I'm sorry. We all know what for. Now let's move on.
Today was graduation day at my main school. Since high school isn't mandatory in Korea, middle school graduation is a much bigger deal here than it is back home. The parents come with bouquets of flowers whose blooms are difficult to see under all the colored lace and fabric (because the flowers themselves aren't pretty enough already?), sappy music is played as the principal hands out diplomas, some of the students cry, and others are just thrilled to get the hell out of there.
Graduation didn't mean much to me last year. I'd only been teaching for six months, and was still struggling to adapt to the culture, let alone connect with my students. My attention was still frantically focused on not doing anything wrong or stupid-looking. I obediently stood in the line of teachers while graduating 3rd graders filed past after crossing the stage, and I did exactly what the teacher in front of me did: smile, shake hands and wonder how many more students could possibly be left to congratulate. Please God, don't let me catch whatever creeping crud is going around, since I'm being required to squeeze the clammy hand of every student who walks by. Add that to the fact that I'd just gotten back to frigid Korea from a gorgeous vacation in balmy Thailand and Malaysia, and I was just not a happy camper.
Today was much different. Having taught these kids for a year and a half, I was surprised to find that I've actually grown quite fond of them. That's really saying something for a person who's never liked children (i.e. anyone under 16, including adults who act like they're under 16). I was also somewhat dismayed to realize that most of my favorite students are leaving. It was touching, though, as many of them wanted a hug rather than a handshake, looking pleasantly surprised that I was actually there to see them off. A few came into the office for pictures before they left the school. I was certainly feeling much more emotional than I'd expected to, current time of the month notwithstanding.
One more semester left before I leave my students to the next native Englishee teacher. Rising 2nd and 3rd graders, you have big shoes to fill!