The university where I work scheduled an entire day of team-building activities for the students. I’ve seen the same team-building activities at American summer camps and off-site corporate workshops. I was a little surprised to see these activities being done at a university in China.
I hoped the day of the event wouldn’t be a bad air day. I was especially looking forward to the opening ceremony which would include thousands of students dancing in unison in the center of the running track. As I walked toward the sports field the morning of the event, I strode through pea soup.
When I arrived at the sports field, students were filing into the bleachers of the stadium and lining up in the sports field. Visibility was pretty dismal.
The opening ceremony, which kicked-off around 8 a.m., started out submerged in smog. Several thousand students lined up on the sports field, many of them barely visible from where I sat in the bleachers.
Representatives from the university made a few opening comments. Then music blared and several thousand students on the sports field began to move in unison.
The students were organized according to their area of study. Some students held white signs identifying each department.
The students’ routine was more like low impact dancercising than regular dancing. Even so, I found it thrilling to watch thousands of people lined up and moving together.
I stood in the bleachers snapping pictures, and in spite of the smog, I was enjoying the show. I realized that few westerners would get to witness such an event.
A few of the students danced on the running track. Some of the girls wore sun flowers which encircled their smiling faces. I was hoping they wouldn’t wilt in the smog.
As the morning went on, the air warmed and began to stir. The smog started to dissipate. The dance routine having ended, the large gathering of students began moving off the sports field.
By late morning, the smog had lessened considerably. By the afternoon, the sun was visible and the team building games were in full swing. One of the first afternoon events was a team running race. The legs of the team members were tied together. Really dangerous.
There was another activity where the students legs were again tethered together. This activity required the students to walk together over a line of hoops placed on the ground. The rule was that the students’ feet were not supposed to touch the hoops.
There was also a race where the students had to step on bricks. Slower than a turtle, it was.
Another race involved small teams of students walking together and holding ropes attached to pieces of lumber upon which they stood.
One of the more complex tasks was to balance a ball on top of a drum suspended by multiple ropes. Instant frustration activity.
Perhaps the most complex task was for a group of people to write Chinese characters together using a giant brush attached to various ropes. Insanely difficult.
The funnest event to watch was the mouth-in-cup water relay game. Endlessly amusing for the spectator.
The best technique was to get really close to one another and then have the pourer tilt her or his cup. Many students were too busy laughing to make this work smoothly.
This event was a favorite for photo takers, for obvious reasons.
I work at a teachers’ college. Most of the students are women. In China, like other countries, the teaching profession is more popular among women than men.
I was surprised to see a pair of boys trying this.
The day ended like it started, with the students lined up in the sports field. The closing ceremony happened under a slightly hazy sky and rapidly fading daylight. It was a good day, a fun day, and something that I shall not forget.