As Worldschoolers, we are not usually able to participate in the traditional milestones that are happening in the USA. We’ve chosen this life on purpose, so most of the time we are tolerant of missing them. But sometimes one has to recognize a milestone even if you have to make it happen in your own way.
Road to the GED
For the past 5 months Haley has been studying for her GED – the high school equivalency test used in the USA. She took the 4 separate tests in a testing center here in Medellin. She didn’t have any problems with the tests and passed them easily. She reports that our family’s “Figure Shit Out” mentality came into play in a big way when trying to write the essay portion of the Language Arts test with a Spanish language keyboard. She hunted for 10 solid minutes for the semi colon. This is important, as punctuation is part of the overall score! She finally found the right keystroke to make the semi colon but then later in the essay she needed it again. She couldn’t remember the keystroke so she used copy and paste and solved the problem that way. Great job, Haley!
So at 16 years, 11 months of age… Haley got her high schooling out of the way.
The Not Surprising Party
Once she finished the final test – saving the
best worst (math) for last – I knew it would be important to celebrate her achievement in some way. My sisterwife neighbor Jamie and I began planning and soon we had a great surprise party all ready for Haley.
One problem: Haley doesn’t like surprises.
So we let her in on a few details, such as the fact that we would go out to dinner to celebrate her GED. Then a few days before the party, I told Haley that it’d be fun to take a few “senior pictures” with a photographer that we used for our family pictures last July. Haley really connected with this photographer so she agreed that senior pictures before the dinner would be a good idea. From there we built on it some more.
An hour before the pictures were to start, I presented Haley with her cap and gown, complete with blue tassel and world flag sash. We chose blue as her tassel color because it’s the color of her packing cubes, and the sash was made specifically for the occasion by a woman from Etsy to represent her “Worldschooling High School”. The outfit came together perfectly and Haley seemed very pleased. Thanks to
Haley’s second mom my friend Jamie for bringing it all back with her from the USA!
Then we told Haley that we had a ‘itty bitty ceremony and party planned for her, and that after pictures we would have the graduation march and watch a few videos we’d prepared for her. I told her which of her friends would be coming, and assured her there would be no more surprises. She jokingly said she was hoping for a surprise of a brand new car. So I guess she does like some surprises?? #onesuitcase #nocars
The party was wonderful. Many of our friends and family sent in congratulatory videos, which Dan compiled into a long video with pictures of Haley growing up. There were tears, I’m not going to lie. I’m not sharing that video here. It’s too personal for our World Wide Audience. But suffice to say, it was wonderful.
Zoe’s Grad Gift For Her Big Sis
For some months leading up to the big party, Zoe had been working with her singing teacher on songwriting. Zoe chose the topic of congratulating Haley on her achievement for her project and the song pretty much wrote itself. Once Zoe’s Colombian school went on break in November, Zoe was able to spend a lot more time with her singing teacher as part of an intensive camp. They used the time to perfect the song, and the camp culminated in a visit to a recording studio where Zoe recorded the song on professional equipment.
After Zoe finished the recording, Dan stepped in once again and helped Zoe make her very first music video. I’ll share that here because I think you’ll enjoy seeing it. Needless to say, it was a big hit. You might not even know my kids personally but you’ll probably want to have a hanky handy anyway.
We ended the night with dinner at a lovely restaurant nearby. By the end of the event, Haley was ready to cease being the center of attention, but was very pleased with the recognition of her achievement. We were pleased with her being pleased.
Different, But Better
When first planning the party I had the feeling of, “Well, if she’s not going to matriculate the traditional way, I guess this will have to do”. But as the party was happening it occurred to me that this was better than the “normal way” for us. It was more personal and much more appropriate for Haley and so much more meaningful than any high school graduation. In our eyes, this was value added. Not a sub-standard replacement.
Kind of like the life we’ve chosen, to be honest. For us at least.
And then, 2 weeks later, Haley entered Colombian high school as a senior in 11th grade.
You’ll just have to wait until the next blog post to figure out how that makes any sense.