30 January 2007

This is my goodbye.

I bought this book, 'Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds,' a couple of months ago to help me understand how my students process and adapt to new situations. I've learned more about China's issues with Taiwan, Korean social customs, and how to find Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in Shanghai from my students than I have from any history book or guide. I thought I could try and help them back through my curriculum.

However, I'm discovering more about myself than I am about them. I relate well to H---, whose father is always out of town on business, and D--- and J---, who have already attended seven schools each. I see these students and others in the book. But I also see myself.

On Sunday, Dirk and I went to pick up his backpack from some friends who agreed to bring it home on Friday night when they opted out of clubbing with us after dinner. They're a married couple and two out of the three friends in our social circle who are leaving the school and Shanghai on Friday.

Dirk was really upset at seeing their virtually-empty apartment. I didn't mind as much, as I've moved far more times than he and am used to empty living spaces. Their walls were stripped of the wife's paintings and the floor was dusty from the packing.

The truth is that there hasn't been much of a "social circle" in a while. The leavers sort of checked out emotionally when they for-sure knew they were going and we checked out from them. Guilt all around and not necessarily knowing how to talk about the others' choices. And then even that becomes a white elephant.

The author of 'Third Culture Kids' mentions this phenomenon, which closely resembles "the quitsies." The leavers distance themselves because they don't want to get more attached to those who are staying. The stayers do it right back for the same reason. So then no one gets hurt, right?

And then we go through the stages of grief, which I think are junk anyway, from denial (we're not inviting them out because then we have to deal with the fact that they're leaving) to anger (who the fuck do they think they are? it's not so bad! how can they leave us?) to all the other bullshit (should we stay? did they ever really like us? did we do something wrong? what will we do without them?) to acceptance (two days and counting. . . .).

And then new teachers will arrive to replace them (although two of the three positions were filled internally) and the cycle will begin again with the worst question you could ask a Third Culture Kid:

"Where are you from?"

It was shit. I was shit for checking out.

betholindo at 04:54

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