Next, calligraphy lesson for 7th and 8th graders. Now that I'm an expert in the subject, the class went really well. I managed to explain the ideas and the kids were enthusiastic about calligraphing a good piece.
After lunch, Session, a good one. Camilla and I started by teaching all 80 of the kids plus 10 teachers to sing "Oh How Lovely is the Evening." It's not only a round but a verrry slow dance. Picture 90 people who can hardly speak English, and who seldom do anything silly, and who are all wearing black uniforms. Okay? Now, picture me telling them to move the plants and the teachers' desks out of the way. I explain that they're going to hold hands and walk in a circle. Blank. Um, okay. I take the hand of one of the students, who is shocked, but gamely follows me to the back of the room and stays where he is put. Eventually, I got the idea across that ten of them should stand there and (horrors) hold hands. Okay. Now, to put 30 of them in a circle around this middle circle, that was not that hard, because the kids who were willing to volunteer for things volunteered. Finally, the remaining 50 kids had to be cajoled out of their seats and forced to take hands. Piece of cake.
Now, picture me trying to get them to conquer their nervous giggles and sing a song that is new to them in a foreign language. Done. Next, I had them all go to right while singing, "Oh how lovely is the evening, is the evening," and then change directions while singing "When the bells are sweetly ringing, sweetly rining." Finally, at the "Ding dong" part they all stood in place and swung their arms in time.
That's the setup. Now, with some shouting and arm waving, I got them to do it as a round. The inner circle started, then the next two circles in turn began, and lo! they sounded great and had a grand old time of it. It took actual yelling and grabbing people to get them to stop, after about 20 repeats. They could have danced all night.
The rest of session was about family and community, but quickly drifted off into various sideways exploration such as how Americans shake hands instead of bow, and how the Holocaust made refugees from Europe come to America. One of the students helped Yayoi translate. Three hours of this, and everyone seemed pretty interested even as we encroached upon dinner hour.
Camilla and I went on a lovely walk past the foggy dam, and crickets calling in the bamboo forests, and yam and rice paddies, and persimmon trees orange in the mist, and a generally Oriental experience.