Middle School students here have very long days. They wake up at 6AM in the dark and began their morning study at 6:30AM. At 7:15AM, everyone is required to jog outside the school yard on the road for 20 minutes. After breakfast, class begin again at 8:15AM. Besides the lunch break from 12PM to 1:30PM and dinner break from 5PM to 6:30PM, they continue their classes until 9:00PM. Lights out is around 10:30PM after doing some homework.
Many students complained that school is like a prison. As a way to relieve their stress, school decided to allow a school-wide basketball tournament and various sports competition durng the 2nd half of December. For almost afternoon for two weeks, classes were canceled. Everyone came to watch basketball, track & field, badminton, table tennis, roping jumping, and even trekking competitions.
From our opinion and the opinions of many teachers, the sports event that lasted more than two weeks seemed a bit overboard as studies are behind and students have a hard time concentrating in school due to all the anticipations.
Nevertheless, it was fun while it lasted. Even Jonathan and Annie joined the basketball tournament and trekking competition.
The basketball tournament was what took the most time because there were 13 teams from all grade level and it was a round robin format. Jonathan is considered a teacher and joined the "liberal arts" teacher team, while Annie joined the female teacher team. Jonathan is in the Class A league and played with 5 other teams from 9th and 8th grades. Although they are junior higher, but in turns of age, they are the same as high schoolers because villagers here attend school at a later age and many had to repeat grades several times.
Playing full court, four quarters of 12 mintues each, at an altitude of 2600m was a huge challange for Jonathan. After the first game, Jonathan was dysfunctional for the entire evening. Besides being out of breath, the cold mountain air that came into the body after sweating caused a bad fever. Jonathan couldn't eat out of exhaustion and had to stay in bed the whole night shivering. But that didn't stop him from playing the next one, and the next one, and the next one. In total, he played in all five games. With each game, he gained strength and was less and less tried afterwards. At the end, his team won four out of five, tying for first place in the top division! He averaged about 15 to 20 points per game...not bad for an old man playing against those half his age.
Annie was also "dragged" into playing for the female teacher team. Annie was really good at stealing and defending. But afterwards, she also was knocked out for the entire day. So much so that for the next game, Annie absolutely refused to play.
Winter Sports Competition
Besides the basketball tournament, on Dec 24th and Dec 31st, the student body also organized various sports events. Some highlights were the tug of war competition among classes, 100mx4 relay, and ping pong.
On Dec 31st, the school held its annual mountain climbing and picninc event. The girls and boys are divided into different age and gender group. There is an initial short run on the dirt road then a steep climb up to the hill top. Jonathan and Olivia also joined in for the fun. It is one thing to hike up a mountain, running up is a totally different story. In short, Jonathan and Olivia almost passed out at the top but still came about in the last few. There is no competition with these students who walk these mountains everyday.
On top of the hill, piles and piles of dry wood were set on fire with potatoes on top for the picnic. Besides baked potatoes, there were plenty of oranges, candies, cookies, and very tasty sour soup. It was fun to enjoy the eating, chatting, building fires, and picture taking.
While we were up there, light snow began to fall. Our White Christmas at last. Due to the possible bad weather, the event was cut short and we rode the horse down together with the students.