The Greatest Display of Honor

A simple kindergarten graduation.

A stage full of students I've never seen before.

An audience of parents and family I've never met before.

I stumbled upon this graduation because one of my students was going to perform afterwards, but I never imagined what I would see in the meantime.

The songs were catchy, the dancing was cute, and the clumsiness was even a little adorable, but that's not what moved my heart to tears.

It was what happened afterwards.

The teachers were introduced one by one, walking around the stage to bow before taking places in the back.

That's when the five and six year old students turned around to face their teachers.

With the MC orchestrating them, each of them bowed simultaneously to give thanks to their teachers.

As a cram school teacher, we rarely have graduations as moving and defining as this one.

The students don't get the chance to thank us and we don't love them for the gratitude, but when I saw those students thanking their teachers, I could imagine with vividness what those teachers must have felt.

That was just the beginning.

After another song, the stage was set for the parents to come and stand behind their children.

That's when the kids turned to face their parents, just like they had with their teachers, but it was not nearly the same.

With perhaps one of the greatest displays of honor in Taiwanese culture, the students, one by one, bowed all the way to the ground, planting their faces into the stage as if they were bowing to the one and only king.

I couldn't hold back the tears. It was too much and I was taken off guard.

The parents all reacted differently, from trying to comfort their child to just a simple smile to all out crying, but the whole room could feel the emotion of that moment.

Afterwards, I had the chance to watch my student perform in a drumming performance.

He did great, but I can't forget the look on his face when he realized that I came to watch him.

What a small sacrifice compared to seeing his face light up and watching him do what he practiced so hard to perform.

I might not have my own kids, but seeing glimpses into their lives in moments like these, I can share in the pleasure of seeing those you really love grow into the men and women you desire them to.

It's that rare moment when good wins over evil and love is in overabundant supply.

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