I’ve been thinking a lot about endings recently. I think because things here are ending. Whether it’s David Hodges and Gil Grissom in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode, where Grissom leaves the crime lab (‘It’s the right time for me to go’); or the ending of series six of Community where the ‘Save Greendale Committee’ surveys the study room one last time, and Jeff Winger thanks them for changing his life; or even when Abby Lockhart left ER, to be told by her close friend, nurse Haleh Adams, ‘We are going to miss you so damn much’, I think they have all been on my mind because everything changes after that. Community finished, CSI continued, but not in the same way, and ER was in its final season when Abby left and there was not long before the series finale and the very last episode.
I think, however, perhaps Dr ‘JD’ John Dorian’s voiceover in the final episode of series eight of Scrubs sums it up best:
Things rarely go exactly the way you want them to, so sometimes you make do with whatever you can get. Endings are never easy; I always build them up so much in my head they can’t possibly live up to my expectations, and I just end up disappointed. I’m not even sure why it matters to me so much how things end here. I guess it’s because we all want to believe that what we do is very important, that people hang onto our every word, that they care what we think. The truth is: you should consider yourself lucky if you even occasionally get to make someone, anyone, feel a little better. After that it’s all about the people that you let into your life. … And even though it felt warm and safe, I knew it had to end. It’s never good to live in the past too long. As for the future … it didn’t seem so scary anymore. It could be whatever I wanted it to be.
Now, granted, Scrubs is set in a hospital, and JD worked there for eight years, rather than two, but still…
Life continues, yes, and life will continue here, whether I’m at RDFZ or not. All I can hope is that I had even a slight influence on someone in a class, in whatever way. And if not…. then I hope they had fun, because I certainly did. I knew that leaving would be difficult but equally, to quote Grissom above, ‘It’s the right time for me to go’ (and, actually, this past week, I’ve only had three classes, and it hasn’t really seemed like ‘the end’ or even emotional…. until I went in to see class 5, my favourite class, yesterday). Ready for a new challenge, to push on into the unknown. I’ll still be in China, in Beijing even, but not at RDFZ. I hope to stay in touch with some students, and meet next year, so it won’t be like I’ve totally disconnected from them.
Still, it will be different. Good different, bad different, I’m not sure. I know that this place has had more of an effect on me than others. I am, I admit, pretty laid back. Most Senior students call me Mark, Dr Mark, Mr Mark or (more occasionally) Wilson, whereas the Junior kids call me (usually) Dr Wilson. I don’t mind what they call me. I have decent banter with most of my students, I think. So even if a lesson is boring, or rubbish, they will be more likely to forgive you.
When the ‘incident’ happened last year, the teacher in question did not have a good relationship with her class, which probably exasperated the situation. And this year, some of the new teachers have had difficulty adjusting, and there have been some internal problems within the team and its dynamic, which hasn’t helped either. After the announcement was made about cutting the staff down to three for next year (now risen to seven), most people, pretty much, checked out. They do their own lessons, but don’t do much else. They turn up to office hours only because they have to.
We’ve had some successes – the pantomime last year, and the Easter egg hunt we did recently was well-received; we had a poetry workshop for World Poetry Day which was reasonably well-attended and we’ve submitted a film for the film festival, the first foreign teacher team to do so.
We’ve also had some times when things haven’t always gone well, for one reason or another. Not to dwell on the negatives, though.
Leaving RDFZ is a risk (better the devil you know and all that). Equally, staying would have been. The decision to leave was not easy, but I did not feel I could survive on maybes or possibilities regarding contracts for next year. I had offers – as did the other teachers – and took them. Also, it could well have been somewhat soul destroying, focusing a lot on EDP kids and Juniors. Especially with a completely new team. And so now it is time, with one last triumphant fanfare, to bid farewell to this place, and move on into the future, to the next challenge, into the unknown!
And so, with a final wave, I say farewell (for now) to Irina, Felix, Andy, Daniel, Victoria, Eva, Bella, Javier, Ray, Rain, Lesley, William and everyone I taught this or last year in whatever grade. Good luck and have fun!