"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Goodbye EF "Seattle" (Says Matt With Air Quotes)

My organization’s Olympia school markets itself as “EF Seattle” because of the more recognizable and alluring name for potential students from afar. This has been the basis of an ongoing joke in my classes over these last two years, in which I mock yet sympathize with my students’ plight.

Many of them become annoyed a few days after arrival when they realize their school is not really all that close to Seattle. Some usually get annoyed by the rain too. But then most of them make great friendships and, in the end, get over it.

So, haha, students reading this blog…one final jab. J

To all my students over the last two years, I write to say thank you. This is a blog post for you.

As those of you who are currently at our school already know (and for those of you who’ve come and gone since I started here in September 2010 who don't), today was my last day of classes.

I’ll be spending the rest of the summer giving most of my attention to my wife and newborn daughter, before moving in mid-August to start a PhD program at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

And I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to you all. It’s the nature of EF that there is a lot of turnover here, and so I’ve met and quickly said goodbye to a lot of people in the last two years. But I have not forgotten you.

No, I remember you all very fondly. My first “cohort” that included Almabrok, Ana, and Ewelina. Then Suhail, Aimen, and Marcia. Manon, Sergio, and Oh. Bo Ram, Sam, and Andres. Anna, Santi, and Roy. Mohammed, Motoko, and Chase. And all of the rest of you from General English and SPIN classes who I’ve omitted here for the sake of brevity…not because you aren’t important to me. J

Thank you. You’ve all been a part of my story, and have played a role in my own formation as a teacher and as a person—some of you due to being excellent students and great representatives of your countries, and some of you, for, well, being students who challenged my patience and self-control and poise and graciousness...I'm thankful for you too. J

Thank you for helping me grow as a teacher. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, skill and confidence when it comes to teaching both English as well as teaching in general.

Thank you for your willingness, especially you advanced students, to engage some challenging topics and have your opinions challenged and worldview expanded by one another.

Thank you for laughing at my jokes, which certainly feeds my ego but also makes the classroom much more fun.

Thank you for your praise, attentiveness, kindness, responsiveness, and thoughtfulness.

Thanks for playing Arthur’s favorite game—and doing it with such enthusiasm and excellence, once you got over your initial groaning. J

Thank you for expanding my own understanding of your respective cultures—for challenging my stereotypes and for enriching my life by exposing me to that beauty that is inherent to plurality and diversity and uniqueness.

Thank you for letting me challenge you in ways outside of English alone by letting me push back on your opinions and give you new ways to think about things.

Thanks for helping me grow in character. My goals in meeting with you every weekday extended beyond language instruction; I sought to model excellent character, seeking to display virtues like compassion, restraint, humility, tact, justice, patience, and flexibility, among others. I sought to show you what you might call respect, devotion, sacrifice...or maybe you'd just call it what I call it: love.

You’ve helped me grow in love and in all of these others areas, for sure, and I hope that I’ve at least in some small way made your life better by "living well" in your midst. Please forgive me for the ways I’ve failed and done you more harm than good.

Thanks for the great memories. As I said to my students today, I’ve just gotten used to goodbyes and accept them as inevitable. They make me sad, but I’m at peace with them. At least there’s Facebook; that’s actually quite comforting.

But there’s always hope, and I am one who hopes deeply, about and for many things. So…I hope our paths cross again—all of you, those with sunny dispositions eager to soak up new insights from our classes and those who I kicked out of class for being “naughty”, as we might say of a child.  J 

I hope we meet again…in this life or the next. It’s a hope not based in wishful thinking alone, I don't think, but in anticipation of what I think the future really does hold for us all.

1 comment:

Alberto Leal said...

Wow Matt, I just read the post and I really like it. Thank you for been part of my English formation, and congratulations for your new daughter!. I wish you the best in your new life, and I hope you can accomplish your goals. Thanks for everything Matt, and hopefully we will meet again one day. Congratulations for your blog by the way, it's very good (Y) keep going with your goals and be successful in your life. Blesses for you and your family.

Sincerely, your old student; Alberto Leal.