Updated 1 month 2 weeks ago
By Taylor S., Clark W., Shirley X., and Ethan Z.
My Service Learning partner was Mrs. Yang, 62, who made a living in tie-dye and various other sewing endeavours. She lives in Zhoucheng, but comes to Xizhou to sell her tie-dye.  
Over the course of the service learning experience, I learned a lot about the story and the personality of Mrs. Yang. For example, her attitude towards life is that you deal with problems as they come along, and you live a simple life, without constant worry. She did not have many thoughts on Xizhou's history, nor did she pinpoint dates. As I said, she was a fan of living her life without worrying what goes on in the higher echelons of power.
She was also very expressive with regards to China's history, such as the agarian practices, the land reforms, and the cultural revolution. She expressed the difficulties that permeated Xizhou, such as destroying the 4 Olds, which stood for old practices, old thoughts, old traditions. Tie-dye was not part of the 4 Olds, but Mrs. Yang still expressed the widespread cultural destruction that permeated everywhere in China.
Whenever I have something to show, I am either watching my presentation alongside with everyone else, or I am the presentation and am too focused on getting things right than to watch the audience. For example, school projects sometimes entail an iMovie, and I watch the iMovie alongside with my peers. Usually I feel this allows for me to enjoy my own video, but I often get focused on the video. But for my violin performances, I am too engrossed on hitting the right notes than to engage the audience.
For the Service Learning Project, we were specifically instructed to face away from the screen and watch our audience. Our Service Learning partner seemed especially glad to watch the video, and was teetering on the narrow rope of laughing and crying. Even though the video was not particularly humorous, she still laughed at some parts of the video. In particular, the other Service Learning partners also seemed to enjoy our video, and they easily maintained an easy smile.
In conclusion, this experience proved to be a watershed in my audience perception, and I think that I should spend more time watching my audience, as to gain more valuable feedback on my work.
Some further recommendations for future Microcampus students include:
Vet carefully for Service Learning partners. Ideally, you want someone who is open, verbose, humorous, and thoughtful. For example, the Service Learning partner of Josie, Anders, Sunny, and Sonia fit many of these criterias. He used nice turn of phrases, engaged the audience, and provided really deep insight.
Make extensive use of B-rolls. Find anything interesting and use it for B-rolling. Sometimes things unrelated can also provide a good B-roll.
Choose your music carefully. In the final product of our group, I was not particularly happy with the choice of music. The piano music did not fit, and the violin music seemed tuneless and unmelodic. To be honest, I was grimacing when the music played in the video. I would suggest spending a lot of time choosing the right music, and making it match up with the tone and the transitions. For future Service Learning projects, I would suggest you use Meditation Op. 42 No. 1 for more somber projects, and Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 for more upbeat projects. Both of these pieces have a strong melodic sense, which should match up nicely with the projects. Use the melody when he/she begins a thought, and use a fadeoff when he/she lapses into thought. Please refrain from using more energetic pieces, such as Carmen Fantasia, or ACDC. This should be obvious, but I thought it would be better to remind future readers.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask." Over the course of Microcampus, I have experienced the individual freedom that I have been grappling with ever since I have left Shanghai. Who am I? Why am I here? My Microcampus-era posts and thoughts would go to reveal my struggle against who I am, a struggle you will soon face in Microcampus. And now that I am back, I may have but a fragment of my answer.