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So this is the finish line

by Lisa Kossen

So, this is the finish line?!

Just a few days to go. The end of a school year that we are used to is drawn mostly by a colorful mix of excitement and exhaustion.

But what if the excitement stays out?

Instead of 20 unfiltered loud and chaotic and synchronic replies to the question “what’s up for summer?”, we just sit in front of a silent screen.

Of course, one doesn’t miss going through Manila’s lovely traffic twice a day. One doesn’t miss puberty lingering around, too lazy to move their bags for a free path, too cool to say, “good morning”.

One also doesn’t miss conversations like “clean your place when you’re done eating!” “But that’s not ours; it looked like this as we came here…”. Also unexpected cover lessons of classes one has never taught before, dealing with conversations like “we’ve had an assignment, but we’re done already, can we play something instead?”, are not on top of the list.

The high-pitch shouts and laughs on a Monday morning, typhoon-like energy bundle of kids racing by, not paying attention to where they're running, always afraid that one day they're going to crash at your kneecaps. It’s now remembered as a Monday morning thrill.

Conversations like “This Rubik’s cube is too distracting; I’d better take it for now.” “But it’s mine, I put it away, I promise!”, are now remembered as a missing weekly habit.

Don’t we all miss the lively vibe of our usual work environment? Entering the campus, chatty youngsters all over the place, hugging, running, laughing.

Don’t we all miss the secret inner celebration each moment that the young ones are finally quiet, attentive and willing to learn at the same time? Don’t we miss acting like we don’t listen to the school’s gossip in those 5-minute breaks when the kids feel unobserved?

Don’t we miss the sun burnt shoulders after a long day of doing sports, the glitters on your skin you never seem to lose and carry around for weeks after a day of a creative project, collective happy-birthday songs in different languages and surprising never-ending beatbox bridges?

Now this school year crawls to its end. Silently. No sparkly eyes and excited talks about summer plans or graduation parties.

Instead: Too many unanswered questions. When and how will we be able to see each other again? What happens to the graduates? Students are leaving, colleagues are leaving. When will there be the chance to say goodbye?

No video can replace what we all are missing and lacking: Gatherings, collective laughs, shared smiles, handshakes and hugs.

The optimistic expression “We will keep in touch” has never felt so cynical.


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