Posts Tagged ‘Fire Water’
In the last few days here in Weihai I’ve had time to visit a zoo, eat dinner with university administrators, give a presentation on student activities at MSU and go to a KTV to sing my heart out.
Let’s get the official (literally) business out of the way first. Part of a MSU delegation trip to Shandong University at Weihai is to have a reception and meet with university administrators. So, on this particular evening we met with the president, the secretary a dean and professor. We were all presented with gifts and we reciprocated, then on to dinner. Here’s where the fun begins. First, to my knowledge professional/business banquets in China involve significant consumption of high proof alcohol, and there are some “rules” to the drinking. Picture a round table with assigned seats. The party host sits directly across from the entrance of the room. The second host sits directly across the table. The role of the first host is to welcome guests and give three toasts. The role of the second host to my knowledge, as told to me by our intrepid leader Issac, is to get drunk. Now on to the guests (us MSU folks) The guests, who sit next to the first and second host, historically should do as the hosts do, or at least give it the college try. And who gets the seat next to the second (drunk) host???? Me. He was a great man who spoke little English, but I gathered he got his graduate degrees in the Koreas, South and North (interesting). I also gathered he has quite the tolerance for high proof alcohol. The traditional drink for these dinners is a “white wine” but to us is more like fire water. (tested and proven, burns a blue flame) 54 percent alcohol, translates into 108 proof. Three glasses translate into a sweaty headache, a fire in the stomach and smidge of blurred vision. But, we made it. By the end of the dinner the second host referred to me as his little brother and gave me a hug (He stands to my left in the photo next to Sarah Clark). Good Times.
Believe it or not the firewater buzz didn’t lead to a night out singing karaoke, but a day at the zoo and visiting the easternmost coastal point in northern China did. You can see more about our zoo trip and beautiful photos on Dana’s blog. Anyway, our group had some busy days and wanted to blow off some steam, and we did at a family- oriented KTV. I write family oriented, because a quick Google search of KTV’s in China sometimes brings up some questionable photos and stories. So, here are a couple of things to note. KTV’s are individual singing rooms you rent for an hour or two where you and a group of friends shut the door, sit on couches drink various beverages eat some popcorn and sing as loudly and obnoxiously as you’d like. If you find yourself in a Chinese KTV be aware there are an array of American pop songs, but not all are translated correctly into karaoke versions, and the music videos don’t make much sense. For example, we sang “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and the video depicted a series of grand prix car wrecks. Or, John Lennon’s “Imagine” had some very beautiful shots of vines, cherry trees, children crying, soccer matches and a frying pan. But we did have fun, with our popcorn, drinks and friends, new and old.
Tonight was the last presentation for our delegation regarding MSU. Dana and I gave our presentations on student life and organizations to a room full of SDUW students. They went well. But, honestly the best part comes at the end. Students flock to the floor of the presentation room to chat with us about all things American or Murray State. I spoke with a delightful girl whose American name is Amy. Amy asked if our group was going out to party tonight. I said no, and then returned the question. What about you? She says… “No, partying isn’t too popular here.” I suppose the campus-wide curfew puts a damper on late night gallivanting. Anyway, I asked what they do on the weekends when the curfew is extended to 11:30 p.m. Amy provided no real response, because she was bursting with excitement to tell me that she and her friends had a huge weekend planned. Was it windsurfing on the beach? Was it going on a road trip to visit another school? Was it an off campus party? NOPE. Amy and her friends were going to a mountain two hours away to pick cherries. Not the exhilarating beach, coastal schoolgirl’s response I expected. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the hottest seller on campus is not an ice cream cone, soda, or candy bar, but huge slices of melon on a stick. Anyway, it just goes to show the sheer innocence these students possess. It is absolutely amazing. When is the last time you got uncontrollably excited about picking cherries with your friends? When is the last time you took time enjoy the company of people without any outside distracting influence? I’ve tried to hone in on what makes these people so accommodating and genuine, and I don’t think I have the complete answer, but I think Amy gave me a tidbit of it. What a great experience.