Well, the final two days have come and gone. To be honest, the last 36 hours seem like a blur, but I'll do my best to recall the events of the two days!
On Thursday, we had a "wedding" theme. Throughout the two weeks, we had an ongoing skit where two travellers, played by Bryce and Kylie, would travel throughout the country and today was the day that they got married. It was especially exciting for the kids because, with the exception of one child, they had not been to a wedding. In China, children are not allowed to go to weddings. The girls, especially, were rather enthralled. Jamie and I had to play the role of a bridesmaid and groomsman respectively. The highpoint of the ceremony was definately when Justin, playing the role of the minister, ad libbed the vows big time. I won't repeat what they all entailed here, except for promises that the wife had to make in regards to housekeeping and sorts!
Today was also the last day that we had to spend with our small groups for teaching English. For me, especially, the experience was somewhat bittersweet. There were several students that I will miss working with dearly (well, maybe only two of them) and the rest can be little terrors at time. The worst is when they do something incredibly funny and I'm not supposed to laugh, but can't help not doing so! (Good thing I don't teach 8 year olds!) For example, today we learned how to measure using the English system of measuring (inches) and we measured our feet. Of course, mine were, by far, the largest. My students then told me that I was a dinosaur, because my feet were so big! (I hope it wasn't because I'm so much older than them!) They then developed this game where they all grab onto my shirt as we walk around as "my tail", so I told them if I'm a dinosaur, then they are a dinosaur tail, which they really seemed to get a kick out of!
The rest of the day was spent preparing for the big parent program tomorrow which I was in charge of. I've come to the conclusion that any sort of parent program like this, or in schools, is truly from the pit of hell. Teachers, by and large, don't like the stress that goes into preparing them. Parents, for the most part, are bored out of their mind except for the two minutes that their child is actually on stage. Kids hate rehearsing them. They'd much rather be outside playing (or in the case of my students, playing "Bingo" or "Oh Bo Shi Naten Taten"). Everybody has an opinion as to how things should be done and when you're the person coordinating it, it's difficult not to offend others. I truly think that the only reason that we continue to have these programs is because we haven't learned from those who have gone before us and analyzed this pointless American tradition! Okay, enough ranting about that.
Friday was the aforementioned program. I was rather stressed out all day. (Jamie would say that's a gross understatement, but she's not writing this blog, I am!) I had to redo the programs several times due to various printing errors, some by my own doing, and some becasue I can't read the Chinese instructions on the computer that I was using! I prepped the portion that my small group was supposed to do rather quickly. To be honest, I resorted to bribery, but it worked beautifully. (I just told them that if they hurried up and practiced well, they could play games the rest of the morning. I've never seen such motivated 8 year olds in my entire life!) Prior to the full-blown dress rehersal, we had our Olympics, which were a lot of fun. The little kids doing the tug of war using a giant tug of war rope was so funny! Some of the poor kids were being dragged across the field and refused to let go of the rope, even though they were getting rug burns from the astroturf on the ground! Talk about dedication!
That afternoon, we had our dress rehersal which could not have gone worse. The kids were bouncing off of the walls (I can't imagine what they would have been like if we would have given them sugar at lunch!), and everyone seemed to have a different idea of how to do things. Two hours later, we got through the entire ceremony, which by my estimation, was going to take about 45 minutes. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about the ceremony!
Finally, the parents started to arrive. I was under the impression that not many parents would show up, but I would estimate that there were about 60 parents or so there, which was rather impressive, but only made me a bit more nervous. Anyway, we got things rolling with my two little terrors, Sean and John, playing their violins. It was amazing to me that they were so incredibly focused and serious while playing their violins. They were actually quite good at it too! Well, the ceremony began and went extremely well, even though it was rather long for those little kids to be sitting for so long. (Jamie was physically restraining some of the youngest so that they wouldn't go flying out of their seats at the end!) They all did so well, especially when they were dancing to "YMCA" and singing their songs. At the end, one of the high level executives from IBM got up and said how pleased he was with the students and what they learned about the camp, which made all of us feel really good about the job we had done. Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief for the first time in well over a day!
We then got to meet the parents of most of the campers, which was a lot of fun. Fanny's father informed me that she was quite the martial artist which didn't really surprise me. However, she seemed very embarrassed by the fact that I now knew this about her! For the most part, the end of camp was rather bittersweet. On one hand, time had definately run its course and we all needed a break. However, we'll definately miss the kids and seeing some of them go was sad.
Afterward, we worked incredibly quickly to reset everything in the school back to the way we found it and cleaned up, took inventory, and got things packed away for next year. With only a brief break for Papa John's, we got everything done that we needed to do within three hours, which now leaves Saturday and Sunday for fun and sightseeing in Shanghai before we leave for Beijing on Sunday night. I hope to post again about those adventures before the 12 hour, overnight train ride, which should be an experience in and of itself. Until then...