「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら



By Tan Ying Zhen


February 28 is a day I've been looking forward to since I left Japan last August. It's graduation day at the school I taught in when I lived in Kyoto.

Before my stint in Japan, graduation ceremonies never meant much to me. I don't even remember much of my graduation ceremonies in primary school, secondary school and junior college. It was common for parents to miss the ceremonies, and mine were no exception. It wasn't a big deal.

My parents attended my university graduation, but I know of many other parents who didn't. Some friends, excellent results notwithstanding, didn't attend their own graduation because they were travelling. We viewed graduation with little sentimentality.

I remember more of results day. Students in Singapore take a national examination at the end of each study phase. As result slips are distributed, tears — of joy or disappointment — are often shed. Teachers and students share hugs with much more emotion than is displayed at graduation.

One reason for this seemingly peculiar situation is the academic calendar. When I was a student, results day was usually one to two months after our graduation ceremony. Was that why we didn't feel like we'd "graduated"? With our results in limbo, we stayed optimistic about entering our dream schools. Besides, Singapore is small. It's relatively easy to stay in touch with our friends, even if we are going to different schools.

It has been more than a decade since I graduated from junior college. I heard that many Singaporean schools pay increasing attention to graduation ceremonies. Students frequently organize graduation balls.

Given a choice between a graduation ball and the formal graduation ceremony of Japan, I'd choose the latter any day. I'll never forget how struck I was by the significance and gravity of the occasion, and the great attention paid to every detail. I remember feeling overwhelmed by emotion as my students streamed out in neat files amidst loud applause.

I'll be back in Kyoto for graduation day — my fourth one in Japan. I've become better at masking how I feel, but I don't think I can ever — neither do I want to -- hold back the wave of sentimentality and gratitude for those who have achieved graduation. I've known them since they entered high school as fresh-faced first-graders. To see them as mature high school graduates ready to take on the world is a privilege and honour which I'm deeply grateful for.

Are you graduating this year, too? Or will you be attending the graduation ceremony of a family member or friend? May your graduation ceremony be as inspiring as it is poignant, and may it be not just the marker of an end, but a beautiful beginning.



The Japan Times ST: February 28, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版