Earthquakes

I say it often enough for you to know by now that I believe that a French Section student is a French Section student for life, even after they have left our school. This year, like every year, we bid adieu to a number of our students at the end of the first semester: Caydenn, Jadan, Dorothy, Miranda, Guillaume, Louise, Maria, Wendpagnangde, Ganirou, Ryan and Marc, we are going to miss you. Just as we will miss Ruby, who is finishing up with us in the EPC office today.

The last time I wrote, I wished you all the best for the Chinese New Year break. I have to admit that I headed off on holidays somewhat relieved to be leaving the earthquakes that had been rocking Taiwan behind me, wreaking havoc and weaving tragedy in Hualien in particular.

Earthquakes are not a common phenomenon in the part of the world where I grew up. Unlike our students, when it starts to shake, I still don’t have the reflex to duck under the table and carry on working as though nothing were happening. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll probably never get used to it; in my mind things have long been classified into two distinct groups: things that move (a piece of furniture in my apartment for example) and things that don’t (my apartment itself!).

Earthquakes turn such distinctions on their head, they shake up all our preconceived notions of things that should move and things that shouldn’t, and the way we look at the world is changed forever when we realise that yes, our apartment can in fact move.  And if our apartment can move, then the question must be asked: how many other things that we believe to be true are not?  How many impossible things are in fact possible? How many unchangeable things can be changed? (I think of all of this as I duck under my desk and wait for the tremors to pass.)

So, as I was saying, I was pretty relieved to go away for the holidays, confident nonetheless that my apartment building would still be standing when I got home. For 10 days, I followed the adventures of our #taipeirocks, I received CVs from excellent teachers looking to join our team, I corresponded with families considering moving to Taipei and I read about the upcoming changes to the Baccalauréat (more on that next week) and I also managed – let me reassure you – to enjoy my holidays – it wasn’t all work, work, work (far from it)!

Back in Taipei – rested and reinvigorated – I felt ready to confront any tremors or shocks that might come my way. It didn’t take long for them to hit. Metaphoric though they may be, they nonetheless turned the world as I knew it upside down.

I don’t say it as often, but I believe it just the same, a TES head is a TES head for life, even after they have left our school. Peter, Stuart, we are going to miss you.

As for me, I am doing ok. Thanks to all of you who have showed concern. I am lucky to have the full support of the French Section Management Council, of the French Office in Taipei, of TES and especially the support of the French Section team of extraordinary teachers, assistants, secretaries and deputies.  The French Section is doing really well right now and its place at the heart of TES is not in doubt. We can continue to work serenely and passionately to take care of your children. I am more than ever your head. And will be for many years to come, I hope.

Have an excellent weekend!

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