Service Learning is a chance for us microcampus kids to get to know more about the village, the people, and the history. We make a strong connection with a local elder, and as we get to know them, we interview them about their experiences growing up.
Our service learning partner was Mr. Ma. He is 81 years old and is a retired teacher.
My group's service learning page will be held here.
What I learned from Mr. Ma from this experience, is that you should not lie about knowing something when you do not know about it. When we asked him about the 100 golden flowers movement, he replied, "If I do not know, I do not know, but faking understanding is never right.” To me, this is a very wise statement, because lying is never the right thing to do.
From my service learning experience, I learned that Xi Zhou's farming industry has been changed a lot since the early 19th century. It used to be a piece of land was owned by many families, then land was owned by individual families, and finally the government took all the land. Mr. Ma also told us that Xi Zhou used to be covered in grass.
What I learned about present day Xi Zhou is that as the years have passed, many buildings such as schools and hospitals have been rebuilt. The school Mr. Ma taught at was even moved farther to the west, to where it is present day. It is now by the mosque.
Today we completed our final service learning video, and we presented to our fellow students, partners, Linden Center Staff, and friends. Mr. Ma could not make this event, as he was out of town. We invited one of his friends, but he did not come. We used the TV room for our presentation. On the table there was fruit and tea for our guests, and though only one partner could attend, all the oranges seemed to disappear by the end of the presentation. It was interesting to see what other groups learned from their partners, compared to what Mr. Ma taught us. Our presentation had good intentions, but when we exported it, the video had many glitches. This showed us that we should have exported sooner, so we would have more time to look through our video to check for mistakes. One problem with our video was that some times there was no sound, and it was awkward when all you saw was Mr. Ma's mouth moving and the subtitles switching. Although these technical issues made our presentation look mediocre, the content was very meaningful and told a story. Mr. Ma's interview gave us a good idea of how Xi Zhou has changed, and he told us about his life as a teacher.
The learning experience Service Learning gave us is hard to replace. Seeing life in the eyes of somebody who has lived through so much gives us Microcampus students a new look on what history really is. The only history I learned before this came from text books, but learning about history from a primary resource makes it so much more realistic and meaningful. I wish we had found a partner sooner, so we could have become closer and so he would have been more open about his history specifically. However, It was still amazing to make a connection with a man so wise and to learn from him. I wish future microcampus groups luck in finding a partner that is as friendly and knowledgeable as Mr. Ma.
My recommendations for the following Microcampus group are as follows:
1. Start making strong connections early!
2. Know who your partner is early so you can make sure they are willing to be filmed and do not speak another dialect.