Graduation at the Rancho Santa Fe
Our February Graduation has come and here's a look inside.
February 24, 2009 - Honduras
Graduation 2009 has a very familiar feel to it this year – not because of the different faces crossing the stage or different faces greeting the new graduates, not because of the surroundings that we all know so well. People of all shapes and sizes work their way around the crowd like waves churned by the sea's slight breeze. We, a family, sit communally and focus our attention towards the stage where National Director Stefan Feuerstein sits surrounded with other distinguished guests like Reinhart Koehler, a founding member of NPH here in Honduras, and Ingrid Paola Rodriguez, our close friend from HSBC Bank who has helped this family with a kind and open heart.
The start of the ceremony, as is very familiar, was right on time… twenty-five minutes tardy. And with everyone in our sea anticipating the waves about to come, they started rolling in. First the 9 smallest pequeños graduating from our Montessori program and moving into the second grade rumbled to their seats, then came 19 sixth grade graduates, followed by 11 ninth grade graduates proceeding into their first Año Familiar (year of service here at the home). Afterwards the 11 high school graduates marched along, and following these students were boys and girls from the Centro Vocacional (16 from the sixth grade and 19 from the ninth grade). We also had 75 students from the Centro Vocacional who received their CADERH certifications this year, many of whom, however, were unable to attend. Finally, the 3 university graduates: Suyapa, Arony, and Merlin, having received their law and doctorate degrees, made their way into the sea.
The Sea of Pequeños
As the littlest of the graduates stumbled up to the stage, I looked through the lens of my camera, zooming in as far as I could, and caught a glimpse of something personal and true. It’s days like today that give you a special opportunity to see these little interchanges, and sometimes even be a part of them. This time, I caught a moment between Reinhart and a little pequeña named Michelle. She just graduated from the Montessori program and will be moving into our primary school here on the Rancho Santa Fe. It was a moment struck with the love of family, as he bent down, with a peeking smile as honest as he must have seemed grand to her—clapping his hands he said congratulations while Michelle stood, a little overwhelmed, but gleeful and surrounded by a sense of joy. Although she didn’t yet know, Reinhart seemed fully aware of the immensity of this step and the chance now to take more steps to become like Suyapa, Arony, or Merlin, all while being someone that we are all proud of. He looked into her eyes, almost knowing that the journey ahead would be ripe with moments of intense difficulties. It’s a road which hasn’t been written yet, but has been traveled before.
A little while before the ceremony had begun, I found myself crouching into a similar situation—looking through the lens, unable to hear what was being said, but knowing that I was in the midst of witnessing something that can only happen on days like today, days that make us prouder than we knew we were. As I spied them across the hall, I saw the eyes of Tia Iris leaving their mark of pride, looking alive and making sure that Ingrid’s fashion was up-to-date as she graduated from the ninth grade, passing into her Año Familiar. Ingrid stood, almost too casually, as a smile crept across her face—in this moment these two women shared a mutual respect and bond that can build through the rest of Ingrid’s year of service.
Much, much later, after all the graduates from Montessori, middle school, high school, Centro Vocacional and Bachelor’s University crossed the stage, a moment came for three very special pequeños to come up. They had the opportunity to talk if they wished, or just recede into the background to enjoy the personal chats instead of grandstand speeches. One of our family members to get up on stage was Suyapa. In doing so she demonstrated the courage it takes to not only go through traditional schooling, but to go above and beyond to become a woman and a lawyer in a country filled with machismo. She sent a message of hope: that we can take advantage of the opportunities granted us, that each child here at NPH should try as hard as possible to make the most of the wonderful gifts granted us, like education and food and a shelter under which to live. These lessons echoed in the faces of the younger pequeños while they looked up, fixated, if only for a moment, upon Suyapa.
When the ceremony finished and we heard all there was to say, the crowd stood and basked in the glow of what had just transpired, for graduation isn’t a day made for laughing, or for crying—they happen but aren’t the foundation of today. Graduation is about being proud, and recognizing people’s accomplishments in life and lifting them up to show that you care. We, the family, on graduation came together to share these lives, with these marvelous people—making steps towards the future, while cherishing their past. It is the pride that makes graduation so familiar, because it is the pride that makes this day unlike any other. We here at the Rancho Santa Fe are very proud of all of the graduates this year.