8:57, The loud ring of my alarm clock forced me out of my dreams and into the real world. It was a Saturday but not like any other. Today was graduation day, the day that would mark our secondyar’s completion of the IB program, the end of their time at LPC and the beginning of a new chapter of life – for them university and for us firstyears the start of a new term after summer. I hoped out of my bed, brushed my teeth and put on a nice shirt an pants. Deon had invited all of us who had worked on the school newsletter for Yam Cha Brunch, meaning Dim Sum to express her gratitude for all the hard work of the year. All of us students met at the gate and then using GPS and googlemaps made our way to the restaurant in Shatin. What to me is very fascinating – yet normal to the Hong Kong students – is the fact that the restauant we went to have Dim Sum at is part of a hotel, which is integrated to a shopping mall, which is part of an apartment complex (you get what I mean?) 😀 A very confusing fusion of buildings for me, fascinating. We alked though a labyrinth of escalators and floors before we arrived at the restarant which was decorated with lots of chandeliers and gold. Inside, Deon was already waiting for us inside.
Back in LPC it was time for preparation considering that we had only a few hours until the graduation ceremony. Together with Arthur (Hong Kong) I had been chosen as Master of Ceremony for this event. After countless hours of writing our scripts, rehearsing them doing run-throughs in the assembly hall and practicing names (my roomie would not let me in the room unless I pronounced the Thai names perfectly), the big day had come. The graduation ceremony was streamed life for parents abroad and also recorded for late-watchers. So if you’d like to watch it rather than continuing to read about it, click here.
We rehearsed our scripts and he difficult names one more time, prepared the stage and then waited for the event to begin. Slowly parents, friends and teachers started to fill up the rows – and as we noticed later, parking spots on campus were a rare scarcity. The secondyears, dressed in their colorful traditional gowns or suits and dresses, were seated by blocks on the left and right flanks of the stage.
The lights in the assembly hall turned off and only the stage was left illuminated. Our fierce lion dancers opened the graduation ceremony. It was a traditional reminder of the past years andd the last time our secondyears would watch dragon dance on this stage. The show was fantastic and the lions performed “moves” that stunned the audience.
Once they disappeared behind the curtain it was time for Arthur and me to set foot on the stage. We welcomed everyone and after a short introductory speech by us, the presentation of the university book awards followed. These awards are presented to individuals with outstanding academic achievements. In our year Klaus (Finland) and Malika (Pakistan) made us proud by receiving one award each. After a big round of applause the program continued with a wise and at times amusing speech by the chairman, Mr. Anthony Tong, followed by a speech from principal Arnett and Steve.
Later the firstyear speaker was invited on stage to farewell the secondyears on behalf of us firstyears. The firstyear speaker remains unknown to the graduating class until the ceremony. With lots of applause Arthur and me called Belce (Turkey) on stage. She gave a beautiful speech, her most memorable line being “I think of you (the secondyears) as diamonds formed under high pressure” The audience was moved to tears after her speech.
Afterwards the school awards were presented to the graduating class. Rachel (Hong Kong) received the award for community service, Cengiz (Turkey) the award for promotion of intercultural understanding, Shira (my buddy from israel) the award for improvement through effort and Horace received the award for sports and outdoor pursuits.
The ceremony went by very fast – at least so it felt – and it was already the time to announce the names of the graduating class by blocks for handing over their UWC and IB diplomas. What an exciting moment! Arthur and me had practiced the names of our secondyears countless times, yet saying them out loud this time felt different. I looked into the audience and met parents shining eyes, saw their faces light up at the sounds of their daughter’s/son’s name. One by one, every secondyear was called and walked up the stage, shook hands with Arnett and Mr. Tong, posed for a photo and then walked off stage with a big smile. It was a beautiful routine, repeated by every single secondyear – a celebration of their achievements of the past year and one last time on this campus for showcasing their beautiful traditional garments.
The graduation ceremony ended with a beautiful performance of the school choir and a big group photo of the graduating class. Once it was taken, parents, friends, everyone stormed on stage, hugging and kissing, congratulating their beloved ones. To conclude the evening, a reception was held at the gym – decoration, brownies and happy faces everywhere. More photos were taken, more hugs shared and more tears shed. Seeing all the happy and proud families was very touching. Time goes by so fast. It feels like it was just yesterday when I first met the secondyears and now they already graduated and are starting a new chapter of their life. Congratulations Class of 2014!