Archive | July, 2010

Graduation Elation

9 Jul

There are some traditions that hold true no matter what. Time nor trend can change the value of such traditions, and generation after generation respects and values these necessary rituals. Perhaps they are adapted or tweaked slightly to keep up with the times, but for the most part, they are left untouched, their archaic ways a testament to the true nature of such customs. And then there’s Greece.

Leave it to Greece. After all, this is the country that created politics and democracy, tragedy and comedy, and basically every other possible foundation for western civilization, only to decide that they contributed enough and should thus spend the next 2000 years sipping frappes at cafes and being absolutely baffled by the idea of efficiency or organization. And to add that extra kick in the pants, they then decided their best next move was to take down the Euro and take an active role in destroying the very civilization that they themselves created. They’ve come full circle, much like the circle the Ancient Greeks are doing in their graves at present. But not to digress, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Tradition. Maybe it’s their attempt at sticking it to the Romans that usurped their power and overtook Ancient Greece. Maybe it’s their attempt at paving the way for the future, not wanting to cling too tightly to the past. Or maybe it’s just the fact that they have so much damned money and don’t know what to do with it other than show it off. Whatever the reason, the high school graduation that I attended last night was not how I as an American think of high school graduation. This, my friends, is High School Graduation: Athens College Edition.

The girls and boys descended the main marble white stairwell of the school, a stairwell reminiscent of the White House, as music played and family members, teachers, and friends (kinda sorta) paid attention. Forget the robes. These young ladies paid good money for their slinky low-cut designer dresses and Christian Louboutins. Why on earth would they cover up? And the hats with those silly tassels? Why ever would they ruin their overpriced up-do’s with something so conventional as an ugly hat? Within 5 minutes, I realized that I passed through layers of security, policemen, and roped off areas to witness a fashion show. The boys played into this as well, with their Zac Efron haircuts, tailored suits sans neckties with the top two buttons undone, five-o-clock shadows and flashy watches. And it wasn’t just the graduates who were dressed to impress. If anything, they were just the supporting characters to their parents. The audience (if you can call them that, considering their far superior statuses and natures, and their tendency to pay absolutely no attention to what was actually happening on stage) was filled with designer shoes and dresses, custom-made tailored suits, mac-daddy Rolexes, and perfectly manicured hands (attached to members of both sexes) grasping constantly to blackberries and iPhones. And let’s not forget the tools who can’t take off their bluetooth devices for one minute, even though their children are receiving their diplomas from the most prestigious institution in the country and every other important person in Greece (re. every person who could possibly be important enough to garner a call accepted on that Bluetooth) is currently in attendance as well. I now don’t mind that I missed New York Fashion Week, because I got to see the highlights in my own backyard last night.

The night had other highlights as well (or so I assume…most of the ceremony was conducted in Greek). All three valedictorians gave speeches, in addition to the other 2 speech-winners that also addressed the talking, mingling, wandering around audience that couldn’t have cared less. I wonder if graduating high school in Greece means that you have not only obtained a wealth of knowledge and acceptance into a top US or UK university, but also that you have obtained the skills and patience needed to talk over a crowd of 400 disrespectful Greeks without batting an eye or feeling the slightest insult. Top students received awards, a few even received gold cups (once again, because it was conducted in Greek, I have no idea why these certain individuals received said cups), and one by one they ascended the steps, modeled their outfits, flashed a smile for the camera, and received their certificates of graduation. We sang the Greek National Anthem, half-listened as the Canadian-born President of the school spoke in terrible Greek and then urged the graduates in English to donate money back to the already rich school (instead of to the sinking economy), and looked around at the who’s who in attendance (politicians, celebrities, shipping magnates, etc.). All in all, it was a beautiful evening, followed by a beautiful dinner that was harder to get into than the Vanity Fair Oscar Party (I was obviously not on the guest list…for the graduation dinner in case there was some confusion). Despite dropping temperatures and brisk winds that threatened the womens’ salon styles, the night marked the end to a great school year and provided the perfect juxtaposition to the countrywide strikes that were going on just outside the tall and heavily monitored Athens College walls.

Here’s to the graduates. May they have the best of luck outside their sheltered school community. Brown/Oxford/Princeton/Georgetown/Cambridge/Columbia is lucky to have them, and will surely provide the perfect transition from elite private school atmosphere to the real world.

*In all honesty, I must say that I am actually proud of the graduates I got to know and work with.  They are deserving of the awards and honors bestowed upon them, did work extremely hard to complete their education and gain acceptance to top universities, and do have my best wishes for success in the future.  It’s not their fault they were born into their circumstances.  Let’s just hope and pray they don’t turn into the elitist, entitled, materialistic, money-bathing generation that spawned them.

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