Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Festivities

This year, I'm feeling the Christmas spirit in China! It's my first Christmas away from home, but with the help of tons of Christmas decorations in my apartment, constant Christmas music blaring from my computer, lots of plans for Christmas weekend, and Christmas enthusiasm at the school, I'm much more in the spirit of the season than I thought possible.

The English department is busy preparing for a big Christmas party, which will be held on Sunday evening in lieu of study hall. Scott, Irene and I are hosting this spectacular event, and all the students are learning "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in preparation. Wednesday afternoon, I returned from class and knocked on Scott's door to find ten students on the floor cutting out snowflakes and big "MERRY CHRISTMAS" letters to decorate the third floor of Canteen #1, where the party will take place. This morning, I finished autographing 50 Christmas cards ("Merry Christmas! -Janet") for prizes at our school's Christmas party on Sunday evening. The sad thing is that 300 English major students will be fighting over these at the party...

The Christmas party coordinators gave Scott and me a painstakingly hand-written English translation of the schedule for Sunday's blow-out. It reads as follows:

  1. Music (When Christmas Comes to Town) The music indicates that the party is going to begin.
  2. Music (Jingo Bell) The bell rings, the fairies dance happily towards the stage and the hosts show up, the fairies withdraw.
  3. The hosts tell something about Christmas and introduce the first act.
  4. Indian-Pakistani Dance
  5. Game
  6. Latin dance
  7. Game (ditto)
  8. The teachers' performance
  9. Game (ditto)
  10. The foreign teachers and a couple of students show how to dance. The students play and the foreign teachers teach how to dance with some simple words, eg. forward, backward, turn around, etc.
  11. Social dance. The students dance and the hosts pick the most excellent dancers and give them presents.

I don't know which I'm more excited about: the Indian-Pakistani Dance or the happily dancing fairies!

This week, I've worked hard to inject Christmas into my lesson plans. In addition to "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," we sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and "Up on the Housetop" in class. I found that the students particularly liked saying "CLICK CLICK CLICK" in the chorus of "Up on the Housetop." They mumbled the rest of the song, but shouted that part in loud, satisfied voices. It was pretty cute!

I also put together a slide show with Christmas pictures. Favorites were those of my living room at Christmas time; the students seemed especially impressed by my family's Christmas stockings and enjoyed reading our names on each one: Janet, John, Pam, and Jim (JIM! WE KNOW JIM!). Everyone agreed that my family members were very beautiful/ handsome, and that everyone "looks so young!" To finish off the class, we watched a Frosty the Snowman cartoon and I handed out candy my mom sent from home. Afterwards, I invited the entire class (50 people) to my apartment to see my Christmas decorations: utter chaos, but they enjoyed it!

I plan to spend a lot of time with my foreign teacher friends over the next few days; it's nice to have people to celebrate with. The festivities kick off tonight with a Chinese group dinner. Tomorrow night, Jamie is having a Christmas party for his students; Sunday is our school's party; Christmas Eve Scott and I will have a few friends over for drinks before church (all in Chinese). And Christmas Day, we are all getting together for a Western-style buffet at a nearby hotel.

Merry Christmas from Zhanjiang, China!

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