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Zooming Through Graduation - Noyna Roy

This article doesn’t have to do with the environment or sustainability, it is about our High School graduation that took place on May 23rd 2020.

Graduation Hats via: https://unsplash.com/photos/8CqDvPuo_kI

High School Graduation is commemorated with a walk across the stage, handshake, and a diploma. 2020 broke tradition. May 23rd has been in my calendar since 2018, by the time this date arrived I embraced the new normal - Zoom graduation!

I was as excited to wear a sari, as is tradition, but didn’t have a proper blouse to go with it. We didn’t have the luxury to rush to Little India to get one, I borrowed my mother’s and a few safety pins later, voila! It worked.

I was surprised as deliveries arrived throughout the day. Orchids, balloons, cupcakes from friends, and family reflected the extra effort they made. Our home was decorated with lanterns as we feasted on my favorite dishes planned overtime to ensure all ingredients were available.

The Zoom ceremony consisted of heartwarming speeches and special breakout rooms. During the smaller session, our teachers highlighted each student’s contributions, we expressed our feelings and gratitude. The event was extremely personalized, celebrating the community, which I will sorely miss.

My celebration continued with a video call arranged by my mother with messages and blessings from family and friends, people who have guided and stood by my single mother to help raise me. In “normal” times, everyone would have been busy with their schedules; today, we were able to connect across borders and timezones. This unique opportunity allowed me to recognize everyone individually and put a smile on their face, by reliving a shared memory.

I popped outside to take some photos with my graduation balloons. Spotting the commotion, my neighbor’s toddler ran out on the balcony. He smiled widely and began to sing, “Happy Birthday”. He associated balloons with a birthday party.

After he finished, he asked, “Can I have a balloon?”.

I thought he would enjoy the balloons more and took them over along with some cupcakes with my mask on. His parents were thrilled and brought him out wrapped up in a towel. He screamed, “BALLOON” as I handed it over. His excitement made me realize the impact of small acts.

This wasn’t the graduation I imagined, but in these extraordinary times, I realized the importance of spending time with loved ones and appreciating the joys in life, small acts of kindness, and putting a smile on other’s faces does something for our hearts. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to begin a new chapter.

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