Our service learning partner is Ms. Zhang, or Zhang nainai. She is 68 years old, and she sells flower crowns in Si Fang Jie. She lives in a small village near Xizhou named Hu Die Quan Zhou Chen.
I learned many things about Zhang nainai as a result of my service learning project. She was very open about her life, so we ended up learning a lot about her, her family, and her memories. Zhang nainai has 2 children, and she has 2 grandchildren as well. She loves her family very much. She thinks that the warmth of a family is one of the most important aspects of life. She had many memories of the struggling time periods of the 1950s in China, during the Cultural Revolution.
Zhang nainai lived through many different major events in China during the 20th century, and she shared many of her stories and opinions during those times. Talking to Zhang nainai helped me learn and understand a lot more about 20th century China because of the personal stories and experience she told us about in her village. She talked about how many people that were named reactionaries tried to escape into her village, but the people were afraid to help them because they did not know them.
I think that watching the audience and my service learning partner react to my video was a really powerful moment. Zhang nainai seemed very pleased with the entire video and looked very interested in how we turned her speech into a little documentary. Towards the end of our video, I could see that she began to get a little bit emotional, and was really happy with our group's efforts to portray her story in such an impactful way. I'm really glad that she liked the way the video turned out, and I could tell throughout the whole time that she was really happy that her story was told and that the video was good. Our group really owes a lot of gratitude to Zhang nainai for being so open and nice to us the whole time we were working on this project. She wanted to keep a photo of us so that she would remember us, so we will deliver that to her as soon as possible.
It was a little bit harder to focus on the rest of the audience, but the overall reactions that we got were pretty good. During the production of our video, there were some parts that we made that we knew would get some sort of reaction from the audience. Moments like the 2 photos that showed 2 time periods, and the quote at the end. We made those scenes so that the audience would end up showing emotion or a reaction, and I think that we succeeded because many of the audience members seemed very surprised and taken back. Other members of our Microcampus group came up to me afterward and congratulated my group on making such a good video, and I think that our efforts really paid off in the end.
It was a really good experience to get to see the audience and Zhang nainai's reactions to our video, and I'm so glad that we honored Zhang nainai's life and stories.
For future Microcampus students, there are many recommendations that I would give them in order to help them make the most of their service learning project. My first and foremost recommendation would be that they should not start trying to make connections with elders once the project begins. They should start making connections the second they arrive at Xizhou, and that way elders will be more open and accepting towards you once you go up to them to ask to be service learning partners. Also, it is a good idea to make the most of your time while finding a partner, because that is the hardest part of the project in my opinion. If you don't make the most of your service learning time during the time that you are supposed to be finding a partner, then that will make you really anxious and you will rush through the rest of the process. Finally, I would say that you should not start rushing into the filming and questioning process once you find a service-learning partner. It is really important that you take some time to get to know them and make sure they feel comfortable around you before you get into the project work. That will have an effect on your overall product and the answers that you receive. Good luck!