Thursday, March 12, 2009

english night

I must admit that there was a time when I didn't feel like having an English Night. But there I was last Friday night; giving high fives, leading 250 students sing "Brown Eyed Girl," and dancing my way down to the stage to "Paper Planes." And I wouldn't have had it any other way. Ryan and I had attempted to pitch an "English Club" to the administration at our school last semester, and it met unexpected opposition. Ms. Zhao, the head of the English Dept. and our boss, heard the word 'club' and immediately expected us to plan an opening ceremony for our bonafide 'club', which would include board meetings and club officers. So, we decided to re-pitch our idea under the name "English Night" a month or so later, and I can gladly say that we haven't appointed any club officers yet, and we don't plan to. Ms. Zhao loved the idea, and so did the students.

"Hey, are you coming to English Night on Friday night?"

"What is it?" one skeptical girl answered.

"Well, we're going to sing some English songs and play some games--"

Her eyes lit up. "Perfect!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands together.

Many of us in Baoding had set goals at the beginning of the semester to switch gears with our friendships. Last semester we had stretched ourselves wide among the students, taking advantage of every opportunity to get to know our students. As a result of this, we all have close friends on our campuses, many of them unexpected. This semester we decided it was time to go deep instead of wide. We have tried our best to focus on those close friendships, sometimes having forsaking others in order to do so. It has been quite a change, and extremely fruitful. And so I sat at our initial planning meeting with the other four people on our team, skeptical. We were dreaming about what songs to sing and what kind of a skit to perform, and I couldn't stay quiet any longer.

"I'm sorry; I'm all of a sudden wondering why we're doing this in the first place," I said, "I mean, if we're trying to go deep instead of wide, why do we want to host an event for hundreds of students. Isn't it a little counter-productive?"

The others were confused, rightfully.

"We aren't just getting up there singing songs and giving a lecture," answered Emily, "It's about much more than that..."

"We're proclaiming truth to hundreds of students," added Amelia.

And so I was convinced. It took about another ten minutes for me to jump back on the bandwagon, but jump I did. Especially after Tim and I were assigned the "Run-On." It had been a while since any of us had planned a Club, and we were a little rusty. But all it took was a night of planning over grilled cheese sandwhiches in my kitchen for Tim and I to create a character infusing kung fu and magic, and we were back in the groove. You should have seen Tim practicing his opening magic dance across the red tile floor, or maybe it would be better if you just watched the performance itself...

-Important Notes-

Our good friend, Vince (seen above), was responsible for the camera-work. Notice the acrobatic cinematography.

Near the end of Part 2, Emily (Rose) gives a heart-wrenching monologue where she rhetorically asks the crowd, "What should I do?" Listen closely for a girl yelling, "BEAT HER!" Apparently, by the look on her face, she wasn't kidding. It nearly broke Emily from her character.

Part 1

Part 2

The Night led to some good conversations and opportunities to get closer with our good friends. It was a success in every possible way. So many of my students have told me in class this week how much they loved it.

Be thinking about our close relationships with Robert, Vince, Jack, and Ken.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Tim's fish look an AWFUL lot like his dragon?!

Anonymous said...

This is Bridget, by the way.