Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pride and Patriotism: National Day in a Chinese Home

I arrived at my student's house at 6:00 a.m. on October 1, the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. We spent much of the day watching TV: the military parade with its incredible precision and uniformity, the citizen's parade with its colorful floats and homages to the PRC's great leaders, and the vibrant evening celebration in Tiananmen Square.

Here are some quotes from my student while watching the festivities: "I'm so happy from the bottom of my heart!" "Today, I am so proud to be Chinese." "I'm so happy from the bottom of my heart!" (She said this one a lot.) Her parents, in quieter ways, also expressed similar pride and loyalty to their country. Patriotism runs deep here. My own feelings toward the celebration were a bit more mixed, but I couldn't help but admire China for pulling off an event of such magnitude.

In the afternoon, my student and her younger cousin took me to a few parks in Jiaozhou. It was a warm, sunny day and there were several bridal couples getting pictures taken in the park. We stopped to watch several brides getting carried around in little red huts on the shoulders of the guys. The guys would rock the hut and the brides would try not to fall out. I was laughing and enjoying the spectacle when a local news crew singled me out to say a few words on camera. Yes! Let's get the foreigner on TV! The cameraman instructed me to say tha ti hope China gets stronger and stronger and its people get happier and happier. (Not so much an interview as a repetition exercise.) I said, "Happy birthday, China!" and wished China all the best in the future. My student translated for me.

Later that evening, at a family dinner, we were eating shrimp and crab and watching the truly impressive celebration in Beijing. Angela's father was drinking the famous Qingdao beer, and we were toasting China and wishing each other happy National Day. At just the right time, we switched to the local news, and.... there we were, for a few awesome seconds! It was so fun to see ourselves on TV. Angela's dad was toasting everyone, she was standing up with her hand over hear heart, and everyone was laughing. It was a great way to end my first day in Jiaozhou.

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