Monday, June 23, 2008


My daughter plays as two teachers sing to the students.

Saturday was my daughter's graduation from sixth grade. As I chronicled last week, petty politics had broken out, creating bad feelings in the community, so when I went to the ceremony on Saturday night I was dreading what might happen.

Picking up my daughter's diploma.

Couldn't have been more wrong. The ceremony was a blast -- fun, light-hearted, sentimental, and moving. Loving. In fine Taiwanese style, there were plenty of boring speeches, but in fine Taiwanese style, everyone talked right through them. Our class rose above the possibility of immature reactions to the machinations of the other's classes volunteer mother, and we raucously shouted out the names of our kids each time they appeared on stage.

A teacher puts on a display of belly dancing.

We had belly dancing, fireworks, and songs. The school hired professional entertainers to handle the ceremony, and they were superb, keeping the kids entertained for the whole three and a half hour event. The finale was a candlelight ceremony at which everyone cried. It was beautiful.

The local Taoist Temple lists awardees. It provides scholarships to pay the fees of poor students.

Why so serious? The ceremony marks a key transition: from childhood into the world of studying for the future. For many of these kids childhood is essentially finished; from now on they will go to school literally from morning to night. Junior High summer classes, essentially mandatory, start today, with students from my schools reporting for the "Wisdom Measurement" (zhi li tse liang) at the local junior high, a two and half hour placement test. That's right, graduate on Saturday, start school again on Monday. My daughter had a big party for everyone in our class on Sunday, with 17 kids coming over. Several mothers balked at sending their children, since the kids had to study for the big test tomorrow, but in the end, they relented. As one explained: "after all, this is the last chance she will have to play."


Anonymous said...

Pleased that all worked out! It is strange, in retrospect how worked up we as adults can get and still everything works so well for the kids.

cfimages said...

Congratulations to your daughter. But I thought childhood officially ended in about Grade 3.

STOP Ma said...

Congratulations to your daughter, Michael!

Though, I never really understood the hullabaloo over graduating from grade 6 (or kindergarten, for that matter). Marketing plays an important role in Taiwan, though.

Anyway, may her high school years be joyful and successful!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading and sometimes commenting on your blog for the past year. Congratulations on your daughter graduating from 6th grade.

Keep up the great work on your blog!

Mark said...

It seems your daughter has had a much rougher time of things in elementary school than most of my friends' mixed kids. I'm glad the graduation worked out!

marc said...

Another milestone in your family life! They do grow up so fast...

Congratulations to your daughter and lots of good wishes for the new road ahead.