No Singing on Campus
Wednesday marked the 7th day since the devastating 6.9 earthquake struck the Tibetan region, Yushu (pronounced you – shoo), of Qinghai Province.
To honor and remember those who died and are now struggling to survive in their remote areas, our school announced that students not sing songs for the day. We were to remain song-less, including music classes or just singing gatherings among classmates.
For myself, this meant my morning classes went without our usual warm-up songs or teaching methodology bits that have us singing. Instead, we chanted lyrics in rhythm. Next week, we’ll add the music but for the remembrance day, I was very conscientious to honor the edicts of our college that have asked for students to refrain from joyful singing.
Fortunately, our English language singing contest falls on Saturday evening and didn’t fall on Wednesday. That would really have been a lot of rearranging on the students’ part to get that changed to another day.
Our Candlelight Vigil
Along with no-singing on campus came another remembrance moment: An evening candlelight vigil sponsored by the Student Association.
At 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, my students and I showed up at the basketball courts along with around 300 others.
The Association members had been hard at work all day planning a commemorative ceremony. They had a huge heart outlined in candles drawn on the outdoor court. Inside the heart, candles spelled out in Chinese characters “Yushu”, the name of the earthquake county, and “4-14”, which is the date the earthquake struck (April 14).
We also brought our own candles as well.
We were a bit late in starting and didn’t get underway until 9:30. It was smothering outside. The humidity was high and the heat oppressive, even this late at night. Huddling so close together around the huge heart, we were extremely hot but we stayed where we were as this was a moment to forget about our own discomfort.
We were here to remember others.
The ceremony began with an explanation of the quake and why we were here from the student leader, said over the loudspeaker. Then the Association members lit the candles around the heart and in the center.
After they had finished, we around the heart rim lit our own candles from those outlining the heart and passed the light to others.
When everyone was lit, we stood for 3 minutes in silence. A final, encouraging cheer of “Jia you, Yushu!” (Come on, Yushu!) was shouted 3 times by all of us.
We were then asked to join our candles with those already set before us for the earthquake victims and the survivors.
After doing so, we all stood around until the last candle had burned to the ground.
Over 500 candles were constantly flickering in the beginning, with students walking into the center every so often to relight candles that burned out.
No candle was allowed to stand unlit. This was the way students were honoring those who had suffered in the earthquake.
I later learned that this kind of ceremony was first devised and suggested by the government for the Sichuan earthquake remembrance less than 2 years ago. Many of those on campus had already participated in a similar gathering when they were in high school, in their hometowns.
I’m sure many of them never thought that they’d be having a second one so soon.
I know I didn’t.
The Singing Contest is Almost Here! Pray for Electricity
Thursday brought us back to normal days around the campus, aside from the electricity outages we’ve been experiencing for the past 3 days, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Uhg)
Until then, it’s all preparation scrambling for our English singing competition to be held at 8 p.m. tomorrow night (Saturday). The student leaders and I have already met on several occasions to discuss details, our latest meeting having taken place yesterday night.
It’ll be a bit long, in my opinion. We have 20 contestants but that’s the number the organizers wanted. I suggested 10 or 15 but was vetoed. If we’re lucky, we’ll be ending by 11 p.m. and not after that.
Just hope our electricity doesn’t go out on us again for an entire Saturday or we’ll really be in a bind. Last Saturday, it didn’t come back on until after midnight.
Wish us luck, everyone!
From Longzhou, Ping An (Peace)