Hiraeth – saying goodbye


“homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, the grief for lost places in your past”

The end of the school year brings with it a huge rush of emotions. Relief that the frenzied activity of the year has come to end. Excitement at the prospect of long holiday worth of adventures. Punctuated amongst these are quiet moments of grief – in particular for the members of the team moving on.

An occupational hazard of teaching in an international context is that we get a lot of practice of saying goodbye. Our colleagues are not just the people we work with – they become our friends and family. Some people we enjoy for the brief moment they’ve been in our lives, others stay on the journey for years. Either way, it sucks to say farewell to people you’ve laughed with, cried with and shared the odd beverage or two along the way.

At some points it can be easy to go into self-defence mode: what’s the point in making friends with people that you know are going to leave in the foreseeable future? Yet when we think about friendships back at home how many of them are based are based so much upon common everyday situations; age, occupation and location. It’s surprising how often you find that once that commonality is removed, you aren’t left with much else. But still we maintain those relationships.

88Working overseas means trading in the familiar and predictable friendships for something else. Sometimes, especially when it comes to say farewell, that something else is grief tinged with the hope that we’ll met again somewhere along the journey.

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