Zamami Village held its 2016 middle-school graduation on this past Tuesday, March 15. Originally planned for March 12, the event was rescheduled for this past Tuesday due to an outbreak of influenza among the young graduates. With health regained, Zamami’s middle-school graduates assumed their role as the center of attention in one of the village’s most emotional events of the year.
Zamami, like many other outer-island villages, has no high school. If the village’s middle-school students are to continue their education, they must leave their island to attend high school on the Okinawan mainland. While a few students might be able to live with relatives on Okinawa Island, a majority of the village’s 15 year olds begin their high-school lives on their own in apartments and dormitories. The endeavor of overcoming large life challenges by their own power alone is a reality present throughout Zamami’s middle schoolers’ Fifteenth Spring.
Mixed emotions are palpable throughout the annual event. Middle-school graduation provides parents with one of many formal venues in the eventual seeing off of their children as they take the plunge into a brand new, vast, and deep ocean of possibility. Villagers will rely on the goodwill of others (a common Okinawan cultural theme) in continuing to guide their children into becoming proper adults. Whether they realize it for themselves yet or not, these children will be the ones to create our future. Surely such a rare and enormous challenge will provide them with the resilience and emotional fortitude to take on the future world’s largest issues. A very big adventure awaits.