Our service learning partner is Mr. Zhang or 张雄武. He is 79 years old and works at the China Mobile store located right next to SiFang Jie.
Our service learning partner is a very kind and open man named Mr. Zhang. He has lived here in Yunnan, Xizhou for his whole entire life but then he wishes to visit other places if he had a chance to. Mr. Zhang also has 3 daughters and 1 son that all live in Xia Guan. We saw Mr. Zhang's youngest daughter since she was here to visit her dad, she actually helped us a little during the service learning process. Mr. Zhang has had a lot of education in his life since he attended school from since he was little until high school graduation. After learning so much, he went to being a teacher here in Yunnan province for already 40-50 years and he is very proud of what he has done.
I actually learnt many things from Mr. Zhang about his life. Mr. Zhang actually said that he will continue learning for his whole life, "Even though I am already 79 years old, I will keep on learning no matter what". I did not learn so much about what he did in the cultural revolution since he basically just told us he was teaching up in the mountains. Even though he did not tell us much about that, we still asked some other questions such as "Did you like your life when you were a child?", he was actually pretty open about these questions and did not hesitate at all when four of us were all asking him.
The Xizhou elders all have contributed so much of their life into hard work. As for Mr. Zhang, he has been educating middle school kids for mostly his whole life and he has no regrets for what he has done. He is actually very happy that he got to help the people of Xizhou and they got to learn from him. Even though it may have been hard teaching when he was about 30 -40 years old, he kept on going with his teaching up in the mountains since it was his passion and he did not want to stop what he was striving for.
Usually in a classroom back in Shanghai, we would just learn about what happened and how people felt during these times. By actually coming to Xizhou and asking someone who was our age when they were at that time of history was a remarkable way of learning since we are asking people that experienced it questions about his life back then. I think that even though they are was tough times, now they are living a comfortable life in Xizhou and are proud of what they did in the past.
I was very nervous for the service learning presentation. I did not know what Mr. Zhang was going to think about it and I really hoped that he would enjoy it. Mr. Zhang knew that we took a video of him but then I did not know if he would like the idea of us editing him and what he says. After finally presenting the movie about Mr. Zhang, my group and I went up to him and asked us if he like it or not. I was so relieved that he actually enjoyed it since he was a teacher and he might have some high standards.
As we were presenting our video, I could see everyone in the audience. There were the service learning partners, the SAS students, and many other people. I could tell that they were all paying a lot of attention to the video and that made me very nervous. I thought that what if we had mistakes, people would laugh, but as the video was ending, everybody started to clap and I was very happy and relieved about that. Also as the the service learning presentation was over, I realized that some of our service learning partners were very close friends with each other and that made me happy that they could all interact with each other and be happy.
Service Learning was a great way for us to interact with locals and get to know them better. Even if this service learning project took so long since we wrote down questions, interviewed, edited, and turned into a final video, it was all worth it since it could get us a little closer to the community and made us learn a little more history from the people who actually experienced it.
Some recommendations that I would have for the future Microcampus group has to be always find a partner at an early stage of the service learning partner. It is always nice to be ahead of people when you have a partner ready but then, always have another Plan B since the person might say no at the last minute or will be busy and not do it. While interviewing your service learning partner, do not rush through all the questions since you would not get so much information. What you should do is just wait for your partner to answer a question and later ask another question. While asking about family, do not rush through that since it will make the person a little uncomfortable and they might not like it. Also while creating and editing this video, you cannot be in such a hurry or else the translation might not be right and during the presentation, the people might not understand it. Always be patient and always stay on top of your work!