It's the season for graduations! Yesterday I attended two graduations. Thankfully one was in the morning and one was in the evening. There were differences and similarities.
The morning graduation was at the flight controller and meteorologist training school. Six of the graduates attended our Bible study regularly and a seventh came occasionally. We grew to dearly love this group.
The evening ceremony was at our MK school and all of the graduates this year were missionary kids and one pastor's kids; the majority of the missionary kids were from our mission. So I've known most of these kids since they were little.
The similarities were:
1. Both groups were fairly small (30 for the flight controller school and 13 for our mission school). Both groups were very close to each other; at the flight controller school they have all classes together and live in dorms together for 14 months with only a few days off and no real vacations; at the mission school the kids have known each other most of their lives, attend almost all the same classes, and attend the same social events.
2. Graduates at both events wore cap and gown.
3. Both were occasions of joy, lots of photo-taking (including selfies, of course!), and hugs.
4. Both graduations celebrated the students' achievements and wished them well for their future.
5. Both are international schools so graduations result in sad farewells. There will be graduates from both schools I may never see again, especially from the flight controller school.
The differences were:
1. The flight controller grad was a very simple program. They had a moment of silence at the beginning, said a few congratulatory words, passed out the diplomas, the director gave a short speech, and that was it. The mission school graduation was a little more of a program with a prayer, audience singing, two speeches by students, an address to the students, and passing out the diplomas. It was MUCH simplified from last year's program, so I was thankful for that!
2. The flight control/meteorology students spent a lot of time teasing and carrying on about inside jokes when each student was called to receive their diploma. Of course, none of the rest of us got the jokes, but it was pretty entertaining none-the-less. The mission school ceremony was more, shall I say, subdued.
3. The flight control/meteorology students shook every staff member's hand after receiving their diploma. The mission school students just shook the hand of the board member who was handing out the diploma.
4. While both events had students wearing caps and gowns, it was optional at the flight controller school; some chose to wear their own clothing or traditional clothes from their home country.
5. One was inside in the air conditioning and one was outside in the blazing hot sun (thankfully the sun went down during the ceremony and gave us some relief!)
I am so glad I got to attend both and I'm thankful for ceremonies to celebrate achievements. But I'm also sad to say goodbye to friends. The constant goodbyes are perhaps the hardest part of missionary life.