Linden L. (Alumni-I)'s Journal

Xizhou is over. I will be reflecting on my experiences up to this point—why did I come to Microcampus? After arriving in Xizhou and spending four weeks in the village, my perspective on the overall experience has significantly changed. In my pre-trip reflection on why I signed up for Microcampus, I said, "Microcampus to me is a way for me to explore in my short time in China." The statement is true, but, it makes up a small part of the entire experience. Now I will reflect on my new understanding of why I came to Microcampus.

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The twenty-seventh day of Microcampus—a milestone that marks the last full day in our host village, Xizhou. The Ignite group has now completed 85% of the trip; however, the trip has not reached the end. We must finish strong and do that last 15% to the best of our ability. 

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As Mr. Yang walked into the classroom, he was reluctant to watch. He thought the notion of recording and interviewing was useless and he despised the sound of his voice and looks on camera. When the video started playing, I could tell he was immersed in his story. Some parts caused him to laugh and enjoy his time there. I think our group definitely changed him to become more open. It was a great feeling when he thanked my group afterwards for our work. When I asked if he enjoyed the movie, he told me that he did.

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Perhaps today was the most productive day of Microcampus, as I proceeded on with my final assignments. After getting my Inquiry Final Product approved by Mr. T, I switched focus to Service Learning. During the Service Learning period, I had the duty of editing and sub-titling. We took forty minutes of footage of total, which I later reduced to six minutes. The process involved prioritization and patience. After what seemed like a long time, I had finished editing and moved on to sub-titling. Little did I know that the sub-titling process would take four hours of time.

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Erhai Sunrise

Our alarm rang at 5:50AM in the early morning. Outside the air was cold and crisp while the sky was pitch-black. As Justin, Marcus, Bryce and I departed for our early morning bike ride, no one was on the streets. It was simply us four, away from everyone else.

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The last Sunday marks 5 short days left of Microcampus. It is that time of Microcampus—all the assignments are due. We were given so much time for Inquiry Project and Service learning today. It was perhaps the most productive day on Microcampus for me. I got my Inquiry Project final video submitted and obtained more Service Learning footage. Despite the stress created from working on these projects, I am sure the final products will come out great.

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In Shanghai, it is near impossible to see stars shining in the night sky. In Xizhou, stars are visible every day and also show the famous constellations. Mr. T taught us about the names of the stars and each one's significance. He pointed out and attempted to have us connect constellations. One interesting thing that was particularly visible here in Xizhou was planet Mars. It is a tiny dot that seems to blink red.

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The hydrosphere is an important sector of the Earth in Xizhou and has been apparent in my trip here. The bordering Lake Erhai continues to be a large part to the liquid water. Despite Erhai being infested with algae and other vegetation, it does not contain any major pollutants. People in Xizhou generally do not dispose of non-biodegradable resources in places that are prohibited. They seem to be aware of the small contributions they can have on the environment. In my field of view so far, I have not seen any frozen pieces in Erhai.

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My understanding of the water situation in Xizhou has greatly increased throughout my time here. Through more observation of my surroundings, I have observed many new things about water rights, treatment, and distribution. The water on the dispensers here in Yangzhuoran come from a nearby mountain in Yunnan. Mountains are a primary source of water in Xizhou—the water from there is used for drinking and in tap. On our three-day hike in cangshan, I saw many uses of water. An small flowing canal on the mountain seemed to be an irrigation system.

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Today was not different, not strange, but normal. It began with yet another tiring wake-up followed by a typical breakfast—carrot bread, banana muffins and toast. SAS Essentials still went accordingly to a "normal day." I finished all my assignments, getting ahead a bit, and felt relaxed with no more stress. My upcoming MUN conference topic is about Structural Adjustment Policies and I felt amazing being immersed in economics. During the rest of the day, I simply sat down and worked.

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For the past two weeks, I have been a business partner with Mr. Zhang. Mr. Zhang is an antique dealer near Sifangjie that has been my Inquiry Project business partner. I've gotten to know him pretty well these days, through looking at his antiques and exchanging stories with one another. He's a nice man that has been in Xizhou for a long time. Today, I decided to take a look at his collection of antiques. There is a huge variety of stuff he has there. In one of his showcases, he has a bunch of high quality goods. There were jade pieces, ivory tusks and even antique batons. Mr.

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Today was the first day I saw a music performance in Xizhou. During Inquiry Project work time, Mr. T took Rena and I to a music show in a recently renovated house. As we walked in, the walls were covered in fresh, white paint. On the entrance's wall was a large, bold fu word. In the courtyard, elders were burning enveloped papers in a small fire fueled by wood. They were part of the sacrifices to bless the new house. Yellow and red papers hung from the roof with wishes written in black calligraphy.

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After almost three full days of hiking and camping, we have finally arrived at "home." The final stretch was a tiring one. Switchbacks continually went downhill on our gradual descent back to sea level. It was a tough downhill slide that had mass effects on my calf muscles. To control momentum, I skidded to the side to control a slow decline. At times, because the ground was muddy, many of us slipped down. However, we stayed together and slowed down accordingly.

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After a hike and a long night at camp, we proceeded on the long and tough journey to the summit of our hike. At day, we began by climbing the steep mountain, barging through foliage and ferns. There was no mule trail that could be seen at camp. After breaking through branches, we finally approached the mule trail. The mule trail went up at a constant, slow slope, allowing us time to relax and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains. A feeling of accomplishment filled us as the summit, 3,232 meters above sea level. Standing atop the large mountains, everything can be seen in the area.

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The first day of the legendary "three-day hike" has finally come. We embarked on our journey towards the top of cangshan, the mountains to the west that surround Xizhou. I completely underestimated the difficulty of the hike, as it was much harder than I thought it would be. The mountains were wrapped around by switch backs for the mules. Switch backs wrap around the mountain in a spiral-like shape, reducing how steep the slope is while climbing. However, the hike still had its effects on my legs, resulting in cramps and pain in my muscles. It was a great opportunity though.

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The biosphere is the part of the Earth that specializes in living organisms. I have made further observations, as a result of my curiosity, on this sphere. On our Mosque Temple hike, I saw cattle on the mountain. The cattle could be seen grazing on grass, consuming resources on the mountain. Plants are also an important sector of the biosphere in Xizhou. As mentioned in my previous science journal, the crops look perfectly organized. They are organized in rows of tied bundles of rice crops. While cultivated, each crop has the same height, look and color.

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Mr. T requires us to choose one of three quotes and write a journal post of it. The quote I chose was, "Discipline yourself, and others will not need to.” I think the quote's reasoning holds true and is evident in everyone's lives. It means to have self-control and responsbility and to be independent. When one has these qualities, others will not have to be reponsiblie. Self-discipline is especially evident in the Microcampus trip. For example, a Microcampus student must be self-discplined to complete all the daily responsibilities.

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During Wellness time today, I ran with Carlos, Yun Kei and Justin. It was perhaps the most tiring workout I have even done in my entire life. While the others sat down and lowered their heart rates, I was not getting credit for "time in zone." As a result, I ran on my own in circles around the village. The high altitude, coupled with the uneven roads, resulted in me getting extremely tired, while panting heavily. However, it was an amazing experience.

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Microcampus days seem to be the same now, with no changes or additions in the schedule. The day begins with SAS Essentials, we have our daily meeting and then go into WIPPIS time. After this the day is nearly over. Today, though, evening activities was a real treat.

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In this special journal post, I will be analyzing the effects of tourism on Xizhou. I have had meaningful interactions with many native locals in the village and asked them about the development of Xizhou in the past few years. With the topic of development, many locals mentioned a spike in the amount of tourists in Xizhou. Tourism in the Dali area has definitely increased in these past years. A shopowner, Mrs. Zhao, told me about the effects of tourism on her restaraunt. She said tourists create a greater pool of consumers, resulting in better business.

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In this special journal post, I will be analyzing the effects of tourism on Xizhou. I have had meaningful interactions with many native locals in the village and asked them about the development of Xizhou in the past few years. With the topic of development, many locals mentioned a spike in the amount of tourists in Xizhou. Tourism in the Dali area has definitely increased in these past years. A shopowner, Mrs. Zhao, told me about the effects of tourism on her restaraunt. She said tourists create a greater pool of consumers, resulting in better business.

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Day 8 marked the one-week milestone of Microcampus. Today we began one of the major projects in Xizhou—Service Learning. Service Learning is a project where students go around Xizhou asking elders about their "life story." My group was very sucessful with having meaningful interactions with the local elders, talking to a total of eight people today. They were all Xizhou natives, some having lived in the village for their entire lives. The wise, knowledgeble village elders have good information to share about their home town. One man that stood out to me was Mr. Zhang, a bike mechanic.

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For science class, we are required to observe the spheres in the environment. The assignments asks for the observation of two spheres of the atmosphere. I chose to study the hydosphere, the sector involving water, and the biosphere, the sector dealing with live organisms. In just seven days of staying in Xizhou, I have seen many things that relate to these to spheres.

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I have finally started going out into Xizhou and started talking to experts on my topic. Sifangjie, the village's most active square, had many shops that I could choose from. Yeling, our nice travel curator, and I went out to Sifangjie and tried to explore the vast amount of shops. We first stopped at a restaurant called Old Town Snacks. The small business is led by Zhao family, entrepreneurs who started the restaurant out of interest. They are a private business that does not employ workers.

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Microcampus has been finally shifting into a normal schedule. Despite the upcoming activities, the days look the same from now on. Today, I finished my "3-5" interviews. I went around Xizhou and asked teachers for possible connections for my topic. Now, I have a large list of people I can refer to as resources for my topic. 

After spending five days in Xizhou, I feel like I know the place better. On Day 1, I thought of Xizhou as a huge place with many "sub-towns." I feel more confident to make a map of the place

 

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Many aspects of a new place can be seen through observation. In Xizhou, I have already seen many interesting things, including the traditional agriculture, water treatment processes, green energy and the tourism industry.

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Day 3 was the first day where we adapted to the new Microcampus schedule. The day began with our SAS Essentials, or the assigned, reduced work from our teachers back at home. My Geometry team and I worked together and did our problem solving, and productively got so much work done. I am happy to still be enjoying Xizhou, while keeping up with school work to not be too behind upon return.

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The journey from Xizhou was long, but, once we arrived, it turned out to be a great place. Today, we got a tour of the village. Xizhou turns out to be a very large place, interconnected by incessant stone roads. Mr. Tafel told us general directions in the village and informed us of key places in the village, such as the daily market and Sifangjie. The daily market is a place with a large variety of foods and people. Sifangjie is a central street in Xizhou, containing many restaraunts and nice shops. I am considering studying on of them as study for my topic, economics case study.

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After a near 12-hour journey towards Xizhou, our Microcampus "Ignite" group has finally arrived at the destination. We all arrived at the Hongqiao airport by sunrise at 5:00, tired and ready for our journey. As we arrived at Kunming, we departed for the long six hour drive to Xizhou. During the drive, Mr. Tafel gave us many lessons to ensure wellbeing and safety during the trip. Mr. Tafel ran through many scenarios, many of which he had already experienced on previous trips, to educate us on proper decision-making and caution procedures.

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The Microcampus "Ignite" group's lock-in gave us the realization that we must have much areas for improvement to maximize the total outcome of our upcoming journey towards Xizhou. However, I found that together, we are a uniform team, who will indeed support each other during the trip.

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Hello, my name is Linden. I am now thirteen years old and have just completed my third year living in Shanghai. Microcampus was a great opportunity that I did not regret. I miss everything about Xizhou—the local community, blue skies, clean air, and beautiful atmosphere. The experience was life-changing and promising and I hope for the successful outcome of future groups.