Saturday, June 21, 2008

End of the School Year: Graduation

I graduated from high school and college, but in Taiwan, by the time you become12 years old, you will have lapped me several times in graduation ceremonies. There are graduation ceremonies for everything: pre-school, kindergarten, cram school, elementary (Jethro, you are vindicated), junior high, senior high and college. I am sure there are others, but I am certain about these. These are full blown ceremonies with gowns, speeches and diplomas. The week before, these students, who have been humping it for years to pass the next entrance exam to ensure their admittance into a good school, take time to organize a banquet to celebrate...their teachers.

Yep. If you taught a class for any amount of time, you are invited to a Teacher Appreciation Banquet 謝 師 宴 (xie4 shi1 yan4 / ㄒㄧㄝˋ ㄕ ㄧㄢˋ). The week prior to the banquet teachers will begin receiving invitations and other things. Handmade cards, flowers and gifts (here, a graduation bear) clutter our desks and office.

The banquets themselves vary from casual, buffet style to reserved-room 12-course Chinese style. All were fine, with some of the food being excellent.

The most enjoyment came from being with the students themselves. I saw one of my 9th-grade students, Danny, eating eating oysters with a knife and fork. I thought it was important that he knew the proper way to down an oyster. So, before seeing the actual oyster I told them that real men just put a little lemon and hot sauce on it and slurp it down straight from the shell. Then it arrived. It was about the size of a Nerf football cut in half with a giant whale loogi laying on top of it. Surely I could do this. I most assuredly almost did not. My mouth was wedged full and immobile with a third of it, with another third clogging my throat and the final third was poised, dangling, ready to drop into my stomach should my salavic juices claim victory and pry loose the vacuum seal held by this most ornery of oysters. Finally, as if the oyster was just playing with me to show me who was really in charge, the death grip was released and it cannonballed into my stomach. Not so much enjoyment for me, but the kids couldn't stop laughing and filming with their cell phones as I contorted and staggered around.

The school year is over for me and I will not see many of these kids again. A good number will and do return to visit. Regardless of whether I see them again or not, I know that I will be able to do it all over again next year. I cannot see myself doing anything else.

Students, 謝謝你.


Oyster Danny


Bread said...

and just when i'd begun to think life had sucked all positive thought out of j-hole's mind he posts this.

Anonymous said...

Is that a grateful dead shirt he's wearing?

P.I.M.P said...

J, I can appreciate the joy one receives at the end of a school year and agree all the praise is complimentary of all the effort put into a school year.

J-hole said...

That is a Dead t-shirt and he even knew who they were. But, none of their CDs.