Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turkeyman: Teaching Chinese Students a Made-up Thanksgiving Tradition

In the Chinese city of Shaoxing they are celebrating Thanksgiving with Turkeyman...

For most of China the fourth Thursday of November is just another day. There is no football, no sweet potato pie, and little turkey to speak of.  That is, unless you are in the Fifth grade classroom of Geoffrey Fella, located in the city of Shaoxing. There, Mr. Fella has introduced a completely made-
up Thanksgiving tradition that has resonated with his students. 
Watch Mr. Fella sing the Turkeyman song with his class

The Story:
"Sing him praises he's a Turkey"
Turkeyman is a man-Turkey, aged 35, who lives' in Rhode Island on Turkey Street.  Every Thanksgiving Eve he enters your house through the window and gives you a Turkey from his pot. There is a corresponding song about Turkeyman that every American sings at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

In the Spring of 2014 Geoffrey Fella, a graduate of a small liberal arts College in Florida, relocated to China to take part in a two-year teaching program. He was assigned to teach English to a Fourth grade class in Shaoxing, a prefectural city in Eastern China. By November of that year, homesick and bored with the typical lesson plans, Mr. Fella had the idea of bringing  some American fun into the classroom. 

And so Turkeyman was born.

Mr. Fella’s class fell in love with the fable of Turkeyman and the song.  This year, to fully immerse the students, Mr. Fella will be having his class over to his house for a full Thanksgiving dinner with a special appearance from the Turkeyman himself.

Watch the full Turkeyman lesson here

"Now he's in your house."

Is It Wrong:
When asked if he felt that presenting Turkeyman as an actual American tradition is taking advantage of his students Mr. Fella responded, “Turkeyman was never meant to be a trick, it was meant to be a
fun way to teach my students about an otherwise boring tradition that would seem foreign to them.  Yes, Turkeyman is funny, but I feel my kids are in on the joke. They laugh about it as much as I do.”

Whether the students actually know Turkeyman is not the true way Americans celebrate Thanksgiving is uncertain.  What is certain is that it has brought a taste of America to a group of Chinese students who are enjoying every minute of it.

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