So I assumed this contest would be me showing up, going on stage the next day or the day after to say my speech, do my talent, and see what happened. Like many assumptions, this turned out to be quite wrong.
Turns out we only get one minute for our talent, so the three minute crosstalk piece I had prepared was too long, and I had to learn a new one. We also, it turns out, get a whole four days to prepare a skit, a new one-minute talent, prep for a quiz on Chinese culture, and make some videos. The American team that I’m on (that’s all of the Americas btw) is fairly solid, but not sure how we stack up against the other teams. There’s an Oceania team, Europe, Africa, and Asia, along with seven teams from different regions in China (all composed of non Chinese people of course).
Our team consists of a pair of twins from Maryland, a guy from SoCal, a Canadian, a Brazilian, and me. I don’t really have to many expectations as to the competition, so if I make it through great, if not, oh well, it was cool to be here. The first round finishes filming on Tuesday, at which point six of the 12 teams will be eliminated. Then another three teams get cut a couple days later, then it goes to individual competition, which I’m not sure anyone knows what will look like. They’re still building the stage, and our schedule for the next day isn’t sent out until the night before, and is even subject to change that day. Theme of the event: last minute.
The thing I’ve noticed about Chinese people and events is that while everyone’s fairly good about arriving and starting on time (unless you’re the guest of honor and you know damn well the event is waiting on you) no one seems to give a flying fuck about finishing on time, which can of course cause delays down the road. For example, our teaser video (which is only a minute long) took the group in front us an hour and a half to film, and then they had to do individual intros. Add in some technical difficulties and we didn’t even start until two an a half hours late, finally finishing at 11pm.
Everyone here speaks really great Chinese though (as you would expect), and it’s surprisingly not super intimidating, perhaps I’ve matured and have stopped comparing myself to other people.. Very diverse in terms of ages too which is surprising, I assumed it would all be college students. Our American team for example ranges in age from 16 to 44.
As a result of severely underestimating how long I’ll be here, I could go home any time between Tuesday and the 24th, I’ve also got to find good places to dry my clothes in the hotel room. I also wish I had brought a book that isn’t poetry. Ah well, what to do?
On the plus side though, my tongue twister is coming along swimmingly, promise to post a video after I perform it, and in the meantime, some preliminary photos and one of that concert I mentioned.
One thing about the first picture down there. It’s the pond on campus, and the four characters on the stone read 曲江流饮 （qujiang liu yin, chew gee-ang leo een）lit. Qu (winding) river flow drinking. It refers to a game old Tang poets used to play, where they would all sit along the river and put cups of wine in the water, the cups would flow down river and the poets would pick them up, take a drink, put them back, and write a poem. Something I definitely want to try some time.