Friday, October 26, 2007
Let the Pre-Olympic Bashes Begin
Today there are 286 more days to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
And a group of kids got into the spirits of things today.
The International School of Beijing (ISB) held an "International Olympic Day" to kick off a year of events and curriculum around the international sporting event.
The school is in Shunyi District, near the airport and is a giant compound complete with tour buses to ferry the kids to and from school, security guards everywhere and a giant stadium.
Tom Hawkins, head of the school explained that ISB has 1,850 students from 50 nationalities from over three years of age to 18. So in order to celebrate its diversity, the institution holds an international day each year.
"But with the Olympics next year, we thought we'd combine the two and make it an International Olympic Day," he said proudly.
Most schools in Beijing start around late August, but because of the Olympics, they won't start the school year until after the Games are over. Hawkins added that the US Olympic Volleyball Team will use the school's facilities to train and that some students will be translators at the Games.
Today's event was to kick off a year of Olympic-themed studies in many disciplines. For example, in visual arts, one of the designers of the torch talked to students about how they came up with the design and the cultural significance behind it; in PE classes they would try some of the sports events; and they would also learn the history of the Olympics.
But today's "mock" opening ceremonies was quite impressive. Held in the giant stadium complete with a track and semi-covered stands, the students were dressed in white, black, red, green, blue and yellow T-shirts to make the Olympic flag on the field. It would have looked better from an aerial view. Hawkins joked earlier they should have had helicopters to take a better shot.
They marched to the Olympic theme and even had three students read out the Olympic oath in English, French and Putonghua.
Then some participated in a dragon and lion dance, running around in circles or greeting the audience. We saw them rehearse this twice so I'm sure they were wiped out by the time they had to actually do it in front of their parents.
Even more impressive was the traditional release of doves, except the school released probably a thousand pigeons instead.
Not only that, the school designed and made its own torch and cauldron. And one of the parents is two-time Olympic gold medal diver Gao Min. She was invited to light the cauldron after a torch relay was run around the track.
In the evening they were planning a potluck dinner and even fireworks.
It's pretty amazing to see a school put on such a lavish event. But then again everyone else is doing it, so why not?