Teacher Day. It sounds like another Hallmark holiday. In America, I think they do have a teacher’s day in which you are probably suppose to buy a card and give your teacher a shiny red apple.
But here in China it is serious business. Teacher’s Day is practically a national holiday with the government and every school getting in on the action. My school was no different. I went to a choral concert tonight (two of the international office staff were singing so we went to support them) and before the concert began they called up a bunch of teachers to give them awards, and certificates.
Then they called up another row of teachers.
And then another…
It went on for a good 30 minutes. The announcer would say a bunch of names, the teachers would come up, get a certificate and a handshake and applause, then as they would file off the net group would file on. I’m sure if you were one of the teachers it would have been very exciting; but sitting in the audience, not so much.
Later we had a small ceremony of our own. Wendy (who happened to be one of the singers that evening) gave us each a HUGE bouquet of flowers and an envelope, thanking each of us foreign teachers as we stood outside in the dark. Inside the envelope? Money. It wasn’t much, but seeing as how we have only been teachers for 4 days at that point, it was very nice.
It turns out that Teacher Day was created in the mid 80’s to respect and encourage teachers who back then were underpaid and overworked. There are 10 million teachers in China, (a number that just boggles the mind).
Earlier in the day three students found me and gave me a mug. It’s a really nice mug and I was very touched seeing as I had only taught them in one class. In their broken but solemn English they told me that they respected teachers very much and had to thank me for all my hard work.