Our service learning partner is Yang nai nai. She is 62 years old and lives in Zhoucheng but works in Xizhou selling handmade tie-dye and embroidery with her daughter. From this service learning experience, I have learned a lot about Yang nai nai. She very sweet, kind, funny, and caring. She is determined to care for all the people that she loves in any way possible. She works hard making tie-dye and embroidery even though she says she is losing her eyesight. When she was young, she did not go to school, but instead cared for her siblings while her parents were working on the farm.
Xizhou struggled through some hard times in its history. For instance, during the cultural revolution, many people in the village were hungry and without pay. For instance, Yang nai nai did not go to school when she was young, due to the fact that she needed to stay home and help her parents with farm work, so they had money to pay for food.
The 20th Century was the time of production teams and communes. Many people in China were put into these groupings. The families or groups of people had to produce a certain amount of food and pay part of it to the government. Nobody, during that time period, could own their own farm land or property, and times were hard because food was limited.
Sharing my final video with Yang nai nai melted my heart. As she watched our film, she smiled throughout the sad and funny parts. During the moment that Yang nai nai watched herself reliving the memories she has with her parents and grandma, her eyes watered and she looked over at me and smiled.
The parts that were funny made her laugh in the silly way that she does. Such as when the video explained that Yang nai nai took care of her siblings when she was young and would feed them, play with them, and take them to the toilet. She sometimes would learn over and whisper to Dong Ayi and Zhang nai nai, who were sitting next to her, and then they would all laugh at the secret she shared. It was if they were all remembering when they were young.
Yang nai nai has been a wonderful person to spend my time with. She has taught me a lot about tie-dye, her life story, and about myself. I have loved spending time with her over the 4 weeks that I have been in Xizhou. Yang nai nai is someone that will be in my heart forever.
For future Microcampus students who will be involved in a Service Learning project, I hope you consider some of my recommendations for having a good Service learning project experience. Firstly, having plenty of B-roll and a quiet place to film is really beneficial when making your final video. The right lighting allows the audience to be able to see your service learning partner clearly during the showing. Lastly, making great connections is the important part or the Service Learning project. Do not let the stress of the filming and video making come in between the relationship you have with your service learning partner.