Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Contestant Number 6

Yesterday I took part in my school’s Uyghur speech contest. When I was in elementary school and high school I was big into the speech scene. So in many ways yesterday was kind of a flash back for me. The only difference was that this time my speech was suppose to be in another language.

My teacher had forgotten to mention the contest to me earlier so I had exactly four hours to prepare (all of my fellow contestants had been busy memorizing for three weeks). All of the other contestants were students from the majority people. It ended up being a very uneventful night. I sat there for two and a half hours listening to speeches I couldn’t understand well, either because their pronunciation was so poor, I couldn’t make out what they were saying, or they copied the text from such a high level book, that it was still way above my head.

When I arrived I was quickly ushered to a seat up front and given a cup of tea. I told the student severing me, that I was also a contestant in the competition, and therefore shouldn’t be being given tea. I ended up sitting right next to the judges and teachers, and was introduced along with them as “our foreign guest for the evening”.

My speech itself was a mess. I was planning on just reading the text I had found and written out (my teacher had said that would be okay since I had just heard about the competition that day). It was the story of a father who had two sons. The youngest takes his inheritance and foolishly spends it. But in the end it is a wonderful picture of forgiveness and acceptance. Thankfully I knew the story well, because I couldn’t read my own hand writing, and I had to tell it from memory. The grammar was all wrong, but the judges seemed pleased to be listening to something other than another over acclimating piece about ‘unity in diversity’ or ‘world peace’.

After I was done sharing, one of the senior students got up and gave the others a lecture (in the national language) encouraging them all to study as hard as I do. So that one day all the students in the room could speak as well as our ‘foreign guest’. Talk about wanting to eat your face off.
I guess I don’t have to tell you that I came in first place. I think the minute I walked into that room with my ‘blond hair’ and foreign passport the whole thing was rigged. This means I have to go back tomorrow for round two and sit through another couple hours of speeches.

This picture was taken three years ago at the last school speech contest I attended. That time they ended the evening by having a special photo shoot for all of the "foreign guests" and judges.

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