Time for a post about graduations - so interesting and so many! If you are interested in the photos and not the text, there is no fine for skipping ahead.
Part of our original goal was to time this trip to watch 6 Beca students graduate at the Basico level (like 9th grade) and 5 Beca students graduate from Diversificado programs - like a combination of high school and career training. We waited until October to book the use of air miles for flights, hoping to learn specific dates for the events, but eventually had to make our best guess based on prior years and go for it. Some of the graduation dates weren't settled until a week before the event, unlike in the US where June graduations are often on the school calendar when school starts in the fall.
In the end, our timing was very good. We just barely missed watching Mynor and Josefa's son Manuel graduate from grade school (but got in on the celebration dinner) and will miss the Diversificado graduation of 1, but were able to watch the little ones' promotion with Mynor as Padrino that was featured in a previous post, the Basico graduation, and most of 2 of the 3 Diversificado events which were scheduled at slightly different times on the same afternoon.
Beca Project students Francisco (left) and Eugenio (right) make their entrance at the Basico graduation.
Francisco receives his diploma.
At the halfway point, I was asked on stage to give out diplomas - enough hugging and kissing to warm my heart for a month.
Jeany and her family
The Diversificado graduates at the local teacher training school sing the national anthem in Tz'utujil; the boys are wearing the traditional men's clothing of San Pedro.
That is Dorcas on the right in a yellow huipil (blouse).
José Antonio (Tono) receives his diploma.
Mariano signs the school ledger.
We left that graduation a little early and hopped in a tuktuk to the neighboring village of San Juan to watch María Elena graduate from a Bilingual Secretarial program (which means she is trilingual and has mastered shorthand in Spanish and English).
One of my proudest moments of the trip: watching María Elena speak confidently at her graduation, this lovely young woman who started as a Beca Project student in 2010, so shy she could scarcely say a word in my presence.
Some of the students had lunches or dinners in their homes or the house of a grandparent to celebrate and we were invited to many of them. The families are justifiably proud of their graduates (often the 1st in their family to continue past grade school) and the events and celebrations were festive, emotional affairs. There was even a special blessing as part of a Saturday evening mass at the Catholic church for 1 of the students which we attended with the family before joining in the celebration meal.
Lunch at Mariano's
Dinner with Dorcas and her family
Mass and celebration dinner for María Elena
We are so proud of these bright, ambitious students and grateful to have shared in the celebrations of these milestones in their lives.