The Hope College academic calendar was coming to an end, and my brother’s graduation offered the mandate that I return to my alma mater for the ceremony. This was the first time I would be visiting home since making the move to Chicago a few months ago. I was also excited to be in Holland for the Tulip Festival, which only after years away have I come to actually appreciate. This year though we had a winter of old, and very few of the tulips were even close to blooming. I’m used to ‘stem fests’ where they come out and die too early, but this was the latest I had ever seen them. I did at least find a single patch to snap a quick picture of. I had to crop out all the other tourists consolidated here trying to get their flower fix too.
On the day of the actual graduation we gathered up at Hope’s Dimnent Chapel to listen to some RCA bigwig speak for the baccalaureate. Once we were done with the service, it was picture time. We moved on to a brunch just down the road. Finally, hours later, we made our way over to the football stadium to stake out our seats and wait in the cold for things to get going.
Eventually, the students showed up, took their seats, and things got rolling. The first agenda item was the graduation speech, which followed the same formula as every one I have ever had to sit through. There is always something exciting at the beginning to get the crowd hooked, but then interest wanes as they drone on and on and express the same ‘you can do anything/go change the world’ themes. The only variables that affect a speech’s ability to hold the interest of those gathered are the quality of the orater, or if the speaker is somehow famous and relevant to the student body. It just might look like a nice day, and it was indeed better than rain, but the wind was blowing and warmth was scarce.
With that finished up, we had to wade through the worst of the ceremony – the reading of names. Hope College is not a particularly large school and can therefore justify reading each individual name as they walk up to receive their diploma. This isn’t to say that it takes only a short while though; a full hour of listening to names and the obnoxious cheers that follow each and every one is a lot to ask of people.
While it was good to be home for the big event, one of the highlights was having a number of my friends in town for the same weekend. I was able to see a great number of people, and some for the first time since my own graduation four years prior. It was another of those busy weekends where every moment is spoken for, but it indeed worth being around for.