Ma’a Salama

*Written mid-week.

Today was a good day.

It’s hard to say that about any day in the final weeks of school, but on the whole, today was a good day. But a lot happened, and I am mentally unsettled.

I came home from school, and continued my day as I do any other day.

I changed out of my work clothes and into sweats. I ordered dinner, while preparing my lunch for the next school day.  I took off my make-up, and sat down on my couch, ready to relax. Having caught up on Grey’s Anatomy last night, it was time to choose a new show, or at least watch something else. So I settled on the last Harry Potter movie as it’s familiar, but always enjoyable.

But tonight was different, and I thought about why.

I realized long ago that a nomadic life would lack a lot of permanency. I learned this on a small scale, in my transitions to and from home to university for five years. I learned the ebb and flow of relationships – with friends, best friends, and family. I anticipated this when I imagined a future of international teaching – how intensely nomadic a career it would be, and how relationships would develop, grow, and change.

And now, in concluding my final two weeks of the school year here in Kuwait, we come to the part where we say goodbye.

Today at school, we celebrated ‘roasts and toast’; an opportunity to highlight what each departing teacher brought to the school and to our Falcon family.

As I sat there listening to different people talk about the departing staff, I couldn’t help but think and reflect about the community I am a part of, and how very sad it will be to say goodbye to the friends I have made.

The truth is, in Kuwait, your community is everything.

If you do a Google search and include the key words of ‘expat’ and ‘Kuwait’, you’ll quickly learn that Kuwait is not a great place for expats. In fact, it’s rated in the bottom ten countries in the world for places to live as an expat. When this is the reality you live in, it’s more important than ever to rely on each other, and that’s what this community has done.

So as I sit here, trying to watch Harry Potter, but thinking about goodbyes (and then realizing that the last Harry Potter movie is where everyone dies, a.k.a. LEAVES, and shake my head at my movie choice), my mind drifts to the notion of community and the idea of friendship.

A colleague, in these roasts and toasts, said (I’m paraphrasing here), “certain people come into your life at times when you need them the most”. The people I have met and the friends I have made have helped shaped me into the educator and person I am today. Moving across the world was tough enough, but these people helped me keep my sanity as I went through the struggles of living in Kuwait and being a teacher.

But the transient nature of international teaching will always call for goodbyes at the end of each year. This is not uncommon. We can only keep their knowledge, their wisdom, and most importantly, their friendship, while they part ways to begin new chapters of their lives.

What we forget about the most in all of this, are the new ones. The new people. The new colleagues, acquaintances, and friends that will come into our lives a short while from now. They too will eventually leave impressions on us. So instead of refuting this transient process of the job (which is currently what I’m doing but trying not to do), what’s more necessary in this ephemeral lifestyle, is to enjoy the process, feel the emotions it brings, and (I tried my best not to let this sound corny but it didn’t work) let it change you for the better.



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