12 other students and I got to participate in a wonderful program called Microcampus. 2 amazing teachers, Mr. Tafel and Ms. Mai and their 11-week-old daughter take us to a small village in China. This village is located in south China. The village we are staying in is Xizhou. While here all of us get to experience China outside of Shanghai, here we have clean air and blue skies. Each of us 13 students came out here to investigate different topics. I am investigating farming. I wanted to do farming because many previous Microcampus students have talked a lot about farming and how much it affects their community. Also because many people have stories about how the government took over and gave many people farming land. Many of my sources were elders who used to farm or young people who farm now. I used sources like these because with the elders I can learn about the past and with the young farmers I can learn about the present and they can take a guess about what the future would be like. While doing research and gathering information I was trying to find out what it would be like to be a farmer. I then made these questions more interesting by talking about the past present and future, but still asking what is it like to be a farmer? While investigating farming in Xizhou, one could learn about the past present and future of farming in Xizhou.
Sharing My Learning
While investigating farming in Xizhou I learned a lot about farming. I also had many moments I hope I will never forget. I remember when I talked to Mr. Zhao he told me to become who I want to become. He said to stay highly educated and to dream. He is my inspiration; he is the reason why I want to grow up to be old and wise just like he is. When I talked to Mr. Du he said farmers have an easy life now, but when I was a farmer nothing was easy this made me realize how lucky I am to be living the life I am living. I am lucky to have food whenever I need it, he never had that at my age. That's why he is also my inspiration. These two men I will think about all the time and I will remember what they told me and live the rest of my life thinking about them and the impact they had on me. To share my learning I made an iMovie. Please click here or go to the top of the page to watch my Final Product Video.
During my inquiry work I learned a lot about my topic, farming, but I also learned a lot about myself as a person. I became more confident with my Chinese and I also learned to take risks. Before doing this project I never knew what going outside of my comfort zone would make for a more interesting project. I also never knew that I was capable of managing all the stuff I had to manage. Which includes, Inquiry work, Service Learning, SAS work, Wellness, Pitching In, and connecting with this amazing village.
Before arriving in Xizhou I choose to study farming, but as I got here I realized how the land reformation affected farming. Once I found this out that is when I came up with the idea to do past, present, and future. I then started investigating what it would be like to be a farmer in the past present and future and what are some changes over the years. I saw a pattern when I was talking to people they all said in the future farming will get much easier and machines will be used just as much as hands are used. They also said being a farmer in the past took a lot of work and was a hard job to have.
While doing research I had a few challenges that I needed to solve. One of my most difficult moments was when I learned about the sad stories of the government taking over. It was hard to hear so many different sides of the story. I heard many of the same stories from many different points of view including a landlord, a poor farmer, an average farmer, and those who were not affected. This was difficult because it was hard to hear about something that had a positive affect on one person, but a negative affect on another. It made me realize the advantages and disadvantages of the land reformation.
I remember when I discovered that the farmers in the past had to work all day and only have one lunch break. I remember my reaction, I was amazed, my jaw dropped and I said, "Did you ever have free time?" I remember the answers I got from everyone I talked to they all said, "No, you are a lucky kid make sure to become who you want to become." That moment is when I realized that I could focus on the past, present and future.
After going out in the village it made me understand that farming has changed. I realized that the land reformation had a big affect on farming and the way it works. I also realized that the way farmers ranked themselves in the past was very low, but now some farmers are very educated and came up with systems to improve farms. Now people do not care what others do as long as they do something and work hard.
Doing this project helped me realize the importance of connecting with the village. I became more confident with my Chinese. I also got the opportunities to go out and communicate with locals and talk to them about something that is important to them and important to the village. Going out and connecting also changed me, it made me realize that I have the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people I could ever meet and I took advantage of this opportunity and got to meet many amazing people who have changed what farming is like today.
Doing this project made me understand a few things about myself. I now realize that I am capable to go out and meet people of different ages and of different skin colors. It also made me realize that I can help make Xizhou a better place by talking to some of the local's and making them happy. I also learned that if I can never get outside of my comfort zone I am never going to be able to experience real China. After realizing this I am now stepping outside of my comfort zone and am trying to connect with locals.
This project made me realize that I can learn things by just asking locals about farming. I am now willing to just have conversation with people and still know that I am learning something. I will now be able to have a normal conversation with someone, but still be learning at the same time. I am now also able to turn a conversation into an educational conversation. This is an important skill to have because I can now take things that I never though I could use for education and turned made them an education tool.
If I could go back in time to the beginning of this project I would tell myself that it is ok to try new things. I would of liked to go out of my comfort zone more often before the trip. Some advice I would have recommended to myself in the beginning is the more interested one is to ones topic the more one is going to want to work. I would also tell myself that it is important to stay on top of things, but also connect with the village.
If I were to continue this project I would want to experience the difference of living in the past, present and future as a farmer. I would want to get out in the fields and work how they did in the past present and future. I would want to experience what it was like to be a landlord during the land reformation and have all taken land taken away. I would want to know what it would be like to use a machine and what it would be like to plow the land. I would want to have the chance to do the farming and to do it in 3 different forms, and 3 different ways.
I would like to say thank you to the elder in the village who change farming for us and how they set up a good future for the next generations after them. I would also like to thank Mr. Du, Mr. Dong, Mr. He, Mr. Zhao, Mr. Zhao, Mr. Yin Bao, Mr. Yang for helping me learn about the past, present, and a bit about the future of farming. I would like to thank Mr.Tafel and Ms. Mai for taking me on this trip. I appreciate everything everyone has done for me and I will always remember this.
Without going on Microcampus I never would have known what I could do, I would never of gotten to see China outside the bubble. I now know what it is like to be in China, the real China where one can talk to locals, making friends with people in the village, and revel the true person one is. While doing this project this is what I got to do I have had the chance to meet people and make friends with them and I have taken this opportunities and become a different person then I was at the start of Microcampus.