One More Xizhou Sunset

It is hard to imagine that the month is coming to a close so soon, but in less than 40 hours the first group of Microcampus students will leave Xizhou and begin the long journey back to Shanghai. It has been one amazing month for all of us, and I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to the next steps after our return to Shanghai.

The past several months have been building toward some fairly significant events that have recently come to pass: my 40th birthday in late February, followed two weeks later by my wedding, followed soon by the launch of the SAS Microcampus. If there has been a more interesting, exciting, exhausting, emotional two-month stretch in my life, I sure cannot recall it.

Life here has been a wonderful but enormous struggle on so many levels, seeking balance in managing the process for the students, the other chaperones, our partners at the Linden Centre, the staff back at the "Mother Ship" of the SAS-Puxi campus, and taking care of some family situations back home in the States. There have been blog posts to moderate, inquiry projects to support, toilets to unclog, upset stomachs to soothe, camping trips to plan, s'mores to cook, meetings to arrange, stars and planets to point out, websites to tweak, history to learn, and the future of the program to design.

Having spent the past two-plus years planning this experience, there were still plenty of surprises. The students, by and large, needed much more guidance than I had expected they would, and it was fascinating to see the ebb and flow of their emotions as the month progressed. The students took tremendous care of one another, and my sense is that no matter where they go, they will always have a connection with one another as a result of this experience.

The students and I have had some conversations about the next stage of thing--re-entry back into the once comfortable routines back in Shanghai. For me, it will be back to softball games on Sunday and the relatively predictable schedule of a middle school science teacher. For our students, it will be back to the "four walls" of the regular classroom routines for the final two months of their middle school years. Xizhou will keep being Xizhou: quiet, slow, and the home of some of the most wonderful people and picturesque scenery in the world.

This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging project I have ever taken on, and I am very much ready for a bit of a rest. Given this, though, I have a feeling that the relatively light schedule will afford some chance to look back on the time as an important step in my life, both personally and professionally.

Bedtime now--the next to last before the trip back to Shanghai on Saturday and the end of the first Microcampus experience.

Comments

Thank you! Thank you!

Dear Mr. T.,

It is difficult to find any word to represent our thankful to you for your such amazing job on initiating, planning, organizing, overseeing and carrying out the Microcampus project.

We found our daughter grow up and mature a lot for just one month! What makes us so proud of the kids is that they can really manage to live outside "the bubble" (please do not mind I am using your favorite term). I reckon this would be an important chapter for my girl and she will definitely treasure the people, the places and things happened in Xizhou when she recalls in futture.

Please enjoy the last day in the field (for this trip) and see you in Shanghai!

Big thanks!

Thank you, Ruby, for your kind note and continuous support of the program. Despite the public nature of our work--the website, Skype calls, blog posts--it has been a deeply personal experience, and I feel honored to have been able to play a part in it.

I think I am most proud of the fact that our students made a difference to the people in the village during their time there, and there were more than a few tears when the kids left from the adults who had a chance to work with them--the restaurant owners, the horse cart drivers, the Linden Centre staff. It was a very special time for all of us.

The website will continue to be availble for students to share their thoughts and reflections on their time away--as well as the transition back to Shanghai. I do hope they (and you) will continue to use it as a place to gather, share, and reconnect from time to time as our journeys continue.

All my best--and, again, thanks so much for all the support.

-Craig T.

Gratitude!

Hi Mr. T,

Can you please share our gratitude towards all the people at Linden Center and in Xizhou! My husband and I are very thankful for their warm hospitality towards all our teens from SAS. We are also very grateful for Ms. Stagg and your intensive care for all the teens there. It really is a great experience for all of us. 

Thank you!

Regards,

Vivian and Robert

Will do!

Thank you, Vivian and Robert, for your note. I have passed along the thanks from you and many other parents to the team of adults who were a part of our time in Xizhou. I'm so proud of the students for all they did, and I look forward to hearing their continued thoughts in the weeks and months ahead as their journeys continue.

As always, thanks so much for the support!

-Craig T.

What a treat it is to see the Microcampus program continue to develop. I look forward to learning more with and from these amazing students as they explore their world, challenge themselves, and learn to handle themselves outside The Bubble of their usual routines.