My tenure at my first Korean hagwon is nearing its end. I am seven working days from the end of my contract, moving to part-time work, and heading to a new town. This time next week, my kindergarten class (the students that I teach for five classes every day) will be graduating. They will be at school for the first three periods of the morning. Then they will go, and I will likely never see them again. The five children that spend more time with me than their own parents will likely never remember who I am. Whilst I do find them annoying and draining for most of the time, it does make me a little glum to think that in a few years, they won’t even recall a detail of me.
I suppose I won’t remember much of them either. I wonder what aspects of their small frames and large personalities I will keep in my mind. Will the years take away their more negative traits, leaving them rose-tinted balls of cuteness? Will the happiness be drained from the memories of them until only the sandpaper of frustration remains? These are questions I cannot answer at this time. Not even I know how I will preserve or simply retain the five little people that I helped grow up for a year.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve caught myself smiling at how far the students have come since we first met. Illegible scrawl has turned to neat writing. Basic sentences comprised of two or three words turned to functional, grammatically-correct phrases. I’ve even turned their American accents a little towards the side of South Africa.
I tell myself that I won’t miss them, but I am perfectly aware that I most likely will. I’ve essentially readied them for schooling. I am saddened that I won’t get to see how far they go in the next few years, as staff members who have been at the school for a number of years have been lucky enough to do. But, the future lies ahead. My aspirations lie beyond the kindergarten classroom. I will keep them in my memories, but not avert my gaze from the goal of making my way in the world as I want to. The next few months will be tumultuous, even by my own standards. I just hope it will all be worth it in the end.