Looking back at graduation 2008

Spens Posted by John and Poppy Spens on Wed, 10 Dec 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

On 5th December 2008, another 91 students successfully graduated from Yei Vocational Training College, bringing the overall total for the last five years to 344. It was a year of records. A record number of students graduating – 91, in 5 separate disciplines; a record number passed their driving test – 34 out of 34; a record attendance at graduation, filling the new hall to overflowing.

Graduation began on the previous afternoon with an end of term ecumenical communion service. CMSI affiliate John Spens spoke on Acts 1.1-11. He spoke on the Holy Spirit – power to know; power to grow and power to go. He encouraged students to think about going to other parts of Sudan both to work and to take the gospel message. He asked those who wanted to join with him in building a memorial to mark the end of the 2008 academic year. In 2006 the text on the memorial was “we will serve the Lord.” The text for 2008 would be: “We will follow Jesus.” When the appeal was given, the entire hall emptied and staff and students, with one exception, filed out of the hall to fetch a brick to make into the memorial. The building students are now busy using their new skills to construct the memorial that they have designed.

The eve of graduation is a sleepover for the cooks. They work late into the night peeling potatoes and then, together with their young children, they sleep on a mattress in the dining room. Then, before dawn, the bull is slaughtered and the cooks rise to prepare the meat and other vegetables.

From before 9 am, the guests were arriving and were admiring the enormous new workshop/hall that was constructed during 2008 from a very generous donation. It was just the right size to fit all the students, their parents and relatives, invited guests, staff and church leaders. Gowns had been borrowed from a nearby college and the students robed themselves, looking extremely smart in their gown and mortar board – most appropriate for building students!

At about 11.30 am the ceremony began with signing, drama, many speeches and, central to the proceedings, the award of certificates and toolkits. It was a wonderful celebration of a year of hard work and the bountiful provision of a generous God who had supplied all the needs of the College. When the certificates were presented, the parents of the students came forward too, sometimes grabbing the certificates and dancing excitedly around the room! It was clear that the parents were just as proud as their children!

After a motivating speech from Bishop Hilary, the ceremony was over, toolkits and certificates were stored safely away and it was time for more photographs. Everyone enjoyed a sumptuous meal and all too soon families were leaving, proudly holding the certificate of achievement and a handy toolkit or, for the drivers, a Government of Southern Sudan driving licence.