That China Girl

{May 15, 2011}   Life at CIA continued….

So yesterday, I promised more on my new school, so here goes:

First, like I said, it’s called Chinese International Academy.  Most of the kids who live in my compound and some of the other foreigner housing complexes nearby go there.  There’s some other places, like a British school, Dover something  but they make you wear uniforms there — complete with HATS, so thank God Dad didn’t pick that one. 

It’s odd though, we do sort of have one British thing.  All the students are divided into houses, like Harry Potter. You know, Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Slitherin and that R one.  Ravenclaw?  Now I can’t remember.  But at  CIA our houses are the Chinese zodiac.  You know, those animals, like Year of the Rabbit or whatever it is right now.   The school goes from kindergarten up to 12th grade, so the first six grades are split into the first six animal houses. (snake to dog) The middle school on up gets the last six. (pig to dragon)  So the six houses in the upper school each have kids from all the different grades.  I’m in the Tiger house which I’m told isn’t that bad.  Tigers are supposed to be all ferocious and cool and stuff.


   At least I didn’t get something like pig house, which one of the other new girl who was slightly  —  no that’s not true — really overweight got put in.  There were a lot of laughs when they announced that assignment.  They did it in the gym and we had to all come down from the bleachers and get our —-you guessed it, T-SHIRT — that said our house.    Apparently, whenever we do sports events and special celebrations like International Day (isn’t every day here with students from 50 countries international day?), the houses sit together and compete.  Otherwise, I think that t-shirt pretty much sits in your bedroom closet, though there are always these ra-ra’s or other clueless few who wear them all the time and cluster around their house statue (see below), trying to drum up challenges.  Like CC’s friend Lachlan told me that the Rat house has a few goofballs mostly from Northern Europe, who like rag on other people.  They’re the ones who went after me about us killing Osama and how Americans think they own the world.  Some Norwegian guy –Yorn, or Yurg or something — and these two blonde girls, whose names I already forgot.    I still can’t believe they were like yelling across the cafeteria table at me about it.   Anger issues much? 

 Anyway, Lachlan was telling me how last year Rat House did something where they messed up all the statues.  Like the dragon was dressed as a clown, and they put a funny hat and tie on the monkey, except the rat was dressed up like royalty, like a king because he was supposed to rule over all the other lowly animals.   This pissed off the kids in other houses and they fought back by stripping off the clothing and throwing paint and eggs at the rat, which really stunk with it being so hot.

Yeah, that’s what passes for funny around here.  

 I guess the pranks basically got worse after that.  The dragon disappeared from its platform for awhile, and then someone smashed the pig statue and put a real dead and frozen pig (it was still cold at night) on top of the debris.  But the worst was when the monkey was gone. In its place someone had told this little first grader — a tiny brown kid with curly hair from Sri Lanka or someplace like that — that he had to sit there all day until it was found.  His teacher discovered he was missing when one of the ayis helping out in the class pointed out the window.  

Well, that was it.  The head of school guy called in some of the teachers and the presidents of each house and basically said, it’s over — everything — until all the things were put back.   So class trips were cancelled and a spring dance and teachers stopped writing college recommendations and everything just screeched to a halt.  The next day, all the statues were back in place except the pig.  Then they had a bunch of workers come out and instead of just cementing the animals to the platforms, they had these iron posts that they screwed in and welded or something so no one could remove the statues.  And they replaced the pig statue and did the same.  

One of the reasons Dr.Bradhurst, the school head was so mad, was that apparently, when all this was going on, some dignitaries from the place that accredited schools had stopped by to do a review.  But they were so freaked by what they saw, that you can imagine what happened…. 

Dr. Bradhurst had quickly brought together a rainbow coalition of Westerners and Easterners from all the classes to convince the reviewers that it was a one-off,  but the damage was done.   So since then all the administration has been trying like heck to prove that everybody does get along.  There are no cliques, blah, blah, blah. You know, like parents always say.

Which is funny, since it was clear to me on day 1 that there are all these divisions.  CC pointed them out to me. The Koreans, for the most part speak very little English, so they all hang together in one part of the cafeteria, with their little pop music on their iPods and you are not breaking through that wall.  I know, I tried.  Then the wild bunch from the North, the neuro’s, Lachlan calls them; they account for a good chunk of Rat house.  They’re the kids whose parents don’t care what they do cuz they’re just so happy to be somewhere where it isn’t winter all year long. These are the kids who usually cruise around on motorbikes and have wild parties that go all night.   Then there’s the laid back Aussie/American group — lots in Tiger, Rabbit and Pig.  Then there’s the Asian prodigies, usually Chinese, and more often than not from Hong Kong, Singapore or somewhere outside Asia (lots of them in Dragon house, btw).  They’re all being tutored in like anything you’d want to do, art, music, dancing, math, you name it.  They seem perfect, but they’re so stiff, even if they can play virtuoso-level piano ….  Then there’s this group of other Asian, quiet, but more than that, different somehow — more off and reserved, almost like they’re here, but they’re not.  I know I’m not trying to explain this well, but I’m still trying to figure them out.  They seem to be spread around in a lot of different houses.


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