Many of our users are #Millenials – yes, hashtag included. And a good portion of those have graduated in the past few weeks. The Kazi team has attended a number of these graduation ceremonies, bearing witness to the transformation from neophyte to nurse, youth to adult, undergraduate to graduate. We have heard Mr. Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance – over and over and over again, listened to thousands of names read by faceless faculty, enjoyed refreshments on endless green lawns, and digested delicately delivered commencement addresses.
Unfortunately, we were snubbed in our desire to present an address of our own this year – apparently a beautiful new mobile app and fledgling (very humble) entrepreneurs are not high on the mailing list for many administrators. But we have a beef with some of the tired metaphors that have been used and think the graduates need something different.
But instead of complaining about it, we have chosen to pen a few words of our own. So, without further ado, we present A Kazi Commencement.
Today we celebrate your Commencement. Some say that this event recognizes the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Life is like a story, they say, with one chapter informing the next, filled with ups and downs, innumerable interpretations, pain, and joy.
They will tell you that the passing from one page to the next can be painful; that it can serve as a reminder of mistakes made and the relentless march of time. But that we are gathered here not to mourn what was but to celebrate what is and embrace what is yet to come.
To be sure, those sentiments are nice and heartwarming and inviting. But they play more to the pride of the speaker than to practicality for the graduates. While it is great to wax philosophically about the position of the tassel or the acorn you give to the next freshman class, you will go home and critique the speech and move on with your life, into the next “chapter”.
The prior pages are remembered and then forgotten, achievements become simply letters on an old worn-out sheet, and instead you move on, letter by letter, word by word, line by line.
But such a picture does not capture the journey. Because it misses the most important part. A metaphor like a book or a cap or an acorn limits the appreciation of what you have accomplished and what is now reality. The reality is far more than the degree or the diploma; it’s the relationships that are fostered and grown (that Kazi has enabled), the work that has been started but is unfinished. Indeed, your commencement is not about your “book” but about your garden. Your garden that you have begun may be grand or it may be simple. The blossoms of knowledge must be cultivated and watered, the flowers of friendship lovingly tended, vices pruned and weeds extracted.
And no, not one of you will have a garden like the one we see here today, with the lawn magnificently manicured and the flowers in bloom. There will be weeds, there will be storms, winds, and hail. Some blossoms will fade and some flowers will die.
But on this day your garden has borne fruit for you. It is a day to be celebrated and a day to cherish. Congratulations.
(Image Credit: UU.edu,