Graduation Day

October 7, 2013 4:14 pm Published by

All graduations are special. No matter where you are in the world. No matter what grade it is. There is something unique about watching students dressed in beautiful gowns with beaming smiles across their faces walking up to a stage and receiving recognition for their hard work. I know this because I have watched it happen dozens of times for friends, family members, neighbors, classmates, and, believe it or not, have graduated a couple of times myself. It is truly a special moment for everyone involved- the students who work so hard to get there; the parents and other family who have helped their children in so many ways and are so proud of them; the teachers who spend so much time and energy molding and preparing their students.

While all graduations may be special, recently I got to witness one that was slightly more so for several

reasons. Last month, Joseph and Mary Primary School graduated its fourth 7th grade class during what was the first event in our new dining/event hall. These 24 proud, smiling, happy students were not a normal group of students. In my four and a half years in Tanzania- during which I have visited dozens of schools- I have yet to see a group of students- as well as their teacher- work harder than this group has (others may work as hard, but none harder). This group- full of personalities that sometimes got the best of me (as well as their teacher and other school administrators)- worked incredibly hard day in and day out to prepare for their national exams, which they finished the Thursday before graduation. It was not unusual to find Mr. Fred, their teacher, at school an hour early in the morning preparing lessons and then keeping his class late into the

evening finishing those lessons. Together, students and teacher, this group epitomizes dedication.

Included in this group are three students who made the day even more special for all of us at JBFC. As administrators, teachers, employees, etc. it is incredibly rewarding to see all of the class 7 students receiving their diplomas as, in some ways, all of those students are our own.

 However, for just one moment that day, we were able to take our work uniforms off and step into the shoes of parents and watch three of JBFC’s own- Julie, Siwema, and Maggie (pictures below) – walk (or dance)into the graduation hall, take their seats, participate in the festivities, and, ultimately, be recognized as the amazing young women that they are. 

This is incredible for a couple of reasons. First, for these three girls, it was never guaranteed that they would receive the opportunity for an education, let alone graduate- in Tanzania, many people, especially girls, don’t. They made it, and they made everyone proud along the way. Second, it was amazing to see the family support that these three girls had. They may have lacked the traditional family support that many of the other students graduating that day received. However, these girls, far and away, had the largest family in

attendance. Looking on, cheering, and supporting them throughout the entire ceremony were 40 sisters, a few brothers (Chris’s boys), a dozen or more aunts and uncles (the JBFC support staff), their Dad (Chris), their grandmother (Chris’s mom), another uncle (me) and some wonderful guests. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the other JBFC girls said it all; this is a family, and Julie’s, Siwema’s, and Maggie’s family showed up!

This was a special graduation- the students, the teacher, the school, the hall, JBFC’s girls, and the families made it so.

Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Manager and uncle to the 47 girls and boys, who live at JBFC.

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This post was written by Mainsprings