Day 28: Why I Came to Microcampus

Initially, I came to Microcampus because I wanted to 'step outside my bubble', and to enjoy the quiet village of Xizhou. Little did I know that I was going for so many other reasons and that I was going on a unforgettable and life changing trip. Over the course of 28 days here in Microcampus, I have learned so much. 

One of the reasons I came to Microcampus is because here in Microcampus, I first-hand experienced how to stay on top of tasks, and to be responsible. I learned to have good time management as well. Here in Xizhou, we have the freedom that we do not get back in Shanghai. Therefore, we have to manage our time well in order for us to finish everything that we need to accomplish, but also have some gaps for down time. We basically plan our own schedules, and it gives us a more flexible time schedule. I believe this taught me how to handle my tasks well, and to be responsible. Back in Shanghai, I had my time planned out well ahead of time, and I have little responsibility for it, but here in Xizhou, it is different. This is an important skill to have, as in the future, no one will help us plan our daily schedules and get our tasks finished for us if we cannot do it. Coming to Microcampus allowed me to experience the joy and the challenges of owning time and controlling how we use it. We get to decide what kind of activities we want to do, and where we want to do it. As long as we send a short text to Mr. T of where we are going, we can go anywhere in the village. This gives us so much freedom, and we have to take advantage of it and use it well. I really enjoy having the freedom to go where I want whenever I want, but I have to carry the consequences of it as well.

Another reason I came to Microcampus is the experience being a leader. We have to be in committees, where we are basically in charge of an area of our small Microcampus society. Before coming to Microcampus, I did not know that being in a committee was so hard. Now that I have gone through all the challenges of being a leader and being part of two different committees, I know that joining Microcampus will help me improve my leadership skills. We have to assign everyone a common room in the Common Area Committee and make sure they clean up that room constantly throughout the trip. However, during the second week, I did not do well. Many people did not clean their rooms enough and it was left a mess. It was our fault as a committee because we did not enforce our assignments, so we needed to work even harder to make sure nothing like that happens again. We needed to be strong leaders in order for everyone else to follow us. I also learned how to report as a leader. You have to say what we should have already done, what we should be doing, and what is coming up on the horizon. This is an effective way to communicate as a leader, but I did not know this before Microcampus. You also have to make sure everyone is staying on top of their work, and get people engaged in the meeting. So, an effective way to do this is to ask people to raise their hands whenever you as them if they have done something or not, so that they are clear what they have to do, and you are clear who have not done their work yet. Leadership skills are learned in Microcampus, and I have achieved the goal to learn it and apply it.

I also came to Microcampus because I needed to learn how to connect with people and to have conversations with people I have never met. During Inquiry Project and Service Learning time, I interacted with so many people in the village, and I was so surprised that after these 28 days, I have improved in my people interaction skills enormously. In the real world, without people skills, we would not be able to have effective communication. Here in Xizhou, we have to communicate in ways that are not awkward and strange. Attending this program is a great way to start learning how to make connections and to connect with communities. I made tons of connections throughout the village, and it helped me improve as a person and as a learner.

The quiet and beautiful village convinced me to come to Xizhou as well. This village is quiet and comforting, and it makes me feel at home. I love how everyone is connected to each other, and that during the trip, we start to blend into the community as well. The rice fields here are so calming and it is a great place to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. 

Personal growth is a goal that all students that came here achieved. We all grew as people and as learners. I learned about myself, such as my daily habits, behaviors, and likes. I learned about the ways that I like to work, such as finishing everything early and then going back to revise it. Back in Shanghai, we do not truly get to know ourselves, as we are constantly influenced by the SAS community, which may be a good thing, but it does not expose who we are. Here in Microcampus, we definitely have the ability to see ourselves, and we are basically transparent to ourselves and to other people in the group. We can change our daily behaviors to match what we want it to be, but it takes some time. Therefore, in Microcampus, we have that time to learn about ourselves, and then we can improve it. 

These are all the main reasons that I came to Microcampus. There are much more, but they have to be experienced firsthand and it will definitely be different if I were to describe it. I came to this trip because Xizhou and the people here and Mr. T and Ms. Mai are wonderful and unforgettable.

My name is Casey and I am currently 13 years old. I was born in the US but have lived in Shanghai for 8 years. This is my 7th year attending Shanghai American School. My experience in Microcampus including taking on challenges, as well as learning new cultures and lifestyles, was a great way to start practicing life skills. I am extremely glad that I have attended Microcampus. The weather and the people in Xizhou are amazing, and going to Xizhou was truly a great way for us to step outside our 'bubble'.