Some other highlights -- listening to the members of the Greater Jinan Peking Opera Society performing in the open air, (at least I presume that's who they were -- I loved them), listening to a man in traditional scholar's garb declaim some poetry (awesome), and touring a traditional Chinese courtyard home. Followed of course by a bountiful lunch...
The prospect of singing didn't bother me much, but memorizing a random assortment of sounds, some of which include phonemes we just don't have in English, proved to be a daunting task. My students at the school were very encouraging and coached me on my pronunciation and urged me not to be nervous. But I was still trying to nail it down in my head as we traveled to the television station, which was quite a large and glamorous building. We were sent to have our hair and make up done and then, of course there was a last bathroom break before going to the set.
We were ushered into a TV studio with a small live audience and a host and hostess who appeared to be Jinan's version of Regis and Kathy Lee. I was glad to see the TV people I'd spent three days with, especially director John. He's younger than my sons and if I could, I'd feed him one almighty stack of pancakes and bacon. The seven featured foreigners, including me, were introduced one at a time for some light banter and, in my case, singing. While I didn't manage it perfectly, I didn't have a meltdown either and the audience clapped along and seemed to appreciate the effort. (Afterwards, another foreigner told me he was very impressed that I'd managed to do that after only three months in the country).
However, don't think that I was the highlight of the show. As W.C. Fields said, never work with children or animals. An American man appeared with his two young sons, both of whom can speak Mandarin and one played the erhu. So.
The TV people and the dignitaries and the administrators from the school all seemed very pleased with how everything went. There was one last celebratory banquet (I will talk about banquets and toasting at some point), and then it was back home to get ready for another school day.