There are times while teaching abroad when your worlds of education, travel, and culture meet in a head-on collision. While these can sometimes be scary, nerve-racking experiences, more often than not they are exactly the kinds of situations that people in EFL careers seek out. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of enjoying one such experience. My local education bureau’s Foreign Education department recently sponsored a talent show for the foreign teachers in the area to participate in. The talent show was held in place of our usual weekly meetings on Wednesday, which made for a welcome change of pace. From singing to dancing to playing music, the talent show was a great opportunity for all of us to experience and share in many of the cultures represented here in Shenzhen, China.
Bringing cultures together with talents
While the mediums through which we express it may vary, there is no denying that most, if not all, cultures can unite through music. This was proven to be true during the bureau’s talent show, as every act featured music to some extent and all received big cheers and applause from the audience. While it was nice to be reminded of some songs that I’m familiar with but hadn’t heard in a long time, it was even better to be introduced to the foreign music and dances of cultures I did not previously know about.
The first act opened up the talent show with a personally-designed interpretative dance to music from her native Ukraine. Many of us in the audience had been unsure of how the show would go, but this first act was evidence enough to prove that it was indeed a very legitimate exhibition of talent. Following the Ukrainian dance was a cover version of Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ‘69,” a very well-known, fun song for most Americans like myself. After these opening acts, the audience knew that we were due for a worthwhile few hours of entertainment. The ensuing acts included a native Mexican dance, an original song by an Irish band, guitar solos designated to Venezuela’s honorary national anthem, and so much more. The talent show was a pleasant reminder of the world’s diversity, as well as how something as simple yet complex as music can bring people together.
To add to the excitement, the environment the show was held in was top notch. It had been previously announced that we would be in a school’s auditorium; after nearly a year of teaching in China, I knew by then to expect something grandiose. Sure enough, the auditorium boasted bright spinning lights, audience members held neon signs in support of the entertainers, and the local EFL companies had put together a panel of hosts and judges who entertained us between acts. Funny quips, positive commentary, and even trivia events to earn prizes interspersed the acts themselves. Though the whole show was over three hours long, there was never a dull moment from beginning to end.
A break from the usual routine
As you can tell, the talent show was a welcomed change of pace from the usual activities that EFL teachers go through. While there is no doubt professional merit to weekly meetings and discussions, there is something a little better about celebrations of the many international cultures present within your local community. Further, living and teaching in somewhere as distinct as China for a full year can tend to make you forget about the other “flavors” the world has to offer. I admit I had been hesitant about attending the talent show at all because I was tempted to enjoy a free afternoon off. However, in hindsight, I’m very glad I decided to attend.
What activities and events would you enjoy throughout the year while teaching EFL? If you have a fun idea, don’t hesitate to suggest it to your company or your school. You just might spearhead a great event for you and your peers!