So, I’m back from the Graduation Ceremonies and can’t wait to share my experience.
Ceremonies took place at the Guildford Cathedral, which looked much bigger and nicer than I thought. The place was literally huge – probably with a 6,000 seating capacity or even more, which felt a little daunting.
The preparation for ceremonies
Once inside the cathedral, we were given our gowns to put on, were briefed on our duties and off we went. I was in charge of seating guests, and as there are no designated seats apart from a few honorary guests, everybody else had to go first come first serve. As you may imagine, there were occasional complaints about restricted view, not getting isle seats (how could all of the 1,000+ guests get isle seats, I don’t know), not wanting to sit in the middle of the row, but it was fine most of the time and most guests were lovely. Once a ceremony was over, we had to help them guests and graduates out of the cathedral as soon as possible, clean up the place, put new graduation booklets on each seat – imagine three or four people being in charge of 6,000 seats – and prepare for the guests of the next ceremony to arrive. As I was expecting, lunch resembled a sprint, but I could still have a nice sandwich and a fruit paid by my institution, so no complaints there.
The ceremonies were quite impressive given the venue, the organ music, the procession of senior staff and academics in gowns, and the general happy-emotional climate that always characterizes such events. During the ceremonies was the only time when I could relax and sit down to rest my sore feet. I didn’t feel envious of people who have to stand on their feet for a living. Despite the tension of the day, I really enjoyed attending the ceremonies, watching our students get their awards full of pride, and their families and friends clap and cheer and take pictures and videos of them.
It was a really nice experience and I felt good about being part of it and contributing my bit in the day’s success. The organizers can count on me to be there again at the next ones in March.