It’s been eighteen months since the pandemic began and two years since I was home…
Home, I miss you.
Even though my home now is where my wife is, where my job is, and where my dogs are causing havoc, my other home is where I started to build towards all of the things that I am now.
This home is where all of the people that made me are.
I miss my family (even though the annual summer holiday visits are always quite busy and intense!) I miss my friends (even though many of us have lost touch, I still think of you often), I miss the noise of being home and everyone talking over each other, I miss my Nan’s mash potato (it really must have been a long-time!), and I miss watching my siblings grow up and spending time with my parents… I see photos of you on social media and I can see that you look different, that you’ve experienced a bit more of life in all of its different forms.
I know that I too probably look different from when you last saw me. I definitely feel like I’ve changed since we were last together.
It feels awfully quiet these days, and what I would give to have you all talking over me and not giving me a chance to chime in! Maybe I can even show you how I’ve changed if I have the chance to get a word in – which maybe, you might just let me now.
It is undeniable that our work forms a part of who we are, but the other part is a beautiful constellation of our memories, experiences and relationships. I have been searching for you all, but I haven’t been able to find you for some time. The weather keeps changing, keeping you from my view.
We’re coming into the third academic year in which the pandemic has affected our day to day lives, and our day to day teaching.
It’s also affected our sense of control and autonomy. Are we going to go back to school or are we not? Will we be able to do activities or will we not? Will exams go ahead or will they not? Will we lose our holidays or will we not?
In a lot of ways these things feel pretty trivial, but if I was being completely honest, I think the question that people grapple with (and then squash back down) the most is; will I get to see you again, or will I not?
As we come back to the start of a new school year, expectations and pressures are already mounting. It feels different this time. In the world of international schools, schools are businesses, and businesses pay our salaries… not that businesses are bad or good, they just are. But right now, the businesses that many of us have chosen to be a part of, are struggling, and teachers are under greater pressure than ever to help alleviate this. Whilst I understand all of this, I can’t help but feel what a burden it is knowing that my professional responsibility is one of the things that keeps me from you. From my home, and my family.
Parents at schools are understandably upset, after all, international schooling in a pandemic is not what they signed their children up (or paid) for.
Schools are dealing with a lot.
But when they get squeezed, we get squeezed too… and our students get squeezed the most. Many of them also have people they love living far away, that they miss, and wonder whether they will see again.
We all miss someone.
I don’t really have much more to give right now. I will turn up and work to the best of my ability because I am a ‘professional’, and that’s what we are taught to do. I will put on a brave face and deliver because ‘we’ as a profession, always will.
But… please be kind to us.
Please let us stop and breathe once in a while, because when I stop and breathe, I can think of that beautiful constellation and I can almost be home.