I went all the way to Vermont to get my MA and all I got was this cane...

Speaking of weird graduation traditions (ha! how's THAT for starting in the middle of a thought!), we all filed into the Chapel last Friday night for the Language School graduation and once we got settled, two of the professors banged these enormous cane-like sticks on the ground to start the ceremony. The President of Middlebury welcomed us to the ceremony and then launched into a story about how one of the most precious artifacts that Middlebury owns is the cane that the founder left to the School.

At this point, I was vaguely interested in this story and would have listened more closely, but it was one of those moments when you realize "hey! we're all dressed up in these funny costumes and hey! isn't that the professor from last summer and WHOOPS, there goes the hat again..." So my inner graduation monologue was a bit too loud and all of a sudden we're passing around a cane. "All of the graduates must touch this cane," the president says, "to continue in the tradition. Every graduate of Middlebury College touches this cane during their graduation" and now we're all flustered and "HUH? what is this- oh, wait it's here and now it's my turn and I'd like this moment to be sentimental but it's awkward if this cane-passing takes more than 3 seconds on my part..."

The cane makes its way down the aisle away from me and into the German M.A. students, then on to Russian, Italian and Spanish. Just as I'm starting to wish I'd listened more closely to the original cane story, the first French graduates start going up and we realize that we EACH are taking home a replica of the original cane. Unlike what you may imagine, our canes are full-size, engraved, and have gold bottoms which sound pretty bad-ass when 171 M.A. language graduates are banging them on the floor of the chapel.

Why the banging? Because after the diploma part, we had to sing a SONG about the cane. It really couldn't get any more ridiculous and yet perfectly eccentric at this point, and so we sang and banged our canes and had a merry old time, celebrating the end of a year in a beautiful place together, united by a funny little thing called French.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

why don't we have that in France? :-(