Cum laude

I don’t know whether it’s a bigger deal in America or whether my fam is particularly nonchalant about it. Like, sure, we’re proud of you as the eldest son who has just graduated college, here are some congratulatory messages over Whatsapp. Send us photos. We want to tell you how great you look in your overpriced robe and cap.

I thought: perhaps I should care more– what do you give people when they graduate? I decided to get my brother a lei because apparently it’s customary and I thought he might appreciate one more piece of the American pie, in the same way I’ve enjoyed the experience of getting drive-thru McD’s and sitting on a Big Yellow Bus.

Because I’m sitting in the nosebleeds, miles away from the action, I’d rather be an observer than a lame participant. There will be no screams from me. Only zooming in on my brother from afar as he gets up to go to the bathroom. Only tolerating Asian parents yelling on either side of me.

Blue and gold is not a practical colour scheme. Let’s be real, it’s blue and yellow. The graduates file in one by one and from where I sit, they look like marching ants. Generation Y graduation involves documentation from the first-person perspective: what it’s like to stand next to your classmates and hashtag #graduation, what it’s like to see your face blown up on the big screen when a camera gets in your face. I see so many smart phones, it’s epidemic. Even a grandparent of a grandparent is tapping her big screen, tracking dear Billy’s every movement. “So many ‘dabs’, so many Colgate smiles and Queen Elizabeth waves”, dads type excitedly with one finger to uncles twice removed.

I learn my cum laudes. I check out the boys and the bedazzled caps. And I agree with the professor that the Humanities often get shit on even though hard science majors can’t write. I will take no part in childish rivalries.

In the end, I rush out to take your picture. I want this to be special for you. You’re right, graduation is just a ritual for the community. Get fucked up on spirits because hey we did this together- it’s a reason to celebrate. I like that, though. Let’s find every excuse for celebration. You did it. If no one will say it, not even yourself, I will. I am so proud of you.


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