(Background music for this blog)
Do you remember when you graduated from sixth grade? Neither do I. In fact, most people in the United States do not have a graduation ceremony from sixth grade; they just treat it as another school year gone by. However, in Guatemala, graduation from sixth grade is a big deal. Recently, thirty of my sixth-graders graduated from La Primaría Central, marking the end of their required schooling. Some will continue on to Basico, our equivalent of middle school, while others will suspend or permanently end their education careers in order to work for their families. I have
put up with taught these students since August (shout out to Ginny,
who did a phenomenal job teaching 6th-grade English in the eight
months prior), and I am sad I won’t see them at school next year.
Although the Guatemalan and American ideas of graduation may differ, the emotions that arise during the ceremony are exactly the same. An accomplishment is an accomplishment in any culture and in any country. Sitting on the stage with my sixth graders as they were handed their diplomas, I noticed tears come to the eyes of the proud parents of each student. This sent me on a trip down memory lane, as my Mom loved to show her emotion during both my graduation from high school and college. Tough, hardworking fathers were beaming with pride as their children walked across the decorated stage and accepted their certificates. A proud parent is a proud parent, regardless of whether you speak English or Kaqchikel. Many parents held out their digital cameras and phones, recording this proud moment, as many American parents would have done as well. Loud cheers were heard from groups of families as their child was called. I saw my students being wrangled into “diploma-holding photos,” where the recent graduates try to look excited for about…say…25 photos at a time. It was a proud day for the sixth-graders of Escuela Central, and I wish them luck in the future. I look forward to seeing them around the community (hopefully studying in basico in the afternoons), responding to my presence with a resounding yell: “Camaron sin cola!” (Shrimp without a tail). Yes, my name means “shrimp” in Spanish, but I digress. Wherever the thirty of them may be, they all have accomplished something, and they and their parents deserve to be proud. Buenas suerte a todos!
Onward to camp,