Last weekend the institute that my host lab is a part of organized a "tug of war" competition, bringing together the teams from the various labs in the institute to face each other in several rounds of fierce tugging. Teams faced off two by two (obviously); the winner was decided by a "best of three" format and went on to face the other winning teams in succeeding rounds until a team was procl aimed champion. As I understand it, participation was entirely voluntary, and the turnout was very high - there was obviously a lot of enthusiasm for the event.
I was encouraged to participate, and at first it was with some skepticism that I joined in, but I soon got caught up in the excitement, the cheering and the spirit of friendly rivalry between the labs. And as it turns out, my participation was much appreciated, because although team members could take turns at the rope, at any given time there had to be at least three ladies among the dozen or so "players". And most of the young women on any of the teams fitted the classic stereotype: thick as pencils and about half as solid. In contrast to their shrimp-like build (in French, "crevette de compet") I'm a super-sumo lobster (NOT me in the picture), by mass alone if not actual muscle.
(It wounds my ego but there it is. In Beijing I bought a few shirts, and had to get XXL size, whereas back home I'm a comfortable size 40 and usually wear M-size t-shirts. Shopping for clothes here is cheap, but it sure ain't flattering.)
So anyway. For round after round, we fought like dragons under the hearty encouragements of our boss and the enthusiastic scansion of "zhai... lo! zhai... lo!" (I think) from the rhythm leader (pictured) and cheering supporters.
And we won! Our team was champion!
As a reward we had a big dinner at the campus hotel restaurant, with a succession of all kinds of tasty dishes...
My conclusion? You can trust a Communist culture to set up some really fantastic team building, and for once I say that without an ounce of sarcasm ;-)