Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tree House Opening

The five days before the opening ceremony for the Tree House was stressful!  We had to paint three HUGE advertisement boards.  One board was ruined by drizzle.  The other lost all of its paint because it cracked and fell off.  We had to re-do that board.  Then every night there were rehearsals, Tai Ji, singing, and planning of the games.  Plus the Tree House was open which meant that we had a FULL house of new visitors.  The check-out computer kept cutting off because people would form a Chinese line around the computer table and knock the cords loose.

Thursday arrived and with my stage fright and anxiety I woke up at 3 am to download the martial arts music we would need for the performance.  4:30 pm was when the ceremony was suppose to begin.  There was a nervous empty lull before the storm.  
After lunch we learned that ALL English majors had a mandatory class meeting from 2:30 to who knows when.  What?  What about our workers who were suppose to get the tables and water balloons ready for the ceremony?  
At 3:45 our Tree House workers started showing up and then the craziness began.  We had to setup the tables and squeeze in rehearsals of how to march onto and off the stage for the singing and the martial arts demonstration.  Singing students forgot their white chorus shirts and others forgot their Tai Ji outfits for the martial arts performance.  No one had ladders to hang the red banner above the stage and they had to stack chairs on top of tables.  The sound guys arrived and they couldn't figure out how to get power to the system because it was the first time our department ever hosted an event outside the building.  I accidentally broke a mic holder and people were trying to tape it together.  Then I was told that they couldn't play an mp3 player and needed a CD, so we had no music for the performances and musical chairs.  It was amazing that at 4:30 all of the problems had been solved and we started on time.  I don't get it.  It is incredible how it all just works out.

There were thankfully only three speeches, one from the vice-president, one from the Peace Corps program manager of Gansu, and one from Aftan.  I grinned as the students' mouths dropped open and cheered when she started speaking Chinese.  The singing of Tree House songs by workers and the playing of the Gu Zheng by Aftan were well received.  Students and teachers felt really proud that Aftan could play a traditional Chinese instrument.  Then about 15 students along with Aftan performed Tai Ji flipping open their red fans in thundering precision.  
As I walked onto the stage, the students cheered.  I love the feeling of being in the zone where you don't know what your body really is doing.  It is on automatic mode.  Students complimented my Kung fu, "It was perfect and so strong."  They were amazed that us foreign visitors could do so many Chinese things that they can't.  
For the last performance, the students played musical chairs.  The losers had to pop balloons that contained questions about the Tree House.  Participants won a free Tree House coffee ticket.  The last two games were cancelled due to weather.  As soon as we had cut the ribbon, a freak thunderstorm and dust storm hit.  It was a 5 minute shower ending in a rainbow.  After a tour of the Tree House, we went to a fancy three hour banquet where the automatically rotating lazy susan had a fountain and a garden in the middle of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Looks terrific.
Lisa in Toronto