Today marks the first time that Joel has celebrated a birthday outside of the United States of America. There are pros and cons to this: in China, a person isn’t given the same royal treatment that Americans get on their birthdays. On the plus side, since we’re 12-15 hours ahead of you people in the US, Joel’s birthday is oh-so technically a day and a half longer… Heh heh. So Happy Birthday Joel! Or, in Mandarin: 生日快樂!
It’s a good day: I don’t have any classes today, Joel only had 1 class in the morning, and the week is almost winding down. This week has been quite the hectic week for us; we had extra classes to teach (the Freshman English teacher hadn’t arrived yet), we had to teach last Saturday to make up for the day we had off due to the typhoon, and we have to teach this weekend as well to make up for having next week off (for the National Day Holiday).
Since we last wrote, we’ve had some fun school-related experiences.
Last Friday, we got a call from the higher powers asking us to judge a speech contest that evening. This happened to be the first round of a national speech contest (kind of like the Spelling Bee in the US). Our roles were to be the bona-fide native English speakers, and ask a question at the end of each student’s speech that they had to answer on the spot. The theme that every student had to talk about was “Global Citizenship Begins at Home,” which means that almost every speech was almost the same. (However, the winner of the contest had by far the most unique and entertaining speech of the bunch.) Despite the mundane repetitiveness of most of the speeches, we had fun coming up with questions on the spot to ask the students.
Last night we went to a party for new English majors at the college. Joel was asked to play a song for the event, and he willingly agreed, deciding that I should also perform with him. The party turned out to be a really big deal, with a variety of entertainment acts including the following:
Chinese rock band consisting of Yuan Pei College graduates playing something akin to heavy metal
Traditional dance from Yunnan province
Cross talk performance (kind of like stand up comedy but focused more on puns within the Chinese language… we didn’t understand it but everybody else was laughing)
Shaoxing Opera (similar to Peking Opera)
and our personal favorite: hairstyle contest (three girls came out on stage and had their hair drastically redone by hairstylists in a space of about 10 minutes)
Our acoustic performance seemed quite humble in comparison to the hip, polished performances we saw… but I think it still went over well with the audience.
Overall we had a good time, and it was fun to see our students (usually reticent in class) performing onstage in a more relaxed atmosphere.