What is commencement you may ask…? Like many things it is something that everyone knows about except the expats. There is one really annoying thing about moving to a new culture and that is when everyone knows what something is and totally assumes you know about it too because it is such a basic part of life. Take harvest festival, for example, as a Brit it is something you did every year in school so when your kids come home from school asking for donations you just know you need to get a shoe box, hunt through the cupboards for a few tins of food and send them off with said child back to school. Why would you think for a minute that would need an explanation? So can you imagine the confusion if you had never even heard of the term Harvest Festival…?
When we got a message about ‘Commencement’ we were baffled, we had no idea what it was, what it meant and what we have to do. On Friday night we found out what it was all about.
Commencement is a graduation ceremony held at the end of high school, it is basically a celebration of the graduate’s achievements as we send them off into the big wide world. You see, unlike in the UK, if you don’t get the required grades and pass the required courses you don’t graduate from high school.
Needless to say we were incredibly proud of eldest son when he graduated high school and this commencement ceremony on Friday was extremely special to us. When you don’t have a shared background with people and common experiences, making friends becomes more difficult so we want the boys to have as many of those early experiences as possible to help them with the transition between countries.
Emigrating when he was just 16 was a tough thing for him, making new friends, spending two years at a completely different school with different expectations and where everything is unusual, being the new kid, with a strange accent at that difficult age is just a small amount of what he had to face… Thankfully he made the most of it, it was no mean fete and he didn’t just survive, he thrived.
As he stood there on Friday in his cap and gown to accept his High School Diploma, something so quintessentially North American, I had a huge lump in my throat and I was literally bursting with pride. My little Essex boy taking part in a something I had only ever seen in the movies.