Brush up on stroke order for the opening ceremony

I just returned from watching the Olympics’ opening ceremony on two big screens along with thousands of Chinese and foreigners in Beijing’s Ditan park, and I sure was glad I brushed up on my stroke counts.

That’s because the Olympic delegations marched not in alphabetical order, but rather in order of stroke count (except for Greece, which traditionally marches first, and China, which as the host country went last).

Where does that put Israel? No. 22, right behind the island of Vanuatu (????) and before Japan (??). The United States (“Mei guo”/??) came in at number 140 in the procession. The Simplified Chinese character spelling of Israel is ??? (Yi-se-lie) , and that first character “Yi” is written in four strokes.

Zhang Yimou brought to the event his unique ability to orchestrate epic performances, directing 15,000 performers and 29,000 rounds of fireworks. Of course, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have been different if Steven Spielberg had advised the program.

I clapped extra hard for Sudan and was trying to explain to my Chinese friend the significance of the United States’ choice of former “Lost Boy of Sudan” Lopez Lomong as flag-bearer, but because the Chinese media does not fully cover the news of the genocide in Darfur, my friend knew very little about the situation in Sudan.

An especially loud cheer went up for Iraq. The delegations from Taiwan and Hong Kong also got a warm reception from the Ditan Park crowd.

(By the way, in reference to my last post, the Beijing Olympics’ theme song turned out to be a surprise choice of “You and Me” instead of the song titled “One World, One Dream,” after the 2008 Olympics motto. The lyrics of the theme song still convey the same message that the world is “one family.”)

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