A Party with Students (aka: that time I felt like I was in a musical)

Cicy brought her polaroid camera!
Earlier this week a couple of my students began planning a time to come over to my apartment and cook together, which is to say, Friday evening.  This morning consisted of a bunch of messages back and forth with the upshot being that they'd come and we'd make jiaozi (dumplings) together.  They were inviting a few of Miriam's students too; since they're all in the same department, a lot of our students are friends.

Cicy, Meici, Chelsea, Celina, me and Georgina's eye
After classes this morning, I stopped by Miriam's apartment to make sure she knew the plan and she was laughing about the fact that one of her students had invited her to a party in my apartment.  We coordinated stuff I needed her to bring -- slippers, a pot to boil the jiaozi in, etc, and I went to take a nap and clean up my apartment.  At 5:30 I met the five students at the gate, as we had planned.  They came up to my apartment and then announced that in fact, we needed to go buy food.

...that was a new one.

In fact, there are no full fledged grocery stores (such as would sell jiaozi wrappers and/or meat) on campus.  But we're in China, so no problem.  We simply walked over to Snack Street and went to one of the jiaozi shops, where the students explained that we wanted to buy the wrappers and meat for 80 jiaozi.  Not, in fact, 80 jiaozi but all the materials to make them ourselves in my apartment.  So we chilled there for a bit while the workers rolled out a ton of extra wrappers and scooped filling into containers, laughing their heads off.  I'm pretty sure we'll be a story there for a while.  The workers are also from the north east of China (best jiaozi!) so they made fun of the students' Sichuan accents and worked on teaching them a more northeastern accent.

boiling the jiaozi!
Finally, with all of the materials to assemble our jiaozi, we headed back to my apartments.  There were stops made along the way on this venture to acquire milk tea (which is probably at least partly responsible for the fact that I'm still cheerfully awake past midnight....) and a jello-like sort of dessert.  Chelsea was ordering for me and confused the seller to death by saying, "Strawberry!"  I love it when students get so into speaking English that they start using it all the time.

The rest of the evening consisted of making and eating tons of jiaozi (and delicious dipping sauce, thanks to my friend Simon's stellar recipe) and playing games.  And taking pictures.  And laughing so hard that I cried multiple times.  The five students who were over were a complete hoot, prone to breaking into song at the slightest provocation.  I felt like I'd just stepped into an alternate reality where I was living in a Chinese musical.  It really wasn't a bad feeling.

cut-throat phase ten.  well, at least there was plenty of trash-talking going on.
Noteworthy moments from tonight:

Cicy helped me wash all of the dishes.  AND USED SOAP.  For some reason, using soap is not considered an integral part of dishwashing in China.

Chelsea, it turns out, is basically a professional at smack talking.  I was impressed that this skill transferred into English... Two prime examples:
Georgina:  "Thank you!!"
me:  "You're so polite!"
Georgina:  "What?" *looks at Chelsea for a translation*
Chelsea: *not missing a beat*  "她说你丑。"  (She said you're ugly.)
(and I poked Chelsea in the ribs and discovered that she is super ticklish.)

Celina was explaining her tattoo and forgot the English word for flamingo.
Chelsea, translating, "It's a chicken!"

Basically Chelsea is not the person to trust for translations.

We had a fun opportunity to talk a little bit about the history of Christmas.

We found, mid-musical interlude, that the Chinese version of the ABC song and the American one is not the same....

And while my Chinese isn't good, and my Sichuan dialect is even worse,  my Chinglish is really not bad.  That may become my new standard answer for students.

Finally, not about tonight, but about my Friday classes: I was super proud of them today.  This week, as a part of learning about outlining speeches, I've had them listening to a TED talk called "Let's Not Use Mars" (which is a great speech) and attempting to follow along and figure out her thesis and some of the main points.  I knew it was going to be a challenge for them -- she speaks quickly, there's a good bit of scientific jargon, and it's a somewhat complicated and non-linear speech.


Both classes today stayed tuned in while listening and actually grasped huge parts of the vital information the first time they watched it.  (Or else they had talked to my other classes that happen earlier in the week -- in which case, I'm still impressed with their level of coordination.  ;-))  There were plenty of blank stares, but I was blown away.

It was a good day on this side of the planet.

all the love for and from these girls.


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