Saturday, December 24, 2011

Foreigner Party

Yep that was what it was called.

The day before the party, I received a text message from my counterpart saying, "Are you free to attend a meeting hosted by someone in Chengdu?  You will represent us there."

"I am free.  I can go," I text back.

She sent me the address via email and I would have biked if the rain hadn't been pouring down.  One thing I love about living in a new city is the exploring of streets, bus lines, and getting lost but eventually finding my way.  The meeting was held in a hotel on a street that I had already walked along during one of my exploratory walks through Chengdu.  It was a street full of bright fabric, dance costumes, hostess ball gowns, and ethnic clothes used for performances.

I assumed the meeting was about the safety of foreigners in the city.  I remembered that the Lanzhou volunteers had to attend a session with the police on how to be safe in the city.  Instead the banner read, Welcome to the 2011 Foreigner Party welcoming us to a room full of balloons and plates filled with sunflower seeds, peanuts, candy, oranges, and cookies. 

I arrived early wanting to give myself plenty of time to get lost in case it was a hard to find location.  Plus I had 90 listening papers to grade which I graded to Christmas elevator music whose 2 songs ran on repeat.  By the time the event started, I had finished about 50% of the work.

The room filled with a small number of about 20 foreigners which was surprising because the city has a TON of foreigners.  The party opened with 30 minute of speeches, then two people sang Christmas carols, then we were asked to play games- a balloon race with a partner where you can't use your hands, musical chairs, with your feet pop the balloons that are tied around two people's legs, and organize three people to somehow be on the smallest area of a piece of newspaper.  It was a strange surreal atmosphere where as the party progressed the numbers dwindled from 20 to 10 to eventually 5. 

People in China love playing these games that I often consider are children's party games.  I remember sitting at a Chinese restaurant watching adults play musical chairs and have a watermelon eating contest to receive a free plate of fish or a water bottle.

I did mingle and make small talk learning that many of the foreigners were primary and secondary education teachers and their biggest challenge was classroom management with 60-80 students.  Not sure why my college was invited, but I did learn new games that I can use in my classroom or at parties I might help organize in the future.  It wasn't a total waste of time.

1 comment:

universalibrarian said...

Strange learning new games is good. Who had hosted or set it up?