Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Graduation day

On Sunday, the family attended one son's university graduation. I was moved not only by Etienne's giddy, gowned delight, but also by the intense pride that radiated from the graduating students, shown in their shining young (and youngish, for the PhD.s) faces, the whoops of families, and even in the tangible pleasure of professors who were given teaching awards.

His alma mater, a large urban university, is known for the diversity of its student body and its dedication to equity, social justice and activism. Riven by a bitter labour dispute, the university was closed by a strike for nearly three months during the last school year, resulting in a chaotic extended schedule for classes and exams.

Though opportunity is a value of all educational institutions, the ideal rarely leaps off the institution's crest and into a crowd's collective heart. But surrounded by hundreds of grads, families, bouquets, the timeless pomp of the academy and our boy's enthusiastic, confident chatter about what's next, I felt the noble ideal come to life, as optimism and love suffused the hall.


I find myself deeply moved at certain ceremonies, even if not directly involved. Le Duc discovered me gazing from a Montreal hotel window at a wedding in the courtyard, teary and suffused with sentiment. And funerals? Even if I pass by in a car, I will be touched, and wonder about the life lived. Boy Scout inductions, christenings, parades, museum openings, bar mitzvahs, even elections stir me.

I revere community, celebration, the reminder of the values that strengthen society, especially participation and inclusion.
Fortunately, I can hold it together for store openings and product launches.

Well don't I sound...Canadian? And of course I sound like a proud parent, too!

18 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

Congratulations to Etienne!

I think there's something within us that *needs* ceremony and tradition. It's a way of feeling connected to something larger than ourselves, and provides some comfort in a sense of continuity. Thank you for this beautiful post.

Lisa said...

Congratulations to Etienne and kudos to you for a job well done. Loved your post and would add that I am especially touched by patriotic displays and a Mom enjoying the company of her children.

metscan said...

Congratulations to your son and for your whole family too! Your pride is well justified. Thank you for your post.

materfamilias said...

Congratulations! I'm always surprised at how moving these ceremonies can be. Whenever I can arrange my schedule for it, I don robes and attend our convocations, taking advantage of the chance to congratulate former students and, often, being introduced to their beaming parents. No matter how many I've been to, no matter how much I anticipate an element of boredome, I'm always uplifted by the collective optimism as well as by the satisfaction of a job well done -- on the parents' as well as the students' part. All the best to Etienne as he moves on to other life goals!

Belle de Ville said...

Wow, a PhD. Congratulations to you and to your son. That is quite an accomplishment.
I skipped my own university graduations, but was so proud to attend son's graduation from UC Santa Barbara. The older I get, the more I appreciate these types of ceremonies and the messages they convey.

Duchesse said...

Pseu: Yes, a need. Am always a bit disappointed when someone who has died requests no memorial service or funeral. These occasions have meaning and comfort for the bereaved.

Lisa: Yes- I cry at Olympic ceremonies too.

materfamilias: It's so important to have faculty there. Unfortunately the recipient of an honorary PHD. was the speaker and took the opportunity to use it for an internal political soapbox (her college is merging with another faculty). We were appalled at how little focus she put on the students, and how much on herself.

Belle: He got his BA- does want to continue for his Master's after a year or two.

see you there! said...

Congratulations to all of you.
You have every right to "bust your buttons" as is said at my house.

Dar;a

LPC said...

Congratulations to you and to Etienne. How wonderful.

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Congratulations to Etienne on this achievement!

I've been known to weep at ceremonies of all sorts.

tiffany said...

I was moved just by your description! What a wonderful and proud moment for you - congratulations.

kristophine said...

Congrats! Next time I graduate I'm getting hooded--it's especially meaningful because I've worked with the same professors for up to seven years, at this point. Graduating really is an incredible occasion.

Maggie said...

Duchesse, I love this post. Congratulations to your son. (and the proud parents) It was quite moving, as it always is, to find a kindred spirit. I too feel a stir at ceremonies. And say a quick prayer for that person being rushed to the hospital or taking their last ride wondering all the while who they are or were. I chalk it up to the human spirit that binds us all together so mysteriously. Thank you for putting such sincere, thought provoking ideas out there for the rest of us to ponder.

Anjela's Day said...

Congratulations to your son Etienne and to his parents ....
I enjoy reading all your postings but the ones on your family touch me deeply.

Duchesse said...

Anjela: As I recall your daughters are students, is graduation approaching?

darla, tiffany, kristophine and maggie: I have passed along your congratulations to Etienne and he enjoyed receiving them. So kind of you.

diverchic said...

Genuine cheers and congratulations to Etienne! And to you three as well. It takes a family to get a degree.
Well done, Etienne! You made your mama proud!

Completely Alienne said...

Congratulations to Etienne,that is wonderful. I will be looking forward to Lenin's in time - she has another year at school yet!

I too get teary at various types of ceremony - as Deja says, we do need ceremony and tradition, and I think we are more conscious of them, and the link between ourselves and others as we get older.

Anjela's Day said...

Chloe graduated last December. My babies are growing up I guess. But always babies to me, their mama lol

Nimble said...

Celebration is what we are here for. Congrats to your son (and his proud parents!).