I have a special relationship (or at least I like to think I do) with the first group of first-year students I taught in RG. I helped recruit them and then was privileged to work with them for two years. I still talk with them daily on QQ and WeChat. One of them I’ve (to the best of my limited, long-distance abilities) adopted as a sort of younger brother.
So, as they prepare to take the all-important National College Entrance Exam (gaokao) this weekend, I am in a rather nervous, antsy state. My distress, though concealed, stems from several aspects of this event: the ridiculous difficulty of the tests, the inadequacy of their preparation (and of the capacity of the system from which they graduate to prepare them adequately), the inevitable screwups at the testing site (last year, the listening comprehension sections on both the English and Chinese tests were mangled to the point of incomprehensibility by electrical problems). I am worried because of the test; I am upset because I wish I didn’t have to see people that I care so much about put through such an ordeal – and to have this ordeal determine, to a frightening extent, the trajectories of their future lives.
But I’m also upset because I never felt like I got full closure with this group of kids. Part of me is happy for this; I don’t want closure; I want the current relationships to last long into the future (and I’m sure some will). However, much of this is leftover regret about departing RG last year.
Nearly a year later, and – for fully selfish reasons – I am still not sure if I made the right decision. I’ve tried to get past the idea of dichotomizing the decision as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but the simple fact of my current unease about the students’ futures and our lack of closure speaks to the fact that, contrary to the central dictum of the (awesome) Bollywood movie Three Idiots, not all is well. I don’t want to dwell too much on the past, but I worry too much about these kids not to do so.
Either way, my mind and heart will be with my amazing kids this weekend as they embark on a challenging and hopefully rewarding journey. And while this may be closure for their high school experience, I’m excited to accompany them as they continue to grow and change and develop into their full selves.
And I’m so excited to see them in less than two weeks. To all of my students out there, best of luck on the test. I know you’ll do amazingly well – and we will all be with you all the way through. 加油！