COVID-19 Wrecks Havoc on Fulbright Year: Abrupt goodbyes

Discovering Rachel is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the writers of Discovering Rachel and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.

Since the US global travel advisory was raised to a Level 4, Fulbright programs worldwide are terminating, and grantees are allowed to return to the US with no penalty. However, since COVID-19 hasn’t hit Taiwan as badly as other countries, grantees in Taiwan are not under mandatory orders to evacuate. Ultimately, I have decided to remain in the Taiwan until my original return date in early July as a private citizen. Even though Taiwan is not immune to the virus, life continues as normal as it possibly can, with temperature checks everywhere everyday and weekly mask buying at pharmacies with my insurance card. Three out of eight of us in Yunlin chose to stay in Taiwan.

Unfortunately, even though I can remain in Taiwan, I was not allowed to teach after mid-April. Breaking the news to elementary school students two weeks before my departure was difficult. Saying goodbye is never easy, despite having done it so many times. Perhaps a difficult goodbye just means that we treasure shared moments together, from competitions to field trips to sports day.

Back in October, English competition week drained me every day but it also gave me an opportunity to learn more about my students. I not only bonded with the students, but also with the directors, homeroom teachers, and music teacher during our hectic weeks preparing students beforehand.

After reflecting for a bit this week, I realized that this is not a permanent goodbye. I plan to reconnect with students if I return to Taiwan years later. Also, many students expressed interest in studying English or going abroad when they’re older… Imagine. Ten years down the road, my students and I meet again, in Taiwan or the US, and have an adult conversation in both Mandarin and English with each other over a meal (my treat, of course). Who knows? It could happen. And I would be so proud of them.

To my students, I love you all lots! Thank you for being my students – I will always be your cheerleader. 💕

 

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Discovering Rachel is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the writers of Discovering Rachel and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.

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