Graduations are always filled with a strange mix of emotions: excitement, relief, accomplishment, and maybe a bit of uncertainty. These feelings permeated the Teen Center on the evening of July 1st, 2016 when our first graduation ceremony was held for our Intensive English class.
For Jhonny, Kelly, Kevin, Nilver, and Pedro, it was their night. Our honoraries began the night as they would any other Friday evening, in English class. Students reflected on their time in the English program by writing letters filled with advice and encouragement to the future English students. After this brief class, the graduation began. The audience was composed of students, volunteers, friends, parents, siblings, and, of course, our graduates.
Linda, our Teen Center Manager, kicked of the ceremony by eloquently expressing how proud we here at LLI — and everyone, for that matter — are of our graduates. The students’ current teacher, Elijah, addressed the graduates, with the help of the evening’s translator, Rosa, our Program Development Intern, as well as presented them with their certificates and gifts. These gifts included some goodies they would be using for the university and job interviews. The gifts were also accompanied by letters collected from current and former volunteers that shared words of wisdom for the future. As the night came to a close, our graduates began to see that this was not an end, but just a new beginning, as they transition from student to leaders, perhaps being volunteers in our organization.
Graduation is a funny thing — lots of mixed emotions. As a student, there is excitement and a strong sense of accomplishment, while at the same time, there is a bit of uncertainty of what is to come next. For teachers, there is a sense of relief, of course, in that the students have “made it,” in a way, yet at the same time, one cannot help but be solemn, as who knows when we will all see each other again.
Are you hearing Wiz Khalifa’s “See you Again” in your head right now? Coincidentally, two students in our new Intensive English class were playing that song at the end of the graduation. Before we know it, those students will be graduating. If you’re interested in helping these students accomplish their goals in our English Program, learn more about volunteering with LLI here and join our team!