by Ivy Tirok, United World College Maastricht
29th of May, 2018
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver the years, the graduation of the leaving class at the United World College Maastricht has been a poignant yet pleasant event. The duality of its nature is expressed by the mass gathering of the students’ families, school alumni, UWCM investors among other guests from across the globe who come together to celebrate the graduates as well as to wish them well as they embark on a new journey in their lives. Accordingly, this year’s leaving ceremony which took part between the 18th and 19th of May did not fall short.
The Open House held on the evening of the 18th of May marked the beginning of the celebration. The leaving class prepared a diverse and enjoyable show which included a rebirth of the Swedish pop group ABBA that had the audience in peals of laughter, thereby receiving a standing ovation. By the same token, UWCM’s staff members were not left behind. They presented a cultural piece, as per their annual tradition, in the form of a Japanese dance led by Machi Shiiba. This evinced the nature of the student-teacher relationship in United World Colleges which extends beyond the confines of a classroom. As for food and drinks, Dutch classics were provided including the popular “‘friets’ with mayo”. Overall, parents remarked that the event, which took place in the elaborately decorated campus, was memorable. Many thanks to all the individuals who contributed to making it a success.
In the afternoon of the 19th of May, the leaving class received their certificates from the school administration. This presentation took place at the MECC Maastricht. Adorned in cultural costumes, single-breasted suits or stylish gowns, the second years were exhilarated to mark this significant point in their lives, surrounded by friends and family. The poses struck by tutor groups during the photograph session were particularly amusing. Ranging from students stroking Parag Mehta’s beard to Marcus Felsman playing the cardboard version of Larissa Stutterheim, the audience was in for a surprise. In addition, we were fortunate to have the Member of the Provincial Executive, Mr Joost van den Akker who addressed the leaving students and encouraged them by sharing his personal story. As a community, we are grateful for your presence at the ceremony and we do hope for continued partnership.
Notably, Tom Oden’s speech as he bid farewell to UWCM during the ceremony evoked a keen sense of sadness. The director of secondary studies with a kind and attentive disposition stated that he would be leaving for the United States in the upcoming school year. He will greatly be missed by both staff members and students. Although Tom leaves a large gap to fill, it is without a doubt that Kate Doyle, who is set to take up his roles, will do a phenomenal job in ensuring the well-being of the school community.
Thanks to the student-led team that organized the graduation, the event was a success. The ornate venues, eloquent and concise speakers, and the well-prepared performances were a result of months of dedication and hard work by Prune Engerant, Dasha Davydova, Lidia Rodríguez, Darci Howell, Kaarin Aavik, Niels Kakal, and Abdul Salam, with the help of volunteers. We appreciate you.
On another note, many discussions have been held on the future of conferences in our campus in the recent past. With reference to the graduation ceremony, a demanding event which is almost in entirety organized by students, it is important to question the extent to which staff members should be involved so as to ease the pressure on the organizing team.
Nevertheless, to the DP2s, we, as your DP1 companions, wish you prosperity as you take the next step in your lives. You have continuously proven to us that we are not simply defined by academic excellence but by the holistic nature of one’s character. We urge you to march on to the world with the same attitude as you defy norms, share your intellect and make a difference in your communities. We bid you good goodbyes.