May and June seem to be a time for celebration no matter where you are in the world. Although many Drake students were not able to celebrate college or high school graduations with loved ones and friends due to our travels, we had the chance to attend a graduation ceremony at MUBS, our partner school here in Kampala.
I am generally of the mindset that if you’ve seen one graduation, you’ve seen them all. Inspirational speeches are given, many people you don’t know walk across a stage to shake hands with important university officials, and snacks are eaten after. The MUBS graduation was very different from this.
The graduation ceremony began early in the morning with family members beginning to arrive at 8am. Traditional African music and dance greeted them and continued throughout the entire ceremony. I noticed that whenever there was a break in speaking, the music started again. This seemed refreshing and upbeat, something very important during a 4 hour ceremony.
The MUBS graduation ceremony included national and school anthems, prayers, and speeches, similar to those in America. The speeches, however, were what threw me. During the ceremony, it was said that the purpose of graduation is to celebrate the accomplishments of a university. In America, I believe the focus is on recognizing the accomplishments of the individual graduates. Part of the MUBS ceremony involved a listing of the university’s progress throughout the year, including number of graduates, new programs, and large-scale successes. The ceremony also held time to ask the government to support learning institutions like MUBS financially.
The tone of the MUBS graduation ceremony seemed very formal to me. Speakers were always polite and everything seemed to be addressed to the Chancellor of the university. I found this interesting. It really seemed to fit with the idea that graduation celebrated the university rather than the individual. To further this theme, the university recognized graduates in a way different from American graduations. The dean of each school would read aloud the title of a degree and all of these students would stand. They would then be presented to the Chancellor of the university for recognition and congratulations before sitting. This was done as a collective group for each degree program offered at MUBS.
I did find a similarity between the MUBS graduation and American graduations I have attended. Inspirational speeches are given and addressed to the graduates at both. At this ceremony, Mr. Patrick Bitature, an entrepreneur, reminded graduates that a diploma is not an end in and of itself. They must still work hard to achieve their dreams. He also reminded students that 20 is the new 30. The time is now and recent graduates must make the most of it. I know I will remember this when it comes my time to graduate as well as now. I mean, I’m in Uganda, right?
How did your high school or college graduation compare to the MUBS graduation? Have you attended any other graduations? Include these in your comparison.
What were your thoughts on Mr. Bitature’s speech at gradation?