I taught my last class of the year this past Wednesday and then our students threw a “surprise” farewell party for Celia and I that evening.  I put surprise in quotes because at least a dozen people had referenced this event in passing over the past week, so it really was not much of a surprise.

However, it was a very lovely and typical Chinese party long on good intentions and heart, but short on direction and discretion.  Our students put together a video farewell that consisted of all of our students jumping in front of the camera to say a few words about either Celia or myself and to say goodbye.  The video was very touching.  Then the party took a slight turn towards the bizarre.  Our students have this obsession with having us sing and dance, kind of like caged monkeys.  While Celia was giving her farewell speech, they cajoled her into singing 简单爱, a song by a popular Mando-pop singer named Jay Chou.  When it was my turn to speak, they tried to get me to sing or dance.  Singing or dancing seem to make them happy, but I politely declined.  They then asked me to flex my muscles, which I flat out refused to do.  It was an awkward situation, but I continued speaking.  After the speech, one of my students came up to me and she asked if she could feel my muscles, which was just wrong on so many levels and once again I politely declined her random request.

The rest of the party involved sitting in a circle and playing games like mafia.  At one point, one of our students suggested “truth and dare”, which we understood well enough to immediately shoot down.  Before leaving, the students presented us two binders that were really Chinese versions of slam books (remember those from elementary school where students would pass them around and write down their personal info, hopes, and dreams?) and these were filled with some heart-warming messages.

All in all, the party was a very sweet gesture on the part of our students and I left that evening feeling like I had actually made an impact on some of their lives.  Though there was no way that they were even going to get me to sing and dance for them, no matter how much they begged.