Experiencing my first big “American” holiday out of the country has been interesting to say the least. Halloween is not celebrated in China, but they know enough that it is an American holiday, and a good excuse to have some fun.
I was invited to a ‘Halloween Party’ by the school’s English Association. None of the other English teachers were going. Ryan had a class, and those who had been to the party last year refused to go again. Why? Because they were made to act as dancing monkeys.
It’s a pretty common occurrence here. As a westerner, the school, or students, want you to attend things to make the place look more ‘international.’ But of course, if you just sit on the sidelines then not everyone would be able to see you, right? But if they make you stand on a stage, with bright lights pointed at you and a microphone in your hand then everyone can see!
And that’s just what this ‘Halloween’ party was about.
Luckily I had warning from the other teachers. So instead of preparing a long story to read (which the students would not listen to and just talk over instead) I decided to keep it short and sweet. I decided to tell five truly terrible Halloween jokes. I mean, real groan worthy ones like:
What did Dracula visit in NYC?
The Vampire State Building!
I also knew that the students wouldn’t get it because it was based on word play, and let’s face it, the jokes aren’t even funny for native English speakers. But with only five I figured it would be short and sweet and I could be off the stage before they even knew what hit them.
So, that’s just what happened. One of the other English teachers, Lynn, was nice enough to go with me, but she refused to go on the stage. The party was outdoors, and in a spot that had a raised platform. I got there mere seconds before my program (I swear that’s what they called it) was about to start. One of my students, who was also an organizer, got me a mask and before I knew it I was pushed onto the stage, the glare of hundreds of eyes on me.
Since it was dark out, and the lights were on me I couldn’t really see much, but I could tell there were a lot of students because they had glow sticks. Maybe 150-200. So far all the other programs had been singing–karaoke style–and I think maybe they thought I was going to do that. Yeah right! So I got up, introduced who I was, gave a shout-out to my students (who cheered) and as quick as possible started my jokes:
“What do they teach at witching school? Spelling!”
“What street does a ghost live on? A dead end!”
It was painful, but just as I guessed it was over in seconds and I was able to escape the bright lights. Some of my students found Lynn and I, gave us some candy, and we sat by them. Of course they didn’t get the jokes, but I said that was okay, and it seemed to be forgotten pretty quickly. They had their dancing monkey performance and that’s all that really mattered.
The rest of the party was fun. Four of my students sang a song from High School Musical and did a good job. One of my students also won an apple bobbing contest (It wasn’t really bobbing for apples but a sanitized version of it) and I even ended up dancing to the Bunny Hop. (This song is the Chinese version of the Macarena complete with little hopping moves.)
While nothing beats trick-or-treating, hanging out with a bunch of Chinese 20-year-olds innocently singing and dancing away at silly songs was a good alternative.