Day Two in Luoyang. Graduation ceremonies, botanical gardens, and a watery light show – enjoy!

Originally posted 24/06/14 on TravelPod.

We were informed late last night that our plans for today had changed – instead of auditing classes, we would be attending a convocation ceremony involving some of the students graduating from the Senior Campus of LIHS in downtown Luoyang. The ceremony was the same as that of any other graduation ceremony back home. One touching difference was a tradition where graduating students formally acknowledged and thanked their teachers for everything they’ve done to help them get them there. A sure sign reinforcing the importance China places on the value of education.

After the ceremony, we walked a few kilometers to the Junior High campus where many of the students who came to visit us earlier this year are located. It was touching to see the smiles on the faces of the kids as they ran to greet our students. After a brief presentation, our Canadian students were split up into groups to attend classes with their Chinese counterparts. While attending classes, we had the opportunity to talk with Chinese teachers to discuss the similarities & differences of our education systems. We have much in common – kids are kids after all.

The highlight of the day occurred at recess. Just as we were finishing up with our Chinese colleagues, a siren began to wail. The sound instantly reminded me of an air siren from WWII – luckily it was just a fire drill….

But the scene in front of me was incredible. In under 4 minutes, over 2000 students had vacated the building and were lined up in perfect rows in front of the building. The high school I currently teach at has around 500 students, and my old high school had around 1500. So, to see this many children out of the building that quickly was astonishing. I say that because our students back home leisurely stroll as they make their way outside during a drill. I think we should show them a video of the drills they do in China…..

With the drill completed, the students were released for recess…

…and that’s when we were mobbed.

Hundreds of students swarmed us. Some asked for autographs while others asked for email addresses. Other students wanted to touch our skin, hair, and clothing. EVERYONE wanted a picture. It was like a scene out of a Beatles movie. Students were screaming, crying, saying “I love you”. We had to almost pull our students away in order for them to leave. Even as we left, students were clamoring around the bus, waving goodbye and smiling.

We’ll be returning to see them on Canada Day, July 1st. I wonder what we’ll get for an encore?

The remainder of our day was split between visiting a museum of Chinese history, shopping, and a visit to Luoyang’s botanical gardens. The foliage of the region is spectacular, the water-lily and peony, China’s national flower, taking center stage.

To finish off the day, we got to see a musical fountain show à la Bellagio. All in all, a long, jam-packed day.