Well, I don' t think I know anyone in Canada who is actually graduating this year. But today I attended the graduation ceremony for some of my students from last year at the girls' high school. It was very Taiwanese, including the typical random music spliced together, cross-dressing, and skanky dancing.
Now in Canada, a graduation ceremony more or less should include caps and gowns, everyone walking across the stage to receive their diplomas, and some speeches.
Today was the first High School graduation I've been to in Taiwan. The ceremony I attended today was more like an awards/variety show! I guess 500+ cheering/screaming girls will change the atmosphere of any event. There was lots of singing, dances, skits, and videos. The students simply wore their school uniforms with just little hats or pins that they made as a class (including flowers, crowns and badges with their class numbers). Their theme was "Play Jazz" and they sang songs from Chicago and Phantom of the Opera.
At no point were diplomas actually given to students, nor were they individually recognized for graduating. At the beginning of the ceremony a "book" was given to the student with the top grades, which I was later told represented the diplomas for all the students and she would later distribute them to the classes.
There were awards given for perfect attendance, congeniality, art, sports and a couple of other things I didn't quite get, as well as high grades (no English award, too bad!). Then came the longest part of the program, where the students actually gave awards to their teachers. Class by class sent a representative to give an elaborate speech and use some creative way to reveal the teacher's name. The teacher then came on stage to receive various gifts, like flowers, crowns, capes, and even a giant teddy bear. Then came the recorded messages by teachers for each class. It was quite a long ceremony, and it took me awhile to realize that they weren't actually going to let each student "walk across the stage". Though there were some students who received a number of awards and were on stage often, the graduation really wasn't individual-centered at all, unlike a western graduation. Instead students were graduating as a class, as a grade, as a school. Also it took place on a weekday, with relatively few family members present.
It was really different, i'm not going to say "bad" i've learned enough not to in almost three years...but while there are some good points about this type of ceremony (and it was immensely more entertaining than my own graduation ceremonies were), I feel like it doesn't do a lot to encourage the majority of the average, or even mediocre students. They should be given the chance to feel proud of their achievement, even if they weren't number one in their class. And to be recognized for working hard through school and making it to high school graduation, something a lot of people will never do!