Dumpling Diplomacy

Saturday the School for Social Development and Public Policy, the Fudan University School that is sponsoring our study here in China, held a get together for the foreign students so that we could get to know the other foreign students as well as some of the Fudan students.  We all met out on the lawn of one of the main academic buildings for some icebreakers before moving inside to make dumplings.  Ali, Benito, and I were are bit skeptical as to what to expect from the event, but were all excited to meet new people and practice our Chinese skills.

When enough foreign students had arrived the Chinese students decided that it was time to begin introducing ourselves to each other with some games.  The first game we played was the human knot game.  For anyone who has played this game before you know that it can be taxing and confusing; now add in the fact that we didn’t all speak the same language and you get one hell of an interesting game.   One minute into the game we knew that we were in for a challenge.  We were all trying to direct people in both Chinese and English and translate for those who did not understand.  While we may not have learned everyone’s name in our group, that awkwardness of just meeting everyone was definitely gone after we spent 10 minutes all wrapped around each other.  There was one group of students who were having a particularly hard time unwrapping themselves, so a few German students who had finished early went over to observe and assist.  Whenever they could get a person free and untangled from the group a cry of “German Engineering” would erupt along with peels of laughter. Unfortunately, the German engineering was not enough to help them and they ended up being the last group to finish, but they all seemed to be having a great time.

The next game was again not so much of a getting to know you game, but rather a let’s just be silly and awkward all at the same time to lighten the mood type of game.  It involved two people standing facing each other and creating a roof-like structure with their hands while a third person knelt on the ground between them.  The two people standing made the “tree” while the person on the ground was the “squirrel.”  When the person in charge of the game called out “wind,” the “trees” all had to break apart and find a new “tree” partner and squirrel to cover.  When “fire” was called, the “squirrels” all had to leave his or her “tree” and find a new home, and when “earthquake” was called, everyone had to switch.  Again while this game also did not lend itself well to actually getting to know new people, it was a great way to get people to loosen up and become more comfortable with one another.  No one really understood the point of this game but we had tons of fun running around and grabbing random people to be our “tree” partner or screaming out that we had and empty “tree” for a poor “squirrel” to come and live in.

The next event for the afternoon was to proceed into the canteen to make dumplings.  This was the real time when we got to really meet some of the other students. We were all split into groups so that the foreign and Chinese students could get to know each other more. The Chinese students were very interested in where we were from and what we were studying.  We all had a great time trying to learn how to pronounce each others’ names as well.  With two German, one Swiss, one American and six Chinese students at my table the name part was defiantly a challenge.  The Chinese students thought it was hilarious to watch us try and make the dumplings.  None of us could figure out how to fold and press the dumplings the right way.  A few of the German boys even resorted to making disk shaped dumplings so they did not have to try and fold them.  All in all we met a lot of nice students, foreign and Chinese alike, and had a fun filled afternoon.  The dumplings were tasty and we found new friends to both hangout with and practice our Chinese with.  The Chinese students all seemed eager to know what we liked doing in our free time and wanted to get to know us better.  Overall it was a fun and exciting day filled with lots of laughter.