By Emilly L., Jasmine Z., Sejin O., and Alan Z.
Our service learning partner was Ms. Zhang. She is 68-year-old and sells flower crowns at SiFangJie.
Ms. Zhang, a 68-year-old flower crown vendor, has four siblings, along with two children of her own that are both already married. When Ms. Zhang was young she heard everything from the elders and now when she is the elder of this community where she should be the most knowledgable one, she hears about others and events from her granddaughter's generation. Overall, even when these two time periods where she only hears stories and tech developments from the 'outside' world, she is really wise to acknowledge that she was once the younger generation and now is the older generation. She is sweet and cherishes the meaning of family.
We have learned more than enough from this service-learning experience. I have learned that even shelter and food supplies were big problems for most of the families during the 20th century. Ms. Zhang has talked about how the cultural revolution affected her family and most of all how it affected the teachers that were named the "reactionaries." Teachers had escaped and committed suicide under the force of others that had also considered them as one of the “四类分子(The Four Types)”. The Four Types refer to the collective names of four types of people during 1940-1970s, the landlord, the rich people, the counter-revolutionary, and the bad people. These are people who belong to a certain class, group or have certain social attributes. That was a time of so much cruelty.
Sitting there watching the audience watch our video, without looking at the video ourselves was an unusual experience. Due to the lighting, I was not able to see our partner, Ms. Zhang's facial expression clearly, but without a doubt, I saw a glimpse of the tear, she was touched and caught some emotion toward the end of the video presented. After the sharing, Ms. Zhang told us that this is the most interesting and happy week with us in comparison with staying at home and selling flower crowns. I can feel that she really likes the video and was proud of us that gave her a chance to record her memories and was able to make it into a video. Her story offered us the opportunity to get wised up about the 20th-century Chinese history, without starring at the computer searching for information that 'experts' uploaded. We are grateful to hear about Ms. Zhang's own story out of her own mouth.
Thank you, Ms. Zhang!
Another takeaway was when the video has presented to the audience, they were surprised by Ms. Zhang's words said. She has mentioned about teachers escaping and losing their life due to the cultural revolution. I think they have never learned about cultural revolution nor any history from the 20th-century. I am thankful that now they have learned something from our video made for Ms. Zhang's life and the history presented. The history might not be that vivid or interesting, but it is definitely the truth and it is someone's life story that should be heard.
Some recommendations that I am more than willing to share with future Microcampus participants would be to build a strong relationship between the community to be able to have multiple plans in mind when working on inquiry project and service learning, at least from Plan A through Plan L that would be helpful when there is any accidence that happens during the process. Also, building mindsets during the first two weeks, the patient with the community and works that need to be done, will be really helpful when you are stuck during a process. Mindset building happens in the beginning, to prevent any rush through any work process or any misunderstanding with the community. Lastly, I would like to remind future Microcampus participants to always have positive intentions and follow the instructions given because oneself's characteristics will be exposed to the entire Xizhou community for 28 days. If you are being depressed, misery, or naughty, they can see it. Later on, when you and your group are finding the partner for service learning or inquiry project, you don't want your partner seeing you as the kid that broke the window a few days ago. You want to be energetic and positive facing your group, your partners, and yourself.