Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Speech and Debate Tournament

The sun shone brightly on the BWYA forensics club members as they gathered outside the school building on the morning of Saturday, May 22, 2014. The mood was jovial; a day of original speeches, oral literary interpretations, impromptu speeches, dramatic duet performances, and controversial debates were in order. The nineteen participating members (and their three supervisors, and two extra judges, and one extra spectator, and one participant’s girlfriend, and a kitchen sink that someone was bringing) boarded the bus, and drove to Beijing City International School in Shuangjing. The team arrived a bit before 8:30 a.m., and they wouldn’t leave...for another twelve hours.

The morning started off nicely enough; the plan was to have three rounds of each of the events, which broken down into middle school, high school, novice, and experienced divisions. The tournament began, and students from the ten competing schools rallied to the assigned rooms to act, speak, and awe.

At some point, rounds began to lag behind; ballots returned to the tallying room later and later, round assignments were announced less and less punctually, and murmurs of dissatisfaction began to circulate. What was the holdup? No one knew. The participants pressed forward. BWYA students returned excitedly from each round, recapping their successes, failures, and the most noteworthy quirks of their opponents. Excitement was in the air.

However, as the clock cruised past midday and into the afternoon, the lagging slumped to a standstill. Some events had been done three times; others had been done once. At 1:30, the impromptu debate rounds that were supposed to start…didn’t. Coaches and judges returning from the judging quarters were swarmed by students and questioned, but these adults were as about as informative as the airport personnel talking to Kevin's mom in "Home Alone."* There were simply no answers for the halt in progress.

The students from Beijing World Youth Academy, however, did not lose heart. They killed the time with playful banter, SAT cramming, and naps. Not once did they sneak away from the tournament without telling their coaches. The students stayed positive, perhaps in anticipation of the payoff that endurance so often brings.

At some point in the late afternoon – after multiple schools had pulled out of the tournament for the sake of time (and weakness) – the championship rounds began. Several BWYA participants eagerly sat, ready to perform; others flocked to watch, support, and cheer. The most problematic of the events – high school debate – had a massive following as two DP1 students stomped through the controversially-planned semi-final round into the 7:50 p.m. championship match to debate the topic, “Should the teams who stay to the end of the tournament receive the trophies of the schools that left?”

No, no. Just kidding. The topic was “Parents should be held responsible for unlawful activities of their children,” and the debate was fierce but to the point. Every member of the BWYA gathered in the room, not only in anticipation of seeing victory achieved right before their very eyes, but also in anticipation of witnessing the final moments of the tournament expire in an exciting, climactic moment. They were not disappointed.

The debate finished. Everyone still present (most of the BWYA team, the BCIS officiating crew, and the two kids who’d debated in the final round against Roman and Richard) stood in the cafeteria as the final debate champions were announced. They were: the aforementioned Richard and Roman, who, in a 720-minute blink of an eye, grabbed first place in high school debate to join the other BWYA award-winners: Jessy and Alice, who achieved first-place honors in high school duet acting; Chris, who nailed second place in high school oral interpretation; Rebecca and Julie, who obtained second place in high school duet acting; Rebecca, the third-place place-holder in high school original oratory; Hector and Maxim, who nabbed third place in middle school novice debate; and Sunny, an oral interpreter who got third in middle school…oral interpretation.

The day had been long, but to the victors went the spoils, who withstood not only the test of competitive opposition but also the test of time. Well done, BWYA forensics students! Thank you, BWYA volunteer judges! Rest happily, BWYA speech and debate supervisors! As the sun set on March 22, 2014, it was true: hard work had paid off.  

*There was originally a much more offensive simile here; e-mail me if you are over 18 and/or want to hear it. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mr. Haggar vs. The Desk

E9 Language B Phase 4: Literature Fundamentals, MWF, 3rd period.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mr. Haggar vs. The Tiger

The seventh grade English classes that Mr. Haysom and I teach are currently studying the news. To practice for a big, important, upcoming newspaper article assignment, Mr. Haysom suggested giving the students an interview and having them turn it into a newspaper article, formative assignment-style. I don't know what ultimately happened in his class, but, after reading the interview that can be found here, some of the students in my class turned in the following work:

And my personal favorite:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Because Today They Studied Parodies...

The following bit of poetry was written by a fellow teacher of mine at BWYA - a one Mr. Haysom, whose work can be further read at Ivory Spitting Dog - for a unit on humor for eighth graders.

After school one gloomy Wednesday, sitting marking students essays, 
Over many an empty coffee cup, all scattered on the floor - 
While I sat there, my face scowling, suddenly there came a growling, 
And a noise like a dog howling, howling at my office door - 
"Tis Mr. Haggar," I muttered, "howling at my office door - 
Only him and nothing more." 

Ah, distinctly I remember, since the start of last semester; 
He had let his facial grow till it trailed upon the floor. 
With the full moon softly glowing, now his thick fur needed mowing, 
And his canine fangs were showing, even sharper than before -
Like a pair of polished razors, so much sharper than before - 
Glinting in his blood-soaked maw.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

Dear anyone who is for some unfathomable reason interested in my personal life: I signed a contract at my school - Beijing World Youth Academy - that will keep me in Beijing for another school year (August 2014-June 2015).

Dear anyone who is on this blog to look at pictures of different places in the world: maybe don't keep reading.

Dear E10H: keep me sane, laugh at my jokes, and don't transfer.

Dear BWYA MYP students: prepare for another year of loud Questions of the Day, the "Terminator" theme, mandatory punctuality, Minnesota Twins propaganda, grammar sentences that attack other teachers, laments about Anne Hathaway, and green ink in your life.

Speaking of Anne Hathaway: Dear Anne Hathaway: don't give up on me yet, girl.

Dear Anne Hathaway's husband: it ain't over.

Dear Mom and Dad: I'm sorry. Come visit!

Dear Simon: airlines charge for bags over fifty pounds, bud. Sorry.

Dear Christina: New job? Hot boyfriend to help with funds? Now you can afford to come visit! Hurrah!

Dear Hamm and Ollie: you are not invited or welcome here. I hear you pee on beds. 

Dear Michael: Move here. Lord knows there are plenty of people who need a good embalming and burial in Beijing.

Speaking of burials: Dear After the Burial: when is your Asia tour happening?

Dear Nanjing, Tibet, Xiamen, Qinghai, Kashgar, Guilin, Lijiang, Ningxia, Huashan, Guangzhou, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Tianjin, Inner Mongolia, Dali, and Dandong: I'm coming for you, and there is no way you can get out of it.

Dear Nepal, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fujisan, Kyoto, Mongolia, Indonesia, Cameron Highlands, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Baekdusan : the same goes for you.

Dear Ben Whitmore: I guess you'll have a steady bass player for another year. Can we please change the lyrics to "Be Thou My Vision" back to the original ones?

Dear Ramon: let's go exploring! Bring Nallely.

Dear lady who sells 煎饼 outside the Canadian school: don't leave! I need you!

Dear David Emmert: come back. I need you! Or, at least, heads up this summer...I want to drop by. 

Dear Peter and Sam: don't leave! I need you! Or, if one of you has to leave...can I move in?

Dear Jim Pohlad: consider holding a Twins exhibition game here. I tried to stimulate interest in baseball in this fair country, but to little avail. This country needs you.

Dear landlady: my kitchen smells like gas. But you wouldn't know that since you haven't set foot in this apartment in six hundred calendar years. I don't really know what to do about this. Maybe we could work a little something out, something about fixing that.

Dear Dawna: ᅲᅲ

Dear Beijing local government administration committee communists: do not consider me staying to be a sign that the air is not bad enough to make a sane person flee the city. It is. It's really bad. Please do something about it.

Dear internet censorship branch of the People's Republic of China government administration committee communists: please, also, do not consider me staying to be a sign that I do not truly and completely loathe what you do. I hate how you slow the loading of web pages, how you block even innocent searches for things like "Gangnam Style lyrics" and "muffins," and how you sometimes just don't work at all. Get with the times, dudes.

Dear Mike and Hilary: be somewhere cool and exotic next February.

Dear Green Place: we both know I have supported you through thick and thin, but you are wandering away from your former goodness. Don't make me regret staying! There is another Xinjiang restaurant three bus stops away!

Dear Naked Andy, Ray Kirby, and Vi Dengler: let me know if your addresses change. I will keep sending postcards your way.

Dear Ellen: let's hang out.

Dear everyone else: we can also hang out. It will be good.

Sincerely (sort of),

- Mr. Reuben Haggar