A Change of Website
For 2011, I have learned that My Space is closing up shop. All My Space blogs are to be moved to a new location. Beginning January 4, no new blog postings will be allowed. As of March, all My Space websites will be discontinued.
At present, I am to move my site to the new location. Unfortunately, I am having difficulty doing this. I will try my best but if you don’t hear from me for awhile after this entry, that is the reason.
Generous Funds for Campus Celebrations
One thing that I’ve always appreciated about this college is the amount of money allotted to student organizations for campus events. Contests, special performances, celebrations (such as Christmas and New Year’s) and other activities are not cheap. Sound equipment, stage decorations, and costume rentals for dancers or MCs all cost money.
At my previous placement in Sichuan, the school officials rarely parted with the college’s cash. They held tightly to the funds and refused to dole out even a little for our activities.
But here is a different story.
Ushering in 2011
Naturally, New Year’s Eve was yet another opportunity for the Student Union to use their organizational expertise to throw a grand showing like they did for Christmas.
Announcement boards all around campus caused plenty of anticipation among the students about the big event.
7:30 p.m. would start 3 hours of stage performances with singers and dancers.
8 p.m. the big bonfire would be lit. Party games with prizes were to continue onward until midnight when there would be a firework display.
After that, free sparklers would be handed out to all present for yet more partying time. Everything would close up at 1:30 a.m., when the volunteers were required to clean everything up to make for a tidy January 1st.
It was a detailed schedule and one which we all were looking forward to.
The Bonfire: “Kaboom!”
I’m not a big one for stage performances in China, especially as the students singing their pop-song solos are always off-key, scream into the microphone, and the music is too loud. It’s not very pleasant to Western ears but the cheering Chinese student fans adore such things.
However, the one thing I was interested in seeing was the lighting of our bonfire .
This year, the Student Union volunteers had made the outline of “2011” with split bamboo. In the halved bamboo, they poured in lighter fluid so when one end was lit, it would race through all the numbers, finally arrowing into the big bonfire.
For our safety, the volunteers had roped off the area. We were a good 5 feet back but even then, I had to wonder about what would happen when the flames raced to piles of kindling before us.
Why was that?
Well, the lighter fluid used was gasoline.
I watched the Student Union members (and it would be the guys, of course) go a bit overboard with the gasoline. They doused the wood and paper piled on top of our bonfire with a lot of gusto, most likely wanting to make sure we had a flame worthy of the New Year.
I remember taking a few more steps back, just in case that initial lighting needed a bit more than 5 feet of distance.
As 8 p.m. approached, the MC shouted excited greetings to all of us as the torch bearers proudly trotted down to light our 2011 numbers. I had my doubts that the fire would reach the bonfire without a little help. Volunteers with extra torches lined the roped-off area to make sure the flame continue onward to the bonfire.
The “2” started to light first.
The students cheered!
The fire continued tamely to the “0”, then the first “1", then the second "1".
Everyone was clapping!
Then our fire hit the grand prize, the bonfire.
A huge explosion sent paper and kindling flying everywhere.
The surrounding crowd-control volunteers ducked for cover. We in the crowds rushed backwards. A gigantic flame shot skyward.
Wow! Now that’s what I call a New Year’s bonfire!
Thankfully, no one was hurt. The fire died down to nothing just as quickly as it went up. The volunteers then spent another 10 minutes getting it started up again to the point where it would burn all evening.
After that, our biggest thrill was the firework display at midnight. We had 15 minutes of non-stop fireworks, lit in their tubes by the students who raced about to give us a lovely show. In the States, this would have been done by a professional company or the local fire department. In China, however, it seems anyone can buy firework displays and put them on by themselves.
The last activity of the evening was the sparklers. Adults, students, children and even the elderly enjoyed in on their free gift.
Aside from the bonfire, I’d say this was yet another dangerous moment with everyone standing so close to one another, wildly waving their sparklers around and even having sword fights with them. It was a miracle that the college kids, or the little children for that matter, in their overzealous eagerness, didn’t burn themselves.
But that’s an American’s way of thinking. For the Chinese, safety wasn’t an issue, just having fun. And they certainly had fun.
Happy New Year, Everyone! Hope your 2011 is a blessed one, and just as much a "blast" as ours was.
Ping An (Peace) from China