Today was our Sports Day, and it’s one of my favorite days of the school year. It’s up there with the field trips that we take every semester to a park. But seriously…the day is filled with students marching, running, throwing, jumping, screaming, cheering, drinking, and eating. You name it, and it could very well be happening.
Before the meet started, our principal shared how she was happy about the events to come, but she wasn’t too keen on the food the students brought to eat. I thanked her personally later, and she explained that this is a generational thing (according to her husband). When they were children, they didn’t have much food so Sports Day was an occasion they looked forward to because of the candy that was provided. Nowadays, students’ families don’t struggle so much for food, but they still bring the “junk food” as she called it publicly. Good for her!
The day transitioned into the foreign teachers helping out with the Ball Throw. It’s the part of this that we always assist with. The students are sent in groups to us by gender from each class. Ergo we would have only several at a time, and my job was to guide them when to throw their three attempts. The others were uber-easy to manage, no matter the age ranging from 1st-5th grade. During this time, I was able to chat with students and give pointers on how to throw the ball according to the students’ comfortability and liking. We finished around 11:20am and headed off for lunch. For some reason, our cafeteria believes that baozi is a great meal for a day like this. Many of us teachers beg to differ especially since we have to run afterwards. Hence I brought a peanut butter sandwich and some almonds to eat. I wasn’t about to repeat what happened last year. 😉
When lunch finished, I went outside and watched many of our staff members including: cooks, maintenance men, dorm teachers, nurses, etc. doing an assortment of activities. Some were doing long jump. Others were throwing a heavy ball while a group of older cafeteria and finance staff were playing a favorite of mine. Basically, you roll a ball and try to skillfully get it to land on the zone that gives you 10, 9, 8, or 7 points. Why’s that a favorite? Because, as I shared with my colleagues, we get to see so many staff members laugh and make memories together. If they’re anything like the few of us FTs, jokes and stories will inevitably be told for years to come. It was during this time I decided to start warming up. About two hours after lunch would be when the teachers’ races would begin. That’s right! The glory days return! Or as a friend said today, it’s when we have fun. Exactly! Right…
The 100m dash came and went. Then came some more races and relays of former students of mine. If anything, this day reminds me of the camaraderie and good times my high school track team had. So it gives me joy to cheer on the students and push them physically and mentally to do their best. The race of the day came, I believe, when the 5th grade classes had their girls run the 4x100m relay. When the race has all three teams neck and neck, it can be quite invigorating. It was right before this that I aided the Ball Throw again and witnessed a 6th grade boy toss a ball over 150 feet. Yea, he won. Hands down. Then came the 200m dash. My legs were heavy for that one. 😀
The last event of the afternoon was the 6x200m relay. This consists of teams from all levels: elementary, middle, and high school. The high school usually has a team of students while the other two departments have teams of teachers and other staff create teams of their own. Those who wanted to run for elementary were up and ready while a few more needed to be pressured to join in on the “fun.” Several Chinese teachers didn’t take part in any event because they weren’t about to lose any face. It truly didn’t matter to me. What’s the harm in being embarrassed in front of your students? Of course it depends on your context, but this wasn’t anything to be worried the least bit about. We ended up in third place. Not bad.
Lastly came the closing ceremony where a class from each grade was awarded the winner by points. Another certificate was handed out for the classes with the best sportsmanship. The administrators made some final comments, and the time came for the PE staff and some students to help break down as the school headed in to prepare for going home. I talked with some teachers, broke down equipment, and congratulated students in their efforts and achievements from the day. It was definitely a sunny day filled with laughs, smiles, high-fives, encouragement, challenges, teamwork, and friendship.
Moments likes these are hard not to think about upon the return home. I was touched by the students who smiled so much at my acknowledgement. I consider now the ones who I high-fived though they didn’t get first place. My hope is that the students walked away from the field with stronger desires to do well in their physical fitness, eating habits, teamwork, character, and the list could go on.
Man! It would be nice to have this kind of event more than once a year.