just updates, etc. on my lovely life & books. i'm trying to figure out how to put in a comment box. :)
02.27.2010 Chilean Earthquake
So I was downstairs that Saturday morning, probably doing homework or something. My dad was upstairs on his laptop. It was around eleven, perhaps twelve, when he called down the stairwell, "There was an earthquake in Chile this morning!"
I stared at the stairs. Another one?
Lovely. Of course the US news stations were all broadcasting Olympics things, so I switched to the few Spanish channels that we had for some odd reason. Yep. 8.8 Earthquake in Chile. Things looked horrible. The whole family gathered around the TV and watched the pictures while I tried to listen, attempting to understand the rapid fire Spanish coming from the reporters. I have resolved to work harder in AP Spanish.
Then, in one of my infamous spur of the moment decisions, I jumped up from the couch and started screaming for a box (my other notoriousness is issuing demands without first letting people know what my plans are). After a few minutes, I explained that I wanted to set up a donation at HXEB. That day. Of course that simplified matters. My dad put together an old USPS box that we were about to throw out, I wrote up signs (English and Chinese :]). Then we went to HXEB.
The donation really didn't work for the first hour or so. It took people a while to realize we weren't talking about Haiti, that there was a new one, a bigger one, in Chile. Then they took a bit of time to get over the shock that such gigantic earthquakes were happening so quickly, almost back to back. Then they donated money. Everyone was so generous -- the principal, PTA, board, admin, teachers, students. The volunteers. The volunteers were amazing that day, going around the entire school building with the box, standing in crowded hallways in between classes, counting out the piles of bills at the end.
And the kids were adorable. Even the really little ones donated loose change, pennies, etc. One little boy who really wanted to donate only had a ten dollar bill. His face was so distraught it borderlined funny -- he clearly wanted to donate something, but not his only $10. I ended up asking him how much he wanted to give ($1), and changed him the rest. Another mom was pulled over by her little girl. She gave a few dollars, walked away, then quickly came back minutes later with all the loose singles in her bag. There was a father who gave his two year old son a dollar bill and pointed to the box with a reassuring smile. Heartbreakingly adorable. We (the volunteers) stood there and crooned for a good twenty minutes.
HXEB Chinese New Year Party. 02.20.2010
In all honesty, I really haven't had much time to write on this blog. The past several weeks have been clogged with Model UN papers, SATs, midterms at school, and massive preparations for aforementioned new year party/celebration. I will be more dutiful on this in the future.
In the five years that I have worked at HuaXia East Brunswick Chinese School (HXEB), through six major events and several more small ones, through one term as Subleader and two terms as Director of the Youth Volunteer Team, I have never organized and managed a party that was so... big. Perhaps because the mayor (who had come before) was attending, and several members of the council, TV reporters, etc. Everything was big. Needless to say, the preparation prior was an maddening affair.
The party was originally set for 01.23.2010. Actually, this would have been a saddeningly unfortunate date. A large half of the HXEB Volunteer Team was taking the SATs that day. Nevertheless, I put in efforts to prepare, including finding a hiphop group from my high school to perform for the show. There were two girls, both of which were quite good, who agreed to perform. Thankfully , the party was moved back to the 30th, then changed almost immediately to the 6th of February. This was really the best date. It was eight days before Chinese New Year (the 14th). It was two weeks after SATs and literally the weekend right after midterms. I would be able to put my full, undivided attention organizing the event. We hit a snag. The girls who were originally going to perform hiphop said they couldn't make the Feb. 6th date. So that very day, I asked another group (a quite large, fairly well known one in my school) to perform. It was a bit of late notice but they agreed.
Of course that's just too good to be true. Wednesday night, I received a message from the group leader, saying they couldn't make it. Wonderful. For two days, the school administration went haywire (the program was already out and a lot of people wanted to watch the hiphop) while I tried to dig up another group. Literally Friday night, my sister, Sally, lifesaver that she is, comes to me and says a group from her school may be able to do it. I call them immediately. And, lifesaver that they are, they agree. In a wonderfully sweet and cordial manner too. I was so happy I could've gone and hugged them all. So big thanks goes out to Converse Methods Crew -- Alex Kal, Nate Imperio, Brendon Lee, Chris Matthews, Shaun Scripps, Kevin Shen, Stan Chu, Anik Ray, Connor Grant, and Alec Grant!
Everything was all ready. I'd ordered all the prizes and game/activity supplies for after the performance. I'd written up an English script for the hosting of the entire show. My hosting lines were memorized. I knew how to catwalk beautifully for the modeling act. I knew my Latin dance routine. I had all my costumes/dresses (I had three different changes). The twenty or so volunteers were all ready to go. It was going to happen.
Then came the snow. The big massive one that swept in from the DC/Maryland area and utterly buried us. So the party was cancelled (technically it was pushed all the way back to the 20th) and I was about to cry.
Finally. February 20th, 2010. The HXEB Chinese New Year Celebration. Bright and early, I got up - my sister had to devote the next two hours to straightening my impossibly curly hair. I packed my shoes, dresses, makeup, script. Then off we went. The school was in a whirlwind of preparation. I had to run through last minute rehearsals for modeling, the latin routine, practice lines, fill in last minute changes to the program. In between, I had to give instructions to the volunteers on pre-party setup, during party setup, post-party setup, escorting guests, acts standby, etc. etc. etc. I had to organize the things for the special guests that would be there. All in the course of two hours. To top it all off, I had the brilliant idea of changing early, so I was running around the polished school floor in a dark pink dress and strappy silver heels.
Four o' clock. The four hostesses (myself and three other girls) stood backstage and tried to breathe. We looked at our lines. We wondered if the mics would work. We drank water to calm our rapidly parching throats. Then the backstage crew opened the curtain a crack and ushered us out. We stood in a line under the bright glow of the stage lights, looked upon a full house, took a deep breath, and gave our opening lines.
Fifth act: I ran backstage to change into a completely besequined Chinese chipao. Then we (four girls) went out and walked for the modeling act. The audience was awed, and we were blinded by camera flashes.
Eighth act. I ran backstage right after hosting the seventh and changed my shoes and into my sparkly, gold latin costume. A girl drew dramatic, glittery stage makeup around my eyes. There was no time for glittered hairspray; we ran on stage and danced our hearts out. Ninth act: I literally ran back on stage, in my costume and full makeup, and, still vaguely breathless from the intense workout that latin dancing gives, announced the next act.
The latter half of the show passed flawlessly. Before I knew it, I was on stage for the final time with the three other announcers, we bid the guests good night, smiled to ringing applause and an explosion of flashes, and gracefully tottered offstage to massage our aching toes.
The games afterwards were wonderful as well. The volunteers handled everything beautifully, and the little kids had so much fun. After several pizzas, boxes of Chinese food, crowds of jumping and laughing kids, a table flooded with game prizes, and floating animal balloons, the volunteers and I sat down and let out a deep breath. It was done. And it was amazing. As much work as it all was, as exhausted as I was, I knew that I would give everything to do it all again. The experience was exhilarating, and unlike any event I've ever done before. The tumultuous applause, the thrill of the stage, the music pounding under dancing feet, the laughter and smiles and pure joy, was something that just can't be described.
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