Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Bugaboo Graduation Ceremony

My husband, in the process of locating some personal information so we could complete our passport applications today, discovered 4 large cardboard boxes of old files he has likely not unpacked during our last 4 or 5 moves! There they were molding away in the garage.  I am so proud of him because he is going paper by paper through all the boxes as I sit here writing and all ready has a huge pile of old information, pre-seminary sermons, magazines, Japanese language study materials, personal cards and letters, manufacturers' instructions for appliances we haven't owned in years, etc.  All these things are on their way to either the garbage bin or the shredder.  YIPPEE!!!!  If we ever move out of this place we are going to have 3 out of 4 large boxes less to take with us.  This is a difficult task for him, paper hoarder that he is, and I am so delighted he has chosen to spend a good deal of his time off today tackling the project.

In the process of discovery, he found part of a letter I typed a number of years ago.  The part he found details my observations and opinions about a graduation ceremony of our son's we had just returned from.  I am thinking I didn't enjoy it much...but I will reprint it here and see if you agree with me...teehee

" What a stupid excuse for a grad! Those poor kids!  We were kept waiting for a very long time, until only 10 minutes before the ceremonies, in a lobby designed to hold 400 people....all nearly 2000 of us.  The ushers on doors and doing programmes were tiny, wimpy ladies who seem to know nothing about what to do. Once we were allowed into the auditorium Dell and I lucked out and snagged probably the best 2 seats in the house! That part was great!  There had been no rehearsal for the grads and all they were told as we arrived with our son was that a block of seats near the front of the auditorium had been saved for them.  Saved, my butt!  A tiny bit of paper had been taped to the side of each aisle seat, down so low that it wasn't at all noticeable.  So the area for the grads was full of parents and guests and over half the grads had to locate other seats.  The ushers stood there helplessly and did nothing to ensure only grads sat in the block. It was bedlam. The faculty of the college wandered one by one onto the auditorium stage still wearing outdoor coats, some carrying shoe bags and briefcases which they left on the backs and over the top rungs of their chairs. There were no caps nor gowns, no dress code, no respect whatsoever for the traditions of graduation ceremonies, no respect for the students nor their guests nor for anyone at all.

It was an embarrassment but it seemed no one on the faculty cared.  The first 4 speeches by the president of the institution and the honorary doctorate recipients dragged on as those types of speeches generally do, but at least they were fairly interesting. 

Then it was time to call the grads forward to collect their diplomas.  There were grads sitting all over the auditorium, no lines, no order, no idea what the heck was going on.  Up stands the Dean for the first faculty being honoured, to call out the name of his first graduate.  She was sitting up in the second balcony and had to find her way down several flights of stairs to the main floor, then walk the entire length of the auditorium to get to the stage.  Total time: 4.5 minutes! Were we going to be faced with a similar lengthy trek for each of the 300 grads coming forward to receive their accolades?

The president finally woke up to reality and announced that perhaps all the students from each faculty should come forward at the same time and stand in a line along the one aisle, pay attention to the first name that was called and then try to sort themselves out alphabetically so they could come up in order with the least amount of fiddling about.  HUH??  Of course it was against fire regulations to do what he asked them to do and we had begun the whole debacle with a prolonged announcement that we couldn't stand in the aisles or in front of the stage to take pictures, we could only take them from our seats.  In the ensuing confusion, some of our immigrant parents from China, Korea and India who were having sufficient struggle all ready in understanding the chaos of the afternoon, saw their children now out of their seats and standing in the aisles. The parents surged out of their seats, video recorders and cameras in hand, thinking it was time for photos.

The ushers raced in to corral the parents and try to convince them to return to their seats.  The idea didn't sit well with the milling parents and voices were raised.  It was getting ugly.  It took nearly 5 minutes for the ushers to convince the parents that they had to sit down again, but of course every time an usher disappeared momentarily, there was a dad or mom out in the aisles again, beaming proudly at the graduating offspring and flashing photos like crazy. 

Finally the kids from the second faculty of the five, started to clue in to what needed to happen to keep themselves out of trouble with the fire department and get organized for maximum speed of flow up to that stage.  The graduating students of each of the 3 subsequent faculties f0llowed their lead and eventually the ceremonies (??) rolled along quite well.  Whew!

The outfits worn by the students were interesting to say the least.  With there being no graduation gowns and no apparent dress code in place we saw everything from jeans with shirts and ties (our son and his friends) to suits and ties and ballgowns (the incredibly beautiful Indian and oriental students) to ethnic traditional costume dress (the Dutch, Bosnian, Ukrainian and Japanese grads) to blonde dreadlocks, to miniskirts, to bare feet, to 5 inch heels, to skintight polyester dresses on chunky pillowy gals, to industrial overalls on one of the boys.  One Caucasian gal in a Chinese style floor length gown with a slit in it that left the size, shape and flabbiness of her butt cheeks in no doubt to the rest of us, left me completely speechless. It was all horrendous but I don't blame the kids.  They had not been taught, obviously, what is appropriate for a public graduation ceremony for either dress code or personal behaviour and the staff who let the fiasco just kind of happen should have been hung out to dry.  The entire afternoon was a 3 ring circus.

There were 5 valedictorians, one from each faculty, only one of whom had a vague clue of how to give a public speech, let alone one suitable for a public graduation.  The rest had nothing to say and mostly talked about being nervous.  The little gal from my son's faculty was barefoot and dressed in a black ball gown that didn't fit her. She started to mumble something, then announced she was too nervous to talk, walked to the centre of the stage and did some deep knee bends, ball gown and all, then went back to the microphone and said profoundly, "Well, good for us. We did it.  Let's go and get drunk!"  Words to live by....sigh....

How could anyone follow such a class act, right? I walked out the second my son received his diploma because I was so disappointed in the afternoon.  I spent a thousand dollars and many hours on a plane for this??  All that was left at that point was a speech by the Treasurer doing the annual graduation plea for funding assistance...that was one tradition this crew was familiar with at least.  I walked outside and hid among the gorgeous pink and blue hydrangeas and fuschias until I calmed down.  Even my own son was appalled at the tasteless display of ignorance."

Guess I didn't have the greatest time at my own son's grad...ya' think? hahaha  My goodness what a vitriolic letter.  Good thing whoever I was writing to never received it. haha  Aiiii yiiiii......

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