Every Monday the entire body of students and teachers assemble in the main courtyard for a weekly ritual. After the second block, Between 9:20 and 9:45, when normally the students job in formation, the flag receives an honour guard (all male students – which I suggested could and should be changed), marches from the bottom of the steps of the main building to be raised (upon command) to fly for the week.
The Chinese national anthem plays and the students gather, many reading textbooks or chatting with friends, but for me this remains a novelty. I can’t recall many assemblies while in high school and certainly for nothing as mundane as raising the flag. It took me a while to remember where the flagpole of my high school even stood. An unremarkable spot near the office with no courtyard or anything to make it stand out. It was a place to go past in order to get through the main doors of the school.
Here the flag pole holds a place of honour in the centre of the courtyard.
Watching 5000 students gather around it really impresses upon me just how big this school is and how patriotic this country.
After the initial announcements by a teacher (or principal) the music blares and the students march to the pole, at the teacher’s command they unfurl and attach the flag and hoist it upwards. Right as it is about to leave the reach of the last boy holding it, he throws it outwards, giving it an initial snap and in the hopes of catching the wind.
The flag never touches the ground and quickly ascends up courtesy of a pulley system.
Then as the banner attempts to find a breeze to ripple in, a student takes the microphone and gives a short speech. I don’t know what is said, but apparently it praises study or the school or China. A pretty standard speech made by a skilled student.
Then, with the announcement and speech completed, this congregation of students dismissed and they all stream back up the stairs to their classrooms to continue their lessons.
While I return to my office and since I don’t teach on Monday, I update my blog.