Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A rather big birthday party

A strange, interesting day. In the morning a contingent of diplomats and creative types (mutually exclusive?!) are whisked around the Jilin Animation Institute to help celebrate its 10th anniversary. It's impressive, with 5,000 students enrolled in animation, game design and other multimedia courses, all the vision of one man, Chairman Zheng Liguo. After that we join more dignatories to sit on an immense outdoor stage with the 5,000 colour-coded students as audience. It is baking hot and we wilt as six speeches are given and five congratulatory letters are read out.

Then off to lunch - my first real test of Chinese dining etiquette. It's formal - a big round table, many courses - but our speeches and "gambei!"s are on the light side. I like the custom of going round individually to each person to exchange a few words. Very inclusive. In the evening we return to the arena for a spectacular show with orchestra, pop stars, children in costume, the works. Even Zheng's wife, Deputy Chair and a trained classical singer, gets to sing an aria. Two things come to mind: how much did it cost, and lucky it didn't rain.

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