Celebrating Thanksgiving and Uplifting the Soul

November 26 was the Thanksgiving Day. This year’s Thanksgiving on campus at EFZ put on a special hue of color. We are grateful for the medical workers who protected us during the novel coronavirus pandemic. We are grateful for our dear teachers at the lovely and cozy school. We are grateful for our classmates as well as our parents at home who have been accompanying us and supporting us on our way to becoming a grown-up. Such feelings, full of love and warmth, are undoubtedly not separated from our meaningful activities.

We celebrated the month of thanksgiving in November with a sharing session of the bookworm salon, a lunchbreak concert, and a letter to the teachers. The literary and artistic elements involved in these activities offered students a variety of ways to express their gratitude, to learn respect from collaboration and to learn empathy from appreciation.

Sharing Session of the Bookworm Salon

“As long as there are people, there is grace and grievance. As long as there is grace and grievance, there is brotherhood in the martial arts forest. Man is all about this brotherhood.”

You have probably heard of the well-known saying by Louis Cha in his novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. Someone once said that the world of brotherhood is like rolls of bead curtains. Every single event and every single person are like an agate bead. The curtain of beads sways slightly, and the agate beads are intertwined along with the sway, but in the end, they will always return to the original arrangement, neat and tidy. This is what “forgetting each other in the martial arts forest” means.

Although students from the International Division are living in the fast developing and modern Shanghai, they are relentlessly pursuing the stories about traditional Chinese martial arts or the martial arts forest. On the 24th of November, a storytelling gathering about the world of martial arts was held in the newly renovated book bar during the lunchbreak. As the scheduled teacher was then unavailable, two students from the 11th grade, XU Bufan and HE Taotao, took up the role of the speakers and introduced about one of Louis Cha’s most famous novels The Legend of the Condor Heroes to the fellow students.

Most students have a certain understanding of the plot of the novel and they still listened to them carefully, as they interpreted it and immersed themselves in the Chinese classics. To the beautiful and ethereal background music, XU Bufan, like a professional storyteller, talked about everything from the patriotic and loyal GUO Xiaotian and YANG Tiexin to GUO Jing and YANG Kang, from the Seven Freaks of the South to the Seven Immortals and to the Twin Black Hurricanes, and from Ashes of Time to The Condor Heroes Return. HE Taotao added a comment or two from time to time, bringing up a relaxing and humorous atmosphere in the book bar.

The half-an-hour time passed quickly. Though XU and HE could not finish all they had prepared, everyone left with a bounty reward. In such a short period of time, the two sophomores led the students into the world of martial arts forest, giving everyone a deeper understanding of the joyful enmity and unrestrained freedom of the world of brotherhood.

Lunchbreak Concert

Music is the spark of the collision between wisdom and inspiration. The beauty of music is like a girl who flicks the piano keys and strikes a clear stream, soft and melodious, or it is like the last bell ring, lonely and bleak. It is music that puts together the scattered details into that force – the students’ celebration of the gratitude using melody.

The Lunchbreak Concert was organized by the Information Department of the Student Union and will be held irregularly in the future. In the opening remarks of the concert, LI Sinan, head of the Information Department, invited all students who love music to join in the performance.

ZHOU Weiwen from Class 7A was the first student to appear on the stage and played “I Need U”. She has been learning piano for seven years and is now a Level 10 pianist. She strongly believes that singing takes us to travel in the invisible world.

A little timid but encouraged by her classmates, she seated herself in front of the piano. When she gently stepped on the pedal and lowered her head slightly, she immediately led a burst of noise around the piano to the door of the new world. The crisp and soft high pitch went straight to the subject, depicting a young man who was pursuing his dream of youth. The story was vivid, and with the ups and downs of the high and low notes, students resonated with the music, surrounded by the mixed feeling brought by grief and failure in the story. ZHOU’s performance was full of the power of immersion, allowing a sense of reality to echo in the students. It reminded them of their gratitude to the past anxiety. The common feeling of perplexity during adolescence helped them to grow.

After that, HE Taotao from Class 11A and WANG Xiabo from Class 11B together played “Midnight Pianist”. They have been learning piano for twelve years, and they have won many awards. They have even released several albums as professional musicians. WANG said, “No matter where you come from and what language you speak, music is our common language.” The two sat side by side on the piano bench. With their rich experience, they appeared rather confident and relaxed. The emotional tone of the whole song followed the change in tempo, naturally getting stronger or weaker. The ingenious cooperation of them proved the importance of hard practice and teamwork. It was also a mutual gratitude just like the two ancient Chinese musicians who once played the piece “Lofty Mountains and Flowing Water” together. Missing either one of them would make the piece imperfect.

In addition, HE Taotao, who took “I hope my music will be rewarded with your good mood” as his motto, prepared the extra pieces of “Accompaniment”, “Last Dream to Wake Up” and “Healing”. He received high acclamation as he devoted himself to piano, showing his enthusiasm and love for music. In the end, HE played a familiar song “Farewell” to all the students as a gratitude to his “faithful audience” who applauded him. With this song, the lunchbreak concert came to an end. Even when the crowd had left, the lingering sound of music was still resonating in the classroom building.

A letter to the teachers

During this year’s Thanksgiving, the Student Union prepared a Thanksgiving surprise without first letting the teachers know. In early November, the students in the Learning Department of the Student Union began to contact the monitors of each class and planned to write Thanksgiving messages for the teachers in their classes. After collecting all the letters, they spent nearly half a month to make a video clip using the messages. On the Thanksgiving Day, a video composed of these letters was played on the big screen on the first floor continuously to convey the international students’ sincere gratitude to and respect for their teachers.

Ending

To understand life and learn to be grateful, the theme activities of the month of thanksgiving has inspired us, students to truly feel the happiness that is everywhere around them. The festival has gone away from us, but the heart of gratitude will never go. It is a ray of light shining through the leakage on the wall. It brings us the whole world and we will persist through our entire life.

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