Graduation season has rolled around again here in Japan.
I don’t remember how much I’ve talked about graduations on here offhand, but today was the graduation at my elementary school. Back home, the idea of graduation from elementary school seems silly. Here in Japan, though, it’s a big rite of passage.
As part of the ceremony at my elementary school, the students make a short speech after they get their diplomas. In them, they thank their parents for raising them up that point. After that, they go to meet their parents in the audience. They hand off the diploma, a gift from the PTA (which has been a Japanese-English dictionary every year that I’ve been here), and a small bouquet of flowers they receive so that they can go back to their seats and do their part in the rest of the ceremony unencumbered.
Spring is here, and with it the end of the Japanese school year. I have been asked to write a letter to my students, which will appear in what is, as far as I can tell from the explanation I was given, their yearbook.
Dear graduating students,
What are your dreams? How will you make them come true? These are questions which only you can answer. You’ll still see the friends you are leaving now, and they’ll still support you as much as the can. You’ll make new friends and they’ll support you, too. But if you want your dreams to come true, you must make use of all the tools at your disposal.
Think of Link, from the Legend of Zelda games. In every Zelda game, he has two main goals. One is to save Princess Zelda and the other is to keep the Triforce out of Ganondorf’s hands. How does he accomplish those goals? He uses various equipment.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t updated in a while. Plans to post papers I was writing during the school year kinda fell flat. I still may post them here later. For now, I’d like to talk a bit about the school year and having graduated.
Last summer, when I decided to go back to Fairbanks and finish college ASAP, I called the academic advising center to talk about my options. I’d been a student long enough that my original course catalog had expired. However, the good news had two faces: I could use any catalog for the last seven years. Furthermore, a new (and more sane) set of Japanese Studies B.A. requirements had been pushed through in my absence. The result was that I’d be able to graduate by spring. Making it happen meant taking both of my required writing-intensive courses in the fall semester. However, I had only three classes to take (two of them 100-level) in the spring.