… Thus ends the foreign language festival

12 04 2010

So the last two weeks at Nanjing Wai Guo Yu Xue Xiao (my school) have been devoted to the foreign language festival, which is a pretty big deal at the school. Unfortunately, this results in one of the things that drives me absolutely mad about China, which is people’s complete inability to plan ahead when dealing with the foreign teachers (and maybe anyone else, as I don’t know whether they have similar problems). For two weeks we had contests almost every day where the kids did a variety of skits, songs, dances and other stuff. And for two weeks, my teachers wouldn’t tell me what was going on until basically I was late to the contest. “Oh, you’re supposed to judge right now at the auditorium.” “English Corner starts in 20 minutes. Your students are expecting you.” It gets pretty frustrating.

But with that aside, I enjoyed the performances, some of which verged on the surreal, some of which were poor, and some of which were actually quite well done and intelligent. After judging five contest, one of which was singing, one dubbing (a thing where the students talk along to movies and try and ape the accent), two for plays and one of speeches, I was asked (surprisingly, a day early) to be a judge at the final contest.

Most of the student entries into the contest had a story that allowed the students to sign and dance to parts from three or four songs, usually at least one of which was either Michael Jackson, Avril Lavigne or the Backstreet Boys. There was also a band composed of Senior 3s (Basically seniors in high school) who did a terrible version of ‘It’s My Life’ by Bon Jovi. A few classes did something different. One class, my 5A Junior 2 class, did a play about kids in a school who all represented different countries in the world, including all the obvious ones from a Chinese perspective – China, the U.S., Taiwan, Japan, etc…In the play, the kids kept getting bullied by the American student, who always ran around wearing a policeman’s hat and yelling about the need for democracy. Then the bully tried to pick a fight with the Iranian student, who may or may not have been making bombs with their chemistry experiment. After a short interlude about the Japanese student building cars which fall apart, the final sketch was about a young student, Taiwan, (wearing an I Love China t-shirt, of course) who kept being cajoled by the bully into not spending more time at home with his mother (China, naturally). After arguing back and forth about whether the student should have democracy and whether the bully should give the Taiwanese student newer weapons, the show ended with the Taiwanese student renouncing the American bully and joining the side of China. I know there are a whole range of perspectives on the China-Taiwan issue, particularly in the US, and the kids had the obvious pro-China bias you’d expect to see here, but it was nice to see the kids thinking about something beyond the usual computer games and bad pop videos. Plus, it was funny. And all of this came from one of my rowdiest classes. Good job, kids.

I haven’t found out who won yet, though…
-Jeremiah

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