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another graduation

The other day I went to a high school graduation, but today was graduation for the people in the special program I help out in. There's some overlap between the two graduations, but a lot of today's graduates were not at the high school graduation.

I was standing near the front to try to take some photos, and who should I find at my left elbow at one point but the young mayor of Holyoke! I blurted out, "You're one of my heroes," and then told him the story of the girl pointing him out with pride to her relative.

He spoke at this graduation, too, said he felt especially close to this program because of his own parents: his mom dropped out of high school because she was pregnant, and his father dropped out too. In her forties, his mother went back to school and got her GED, and then--even though she had never thought it would be possible--she went on to become a nurse.

Two former graduates spoke about what they were doing now (one is in a transition-to-college program and one is in college)--they said that whenever they have something they don't understand, they come back in to get help from the teachers here. Then several of the students spoke. One talked about how he thought he was going to have to drop out of the program because he couldn't find childcare for his son, but the staff wouldn't let him--they had him bring his son along. Another spoke about dropping out of school and then getting in trouble with the law and thinking he wouldn't be allowed back because he had an ankle bracelet police monitor device on, and being welcomed by the teachers. I saw the mayor wiping tears from his eyes.

And this time, I got pictures. I don't feel free to share them, but believe me: they are beautiful.




This entry was originally posted at http://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/854089.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Jun. 15th, 2017 08:27 pm (UTC)
Clearly that graduation was meaningful to those folks, and not just another hoops to jump through to get presents. Huzzah!
asakiyume
Jun. 17th, 2017 05:13 am (UTC)
Absolutely.
zyzyly
Jun. 16th, 2017 04:29 am (UTC)
that sounds like an amazingly supportive program. I'm glad you are able to be a part of it.
asakiyume
Jun. 17th, 2017 05:22 am (UTC)
ME TOO.
dudeshoes
Jun. 18th, 2017 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing another wonderful story about your volunteer work.
asakiyume
Jun. 19th, 2017 12:15 pm (UTC)
When I was in East Timor, kids would walk for an hour to get to school, then an hour to get home. People getting an education through this program had that level of dedication to their education, and everyone who spoke--unlike the people who spoke at the high school graduation--acknowledged the obstacles society had put in their path. It was so humbling and inspiring.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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