El Hogar Graduation (November 2017) – Graduation at the Technical Institute

The ever-present traffic from yesterday seemed to be a distant memory this morning. The road leading to the Technical Institute takes you through another part of Tegucigalpa, but one that still climbs the mountains that surround the city. You feel as though you’re climbing the winding road forever. The mountains seem endless. Suddenly, the view opens up to the Amarateca Valley – home of the Technical Institute.

As we arrived, the campus was lush with green vegetation that had thrived during the rainy season. One of my favorite things about this campus are the various metal sculptures that seem to be everywhere. They’ve been created by students – past and present – to highlight the skills they’ve learned during their three years of technical education. They’re works of art!

Friends, family, and visitors gathered together as the nervous graduates waited. Each of the proud boys greeted each person with handshakes, hugs, and smiles. These welcomes are wonderful, but it’s the more private family moments that really speak to me. The times when a grandma gives a hug while whispering words of wisdom into a graduate’s ear, or dad puts his arm around his son’s shoulder and the hint of tears can be seen in his eyes. These families each have their own stories filled with struggles, hopes, heartaches, and triumphs. This graduation is a moment of triumph for each of these families.

Mixed into the speeches of the ceremony was a performance by El Hogar’s marimba band. The boys are talented and always leave me with my feet tapping.

The ceremonies are special, but one story stuck with me today. My wife and another visitor were sitting in the audience and noticed a father of one of the graduates. During the entire program, this man was beaming with pride, wiping away tears, and couldn’t seem to contain the joy he felt at watching his son graduate. This moment in time seemed to be the culmination of a lifetime of worry and work to ensure that his son had access to a future filled with promise. This is what El Hogar is all about!

With the day’s celebration (and lunch) finished, we made our way down the road and back to Tegucigalpa. During this trip, I noticed some of the graduates and their families making their way home. This day wasn’t the end of their journeys. On the contrary, this was only the beginning. Will the road be straight and smooth? Of course not. That’s not how life works for any of us. But a solid education – like the one they’ve received during their time at El Hogar – is the best preparation to handle any of the ups and downs that life can bring. Their hard work has paid off.

Tomorrow is the final ceremony of this trip. We will celebrate the Elementary School’s Clausura and the graduation of El Hogar’s first group of high school girls. It promises to be a wonderful day!

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