Just finished a two-day sports day at Jiaxing High School. If we had been wondering if our kids understood the concept of costumes, it was put to rest yesterday where there were costumes galore. The opening ceremony involved every class in the school walking the track and stopping in front of the judges to demonstrate their school and class spirit. Costumes ranged from Winnie the Pooh to peasants tilling the fields. Sometimes there was a clear theme, other times not, but each group did some variation of song and dance, dressed up or not, then moved away for the next division. I was a judge, a process that was not exactly scientific. There was no rubric, just categories, and with around 33 divisions, it was pretty difficult to discern one from another. However, I was able to tell that the BC offshore class was one of the best! Their theme reflected not only a British influence but also “The Art of War”, a book that was written by and also resonates with the Chinese. I particularly enjoyed the senior group who portrayed the workers in communist China, whose work is recognized as being so important to the country. Their portrayal included street sweepers, brick layers, peasant farmers and others who do lowly but important jobs. They captured the essence of the school motto, “Truth”, and displayed strong school spirit. I gave them the highest marks and hope that they are number 1 when the winners are announced on Wednesday morning.
After their performance, each class then skirted the track and lined up on the field facing the podium, where they stood to watch and cheer the remaining student groups. Next came the exercise competition. (Ed. Note: Each morning the whole school goes out on the field to do exercises – I guess in anticipation of this competition. I will say that perhaps this leads to the serious lack of obesity in China. This video is 1/3 of the school – there were two more groups just like this). Thankfully I was not required to judge this one as it was impossible to discern differences in the 10-12 lines of costumed kids performing the routine they do each morning. Still, fascinating to watch and reflect on the high degree of organization on display. It was so hot by this time I changed into some short jeans and headed into the gym to judge the dance competition. Again, almost every class had either purchased or rented costumes or identical garments for this event. We saw everything from multi-coloured T-shirts to sparkly gowns (think Dancing With the Stars); one group even had the girls dress in white bride-like gowns with the boys in black suits. The line-dance routines they did were very simple and repetitive but most groups were able to embellish in some way that made their team stand out. One strong impression: very intent faces throughout the dance numbers but when they were over, everyone broke into big smiles! (Ed. note: see photo for some examples – Terry commented that likely you wouldn’t get too many (if any) high school boys in the yellow outfits at home…)
Today, the weather changed from hot to rainy, windy and cold. Day two of Sports Meeting went on, however. Morning activities focused on the indoor pursuits of badminton and table tennis. As we know, the Chinese shine in these sports–very much fun to watch. Two of our girls volunteered to play table tennis and were ridiculously outmatched by fabulous players. Both of the exceptional competitors were gracious enough to allow our girls to return a few serves before blasting them with bullets that left our girls giggling in embarrassment. They were good sports and the boys were great about cheering on their friends. Later, I watched the boys’ 200metre runs as well as relays. I am reasonably sure that my legs have never moved that fast! Oh, to be young again! Principal Xu wisely made the decision to postpone the award ceremony until Wednesday morning during exercise time, as the weather was not nice at all. David tells me that the hot weather in October is the anomaly, not the wind and rain, so I guess we’ve been lucky all month.
Because we spent Sunday at school, the kids were all sent home this afternoon and will return on Wednesday, so no work for the staff tomorrow. We are enjoying our evening, knowing we can sleep in. Geoff is preparing a chicken dinner and is cooking lotus root with hot peppers and green onions as a side dish. Fyi, we are into our second bag of rice since we got here and have had potatoes only once or twice. We do have pasta every other week or so–it’s such a comfort food. We can’t find canned clams to make my favorite but make a mean tuna-olive-pesto-hot sauce!
Tonight we are catching up with “Damages,” a TV drama/thriller that is so intense, we love it. If we want to watch anything, we have to buy series as there is one English channel, with news only. The result: we watch less often and only what we select, without commercials. It’s perfect, really. Between cards, reading, writing and a weekly episode of “Survivor” our evenings pass.