Day 28: Why I Came to Microcampus

The first time I heard of Microcampus was when an 8th grader in my Spanish class disappeared for a month. When I was in 7th grade, I never really knew Microcampus in depth, neither was I interested. The concept of leaving the comforts of home for an entire month to a rural village was difficult for me to fathom. But as 8th grade came, I realized it was a something that looks good on an application, especially since I was starting my high school application process. That was when I realized that I have not been participating in the interesting things SAS offers. My initial encouragements to join were basic: skipping school, hanging out with friends, and an escape from assignments.  As I learned more about Microcampus, I felt threatened by the workload and the fact that I had to communicate with strangers. Especially after the presentation by Mr. T, I realized my initial encouragements were completely wrong, and that was not what Microcampus was about. However, I was still encouraged by the sense of escape it offered: to leave the city bubble and chaotic life. I still applied mainly for the sake of applications and experience. But what I received greatly differed what I expected.

Initially, after I was accepted, I did not take the workload seriously. I was confused on why the assignments were due in such a long time and paid no attention to my Phase 0 work. The procrastination finally got back at me during weekly meetings when it was revealed to me that I was bringing the group down because I was not completing my share of work. I felt quite upset since I did not know why Mr. T had to design the process like that. I later found the reason during our Service Learning project. Before I came to Xizhou, I believed that Microcampus was focused solely on building independence. My idea of independence back then was also much simpler than my idea of it now.

Microcampus builds on a student's personal growth, intercultural understanding, experiential learning, and positive impact. Personally, the most important one for me was personal growth. To me, I felt as if the other three are extensions of personal growth. Being in Xizhou for a month taught me a lot of all the other things that come along with independence, such as trust, responsibility, and integrity. In fact, Microcampus offered an independence vastly different from what I expected. During the trip, you were never truly alone. But you were alone with your groupmates, who shared the trust, responsibility, and integrity you have. You were given the independence to do what you want the shared trust. This emphasized your responsibility. If you chose to abuse the shared trust, you will be dragging others down. This makes us discipline ourselves, instead of constant reminders from chaperones. 

Reflecting upon the trip, I am glad I came on this 28-day journey to Xizhou to build on my character. The things I have learned here are impossible to be learned in Shanghai or in a classroom. The remarkable part of the trip was not only the serene and friendly village but also the supportive teacher and learning environment. 

I am Audrey T, an 8th grader from Shanghai American School. I have returned from a 28 day trip to Xizhou, and it was a wonderful experience! I will never forget the friendly locals and the stunning view. Special thanks to Mr. T and Ms. Mai for making this wonderful trip happen!