October 31, 2006 - Guyuan, China
Halloween in the Chinese Heartland
It’s Halloween in Guyuan, China.
Unfortunately though in name only. Not a cheap plastic ghoul, inflatable ghost waving its ragged arms or Diabetes-sized bag of candy to be seen. Not even any of that filthy fake cobweb getting everywhere. I’ll have to be content with making it up for myself.
As I hurried to class yesterday morning I had the feeling I was teaching the wrong thing. The prepared lesson was on heros. What is a hero, who are some important heros, some dandy hero vocab and a “My hero is…” exercise. Not groundbreaking work but decent material. Still, it wasn’t what I was “supposed” to be teaching.
In one of those small moments of clarity - I relish them, they come few and far between - I realized that it was that wonderful orangist of holidays. The lesson shouldn’t be on heros! It should have been on ghosts!
So, again, poor class 14 got the brunt end of the stick1. I don’t think they realize the hapless situation they’re in, namely their role as my class-plan Guinea Pigs. They might as well be lipstick rabbits - cute little faces smeared with nasty stinging lipstick - grimacing with the halfbaked learning games and vocab thrown their way.
I rushed through lunch, stopped by the supermarket to grab a big bag of bulk candy and rushed to insert some ghouls and masks and jack-o-lanterns into a new plan. The candy though, blech, if somebody tried handing that out to me? They’d have some TP to clean up in the morning. It’s a bit of a running joke among VIA vols. that you should never - ever - have expectations regarding packaged foodstuffs here. In fact it’s usually best to imagine the worst possible scenario for what you might find and things usually go up from there. One of the more memorable items was a puffpack of “Blueberry Pancakes.” A nice big tantalizing color photo on the outside of a stack of fluffy pancakes, syrup dripping down the sides and topped with glistening purple blueberries.
Inside? A lumpy mass of tasteless dough impregnated with a surprisingly small amount of off-purple sludge, chemically - or possibly through some sort of black magic - rendered to have a smell vaguely of blueberries and taste convincingly of new car smell. China Surprise!
The next three classes of the day sat in strange silence as they learned of a holiday they had never imagined. I tossed out candy and rambled on about black cats and the best part? I got to scare the daylights out of them.
I started with a story about a small girl who carved 3 pumpkins to look like a ghost, a cat, and a devil (Now, can anybody tell me, what did the jack-o-lanterns look like?) and who LOVED Halloween because of the treats (And why did Rose Marie love Halloween kids?). The pseudo-lesson/story quickly devolved into a sick little shocker.
Enter deep menacing voice, crouched gait and wide eyes. Do a short lead in to Rose Maries’ sugar-fueled sleep and her waking to footsteps downstairs…
“Rose Marie - I’m on the first step and I’m coming to get you!”
I had them at that. Any residual chatter was cut short.
Then, Rose Marie heard another step and the voice said
“Rose Marie I am on the second step and I am coming to get you!”
At this point they were rapt, following my slow stalking around the class, eyes wide. They were in trouble - and they didn’t know it.
A feeling of guilt almost dissuaded me from continuing, but this - this - is what makes teaching fun. No, that’s not sadism you hear…
Stringing them along for a few more steps of the voice acting their heads could have been on gimbals.
“Rose Marie I am right beside your bed!”
They were mine.
“Rose Marie! I GOTCHYA!”
Ah, the pleasant sound of terror in sixty-five small racing hearts. And I get to do this 14 more times.
» The Jetsam of Note
Music For Earthworms - Went diggin’ a bit and finally found a copy. Aesop Rock released this in 1997 on CD-R. Excellent stuff. Anyone have “Appleseed”?
Poor kids - scared half to death. I pity for them when you decide to teach about April Fools.
Oh you know they're gonna have to be on their nimble little toes for April Fools...
Thanks for the cross-link, dude!
No prob Shandong! Great stuff on Halloween by the way - wish I could say mine was as eventful...
Actually, you don't have to post this, but I was just thinking...
with the privacy of American citizens being violated (and probably forever stripped) by our own government, doesn't it make sense that there would be found a way to moniter our internet usage via major search engines?
Don't know what to think yet (except, "YIKES!"), but heck, maybe it's worth a few more moments of thought (since bureaucratic America is headed down a such dark path 'n all).
Haha, I wonder if the ghost story of Rose Marie isn't a parable for Big Brother!
Way to go, scaring the children. You have a gift, lol! Now you know what to do if they misbehave.
hmm, I forgot about April Fools, ALLISTER start preparing yourself NOW!
For some hilarious reading, go read the reviews of Lynne Cheney's new childrens book...