Friday, December 13, 2013

Graduation 2013

Graduation was a wonderful event. Even though I was on campus in 2012, I did not have the same appreciation some of the activities that go on. This year I taught year 1, 2, and 3 students, so I knew these graduates, year 5 students, the least. However, I had gotten to know about half of them.

Interestingly, I had gotten to know two of the top students who were writing a Diploma paper. If eligible students successfully write this research paper they get a higher level degree than those who just get the Certificate, which is our normal degree. With the Diploma they have increased eligibility to attend the higher level - Bachelor of Theology - program at Martin Luther Seminary in Lae. I was the diploma adviser to one student and the examiner for the other student. Fortunately they were both good, so my work was easy. The student I examined, Robert, wrote his paper in English, so I felt confident in examining what he wrote. Dixon, the student I advised, wrote in Tok Pisin, so I was less confident about my assistance. However, I was able to help him get his paper typed by letting him come and use my computer.

The other two graduates I knew the best, Alu and Herinke, had more of a struggle academically. As their wasmeri, or adviser, I tried to encourage and help them in the process. Fortunately they both made it through. There is no coasting through at the end for our graduates. In week 7 they must do a practical project, such as planning a worship service along with a sermon, or writing lesson plans. Then in week 8 they take a series of tests about the major topics of our program, such as New Testament and Dogmatics. The faculty gave a final approval for graduation on Tuesday of week 10, just 5 days before graduation itself. One student had to retake the tests orally, but fortunately he did pass. Considering that his relatives had already started arriving, everyone was very relieved.

Hosting all the visitors is a lot of work when you have no access to restaurants or motels. I now understand the reason for week between the end of classes and graduation. All the students helped in getting the campus ready, such as cutting brush along the side of the road. The graduating students must plan their gardens to have extra food available for the guests. One friend asked his family to limit themselves to four as he didn't have too much food available. I noticed that 6 came, so I assume they brought along rais (rice) and tinpis (tuna)to help fill out the meals. Student housing is always tight by American standards, so when relatives come they must really be squeezed for sleeping space. Eating and talking was usually done on the veranda (porch) or on the grass outside.

People who come to graduation are very excited. Since travel to and from Logaweng is time consuming and expensive, most of the guests have never been here before. Since the seniors have been on their vicarage (internship) the year before they may not have had the money to travel home. This means that family may not have seen the graduate for three years. One mother told me she was also meeting a new grandchild during this time.

This also made me think of how wonderful my graduation was. While I had the chance to see my family more regularly, it was still wonderful that so many came. My sister Ruth drove out from Washington State to bring my father to my graduation in Iowa. Little did I imagine that this would be the last time I would see her as she died suddenly a few months later. I am thankful we could spend that joyous time together.

No comments:

Post a Comment