Our Service Learning partner was Grandma Yang; she is a sixty-two year old woman who works with her daughter by making textiles by the street.
Through this experience, I learned that Grandma Yang is a very selfless individual who will help and talk with anyone. This was shown through when a cart-driver's tire became flat, Grandma Yang allowed the driver to use her stand as a place to store her pump as she drive her customers to Erhai. She was extremely friendly and open to being able to help others in need and I thought that that was an especially kind action to someone who was a stranger to Grandma Yang.
As we learned more about our Service Learning partner, we also learned more about Xizhou's culture and history. When we talked with Grandma Yang, she mentioned several times about her family. Her family did not only consist of her blood relatives, however. Grandma Yang would talk about how her commune leader was just like a mother to her and helped her through plenty of harsh and cruel times during her childhood. This example implies the relationship between certain communes and the need to work together during times of difficulty.
The 20th century Chinese history came into big play as well during our conversations. Grandma Yang talked a great deal about her family's situation and what her role in her family was. Through talking with her, I learned that certain members of families had to take a big role in taking care of the rest of the family. Often times, families did not have enough food, and kids were not able to attend school and were not living in very stable conditons either.
Sharring the video with Grandma Yang was definitely quite nerve-wracking. I did not know how she would react to the project, if she would regret her choice, or be pleased with the end result. We led Grandma Yang into Classroom 1 and prepared for our video to be shared. She seemed to have friends that she knew and felt fairly comfortable in Yangzhuoran. Later on, while we were sharring the final video, I was intently watching and observing for her expression. She seemed to be quite pleased and was smiling throughout the video. I was no longer nervous abut the final product and felt as though she enjoyed being a part of this experience.
After the sharring was done, my group-mates continued to talk to her while I went back into my room to get her a recording of the video. As I came back out, and presented her with the video, she seemed to be beaming with joy at the fact that we provided her with DVD of the project. The hour seemed to completely fly by and I will definitely hold this memory dear.
If I were to give recommendations and advice to future Microcampus groups and students about Service Learning it would be:
- Make sure that you continue to make connections at all times during the trip, even after you have started recording for your Service Learning project.
- All four group members working on the Service Learning project at a time only leads to disruption and difficulties so make sure to split up the work
- Be there to support the Chinese and English translators for their work as they take on a larger workload than anyone else.