By Matthew Jellick (MAT ’12)
With the culmination of our year of hard work being brought to light on a warm spring day in Los Angeles, graduation bestowed upon us a sense of accomplishment, coupled with sentiment that this part of our educational journey was coming to an end. With my particular experience in the [email protected] program taking place from the confines of South Korea, via the online format, the Graduation Ceremony (capitalized out of respect) offered a chance for me to meet many of my professors and classmates for the first time, without the barrier of a computer screen between us. Although we have gotten to know each other throughout the past four terms via the Adobe platform, there was still a sense of excitement, able to formally introduce ourselves through handshakes and hugs, rather than virtual smiles and emoticons. Having looked forward to this day for the better part of a year, the ceremony itself did not disappoint, complete with a wonderful keynote speaker, in that of Don Shalvey of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a wonderful reception, complete with delicious Enchiladas (again, capitalized out of respect)!
It was at the reception, immediately following the ceremony, where many of us in the TESOL Program got together for photos and reminiscing. With both professors as well as students in attendance, it was similar to what a traditional brick and mortar classroom would feel like, except for the fact that each of us hailed from different parts of the globe, including Korea, Singapore, Japan, Mexico, and of course, Killa. Cali.! Comparing our travel stories as well as jet lag experiences, it was nonetheless a treat for everyone involved to finally meet, attaching physical realities to our online anthologies.
After the ceremony and with each of us going our separate ways, only to meet again next week online, my family and I had arranged a Graduation Fiesta for the next day, Saturday, to continue the celebration with some of my family and friends. In addition, a few classmates (Graciela Almada ’12, and Lyn Sato, ’12) as well as a professor, (Dr. Monat from EDUC 518) were able to attend, enjoying a second round of Enchiladas in addition to the sweet sounds of Mariachis, serenading our collective memories and individual accomplishments. With an inevitable trip back across the Pacific to finish up papers and research, we all tried to embrace the fleeting moments which we knew would only exist as memories sooner rather than later. With an overwhelming sense of gratefulness associated with everyone I have met during this past year, Graduation acted as a fitting rest stop along this educational journey which undoubtedly, still has a long way to go.