Sunday, July 20, 2003

Among our myriad duties here besides teaching English are leading half assed projects like organizing our classses for weekly competitions. This week was a song competition. Each teacher picked an English song for their class to perform. I resisted the temptation to teach "We Don't Need No Education", or "Sympathy for the Devil" and in five days, largely with the help of my 19-year-old TA, Fey, managed to coax our class (the Panda Team) through a passable rendition of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain." It was pretty no-frills, incorporating only three simple hand gestures and no dancing.
The range of the other teachers went from "Heroe's (David Bowie/Wall Flowers) "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" to "Jesus Loves You," Itsy Bitsy Spider, B.I.N.G.O. to some Digable Planets hip-hop. One teacher in particular, a young woman I'll call "V" had her "Rabbit Team" completely choreographed with dancing, hand jive, chants and about three different songs. The kids performed in front of three adult judges, all school administrators..
"We're toast. Definitely toast." I told Fey after V's rabbits went through their glittering paces.
"What is toast? What do you mean?"
I didn't have time to explain. Panda team went up next, ripped through "Comin' Round the Mountain" without shoving and pushing each other, filed back to our seats and waited for the inevitable decision for V's group.
Surprise! Panda Team won. We couldn't believe it. We still don't know why. I let the kids have the next hour of class off to play in the gym as a reward. Meanwhile, I suddenly became a first class teacher in some Chinese administrators eyes. Several requested the CD I had of "Coming Round the Mountain" so they could burn copies, like it was some sort of rare bootlegged lost recording session of Kurt Cobain.
"V", who is a born again Christian, was not very Christian in losing. She complained that the judges favored me and moaned that she had prayed to Jesus to win and didn't know why she hadn't. I should of told her I had invoked Lord Lucifer's dark powers to help my Pandas, but I kept my mouth shut.
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