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Build a RAFT to Get Through Your Goodbyes

By Andrea Schmitt
Will you be counting in weeks or days until the end of this school year? However you do this, soon you'll need to pack up your room at Stanstead College. Maybe you're already sorting through things in your mind. What to keep? What to take home? What to throw or give away? How you feel when thinking about the end of the school year depends on what your future plan is. Was this just one year in Canada for you? Will you come back in September? Are you in Grade 11 or 12 and this will be your last year at SC?
Whatever your situation is, you'll have to say lots of goodbyes in a few weeks. Saying proper and good goodbyes is important for a healthy transition into your next chapter. According to David Pollok, the author of the internationally renowned book Third Culture Kids, a good way to do this is building a RAFT. This is an approach you can apply now and for any future transitions. Here is how it works:
This means forgiving. Repair any broken relationships before you leave. Don't go away with an icky feeling. It might be walking up to the person you fought with and talking to them. You can do this with a friend if you don't want to do this alone. You could say, "I am sorry we didn't talk much after X, but I wish you a good summer!" The outcome, of course, depends on the other person's response. But whatever their reaction is, you tried and closed this chapter for you! You want to leave in peace and get your relationships straightened beforehand. This way, you avoid bad memories and extra baggage that you might otherwise carry with you for years.
We build and maintain friendships and relationships through positive affirmation. In this case, it might be writing your favourite teacher a farewell note, giving your roommate a special photo of the two of you or gifting your friend the red T-shirt they liked so much. A friendly word and hugs count as well! With this, you are showing them (friends, teachers, cleaning staff…) your appreciation, what you have learned from them and what they meant to you.
Schedule time to say goodbyes to your favourite friends, teachers, staff and other people (Ms.
X's baby), places (Traditions), animals (the teacher's dog) and possessions (the painting you are not taking with you). Ah, and your room! These are all like little ceremonies and will take longer than you think. Make a list and tick goodbyes off. Hug, cry and hug some more!
Think destination
Even while you are still using up the tissues with a heavy heart, you need to think realistically about your destination, your future, this summer. Where are you going? Your parents' house, your home country, a new country? Do you need to prepare anything before you leave? What do you need to organize? Think destination also means planning some activities you will do during the summer. This can be visiting a friend, summer camp, movies you plan to watch or people you want to meet. While you're still saying your goodbyes, looking ahead is equally important!
With this, you have everything to build your first "raft." I am not saying it will be easy, because you might feel sad, conflicted and strange. You may even think it might be easier to hide in your room for the next weeks and then just head home. But what you are doing here is intentionally closing the chapter Stanstead College 2022-23 for you!
You can use this technique to say your goodbyes whenever you leave a place, a country or a school in the future. Enjoy making these memories!
I wish you all a great summer 2023!!

Andrea Schmitt is a life coach specializing in teens and a former Stanstead parent (Jessica Lozano Schmitt 2018). Find out more about her services at http://www.globalgirlcoach.com/ or email andrea@globalgirlcoach.com.