Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony and graduate party for the Heisei 30 graduates of Hiroshima College of Foreign Languages (HCFL).
It struck me as I watched the formal Graduation Ceremony that these are the last students to graduate during the Heisei Era (平成時代) as the current emperor will abdicate and a new imperial era will begin in April. I arrived in Japan for the first time in 1990, the second year of Heisei (平成2年), several years before this year’s graduates were born!
And suddenly, after two intensive years, here they are on there way to their new lives as shakaijin (社会人), or fully-fledged members of adult society. Every single one of them has been placed by HCFL in a job or in a university either in Japan or overseas.
Three of the students I spoke to yesterday are on their way to the USA, two to attend university and the other to work in a hotel in Hawaii. Another is off to Fiji to study English if she doesn’t get eaten, and a fourth will work for a hotel in Okinawa. Several now have jobs as ground staff at various domestic airports in Japan. One graduate is getting a government grant to help her start her own jewellery business.
At the Graduation Ceremony in the morning there were lots of formal speeches and lots of standing up and sitting down and bowing and singing. Three students representing the three departments of HCFL gave speeches of thanks and two of them struggled to read them through their tears.
After the formalities of the ceremony were over, myself and the other two foreign teachers, Gregg and Felix, popped into Starbucks to relax before heading over to Riga Royal Hotel for the Graduation Party…
Later that evening, three of my to top students sent me a farewell video message…
ハーリー Thank you for two years. 元気元で。
Hurley! Thank you for two years. Take care!
Well, it was fun teaching you all. You were a lively bunch. I wish you all well and look forward to seeing you all whenever you hold a reunion party back in Hiroshima. 🙂