Jan 28, 2012
What started out to be any normal week was soon turned on its head. After being her for well over 5months it seems strange that I'm still surprised when I don’t have a normal week.Monday to Wednesday just seemed like any other day, get up, go to school, go home and sleep. Thursday was a little bit different. After getting the kindergarten children to blow a paper fish across the floor we were called back to our primary school. Steve needed us to help him coach a young boy in his class for a talent competition that weekend. Little did we know that we were going to be the judges of that talent show. After watching and helping this boy who called himself little pig he and his parents took us and Steve out for dinner to say thank you. We went to a restaurant called Paradise Bird. We were greeted at the door by women in traditional Chinese dresses and led to our private room. Here we ate enough to feed a country. From tofu soup to pork cheek there was mountains of food. After demolishing it we went home to pack for our unexpected trip. 7.30am Friday morning and Steve was waiting for us in a car around the corner from our apartment. We drove to the far side of Jingshan Park and waited for our coach. While we waited we were bombarded with questions from Children of all ages taking part in the competition. Here we met a young boy called Simba (like the lion king). When we asked him if he’d been to England before he mentioned that he went to a small seaside town called Weymouth. Out of all the people that are in China, what are the odds of finding someone that’s been to Weymouth. Not only that but he also went bowling last year with EF. I don’t remember him but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had shouted at him while he was there. Simba was very rude. If any other kid wanted to talk to us he would make a snide comment and stare at them until they were done talking. Unfortunately he had very good English so we knew he would go far in the competition. After meeting lots of new people we got on the bus. It took just over 2hours to get to Luoyang where the Star of Outlook competition was being held. Once there we were checked into the Comfort Hotel ready for our long weekend ahead. As soon as we got to our room we got a phone call from Steve asking us to come for lunch with one of the organisers. They took us a few minutes away from the hotel to a restaurant where we had steamed carrots and celery, cow’s lung and noodle soup. Yet again we were stuffed. It didn’t help that we had to practically inhale it because we needed to get back to the hotel for a meeting. After the boring meeting (boring because it was all in Chinese and we didn’t understand any of it) it was time to start the competition. I was separated from Oliver so there would be a foreigner on each panel and we were taken to different rooms. There would be 5 judges on each panel. I was with 2 Chinese women, Steve and a Rastafarian called Loh. Oliver was with 3 Chinese men and a university professor called Regande who is from the Philippines. The children we split into age groups of kindergarten, lower primary, higher primary, middle school, high school, university. I got the lower 3 while Oliver got the middle school kids to university kids. First the children would do an introduction about themselves then they would make a story out of 3 words that they were given before they stood on stage and last they had to do a reading of some sort. Some people read a story while others had a film in the background and they were voice overs. Once the act was up we would write on a white board what score out of 50 they would have. Some children were so nervous that when they stood on stage no words came out. After a 3hours of judging it was over for day 1. Steve asked us if we wanted to go anywhere in Luoyang but everywhere we mentioned was closed. Instead we were taken to a park/ zoo/ amusements. Instead of walking a lady asked us if she could take us. She had a little boy called Jason who was last year’s winner. He was only 5 ½ but he knew so much. I wasn’t shocked at all that he had won last year. We walked around the park for a while with Steve seeing about 200 people dancing and in a few dark corners of the park there were people doing tai chi. After an hour or so it got too dark to see so we headed back so a good night’s rest. Up at 6.15am to start a whole day of judging. Outstanding acts to dreadful acts it was soon time for lunch. While eating we were told that we would swap rooms for the rest of the competition so Oliver would get the younger children while I would get the older. We were now going to watch all the acts that we put through in the first round. This time they would do a preform their talent then answer some questions. Since the kids were very nervous they felt that it should just be the foreigners that ask the questions. My mind went blank most of the time I had to ask something so I just asked them if they were a colour what colour they would be and why. If all else failed I would ask them about the YOG (Youth Olympic Games) which seemed to be a big part of the competition. I’m not sure who was more nervous me or the kids. After making lots of contestants cry Sunday was upon us, time for the award ceremony. Instead of being in two separate rooms we formed 1 large judging panel for the regional finals. This was being filmed by CCTV one of China’s biggest TV stations. 10 people were left in each group which we had to whittle down to 5. Once more the children were put through another test to see if they could make a story up lasting 90seconds on the spot. The quivering children stood in front of an audience of about 300 ready to be sent home or to get through to the final in Beijing. Once the finalists had been announced it was time to be special guests and present the awards. This just meant that we had to listen very carefully to the Chinese because no one knew when our names would be called up. Luckily Oliver was first so that put me on high alert. The competition finally came to an end at about 7pm. The coach ride back seemed to take forever. With a constant flow of kids wanting our attention the need for sleep seemed greater than ever. Our eyes lit up when we felt the coach stop. Yes! We would be home in bed within 30mins. That was wishful thinking I guess. Steve and little pig’s family wanted to show their appreciation by taking us out for another meal. This time it was at the restaurant that we went to on our first night in Zhengzhou. Yet again we had enough food on the table to feed an army. This time we had orange sponge goo thing, roast beef (I think), Roots of a tree (which tasted of potatoes) dipped in sugar, peanut batter balls and so much more. Feeling like balloons we headed for home at 11pm and were asleep before we could say goodnight. Oliver's bit: what a mental weekend so many good contestants if only all the kids at our school were as nice as these kids. Any who we had a great time smashing peoples hopes and dreams of becoming China's no1 English speaker, lots of acts were really good from awesome break dancing boys to amazing flute playing girls, I got to judge the first lot of college students and it mostly consisted of babes so as an all-male judging panel I think the scores were a bit biased. The next day however we swapped judging panels to the judge the primary school students and kindergarten, and one judge in particular continued to give suspiciously high scores to scantily clad 9 year olds (not me you dirty pervs). After a long weekend we were knackered and went straight to sleep however I still did not have a lesson plan prepared for the next day so the sleep was not so great.