I’ve had another interesting week here at Wenzhou Med College. Judging a speech competition on Monday evening, and just before the start of one of the classes on Fri I was politely asked, of course, if I’d like to take part in another speaking event, this time a poetry competition. I couldn’t well refuse, even though I’d be a bit jaded after three classes I do have on that day. Besides, it’s no big deal when you only live a five minute bike ride away from the teaching and admin area of the campus. And because of what turned out, I’m glad I did. I mean, what an eye-opener! You learn something everyday, surely!
Before I go on, I’d better explain that I ‘teach’ (showing and explaining to them some new English terms might be a better phrase) a class of Sophomore students on a Fri, some of whom are up-and-coming high flyers, and five of these high flyers took part in the Monday speech competition. However, only one of them made it through to the final which I shall also be a participating judge. At the start of the class I asked two of the top English students, Jane and Bonnie, how they felt. Still nursing their wounds about losing on Mon, they couldn’t help manifest frustrated expressions, even taking them out a bit on me because of being one of the judges. I unintentionally added salt to their wounds by saying “well, yes, Emma won.” Oops! Sorry girls! If this has already damaged my prospects of being invited to sign another contract here next year - something which I’m in two minds about doing anyway - too bad.
And about Emma. Given the tirade of success she has here in the English world, captain of the speech and debating class, among other stories, in which I was invited to take a couple of weeks ago, it’s a wonder she has any friends among her classmates at all. Well, yes, she does have one, Alisa, who also took part and lost on Monday. It’s incredibly complex how human beings either gravitate towards one person and not to another, don’t you think?
So, back to Friday’s competition. Chinese excel at getting organization hopelessly muddled. The event was postponed due to the room being used for a test. One girl asked me if I’d like to go and ‘play with us’ for an hour. Playing is for kids, not adults, I politely refused leaving her with her frustrations and pedalled back to my dirt-ridden rooms and the stinky smells that emanate from the bathroom sinks.
An hour later, I entered the room and who was there, ‘hail fellow well-met Allen, ‘one of my Freshman students who was all showy about me being there and cordially invited me to take a seat at the front behind one of the desks which I duly did. Goodness knows what Allen really thinks about me given the feelings I woke up with this morning. If they’re not very high….it’s too bad…it’s sooo tragic. I may be going over the top here; perhaps not. It’s difficult to guage what one’s real impression of another is.
The contestants were required to perform a presentation before reading their selected verses: say some tongue twisters, sing an English song, etc. One lad forgot the title of the song he chose, ‘Apologize’ by Justin Beiber, which drew howls of laughter from me and Angela. But even more comical was that some of the performers forgot to perform their intro content in English. This, needless to say, scuppered grading the introductory criteria accordingly and properly.
One girl, a Freshman English major, and also, needless to say, in one of my classes, paused for too long while doing her tongue twisters. A bad move,as Angela scornfully commentated: ‘why is she waiting? Goodness gracious!!’
As the contest moved on, who should be participating….wait for it: Alisa, Jane and Vida, all the failures of Monday. And not only were they participating, but were ‘all over’ the event, certainly in terms of performing and speaking their selected verses. And, as it turns out, Jane in particular. She took the stage and started by displaying a big ppt picture of herself with her arms outstretched - one, needless to say, she is particularly very fond of, and launched into a sort of “Look how good I am, and how all the hobbies I do and can excel at doing.” She, predictably, read her lines beautifully outshining all the rest. The results were as follows: Jane 1st, Alisa 2nd Vida 3rd and a girl from another major took a prize also. However, though, I think there were several runners up, given that i was invited to present them with some things as well as being asked to give a dumb speech about what fun it had all been and how well everyone had done.
Just as I was leaving the building, two girls who had failed asked me for advice about how to perform better. With Jane, obviously, in mind I gave them some tips. One of the girls, sadly, said she felt (needlessly, I may add) anxious about the result. With Jane, Alisa and co in the hot seats…why bother.
It would definitely have been more fairer to have had more than one contest so that some of those failed contestants would have had a better chance of getting a prize instead of being ‘turfed out,’ so to speak, by the outshining one’s. I mean, how could you not give th best scores to those concerned, except in the interests of fairness. This is something for the organizers of these events should think about. Will they? I somehow doubt it.
So all I can say is to all those failures who are still nursing their wounds of resentment and hurt, etc, ‘better luck next time.’