This evening the mayor of Jinzhou hosted a party for all the foreigners in the city. I know I wrote earlier that I was dreading the banquet, BUT we had a really great time AND there was no fancy Chinese food.

The delegation from Liaoning Institute of Technology was the first to arrive. Apparently we've always gotten there late and the foreign affairs office wanted to make sure we were on time this year so we were 30 minutes early. The girls had been invited, but I made other arrangements for them. I couldn't see them sitting through an hour or two of speeches. Upon our arrival we chose a table close to the front so we would have a good view of the entertainment. The evenings translator came to our table and asked me to sit at the head table and represent LIT .....go figure. Miss Ma said it was because I had on the most festive attire. (I was wearing the red sweater I'd had made in traditional Chinese style and a jingle bell necklace that arrived in a gift package from home today). There were only two other westerner's at the table, both women teachers from the other college here in town. The rest of the table was made up of Chinese business men. Well let me tell you this was the table to be seated at. These men started proposing toasts and gambeing (bottoms up) all of us and soon we were all full of the Christmas spirit.

One of the teachers from Jinzhou Teachers College was asked to give a speech representing the foreigners, she did a really great job. She's been in China for 4 years teaching now.....that seems hard to imagine at this point having only been here for 4.5 months, but she just loves it. The mayor gave his speech and dinner was served.

Dinner was really good, they had purchased bread and butter in Shenyang especially for us and it was on the table. Then they brought out shrimp and french fries, chicken strips, barbecued ribs, stew, cake, and several traditional (not fancy) Chinese dishes. Between each course, we would gambei. During dinner they had some really spectacular entertainment. Acrobats from one of the acrobatic schools here in Jinzhou performed. Oh my gosh, you would not believe these girls. The were so limber and strong. At one point in their performance they stood on their hands in front of this prop, then they arched their backs so much their butts were on their heads, then as if that wasn't enough, on the prop were mouth holds and they bit down on them (keep in mind their heads are still in the air because they are doing hand stands) and then they lifted their arms off the ground so the only thing holding their super arched bodies in the air was their mouths. I've never seen anything like it in my life. Of course I didn't bring my camera and I don't know if Miss Ma got a picture of this or not, it was really something to see. Soon the karioki machine was started and the party really began. Miss Ma had asked me earlier to sing a song....yeah right, well after several gambei's I decided to give it a go. I lead the group in a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells (using my necklace as accompaniment) and Santa Claus is coming to town. Several of the teachers from Jinzhou Teachers as well as some of their foreign students also sang. There were some business men from Taiwan how sang a few songs too. At 700 the vice mayor stood up and declared the banquet over and we all went home. It was a very nice evening.

I've ushered the girls to bed and am hoping visions of sugar plums will soon be dancing in their heads so Santa Claus can come to town. Of course right now they are in the bedroom chatting away and jingling their new necklaces. Is it ok to give children a little wine on Christmas Eve?????

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!


Karen aka Julie and Charlie's mom