Saturday, November 14, 2009


This past Thursday (11/11/09) was national Form a Line Day and Single’s Day. I celebrated both aspects of the day. First, I kindly told someone at the supermarket that I was already in line when they tried to cut in front of me, and then I joined one class’s Single Day party, the latter being much more interesting than the former.

First I should explain that a party in China is not the same as a party in the States. Here in China, it feels more like a program than a party; each minute of the night is planned out with events, games, or songs. This party was no different. The monitor had clearly spent a long time and had put a lot of effort into organizing it. When I walked into the classroom, they were already in the midst of playing the first game. This game involved singing the first lines of a song, and whatever word the line ended on, the other team had to think of a song that began with that same character. As I walked in, the monitor rushed over to me, and handed me a big glass of milk tea. (I tell all my students at the beginning of the year that milk tea is my favorite drink. It was a nice little bonus that this class had remembered; How thoughtful.) I joined two students in the back of the room where there were a few desk seats left. On each desk, there were equal amounts of sunflower seeds, spicy tofu, duck wings, and what I like to call cardboard snack-- puffed rice with no flavor. Each student also had a small glass of coke set before them as well as oranges scattered on the desk.

The actual party consisted of several variations of acting competitions, run much like a Chinese TV game show. The loser of these games had to do something embarrassing similar to truth or dare like call a boy and publicly confess her love or do a dance in front of the class. They asked another “loser” (one of the two guys in the class) which girl he liked the most in their class. How embarrassing. He waited for about 5 minutes before finally saying, and it was only after someone switched off the lights, in the dark classroom, that he confessed which girl he liked the most in the class. It happened to be one of the students I was sitting beside in the back of the class, and she knew it was coming too. Even as the boy was stalling to answer, I saw her look down at her desk with a pained expression on her face.

I also participated in the games…mostly just the acting games like charades. I acted like I was walking, stepped on gum, and couldn’t move because my shoe was stuck. I also had to sing a song which I wasn’t prepared for at all…so I sang the Titanic song, hoping the students would know the words better than I did; they didn’t. We all stumbled through the first verse and chorus and then it went without saying that I could sit down; there was no more singing after that. The two students I sat beside were happy to help translate when I was confused by the games. We talked a little bit about dating and how to properly celebrate Single’s Day. I enjoyed talking with these two students a lot. In a way, we were like the naughty students that talk in the back of the classroom. But since it was a “party,” I didn’t’ feel too bad about it, and it was nice to talk with these students without dawning the teacher hat.

To end the evening, I shared some banana bread that I had made earlier with my team-mate. The students Oo’ed and awed over the taste and smell of it, and looked longingly at the few pieces left over. Here’s to Single Day and happy times hanging out with students.

1 comment:

Drew and Rachel said...

portia, this is unrelated to 11-11, but we are really really really looking forward to seeing you this weekend!!!!