A Major Merry Xmas Parade

25 Dec

If I had studied at the university where I work, I would have been a Biology student with a lot of Animal Science and Forestry friends. Bio students are the most curious and nerdy-with-a-cause, Animal Science are the big party kids, and Forestry kids appear to be total nonconformists. But that’s not all!

I’m always studying my students anyway, but I got an extra opportunity to watch the student groups when I was asked to be a judge this year for the floats in the Christmas parade put on by the university. I agreed, even though I dislike judging in general. I am kind of one of those hippie types whining about not being able to quantify everyone’s great effort. Thank goodness most of the student tests are multiple choice, because I agonize over grading their writing. I make sure to point out something they’ve done really well and something they need to work on for every single student. I think effort and the process of learning is often more important than product, and I think it’s necessary to recognize where people are. And I don’t grade 100% “equally” because some students are at a different level of English than others, but sometimes have learned more than someone who writes it better. But when it comes to parade floats? Turns out I’m almost ruthless at judging.

As a natural sociologist aka curious people-person, I LOVED observing how these groups work. My English classes are separated by major, so I already have some general working knowledge of differences among groups. But it was really fun to see it in action in the parade. For example, my nursing students rocked it in terms of group cohesiveness. They are the kids who follow the rules, who memorize, who wear uniforms complete with the mandatory bun hairstyle for women. Many of them are golden-hearted kids who really care about helping others, but of course they’d have it together to be nearly uniform in their dress and actions.

Thus, my nursing students had their routine down pat. They had matching outfits (Mario from Mario Brothers, with a few Luigis thrown into the mix). They had dances along the parade route. They were flawlessly in-sync. Obviously, they won first prize for their performance of a dance routine at the end-of-the-parade site. Because there are so many nursing students, there was also a group who made outfits to match the parade float. They had incredibly intricate shirts with ice cream cones and candy canes and other such treats in 3D form made out of who-knows-what because I hate crafts and therefore have zero knowledge on this base. But this is how it is. Nurses have to be details-based and intricate and work well with others. They spend hours doing elaborate projects like the way they did their ice cream shirts. So it makes sense.

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The Nursing students’ float: very busy,

My Computer Science kids are the most anti-social, according to themselves. I’m pretty sure these video game lovers, online addicts, and techie introverts only participated at all because their professors made them. There are about three raging extroverts among all of the perhaps 30 Computer Science kids. Two of the three extroverts wanted to dance and all that business, but they got summarily shot down by everyone else. Thus, the CS major kids did the bare minimum, which was to have a float in the parade. Well, I guess their “extra” thing was having a dragon parade puppet thing (see pic below) behind the float so some of the shyest kids could hide under it and still be in the parade. Their float, however, was spectacular. These kids do all kinds of great work behind-the-scenes. To program and whatever else it is that computer people do (obviously this is not my field), I know they spend hours staring at screens and pecking away at keys and toiling on the intricacies to come up with one thing. And their perseverance was obvious. Their float was like three levels more well done than everyone else’s. I happen to know they spent weeks laboring over it, and you could tell. It was a total work of art, and if I had been the only judge, they absolutely would have taken first prize.

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This is the dragon-type thing I’m talking about. I didn’t get a pic in the parade, so this picture is courtesy of this pinterest page: https://es.pinterest.com/em1776/dragonlion-dance/

 

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Is this amazing, or what? All made out of recycled materials (except the balloons).

The Biology students were hands-down the most original in their creation, of course, which is probably why they walked away with first prize. These kids are always questioning and thinking outside of the box, plus they’re dedicated to whatever they set their minds to. They’re the kind of students who tell me things like, “My personal goal is to reduce the use of straws in the population.” Oh, right, isn’t that everyone’s personal goal? (Can you see why I definitely would have been a Biology student? Plus they look so sharp in their white lab coats.) Anyway, their float’s theme was Plants vs. Zombies. They even had a zombie vs. plants battle/dance at the culmination of the parade, complete with Michael Jackson songs. Even my student who says she loathes styling her hair got hers all zombified for the event. I’m telling you,dedication.

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The Forestry students had the saddest float of all, although they had the best materials. They used all kinds of wood scraps, and made their own trees and… unrecognizable other things made out of cool materials. Now don’t be fooled- I would vote these kids second most studious/dedicated, right up there with the biology students. I always have lots of super sincere kids and incredible thinkers in the Forestry groups. But it’s the major with the lowest number of students, and apparently they all refused to participate. The only reason they had a float at all was thanks to the six Forestry students who are in their first semester. All the upper level kids were AWOL through the duration. I suspect the no-nonsense head honcho of Forestry (a woman, by the way) did not make participation mandatory, and all the non-newbies had better things to do.

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The Forestry float…. very forest-y.

Last but not least were the Zoos, as I like to call the Zootecnia kids (Animal Science? Animal Husbandry? Bachelor’s in How-to-Run-a-Farm-with-other-vet-skills-mixed-in? I’m never sure how to perfectly translate Zootecnia). Calling them the Zoos is perfectly apt, since they tend to be rowdy and rambunctious all the time. Their performance in the parade was a fitting reflection of that. Their float was nothing to write home about; I don’t even understand exactly what their theme was supposed to be. There was a chair for someone to sit under some big plastic-looking bubble, surrounded by balloons. There were two students dressed as penguins, and some other random stuff. When I asked about it, none of the students could tell me any more than their individual part in the float, so perhaps there was no theme. But goodnight! they had the absolute coolest performance of all. They took it way over the top. The first thing you saw after the Forestry float was a line of bicycles, biking in sync, each bike with a letter at the helm to spell out ZOOTECNIA. After them there were a few more bikes with paper-maché (spell?) animal heads on them. After that there was a line of kids walking on stilts (they learned in about four or five days, they told me). Behind them was one of those Chinese dragon type things, but it was a unicorn, and they were taking turns running circles with it, running through the crowd at small children and everything. Then came their float, and behind the float was a whole posse of girls spinning batons with long ribbons on them. (The other roles were mostly coed, but for whatever reason, spinning ribbons was only for girls. I don’t understand these things.) It was an incredible performance! It was semi-chaos, just like it is in class with them, but they pulled off something wildly fabulous.

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The Zoo float

(Sorry, y’all, all my action shots came out terrible and blurry. These kids are just too fast for my cell phone camera.)

That was the Christmas spirit, here in sunny paradise university. Based on this description, what would your major have been at this school? Who would you have hung out with?

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