Today, we celebrated the 4th of July with the villagers at Hometown China. The weather was incredibly hot and humid, so at least that was consistant with what it is in the US on the 4th! We were hit with a brief rainstorm early in the morning, which normally would release some of the humidity from the air, however, here it just seems to make things more humid once the rain has stopped! A few of the Chinese students told us that they can tell when it is about to rain because the dragonflys are flying very low (due to the high humidity, they cannot fly very high) - today they were flying quite low which gave the kids a good scare!
Some of the highlights from today included trying to give them picnic foods at lunch, such as little hot dogs, which the kids loved. We also sang "My Country Tis of Thee" which the kids really didn't get into. I suppose when it's not your country you're singing about, it's difficult to be passionate in singing about it. They have really taken to some of the other songs that we're teaching them, such as "Yankee Doodle" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". We also had various picnic-type games for the kids to play, such as a water balloon toss, the human knot game (all people hold hands with people not standing directly next to them and then have to untangle themselves), and a hula hoop relay. I was with the 8 and 9 year olds and they were the only group to untangle themselves from the human knot. It was hilarious to watch them play the water balloon toss. A few of them acted as if they had never seen a water balloon before! One girl started to cry when the balloon broke on her, but I think she was more upset that her team lost than the fact that she got all wet. The other unique part of this was that we did this on an astroturf soccer field, and the balloons were nearly indestructable on this surface. (I had one balloon bounce off the turf up to my knee without breaking!)
Jamie and I have noticed that when we are teaching the language groups, these kids are deathly afraid to sit on the floor! Even when we are playing Memory or Go Fish, the majority of the kids will squat rather than sit on the floor! Today, several kids brought newspapers to sit on rather than sit on the floor of the classroom, which we found humorous. Oddly enough, the kids have no trouble sitting on the sidewalk outside for other games, which is much dirtier than the classroom floor!
The kids have also really taken a liking to playing "Ships Across the Ocean" and other tag-style games. I was with a group playing the "Color Game" yesterday, in which the person who is it, calls out a color and if you are wearing that color, you have to run across the room without being tagged, or else you are out. The last person remaining gets to be "it" for the next game. Anyway, there was one boy, named "John" from my language group, who was playing with us. The person who was it called out "yellow" as the color. A few people ran quickly, while John had a mischevious look on his face. Nobody paid much attention to him, until he started to laugh (kind of a kiddish-evil cackle, if you will). A few started to wonder what was going on. (As an aside note, he was wearing a green shirt with black shorts.) He then pulled his underwear well past his waistband (thus, probably giving himself a pretty good wedgie) revealing his yellow underwear, and then ran across the room laughing at the top of his lungs! (For those of you from my school, this is somewhat similar to Jamie's "race car" story from preschool.) And for those of you wondering, he did make it safely across the room! Someday, I'll write a book about all of the memorable things students have done in my presence and this story will definately be at or near the top of my list!
We also continue to be amazed at how cheap somethings are here. Last night for dinner, we ate at a Chinese buffet in our hotel that cost 15 RMB (a little more than $2 USD). Jamie bought an umbrella, in case it rains again, or to blend in with the local women who use them to shield themselves from the sun, for 12 RMB (about $1.75). We've found so many other things that would be so cheap to bring back, but we'd probably have to buy more luggage to bring back everything we've thought about buying!
Tomorrow, we get to celebrate Christmas in Minnesota. There seems to be something terribly wrong with singing Jingle Bells with the kids in 100 degree weather, but I'll let you know how that all goes!