This week a number of events took shape around the theme of the Chinese New Year. One of the most special moments occurred twice: Angela Hu, a student in Grade 9, played the guzheng in both Middle School and Senior School Chapel. The guzheng is commonly described as a Chinese zither; more information can be found here , and has an honoured place in the Chinese musical repertoire. Angela has been playing since she was seven, and is clearly accomplished; the sound was magical.
What struck me, apart from the music, was the number of students who took out their phones to capture the moment on video. It was a bit of an epiphany: several phones came out quickly, automatically, and were recording video within one or two seconds – presumably to be sent home to parents, to China. For those of us who witnessed, or noticed, the whipping out of cell phones was more or less unremarked, sort of normal.
There was a time when taking pictures or video was quite frowned upon, as if somehow it desecrated these more formal occasions. But perhaps things are changing: cameras are no longer the bulky things they were. Also, for our students, it is such a standard response, if you want to record something – the cell phone is not just a phone, or even mainly a phone, and I won’t be the first to observe that the transformation is happening before our eyes.