This summer I have had the opportunity to attend two high school graduation in Romania. One was here in Iasi and the other in my roommate's hometown of Botosani. I was excited to be able to see two friends graduate and also to be able to witness how another country does High School Graduation. Interestingly, they were both more similar to an American graduation and more different from one another than I would have expected.
Both friends attended public school, but unlike America you don't just go to the public school nearest your hour. You can choose/apply to which public school you want. I'm not 100% certain how this works, but I do know that there is a little more of a process than there typically would be in America. So. My friend in Iasi went to the high school that is known for being the "rich kid" school. Politicians' kids. Doctors' kids. That kind of place. And totally complete with all the fancy schmancy muckety muck you'd expect. She went to the school because it's also one of the top high schools in the country. She's intelligent and capable, and I think this school probably offers the best education in the city. But she warned me beforehand that the graduation would be a bit ridiculous and over the top. She called it "the fashion event of the year." Indeed. These kids were DECKED OUT. You'd have thought it was a wedding. Or heck, even a college graduation. We're talking 6 inch heels, fancy (and short!) dresses, and plenty of hair product. I considered taking a series of pictures of the shoes, but I refrained.
The ceremony itself was pretty similar to its American counterpart. The requisite speeches about how 'This is not the end but the beginning!' and how 'We have so much potential!' and '
' Only, because this is a former communist country (or maybe not, but I just like to make everything about communism) EVERY teacher gets to give a speech, not just one. Right.
I thought the way they handed out diplomas was interesting. I understand that here the students stay with their group of 25-30 pupils for the whole day. At least for the main core subjects. So they don't call people up straight alphabetically to receive their diplomas, but by their group, and then alphabetically within it. I thought this was kind of cool. You're with this same smaller group within your larger class all the time, and then you receive your diplomas together. The main teacher for that group is the one who hands out the diplomas. At this school the students were also given a rose. In exchange for the diploma it is a tradition (though not one strictly adhered to, and only for female teachers) for the student to give flowers to the teacher. Needless to say, by the end of each group there was quite a pile of flower bouquets for the teacher to take home! Each group made a slideshow of their group to play while receiving their diplomas. Cute cute cute. Here are some pictures of my friend's group:
Receiving diplomas. Notice the flower bouquets (received by teacher) and roses (given by teacher) to the left and a bit of the slide show on the top right
I'm not sure if this is actually a tradition here or if they just have seen a lot of American movies
A bunch of people from church came to support her! The graduate (Luci) is 3rd from the left
Moving on to Botosani. This graduation was my roommate's sister Denis. I kind of assumed it might be similar but just less Heels and Hair. But it was actually quite different. Her class chose to do their graduation just as the individual groups. As in, we didn't go to an auditorium and watch all the seniors (not a word they use here) graduate. We went into her sister's classroom and watched her and her 24 groupmates graduate. It was simple and intimate. Still with all the speeches and all the specialty teachers each giving a two minute little schpeel. But definitely less fanfare and glitz. Furthermore, for most of the students, the teacher read their GPA as they received their diploma. The grading system here is different, so the highest "GPA" you can have is a 10, unlike our 4.0 system. So it'd be like, "Ionela Onu 9.75" and little Ionela would walk up, hand the teacher flowers, do the double cheek kiss thing, and receive her diploma. Yea, that would SO NOT FLY in America. And I'm not even talking about the double cheek kiss. But I think they only announced the GPA of kids with 9+, so it's not like they were letting the whole world know that little Silviu got a 7.85. Although, maybe if you know your GPA will be read in front of everyone when you receive your diploma, you would be inclined to work harder in high school. Right, so some pictures...
Inside the classroom for the ceremony
Outside on the basketball court for pictures and (yet again) the cap toss
My roommate (Simona), her sister (Denis) and me
So, now I've been to a Romanian funeral and a Romanian high school graduation. Next up, a Romania wedding...