Bell Day

Ending the ceremony with the ringing of a bell.
Ending the ceremony with the ringing of a bell.

The school year has come to a close at my school, and with it, the graduation ceremony, or Bell Day, as it is known. The graduating classes gather in the auditorium to listen to speeches, receives awards, listen to musical performances, and receive their graduation papers. The graduation papers, the equivalent of our diploma, looks strikingly similar to a passport. Passing them out was a bit hectic, as there was a row of teachers holding the papers, while the MC called out names. Students then had to find the little book with their name in it.


The director then dismisses each class one at a time, signaling their dismissal from the auditorium by ringing a special bell. Students then return to their classrooms where they take some last photographs with one another before they receive their final lesson of secondary school. In a beautiful twist, their last lesson is the very first lesson they received at that school: Learning the letter “A.” The students sit in their usual rows, and the teacher has them make the “a” sound. She will instruct them how to write it normally and in cursive, allow students time to practice, and solicit some words that start with the letter “A.” Everyone participated in the lesson seriously. For them, it was a great rite of passage. It was heartwarming to see the full-circle nature of the lesson.

The last lesson.
The last lesson.

In the evening, there was a small dance for the graduating students. They were all very shy about dancing, and formed the traditional circle dance, which was quite circular, but devoid of much dancing. Everyone stays on the periphery, only moving into the center if forced to, or if they have one amazing move they want to showcase before beating a hasty retreat to the safety of the edges. I found it rather amusing when the student DJ put on DMX’s “Up In Here,” as everything outside of the chorus is pretty… explicit. They switched the song after about 40 seconds of play, not because of the content, but rather, because that is what they did with every song for the two hours I was there. They were rather indecisive.

I left that dance thinking the person who had the most fun was my supervisor’s daughter. She danced more than anyone else combined. She’s about six years old. I think it was this year that she had her first lesson. Maybe in another 10 years, she will be dancing in a circle with her peers.

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3 thoughts on “Bell Day

    1. Excellent question! That’s actually a standard girl’s uniform here in Mongolia. They also have the option of wearing white shirts (depending on the school and where it is located), but most opt for the maid-like uniforms when they get older. Some schools start the girls in Kindergarten or First Grade with the uniforms, but at my school, they don’t seem to start wearing them in earnest until Tenth Grade.


      1. Adam, your answer to my question made me take another look at those “uniforms”. I can imagine that the little girls look really cute dressed like that, but the older girls…. ? Reminds me of Victorian maids’ uniforms. We had a lovely “Mongolian” experience last night: Dinner in a large ger and wonderful performance by a couple of Mongolian singers and a guy who played a horse fiddle. “Earned” our scarves and had a lot of fun. Best regards.


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