We’ve had a really great week with each day just getting better and better. Friday is usually the end of our week but due to exams and end-of-semester changes, we work today, Saturday, and Sunday before finishing our semester and teaching of 2013. Hard to believe we’ve been here living, teaching, and exploring for over four months already. Monday, when we head to Xi’an for the week, officially marks the beginning of our two months off for winter holiday – that’s the same amount of time as a Chinese school year’s summer vacation and half of a semester. When school resumes in mid-February, we will have only four months left of teaching before our time here comes to a close. With as fast as the past four months have gone, we’ll be back in the States within a blink of an eye and wondering if we really did live in China for a year.
As for yesterday, I tested four classes of sixth graders in the morning and was literally getting ready to head out the door for afternoon classes when I got a call from Li Laoshi letting me know afternoon classes had (again) been cancelled because the sixth grade students had a party to celebrate the coming New Year (since they’ll be at home over holiday during the actual New Year).
“Would you like to come?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Are you free?”
“(Of course I’m free. You just told me my class was cancelled.) Yes, I’m free all afternoon and ready to go.”
So we headed to a part of the school I’d never been before (down a dorm hallway on the fifth floor of the main office building on campus) and found ourselves in what is clearly a makeshift auditorium. When you walk in the door there’s a huge stage the length of the wall on the far left wall with the rest of the room filled with chairs and stools (and of course, the people in them). The show had already started when I got there but continued for an hour and a half of student performances showcasing what they’ve been working on all semester in their elective “hobby” courses – dance, singing, comedy, acting, erhu, other Chinese instruments, and many more.
Here are some snippets from the show:
It was exciting to recognize so many of my students up on stage performing and to see them outside of the classroom. Some students (who were in the audience not performing) were really excited to see me in the audience with them and kept turning around and waving at me or watching my reaction to the different skits. One sixth grade boy, in particular, (one of my favorites actually) decided towards the end of the show that it was his job to translate what was going on for me and would lean over and let me know (“the girls wear dresses but the boys wear pants” and “the wolf is trying to get the rabbits”). It was really adorable and sweet and if I could I would have had him sit by me the entire time telling me all about everything. I was actually kind of sad when I couldn’t give hugs or individually congratulate them on their show. I thoroughly enjoyed it and what was going to be a lazy afternoon in bed grading exams turned into a very entertaining (and very Chinese) spectacle happily put on by our students. I can’t imagine a better afternoon.
Last night I graded, watched a documentary, and let my mind wander aimlessly now that I’ve finished another book. For the non-squeamish cultural history enthusiasts among you, I recommend the book Birth: A Surprising History of How We Are Born and for those animal activists and curious (or bored) thought tinkerers among you, check out Blackfish on Netflix.
As for today, I’m officially done with seventh grade and soon to be done with eighth. As of this posting, seven classes stand between me and almost two months off.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope you have a great weekend!