Mr. Yang, our service learning partner is 67 years old. He currently lives alone and makes money by being a mechanic fixing things like watches, bikes, and other electronics. The video above is made by Dora, Becky, Pepijn, and Claire.
Mr. Yang has a wife who lives at Si Fang Jie making Erkuai (饵块), and his son currently works at the Dali airport. He has a granddaughter who is nine years old, and he also has two older brothers, two older sisters, and a younger sister. Mr. Yang lives near Bao Cheng Fu, which is also the place where he works.
As a result of this experience, I learned from my service learning partner's life in the past years and his daily schedule. I also found out what type of person he is, and I would say that he is a generous and kind man. Not only that, but I also found out about the environment of his home, and his opinions on certain events or people from the past.
This experience taught me the history of Xizhou, because I was able to communicate with someone who had been through the actual events. I had a face to face talk with someone about their experience and emotions towards that memory. Learning about the history of Xizhou made me feel more connected to this place.
This project not only showed me the perspectives of a person who went through an event and the history of Xizhou, but it also revealed the history of the 20th Century Chinese history. I found out the importance of a leader and how his/her choices could possibly impact everybody else. It also taught me to speak up when things are going wrong, because popular choices are not always right, while right choices are not always popular.
When we were sharing our video with the audience including our service learning partner, he could not stop talking while the video plays. I am assuming that he might be happy or proud of watching his own story made by four teenagers from an international school. Mr. Yang also brought a friend over with him, and his friend was just as nice as him. From time to time, Mr. Yang would smile proudly and point to his buddy that this photo was from when he was younger. I noticed that he was watching our video really intensely, and seeing the smile on his face was all our team asked for.
I was not nervous introducing myself, but it was a bit awkward watching your audience watch your video. Then, somehow it became easier and relaxing towards the middle. I have never tried anything like this, since normally I would watch my own product along with the audience. Never had I ever thought that watching the reactions of your audience could be even more valuable. Since we were the first group to go, many people had no idea what a service learning video is like. Honestly, I think we did a pretty solid job with going on first and giving them an idea of what we do and why we do it. After the video came to an end, we had the chance to introduce ourselves. While we were speaking, Mr. Yang ran up to the front standing with us, and delightedly announced in Chinese: “这是我的团队” which also means, "This is my crew."
For the future Microcampus students, when you face this project do not fear. This project is definitely something that cannot be rushed, and it starts from the moment you enter Xizhou. Making connections is something that does not happen within a day or two, because if you want someone to open up to you about their life story, the only choice is to build trust. Speaking from experience, it would be better to have inquiry project all done and completed so all attention would be focused on doing service learning instead. This project actually needs all the time and effort in order for everything to fall in place. Last piece of advice would be keeping the attitude and spirit of the team positive. It is absolutely normal to stress out over this, but everyone needs to cooperate for the project to be done. If you have a language barrier and cannot do the translations or if you do not know how to edit, make sure you always have something to do. Helping a teammate do their dish duty or those easy clean ups would be really helpful. Make the most out of the time given for this project, and never ever procrastinate. Be productive, and good luck!