A Cheerful Chinese Hotpot Night

“OK everyone, just use the chopsticks to pierce the potatoes – you cannot use your fingers in the pot,” Ajarn Qi explained, “and bring them in and out of the boiling broth like this.” All the students nodded as they were shown demonstrations of how to cook beef tripe at their first hot pot dinner. All the students were standing on their toes to see what was inside the roaring pot. The evening introduced many students to this Chinese dining experience as well as beginning a hot pot obsession for Ajarn Greg and Ajarn Stephanie!

Much like the shabu-shabu in Japan and fondue in Western cooking, Chinese hot pot, huo guo (火鍋), is a group dining activity around the table with a pot of boiling broth over a gas stove in the middle. Friends and families cook the raw ingredients of their liking in this communal pot of broth while chatting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company around the table. It is a very popular way to eat especially in winter, such as now.

We were lucky enough to have the chance to organise a hotpot night for all the Chinese boarders. Boys and girls were more than excited to join us early in the afternoon to prepare for the event. Washing, peeling, cutting, seasoning and delivering – their hard work looked so professional that I could not help complimenting them for their “Chinese efficiency”.

Thanks to the kind support of Khun Lin and Ajarn Stephanie, our ultimate bonus hotpot started at 6.00 pm in the AC room of cafeteria. The excitement and enthusiasm of our cooking even attracted some chefs wondering around. As the boiling broth bubbled away, the delicious smells of meat and mushrooms filled the room. All the boarders were completely focused on fishing out their food before somebody else took it. As teachers we have completed many prep duties and room inspections and we have seen our boarders concentrate on their study tasks, but we have never seen anything like this – it was a Hunger Game Movie in reality. The ups and downs of chopsticks, the swinging of colanders and spoons, the cheering of “Yumm…!” or “More beef, please!” This clearly confirmed that everyone absolutely loved it!

More than happily, the spirit of IB learners shone everywhere.

Caring – all the seniors taught the junior boys and girls how to cook and pick-up the food properly, helping them reach out for food and get sauce dishes. Communicators – seniors were willingly rearranging the order and space of seats for juniors and passing the food around to make sure no one was left out, and they also told the juniors where to get the soft drinks and where to put the garbage. Principled – while all the girls helped us prepared the food before dinner, all the boys helped to clean up the mess afterwards, including tables, chairs and utensils.

Many students explained how happy and grateful they felt after the dinner, and all the Chinese boarders and teachers said “Xie Xie” to Ajarn Jun and Ajarn Qi afterwards. Of course, the pleasure was ours. With all the joy and fun we had together, along with the diverse tasty food we shared, we can only say, “Let’s do it again soon.”

Jun and Qi

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