Monday, June 23, 2014


I noticed a few years back when I was attending a friend's graduation that the HK love of auspiciousness seems to have bled into inflated regalia. My friend was receiving a bachelor's degree and yet she and all of her classmates were wearing robes with sleeves that in the US denote a master's degree, as well as a hood. This weekend I attended a secondary school convocation and the students were adorned in multiple sashes and hoods. I wondered what the local universities will come up with to top the secondary school regalia. Trains and scepters? I felt so cheated with my plain hood and spindly honors tassels.

We took lots of photographs with our young graduate. I guess that the family was prepared to accept that this was the girl's first and last convocation because her mum kept repeating how hard it had been to finish and how grateful she was that her daughter stuck with her schooling. I was surprised because I think that we're fairly good friends and I had no idea that the daughter was on the verge of flunking out or dropping out on several occasions.

Later at dinner, there was a lot of discussion over what the daughter's options might be. Everyone had been so busy working toward graduation that there wasn't much time to think about the future. These days it seems like even clerks require university degrees so it was challenging brainstorming viable options. While I didn't think that I had much to offer, after a few minutes of discussion we realized that the table of eight adults could offer some assistance. The girl had interest in photography and one friend's brother is a professional photographer. The girl is an athlete and I knew a few trainers who could employ her. We all knew people with restaurant businesses. I was relieved to be reminded that there are still occupations out there where someone without university can be successful. In fact, if the girl decided to become a steel worker or carpenter, she would be wealthier than most. When I think about the burden of my student debt and how significantly it has impacted my current income and options for future savings, I wonder if I should have become a carpenter.

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