“Trump bans travel to Europe for 30 days”
A few words that packed a big punch. I work abroad as a teacher and we are weeks away from the only one month break we have a year.
Everyone in our office has saved all year. Trips are booked and paid for. Everyone is looking forward to seeing their families, attending weddings, and basically storing up enough energy to teach another school year.
We collectively dispel all of our anger, fear, and anxieties into one big ball of “You’ve got to be 🤬 kidding me”. We say things that are objectively obvious but we need to process and vent.
“If they have to reschedule the wedding, I can’t go……and I’m the best man.”
“I haven’t seen my parents in 2 years and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to afford to go home again”
“What if I can’t get back into the country and my whole life is here”
After I threaten (or just state as a fact) that I’m not coming to work tomorrow due to extreme sadness, something happens that lightens the mood for everyone.
Chris, our most senior (and only senior citizen) teacher, has missed the whole conversation because he is mad at the computer…..again.
Chris – The wifi doesn’t work so I wanna go home. Will, aren’t you the assistant IT teacher?
Will – What? No. We don’t have an assistant IT teacher. We have a regular IT teacher.
Chris – Who?
Will – Katie.
Chris – What?!!! (As if this is more shocking than the Corona news)
Chris and I look at each other from our desks which are quite close and start laughing. This is a perfect microcosm of both of our personalities. We are both prematurely senile and become completely unaware of the world around and start muttering at the slightest hint of frustration.
I have been the IT teacher for over a year. This has come up many times, but anytime Chris asks something about “The Google Documents” I tell him to ask the IT teacher and walk away.
This laugh came as a welcome distraction to grading the current affairs final tests for my 8th grade homeroom. I laughed and cried reading their answers. Halfway through one of the tests, a student wrote in the margins “Teacher please stop this test make me so sad”.
I’ve taken them on the world news emotional roller coaster this year. Looking back, it is quite overwhelming but they are old enough to be on the ride now and have feelings of their own about the state of the world. They have fears and uncertainties that they can put language to.
“I scared when people died for unknown reason by rage of soldier”
“Much sad this year because Koala not have the capacity to move fast away from fire”
“Scary if Corona come to our school. I have worry about breathing air.”
Uncertainty heightens all of our frustrations and fears. The hypocrisy of those making decisions “in our best interest” becomes infuriating. Having to go to work seems unimportant and remaining in control of what little you were in control of in the first place becomes impossible.
I am too sad to call my parents today knowing that I won’t be seeing them in a few weeks but I also feel more grateful than ever to have friends, family, and coworkers who let me know that I’m not alone.
I went to the Burmese school yesterday and in defiance of the no hugging rule was greeted with lots of love from the teachers. “Teacha I love so much when you are coming to teach with me. I want your school to close Corona so you come back everyday.” Well Thandar, that wasn’t my master plan for this month but it looks like you may get your wish.
When plans fall apart, work and play are cancelled and there are no quick answers to be found, you’re just left with yourself………..and if you are very lucky, a lot of people who love you.
Love from (stuck in) Munchkinland,
PS – In this time of uncertainty, waiting, and perceived scarcity please reach out to someone who may have a heightened sense of loneliness right now. Someone who is far from home, someone who may never be able to go home, someone who can’t leave home.