Today was the big day of two graduation ceremonies for students who have graduated from the University of Surrey in the last ten years or so. These were the first graduation ceremonies to take place in China and were laid on as part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Having made so many friends at Surrey through volunteering with Friends International in Guildford for the last 16 years or so, I was privileged to be invited as a guest for both ceremonies.
I ended the day with mixed feelings about this and whether it was good to attend or not. There were a number of people there who knew me but whom I didn’t recognise – it’s been so long since I’ve seen them in the flesh. Some of these were excited to see me and were disappointed that I had appeared to have forgotten them; others, for some reason didn’t say hello and I only found out later they had been there. Some I saw looking at me talking with each other, and I wasn’t sure if they knew me or not. I’m not sure what I was sadder about. Is it my poor memory? I suppose it is normal to be close to some people and not others, but even so I was annoyed with myself that I had not placed so many faces or names. Of course, this is partly perhaps because in many cases, especially in my early years of volunteering, I only tended to know English names, but in the graduation their real Chinese name is used.
That said, I have to remember it was not about me, and I was so happy to see so many brilliant people able to experience their extremely happy and memorable occasion.