February 28 is a day I'since I left Japan last August. It's graduation day at the school I taught in when I lived in Kyoto.
Before myin Japan, graduation ceremonies never meant much to me. I don't even remember much of my graduation ceremonies in , and . It was common for parents to miss the ceremonies, and . It wasn't a .
My parentsmy university graduation, but I know of many other parents who didn't. Some friends, excellent , didn't attend their own graduation because they were travelling. We viewed graduation with little .
I remember more of results day. Students in Singapore take a national examination at the end of each study. As , tears — of joy or disappointment — often . Teachers and students share hugs with much more emotion than is displayed at graduation.
One reason for thissituation 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"? our results , we stayed optimistic about entering our dream schools. , Singapore is small. It's relatively easy to our friends, even if we are going to different schools.
It has been more than asince I graduated from junior college. I heard that many Singaporean schools pay increasing attention to graduation ceremonies. Students frequently organize graduation .
Given a choice between a graduation ball and the formal graduation ceremony of Japan, I'd choose theany day. I'll never forget how I was by the and of the , and the great attention paid to every detail. I remember feeling by emotion as my students loud .
I'll be back in Kyoto for graduation day — my fourth one in Japan. I've become better athow I feel, but I don't think I can ever — neither do I want to -- the wave of sentimentality and for those who have achieved graduation. I've known them since they entered high school as fresh-faced . To see them as mature high school graduates ready to the world is a and 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 asas it is , and may it be not just the marker of an end, but a beautiful beginning.
The Japan Times ST: February 28, 2014