Last night we attended the “candidates’ dinner”, a last celebration for the Senior Four (O level) and Senior Six (A level) students who are about to enter into their season of exams. Since the students have some electives, not all take the same exams, so the finish will be staggered and anti-climactic, hence the “graduation” type meal PRIOR to the beginning of exams. The students themselves set up the assembly area with desks as tables in a long oblong, a curtain draping the background, some tinsel and balloon remnants of Parents’ Day. It was dusk, when the shabbiness of reality fades into the romance of candlelight. Many of the girls were wearing dresses that could have graced a formal dance, garnered from the used clothes piles at the market. Numerous speeches were interspersed with musical numbers that showcased the fact that hip-hop music videos have penetrated even this sheltered backwater. In short, it was something like an event anywhere for teenagers who are exploring their way out into the world.
Scott was expected to come as Chairman of the Board, and Luke as an S4 student. But I was surprised and pleased to get a very elaborately worded invitation addressed to me as a special guest, signed by two of the boys we have sponsored (one in S4 and one in S6), so we took the bold family step of leaving Caleb home alone in charge of dinner and a video for Julia and Jack. They were fine, and I was thankful to see this little slice of culture, nostalgic too, that this could be as close as my own son gets to a high school graduation event. Luke is under the weather with a viral sort of rashy illness but came under duress, once again too young and too different to really fit in as a peer with his class. Sigh.
The teachers exhorted the students with numerous analogies and Bible verses, emphasizing that they were ready, that they could focus and succeed. I have come to care about some of these kids a lot, as Luke’s friends, as girls who were in my cell group for years, as boys whom we have known since they were skinny little 8 year olds. Christ School has given them the best boost for life that is available here. Will it be enough? My maternal heart flutters at the thought of all they face, not just exams, but the struggle which continues as they overcome their disadvantaged backgrounds. But last night in the warm glow of candles and lanterns, their own optimism was infectious, and I had hope.