Bridging the Gap: Finals week, finals food
It is exhausting to anticipate finals week, because it means you have to begin your projects, prepare presentations, finish group works and study for exams. One way to energize yourself during finals is to eat the right food. American teachers know this much better than Chinese teachers. Food is an encouragement, and reward has an irreplaceable status in students’ minds.
In order to let students finish online course evaluations, most teachers will give extra credit if the whole class does it. However, at the end of the semester, my English capstone professor invented a new method which was much more encouraging.
During our peer-review meetings, she told us: “If everyone in the class prints out the confirmation page of online course evaluation, I will bake homemade brownies!” I read the five options of brownie type and begin to feel hungry: “Peanut butter with chocolate icing; Deep chocolate with jalapeno and walnuts; Chocolate with chocolate chunks, cherries and walnuts; Chocolate with coconut; Butterscotch classic (brown sugar, walnuts, and chocolate chip).”
I said to my professor, “I guess you are a good cook!” She smiled and answered confidently, “Yes. I am.” Food is more tempting than extra credit sometimes, especially when the class begins in the afternoon and we need to supplement energy in our bodies.
I had another English instructor who gave us a pizza party during finals week. She taught us creative poetry writing, and no matter what methods she tried, all she wanted to do was to inspire our creativity in writing poetry. During finals week, she ordered cheese and pepperoni pizza and bought soda, and asked two guys in the class to be her free labor, helping carry the food and drinks to the third-floor classroom.
Food has a magical power during any stressful period. It plays the important role of awakening our minds and arousing our appetite. It was great fun to eat pizza, drink Coke and workshop our poems all at the same time. The good smell and our laughter flowed through the room.
“Pizza party” is one hilarious way to celebrate one semester is nearly over. Another celebration form is “pot luck”. One professor of my gender study class prepared chocolate, oranges, chips, cookies, and drinks for us during finals week review session. We took food we liked and then sat down, eating, taking notes, asking questions, and trying to remember key points as well. Similar to the pizza party, pot luck also helps us focus on the review content since food brings it magic in increasing our interests. Even this pot luck was two years ago, I still remember what I wrote down and what food our professor bought for us.
I don’t have any memories of finals week which can be related to food from when I was in China. I would like to suggest my Chinese teachers use food as an encouragement and reward, though. As the French writer and philosopher Voltaire said: “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”