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Today was the Opening Session of the WorldSmart August 2005 semester. There were the typical speeches and such, some stories too...the crew went up on stage and did multilingual welcomes and also read their diary entries from their past experiences.
They showed a few slideshows of the history of Up With People (including the song) and what we could expect from the program - including some shots of us on the first day! They had to choose a photo of me looking like a tired bum on a chair, of all things. What was most surprising was that at the end of one of the slideshows, they displayed all our photos that we had uploaded on Yahoo - whether on the YahooGroup or on our profiles. Nice surprise!
We got to tell our stories about why we were there - I told them the whole thing, from me being restless, to the parents not caring, to someone telling me it was a cult...the whole thing. Katie got emotional during her speech; I went over and hugged her, and we cuddled for a bit. Even kissed each other on the top of our heads. Heh. (those hoping for Katie/Tiara will be disappointed as she has a boyfriend. Bah.)
After all that, we had a short break, and then Bob (one of the crew leaders) called up people by country and we were to intro ourselves and explain where we're from. I got a bit flustered, especially since I was the only one openly declaring my association to two countries. (There were many more that were representing more than one country, but mine was made obvious just because I happen to be the only rep for both places.)
We then divided ourselves into groups by region, and us Asians (minus Japan which had its own group) talked with Atsushi (a.k.a. Vick lookalike) and Bob about our experiences with WorldSmart so far. I was the only one who had been to the US before; most of the group were worried about the idea of people in the US having guns. It was quite an interesting discussion, even though I had the feeling a few times that I was unwittingly dominating it...
We had an activity whereby we were given a puzzle piece and we were to write our goals and attributes at the back. After that, we all had to work together to piece the puzzle. After a while - tada! The map of the world! A squished map of the world, but hey, not bad.
Lunch was a buffet of all sorts of things - chicken, pasta, salad, black beans. The chicken was quite nice. Yum.
We did some other teambuilding activities afterwards - going in circles answering questions and talking with each other, a lot of games that involve squeezing hands (GO TEAM A!), and a form of bingo where you had to find people who fitted certain attributes.
We also were to write a letter to ourselves, which would be given to us later in the program. Mine sounded rather dramatic and depressing. Talked to Cris for a while, about how life is so confusing and things don't make sense and how our thoughts just fly...we really do have a lot in common. I think we bonded a bit; we're probably going to be close during the program.
We had some time left over, so most of us just hung out outside, playing soccer or chatting. Shinpei had brought a viola and was tuning it - he's really good! Mindblowing! Danni, Ari, and I were bouncing ideas of what to do for Community Celebrations. I suggested an Up With People dikir barat - incorporating the UWP lyrics and some other cultural things into a dikir barat performance. They quite liked the idea; let's see how that goes.
Speaking of which: I need help looking for dikir barat videos.
I've been looking for short clips online to show people what dikir barat is about, and I can't find any. Help! If you know any good ones, drop me a line.
Me, Cris, Che Ri, Rie, Huning, and Natsuko taught each other Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Malay, Bangla, and Spanish. (They weren't as interested in the Malay and Bangla.) The Japanese have this term which basically means "since this is the first time we have met, I hope we can get along" - all that in about 4 words. Crazy. The rest of the crew and I were also talking about traditional dances and love lives and where we come from...loads of good sharing of thoughts and history.
Host Dad picked me up and brought Andrew along - we were going to pick up Valarie, my host mum, from the airport. We had Dominos pizza for dinner...their mushroom pizzas are quite nice. It took a while before Host Mum came by, but we got along really well. There was a bit of tension related to the ownership of one of the dogs (long story) and Host Mum wasn't feeling too good, but she was vary happy to see me and was especially glad with the journal I gave them as a gift. She was especially enamoured by the wooden pencil, hee.
Yay good impressions!
Tomorrow there's more things to be done. Already I'm feeling like I want to work with these people after this semester. It's too much fun!