Here in Kenya, 3 of our Project Managers and our Project Coordinator unfortunately missed their convocations. After their years of hard work to get their degrees, we were sad they would be missing such an exciting day, so the rest of us wanted to do something special for them.
First we assigned roles for the big day. Our oldest Project Manager was considered to be the wisest among us, so he was given the prestigious role of Keynote Speaker. Our PM who is from England was asked to be Dean because… well he’s just “Dean-material.” Another of us would make and disperse diplomas. Finally, my job was creative director (aka hat-maker) and photographer/videographer.
While our Keynote worked at perfecting his speech, I went on a bit of a journey to find some black paper. There was none to be found. But I came across a stationary store in the Mbale Market that seemed to be stocked up with all kinds of crafty goodies. A big sheet of blue, pink and yellow paper had to suffice. Then my crafting abilities would need to kick in… Much to the entertainment of my housemates, I started cutting up the paper with a pair of rusty old scissors. They doubted my abilities but I persisted. One of the graduates had to help me with the tassels though, I must admit… And voila! They were perfect! Pink for the ladies, blue for the boys, and the Dean got a bright yellow one to wear.
I printed up some awards using the most sophisticated calligraphy font I could find on Microsoft Word, and added some cheesy borders. The diplomas were lovely and colourful, with big smiley-face suns on them. It was all very official. We made a trip to the bar where they have by now, memorized our “order,” loaded up, and walked to the venue (one of the yards of the Host houses where a few PMs stay). The sun was shining, the cows were grazing nearby, and the beer was cold. This would be a graduation like no other.
A stool with a towel draped over it and a sign that read “Kenya Grad 2013,” was our podium. The 4 graduates were fitted with their caps and squished onto some stools we found. The 3 most common graduation songs ever, played continuously throughout the ceremony: The Time of Your Life by Green Day, Graduation Song: Friends Forever by Vitamin C, and the Graduation Walking March. Our Dean opened up the ceremony with a hilarious few words, and cued in the Keynote Speaker. His speech was funny, moving and thoughtful, and everyone appreciated how much work he had put into it. It was great! Next, the Dean presented each graduate with their diploma by bopping them on the head with it (an English tradition he says…). And just like that, the studious graduates with their cardboard tassels flowing in the wind, were officially graduated! We made sure to grab the “famous” shot of the cap-throw, and gave it some Kenya flavour with a cow grazing in the background.
We celebrated, drank drinks, played Spoons, and had a competitive game of Grad vs. Undergrad soccer. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun! Hopefully the emptiness in their hearts from missing their real convocation was filled with our Kenya Grad. It was truly unique, and an event like no other. What I know for sure, is that some parents will shed tears of pride because I made a video… (to come).
Congratulations to the graduates: Becky, Kaitlin, Greg and Josh!!