Updated 3 years 9 months ago

Our service learning partner was Mr. Zhang. He is 79 years old this year, and is the father of the owner of the Xizhou BaBa store. He was one of seven siblings and has two children. His daughter owns a Xizhou BaBa shop. As a result of this experience I have learned a lot about Mr. Zhang. I learned about his hobbies as a child and what he likes to do now. I learned about some tragedies in his life, and also how he dealt with those tragedies. I also simply got to get to know him as a person better. Through this experience, I did not learn much about the history of Xizhou, but I did learn a bit about Mr. Zhang's life in the past. According to Mr. Zhang I learned that Xizhou was a simple place in the past, almost everyone was equal and things were relatively peaceful. He told us a bit about how XIzhou has changed now that technology has improved drastically. He told us that nowadays technology has made things easier while at the same time, people are always on their phones. He did not go into much detail about 20th Century Chinese history. He just briefly went over the flying tigers. 

We shared our service learning video with a large group of people. During the showing instead of sitting in the audience looking at all the flaws of film, we watched the audiences reaction. Before heading up to sit in the chairs front, the wave of anxiety hit and I could feel a tightness in my stomach. Once I sat down up front, my nervousness slowly faded away. The entire audience was looking at the screen not the students sitting beside it. It was about the same as I imagined. While watching, most people had the same expression throughout most of the video. Many did not change their expressions either. They were either smiling or they had a neutral expression. Some people seemed to really enjoy the video and others seemed to be thinking.

Some people showed their emotion on their faces, while others kept their emotions to their selves. Some most of them smiled at some point. No one payed any attention to the three students sitting in the front, instead all of their focus was on the big screen behind them. I received more information from watching the audience than I thought I would get. By analyzing facial expression, I found a lot about what they were thinking. I think that this was a very eye opening experience for me. 

For future Microcampus students who will be involved in a Service Learning project there are a few pieces of advice to ensure success. The first piece of advice is to make sure to make connections early on. As early as possible. When the service learning project comes up, there should be many possible partner candidates. Students should not be looking for elders at the last minute. Another thing is to prepare thoroughly . Practice possible conversations and outcomes but make sure the conversation is still natural. Ask a lot of follow up questions and do not hesitate about digger deeper. One last thing is to make sure to give the partners time to think. Do not jump in at the slightest pauses. The elders need time to think about what they want to say, and they need time to decide whether they want to tell you or not. Awkward pauses are only awkward if you make them to be. 

My name is Laura L. and I am a student at Shanghai American School. I was part of the Group Superior during the spring of 2017. It was a breathtaking experience consisting of extraordinary and wondrous events. It was one of hardest and best things I have ever decided to do. I've learned many valuable lessons and it was an honor to have been able to attend this program with my fellow peers. The 28 days I spent in Xizhou were life-changing and remarkable. I've gained so much knowledge, of which I will take everywhere I go for the rest of my life.