Day 28: Why I Came to Microcampus

I lived in China all my life. From ever since I could trace back my memory, I was in Shanghai. Except for the hazy four years that I spent in Korea during the first few years of elementary school, China was my home. Home I did not comprehend. Ignorance ruled my mind, full of assumption about a nation I have only seen a part in. I first heard about Microcampus towards the end of 7th grade when a couple of 8th graders were talking about it in exploratory. Even then I had no clue what exactly Microcampus was. You went away from school for a certain amount of time. That was all I had about it, and it seemed like a waste of time.
Eventually, my thoughts on Microcampus changed after I transitioned into 8th grade as more information was available regarding the topic. If I got in, I would need to spend 28 days away from home. 2000 kilometers away. In a village stranger to me. Not so fun. But the idea of investigating in a topic of my choice caught my attention a little. Then, the presentation on Microcampus at the beginning of the school year completely changed my perspective. It seemed serious. It was stricter than I thought. It was more work than what I presumed. It was more than what I thought I would survive though. I was scared.
Why did I sign up if I was so intimidated? My teachers from 7th grade thought I would like Microcampus. My parents were also looking forward to it and expecting me to apply. Still, it was mostly my own judgment. I must admit, I was absurdly motivated for Microcampus after the same presentation that frightened me. It was the whole point of the experience-to step out of my comfort zone. Besides that, I truly wished to learn something about myself, as I was going through challenging times figuring out who I am at the beginning of 8th grade.  I honestly did not expect the acceptance and applied solely to show my enthusiasm and passion.
I was concerned that I may not be the best fit for Microcampus once I was accepted in, wondering if I have the ability to make the best out of my time. Fortunately, my worries vanished when I dived into the research process because I was overwhelmed with passion. I never had a solid chance to follow my true interests, and it started to feel like this journey would allow me to do that. 
It sounds odd, but all the reasons I wanted to go to Microcampus popped up after I realized that I will be going to Xizhou for sure. It was only a couple of weeks away from the Voyagers’ departure when I considered why was going in the first place. I noticed that there were more reasons for signing up that I was not aware of myself for a long time. I thought this journey will allow me to become more independent as I was never away from my parents for so long. I also wanted to prove myself as responsible and hardworking, but my thoughts never predicted what I would actually take away from this experience.
Once I finally reached Xizhou, I realized that my goals for the trip were not exactly what I would take away from the trip, but I gained greater things throughout the process. There were challenges, but they all motivated me to grow into a better person and student. I built lifelong friends and connections.
I became aware of how much I was misinformed about modern day China; I thought Shanghai represented most of China until I truly viewed Xizhou as a part of China that is notably different from the environment that I was used to. Before, China was where the grey skies hid the skyscrapers as they reached into the murky atmosphere. It was where billions of people passed by me every day without a single acknowledgment. It was loud, booming of vehicles that did not care for the safety of passengers. 
Last but not least, Microcampus was a humbling experience. I noticed my small significance in the world, but at the same time, I learned that despite my smallness, I could achieve amazing things. It changed my perspective on life permanently. It revealed how much of a self-centered person I was. Always so desperate to focus on myself, tell my story, act upon the interests of myself without a single consideration of the great individuals surrounding me. I learned to be an observer. To lower my voice in favor of others. I discovered beauty in something other than "me," and I cherished it. This I will continue to build upon forever. I will continue to tell the story of others, like my service learning project, or at least I will try to do so in my own modest ways. 
Microcampus ends here, but I will be carrying out my own micro-Microcampus as I go back to Shanghai. The values I have gained in this voyage will always affect my actions. I will carry the spirit everywhere I go, trying to understand different cultures, overcoming challenges, looking to grow, being aware of my impacts. Being aware of my impacts. I am baffled at how much of an obnoxious person I was back in Shanghai. In such a small community as Xizhou, it is hard to get away with unfavorable actions. I used to take advantage of the lack of such quality in big cities. Now that I know how much of an effect my actions could have, I will never be able to act as before Microcampus. 
Thinking back to my first few reasons behind coming to Microcampus, I want to slap my past self because how arrogant the reasons sound. But I have to admit, I feel grateful for signing up. 
Microcampus was an unforgettable journey. It is an experience I will never regret participating. It changed my life. Every single aspect of it define why I came to Microcampus. 
Hello. I am 14 years old. I was in Xizhou with fifteen other students. I am from Korea, and I lived in Shanghai for more than half of my life. I wanted to get to know the neighbors and learn the culture in Xizhou. My time here has truly changed my life forever. It helped me discover who I am and who I want to be. I will never forget this experience.