Beijing Foreign Studies U marked its 70th birthday Saturday night with a gala performance that was a cross between the Academy Awards without quite so much crystal and diamonds (altho insanely high production values & expense & presence of dignitaries) and “Glee” in the number, adorableness, and talent of the young performers who did everything from hip hop to African dance to Lite fm ballads to Mandarin hits. It was like nothing a U.S. university would ever do: Shipped in guest singers, super flashy decor. The host & hostess (wish I could have understood their patter). Red carpet from the stadium out to the street. (Of course, rows of uniformed guards in formation.) Massive video backdrop with slides ranging from patriotic antique war scenes where Chinese & Russians are side-by-side in furry hats (BFSU was founded to teach Russian for military purposes) to amber waves of grain, women on the front lines, dewey scenes of the campus throughthe ages, beside a century of world leaders images of its most illustrious graduates — something like 1,000 diplomats. But the centerpiece for me was a song for the teachers — queue pix of glasses perched on books, blackboards, and then one by one, the faculty. All this while a guy in white silk who was kind of Sinatra-esque sang a gorgeous love song called “You.”
WE hear so much about Confucianist values (respect for superiors, teachers, elders, masters) that it feels like a mental rut to go there, but the adulation for teachers — it’s real and it’s moving. Did I have tears in my eyes in the 90th row? I admit that I did.