Imagine my surprise when I asked the guy at the front desk for the date last March 8 when I was dropping off the dry cleaning and he said, “It’s International Women’s Day.”
Wow, I hadn’t even heard of International Women’s Day until an invitation had arrived for an event to help launch a new international foundation resulting from the collaboration of the two organizations named after two of the worlds greatest female philanthropists, Pearl S. Buck and Soong Ching Ling. And this was the 101st IWD! And this random Chinese male knew about it, and I, a woman, had never heard of it. (Although that may just be my general ignorance.)
Turns out IWD is a big deal here in China and women are given a half day off of work!
The Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten where the event was held was a beautiful school on Hong Mei Road.
Kate also happens to be a knitting friend and it turns out, her husband works for Air Products where Andy has just gotten a co-op job! Isn’t it funny how you’ve never heard of something and then it just keeps popping up?
Kate gave a very good talk about Pearl S. Buck describing her as the Oprah of her time. Like Oprah, she used the media that was available to her–books, articles and plays (1000 of them!) to get her message to the people. She opened the door to China, where she had grown up and lived as an American, to the world, as well as advocated for the rights of those who had no voice.
Like the Pearl S. Buck Foundation which was founded in 1964, the Soong Ching Ling foundation also advocates for those who can not advocate for themselves, specifically women and children in western China. Soong Ching Ling’s organization is credited with reducing mother’s and infant’s mortality rate in China, increasing literacy, supplying books and computers to rural schools and scholarship funds and providing extracurricular activities for migrant children in cities, to name a few.
At last we came to the part of the program we had all been waiting for: the performance by the school children! There were to be 3 dance performances. Each one was preceded with an introduction by two students with “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” playing in the background. Interesting choice.
You’ll notice that the boys are wearing long tails (with gym shoes!) and some are wearing lipstick!
I’m showing the last group next and saving the middle group for last.
Next up are the little boys who stole the show. They danced to “We Will Rock You.” They were the youngest in the show, around 5 or 6, I think.
Even though these children were very young, they performed almost flawlessly. Obviously they had practiced endlessly to get to that point, but yet they still seemed to be having a blast doing it and we were a most appreciative audience. It was certainly the highlight of my week and still makes me grin when I think of it.
The event was concluded with a raffle of things like pearls (won by my neighbor down the hall!) and spa treatments and chocolates and fancy cookies and some books about walks around Shanghai which I really wanted.