Merry Chinese Jingle Bells 2013

Christmas Eve morning 2013, at my day job (turn up your sound!):

They get cuter in the chorus. IMO this one turned out better than last year’s.

More Chinese Christmas! –> Doing Christmas 2013 in China?

China’s One-Child Policy in my preschool English classroom

Interesting little One-Child Policy anecdote this morning.

I have to teach one preschool class this “Brothers and Sisters” song. So I took a poll: Who has a brother or a sister?

They were sort of confused by the question. Lots of hands went up. But their Chinese teacher and I both knew there was no way most of them had siblings. So we specified: No no no, brothers and sisters that are your parents’ kids, not your cousins.

Unlike the large families of generations past where everyone called their relatives by specific titles denoting maternal or paternal and older or younger (in relation to themselves and/or their parents), these OCP kids grow up calling all their cousins and random kids on the playground “brother” and “sister”. Not that I can really blame them, OCP or not:

After their Chinese teacher and I weeded out all the cousins (their full-time Chinese teacher knows anyway; I could have just asked her), it turned out only four of those thirty Mainland Chinese 5-&-6-year-olds actually have a biological brother or sister.

Related stuff:

Would you rather… Chinese Communists or Princess Barbies?

I’m co-hosting the preschool’s variety show/graduation ceremony this week. My job is to translate and say their host script in English. I can live with, “Children all have this beautiful desire in their hearts, to grow up and wear camouflage uniforms just like Uncle in the People’s Liberation Army, loving the Party, loving the country, and being a brave person!” But I think a small part of me will die inside when I have to say, “Look, everyone! Here comes Princess Barbie!”

Our 4-yr-old in her Chinese preschool’s Flag-Raising Ceremony

Our daughter goes to a local, all-Chinese preschool. We live in the neighbourhood and I’m their 外教。 She started last November but unlike most kids who go all day five days a week, she only goes mornings on Mon/Wed/Fri. We’re the only foreigners. This week she got to participate in the Monday morning flag-raising ceremony.

They deliberately put her in the class with the nicest teachers, who don’t criticize and shame and negatively compare and threaten as per normal in China (and like in the other classes). As the English teacher, I’m in each of the seven classes every morning so it’s easy for me to compare their discipline and teaching styles.

It seems like participating in this event and celebrating her birthday, which means going through the birthday kid routine that all the other kids go through on their birthdays, have gone a long way toward her fitting in — both in how she feels and how the other kids relate to her. Maybe it’s made everyone realize more that she’s a student, too, and not just some weird visitor. And of course it helps that her Chinese is way better now than when she started.

The chain is owned by an American/Chinese couple who are our friends and members of our NGO. This means I have way more leverage to address issues than I normally would, so this is an exceptional situation for us. I don’t know what we’d do if our only options were normal preschools. Even for the most cross-culturally savvy families, sometimes putting a foreign kid in a Chinese preschool just doesn’t work. There are endless possibilities for deal-breaking conflict.

Their sashes say “I’m a little flag-bearer” 旗手。 Here’s the video of her little performance:

(Part of being at this local Chinese preschool is a horrible, disorganized sound system. Normally this doesn’t matter, because the point of a Chinese sound system is not to clearly amplify speech or music; it’s to make noise so that events feel more 热闹。 On this day, the mics they first tried to use at the base of the flagpole were set to broadcast inside the school instead of outside. But the other mics that do broadcast through the outdoor speakers couldn’t reach all the way to the flagpole, so they moved the kids over to one side. And then the batteries were worn out and fuzzy and loose. But anyway… :)

She said:

大家刚刚一首歌
我的幼儿园
幼儿园朋友
唱歌跳舞
大家一起快乐

Which means:

Hi, everybody! I’m Lu Xinyu from Little Class 2. I just turned 4. I want to sing a song for you:
I love my preschool
At preschool there are lots of friends
There’s singing and dancing
Everybody’s happy together

This was our first day, at the end of October:

More Chinese preschool stuff:

So I’m in this Chinese girl band…

I’m not just a Chinese preschool rockstar; I now have a band. A girl band. A Chinese girl band. A Chinese girl band composed entirely of preschool teachers. And we are not above using the electric piano’s preprogrammed auto-chording rhythm feature thingy.

Working for a Chinese company gives opportunities to perform — and I mean like song-and-dance perform — that you typically don’t get at the average North American job. For example, at the year-end banquet it’s common for every department in a company to put on some sort of performance. Lots of singing along to pop tracks at the very least. It’s actually more of an obligation than an opportunity; it means bad vibes if you cry off participating.

Chinese love karaoke (KTV). They practice beforehand, and when they go they’ll easily stay for four, five or six hours singing the cheesiest pop lyrics and melodies you can imagine. And the practice shows. Have whatever stereotype of mild-mannered, bespectacled bookworm Chinese you want, but you haven’t seen China until you’ve seen said bespectacled office drones rocking out in a KTV lounge like they are the Chinese incarnation of Whitney Houston. It’s not what you’d expect from the impressions and stereotypes that float around, but in my experience the average Chinese tends to be less inhibited than the average cripplingly self-conscious and cool-anxious, irony-plagued North American when it comes to public performance.

Our school has a New Year’s Show, a Children’s Day Show, and a Teacher Show — those are the one’s I’ve discovered so far anyway. And it’s normal for teachers and parents to be involved in a couple performances even for the kids’ shows.

So here’s the song and lyrics some of my coworkers picked to cover for the Teacher Show (performed for the parents and grandparents of our 200+ students) — our first and most likely final performance. :)

相信 by


(Better quality version here.)

想飞上天和太阳肩并肩 / xiǎng fēishàng tiān hé tàiyáng jiānbìngjiān
Want to fly up to heaven and be shoulder to shoulder with the sun

世界等着我去改变/ shìjiè děngzhe wǒ qù gaibiàn
The world is waiting for me to go change (it)

想做的梦从不怕别人看见 / xiǎng zuòde mèng cóngbù pà biérén kànjiàn
Want to have a dream and not fear that other people will see

在这里我都能实现 / zài zhèlǐ wǒ dōu néng shíxiàn
Here I can achieve all of this

大声欢笑让你我肩并肩 / dàshēng huānxiào ràng nǐ wǒ jiānbìngjiān
Laughing loudly let us be should to shoulder

何处不能欢乐无限 / héchù bùnéng huānlè wúxiàn
Wherever there’s not infinite joy

抛开烦恼 勇敢的大步向前 / pāokāi fánnǎo yǒnggǎnde dàbù xiàngqián
Throw out worries, go forward with brave strides

我就站在舞台中间 / wǒ jiù zhàn zài wǔtái zhōngjiān
I just stand in the middle of the stage

[Chorus]

我相信我就是我,我相信明天 / wǒ xiāngxìn wǒ jiùshì wǒ, wǒ xiāngxìn míngtiān
I believe I’m me, I believe in tomorrow

我相信青春没有地平线 / wǒ xiāngxìn qīngchūn méiyǒu dìpíngxiàn
I believe youth has no horizon

在日落的海边,在热闹的大街 / zài rìluòde hǎibiān, zài rènǎode dàjiē
At the sun-setting seaside, on the bustling street

都是我心中最美的乐园 / dōu shì wǒ xīnzhōng zuìměide lèyuán
Both are the happiest paradise of my heart

我相信自由自在,我相信希望 / wǒ xiāngxìn zìyóuzìzài, wǒ xiāngxìn xīwàng
I believe in carefree freedom, I believe in hope

我相信伸手就能碰到天 / wǒ xiāngxìn shēnshǒu jiù néng pèngdào tiān
I believe you can stretch out your hand and reach heaven

有你在我身边 让生活更新鲜 / yǒu nǐ zài wǒ shēnbiān ràng shēnghuó gèng xīnxiān
Having you at my side makes life fresher

每一刻都精采万分,I do believe / měi yíkè dōu jīngcǎi wànfēn
Every moment is extremely splendid

Karaoke adventures:

Chinese songs to learn:

Fan mail

Told you I’m a Chinese preschool rock star:

Even with the launch of my preschool rock star career, big-budget movie premier, and appearances on the sides of buses and shopping mall video billboards, I still have some catching up to do on my brother-in-law, but he better watch out.