometimes. Every classroom surely has it’s ups and downs (more ups than downs) but by the end of the year, I love each and every one of my students, and it pains me to say goodbye. Some of them will move to other schools next year; some will stay. But if they don’t leave soon, I will. And I won’t see them again. Even sooner, they’re likely to forget about me, and me about them. Each year brings new challenges and great experiences but, in the end, we all say goodbye.

I am so thankful for the wonderful people, adults and children, who I’ve met so far on this journey that is my career. It’s these diverse interactions that make me who I am today and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

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