Graduating in the U.S. is a HUGE deal. It’s such a big deal that kids now have a graduation celebration in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school and for most at the end of college. That’s 5 graduations before a quarter of a person’s life span! Caps, gowns, the whole shebang! Parties follow-up the long ceremonial speeches of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian. It’s the pivotal event in a senior’s life. It’s a BIG deal, regardless if the seniors are heading off for college, taking a year off, or planning to work at the garage shop down the street fixing cars.
Thailand- not so much.
Graduating takes place on a regular school day as an extension of the morning announcements. Kids wear their school uniforms, and only those accepted into a college are allowed to stand next to the banner of the school they were accepted to. No parents, no siblings, no grandmas and pas to join in the celebration, or lack there of. The only similarity to an American graduation is that the process is just as long. The ceremony ran into the first two periods of the day.
The highlight and the best part for the graduates is when the underclassmen shower them with bouquets of flowers and gifts. It’s very sweet to see the younger students celebrate those heading off to college. The teachers sit along the side and Mattayom 6 (the graduates) walk down wai-ing their teachers, a thank you for their education. That is graduation in Thailand. Then business as usual i.e. back to classes, but not for M6! They are finished!
Pear, below, the only M6 student I know who speaks great English and is attending Chiang Mai University!
Tomorrow is my last day of teaching. Next week is final exams where I will proctor. Then the semester is over, and kids have a long break before the start of the new school year at the end of May. The M6′s head off to university in June, and since teachers are not allowed to fail students every child moves up a Mattayom. Congratulations Graduates!