Cathleen C. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

I came to Microcampus, looking for adventure and insight on the world that I live in. I wanted to learn from a new perspective and a new method. The concept of field research was quite new to me and so I wanted to understand it more. Furthermore, my sister had also gone to Microcampus and I wanted to see the village she described as great. I thought that I could explore something new and about people that I absolutely did not know. Overall, I think that I came to Microcampus because of my curiosity and how I realized that I did not know anything about Xizhou.

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I walked along the alleyway, waving goodbye to those who I spent time in meeting for the past 27 days. I smiled towards Mr. Yan, who sold us Xizhou babas whenever we asked. Along with Mr. Yan, I smiled and converse with individuals that I had gotten to know who were down the alleyway. It is amazing how in 24 hours from today, I will probably be on a bus to Dali Airport, waiting for a flight back to Shanghai. I remember reading from a book that goodbyes are good things since it means that you will or at least want to see them again.

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It was a long day after preparing final and last-minute preparations in the morning, from burning DVDs to visiting our service-learning partner, Ms. Qin. Furthermore, the venue had changed, further complicating the already busy day. We arrived at Bao Chen Fu (the third site of the Linden Centre) and we helped our service-learning partner sit down. We watched one groups' video before standing up and arising to the stage. I was quite nervous before the event, though when I was currently there, there seemed to be no reason to be nervous.

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As I was walking back from snapping a photo for my group's service-learning partner, I guided myself along the zigzag path that Yang Zhuo Ran, the place that I have been staying, is located in. While walking down that path, I saw a lady carrying 5 large jugs of water, 3 jugs on a weaved basket-bag on her back and 2 jugs in her hands.

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I finished a book today, which was titled, "Althea and Oliver". It reminded me of some John Green books, such as "The Fault in Our Stars" or "Paper Towns". This book, though, was different. It tells a story about how a boy and a girl whose best-friend relationship became tarnished by a syndrome the boy, Oliver has called Kleine-Levin Syndrome. This syndrome is where teenagers, mostly boys, sleep for a long time, around a month or two. This reminded me a lot of my time here in Microcampus, like a disappearance for a month or two.

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Today there was no technology, and the moment there wasn't, the day went wonky. I realized how necessary technology is to today's society. I had had a little taste of missing technology due to going to Microcampus with a smarter phone, though I never experienced something like this. The village had an entire day worth of no electricity, and specifically technology, because of rebooting and renewing the electric system. I imagined Shanghai without technology and how hopeless a modern city like Shanghai would be.

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I sat in the burning sun, waiting for Ms. Qin's daughter to come. Ms. Qin is my service-learning partner, and although her shop is closed today, we decided to wait for her to receive old photos of her. She kindly had her daughter travel the extra mile from their home in Lake Erhai all the way to Sifang Jie to help us receive these photos. We arrived there at 10:30, promptly waiting. After a few long minutes, I began to be bored. It was then that I learned about the idea of patience. I sat there quietly, collecting media for my inquiry project.

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I stared blankly at my computer, brainstorming what to write. Under the muzzled haze of my thoughts, I frantically think about the time. Today I was quite in a rush, juggling my Inquiry Project assignment, SAS Essentials assignments, and Service Learning assignments as I work. I spent long hours recording my Service Learning partner, preparing for next Wednesday as it is the presentation day. Looking through the footage, I remembered the feeling of being rushed but still okay from back in Shanghai.

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Last night, I saw the stars in the night sky. Little white dots shimmering. I never really got to fully see the night sky and just look at it. But last night, I did. I saw every little speck, the three stars in the horizons, the two stars that were opposite of each other in the moonlight, and the pitch black darkness of everything else. I thought of how small the universe it, yet how large it is. I thought about how even though we may be small, we have such large impacts. It is something I never imagined the world before, as a place where impacts just happen from the push of one person.

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Today was a huge leap into my service learning project. Audrey and I had traveled across Sifang Jie to meet Ms. Qing, our service-learning partner. She had gotten to know us over the past week when we visited her. I remember holding a giant tripod, asking Ms. Qing whether she could allow us to shoot a video with her. She said yes, then said no more. We stood on the other side of the road, watching as people come and go at her stand. She stood there, informing everyone about the little trinkets and the souvenirs in her hand.

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The petals blew in the wind as if it was in slow-motion. As Jasmine, Becky, and I walked down the street, we watched as the flowers blew in the wind. I remembered my first time walking down this street, on my first day of Microcampus. As the date draws nearer, I had made it my goal to make the days count rather than counting the days, but I couldn't help but reflect on my past experiences here.

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Today JasmineAudrey, and I went to visit Happy Embroidery. I looked across the room and saw a framed works of the finest silk I have seen weaved. Attached on the corner of the frame was a paper describing how much experience the person had and what status they were. I was astonished by the amount of experience everyone had, from teachers of 10 years of experiences to masters of 20.

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Today Jake, Audrey, Joanne, and I wandered around the streets, looking for people to talk to. We were looking for people to help us in our service learning project, though somehow, we hadn't found anyone. Tired of walking, we sat down under a tree on a curb. There, we looked to the right and we began to be utterly fascinated by an embroidered cloth that had Chairman Mao on it.

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As I slipped and slid down the small section of the hill, I could feel the sweat building up on my forehead and wondered whether I had turned tan or not. We were in the middle of a mountain, far away from anything of civilization. For three to four hours, I was surrounded by trees and nature, hoping that we could find a shady place. Even in the trail under the heat of the sun, I had to admit that the adventure was pretty interesting and fun. We skipped through rivers with rushing water, climbed thousands of steps, and rock climbed down walls of boulders.

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Sleeping in a prairie full of rocks, I laid there in my tent, looking up to the stars. Today we had gone camping in your average "middle of nowhere". We carried our hiking bags and regular backpacks to the long distance of that "middle of nowhere". This place had everything natural around it; a body of water around it, stars, and nothing modern of it. We didn't even have a close restroom next to us, though there was one across the bridge. Even though the weather was the most out-of-the-ordinary, I think that the nature surrounding us was nothing compared to what I have seen before.

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The sound of Bai minority music fills the temple. It is the anniversary of the temple and I visited the place. Although I didn't pray, I had gotten to seen and witness people in the temple, doing things such as preparing meals, playing music, and conversing with others. I enjoyed seeing the people together as a community, singing and laughing together. In fact, I had gone earlier during lunch and had got to meet many people and learn how they play their instruments. They all had their special talents and told me about the instruments they played. They also let me try playing it.

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Today was my fresh start to my inquiry project. I had gone out with Ms. Mai, and together we went towards Sifang Jie, looking for a tie-dye shop owner to talk to. I passed by a shop I had never noticed before, and as I saw the tie-dye clothes, the gu-zheng, and the culture in the shop, I walked in. I met this lady called Ms. Wang, who was a bit talkative. She told me many things that I never observed and evaluated about in Xizhou, though I become apparent with the topics that she mentioned.

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I sat on the chair, looking at the courtyard. The clouds reigned over the sky, looming over everything. The sun shone bright, but 5 minutes later, a sprinkle of rain fell. Then, the wind came, though somehow the sun still shone brightly. A few minutes later, thunder was heard and the sun disappeared, yet there was no rain. Suddenly, the rain poured onto the cement, and we heard the sounds of splashes that came with every one of these drops. I found these few minutes quite fascinating in Xizhou, as the weather kept changing.

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I glance at my watch and it reads, "9:00." Everyone starts looking at each other, thinking about what big entrance the 16 teachers and staff members of SAS, both in Puxi and in Pudong, will have. We rushed outside to see many familiar faces, including Mr. Warren, Mr. Ashenden, and Dr. Mott. After the welcoming in of teachers and introducing ourselves to new ones, we begin our daily meeting, which went pretty smooth. Throughout the day, many of our teachers and staff members followed us in our inquiry project time and wellness time.

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A chunk of hair falls on the floor beside me. As I keep sitting, the more hair I see on the ground. I could feel the barber trying to trim off my dry, dyed hair. For some reason, every time I go to a hair salon, I am always anxious about how much the person cuts. Today I went to a barbershop in an attempt to get out of my comfort zone and try new things, to learn more about the barber and the people there, and to simply cut my hair. Ms. Yang is the owner of this quiet little barbershop near Sifang Jie.

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Some say that the most beautiful word is "mother". I believe that in this sense, the most beautiful sound is laughter. Today, we began our service learning project, where we meet people around the village, learning about their lifestyle and their perspective on past events. We first met Ms. Yang, who had experience talking to many past Microcampus students. She told us about her past in China. We noted especially on the part where she contrasted equality between men and women. It was very interesting to see and to learn about the experience of others that we probably never considered.

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While walking down the street, it is an amazement to look around the alleyways and see tie-dye fabrics. Whether it is blue and white shirts and dresses or multicolored marijuana clothes, every piece of tie-dye is one with a story. Similar to murals and tapestry, everything from the dyeing to the stitching is finely detailed. Today I got to see this action happen firsthand. With half of the 16 people in my group, we visited two places where they made and stitched tie-dye clothes, tapestries, and more. First, they collect the dyes, which can be anything from indigo, walnuts, or grape skin.

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Today was the day I began my field research, asking people around the village some questions regarding my inquiry project, which is the tourism industry. In fact, the leading industry for the economy in Xizhou is the tourism industry. The thing is that when we research, we must have teacher support with us to help guide our research and more. So, we had to have pretty specific people we would want to talk to. I had gone to Sifang Jie with Ms. Braverman, looking for baba makers. Ms. Braverman helped me in translating my questions from English to Chinese.

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Today was our first day into a normal schedule, which is surrounded by silence. Silence in Yang Zhuo Ran, the place we are staying in, is quite common. It was a bit hard to adapt to stay quiet for the first few days, especially since in Shanghai, the city is surrounded by noise. Later on, in that midst of silence, I started to notice the burning sun that often was covered by the white clouds. Winds would blow harshly and close the doors with a thud. Clouds flew over the courtyard quickly.

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Today was a day a leap of emerging into what is considered our normal schedule in Xizhou. Though we did many things, such as SAS Essentials or beginning to understand how to "pitch in", I think that the most interesting part of today was our bike ride. We came out in groups of 8, riding a path called the "North Path". The scenery was serene, though one could see bits of culture ripping at the seams of the sights we saw, such as the fields where the farmers grew crops. The mountains seemed close to us while riding on the bikes, though they are certainly as far away as possible.

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Before coming to Xizhou, I expected a quiet and small village not full of people. In fact, I didn't know what Xizhou was. But as I was exploring, I realized that Xizhou is still a quiet village, but full of lively people with their unique cultures. Today, we spent most of our time exploring the place we are staying in, the community we are staying in, and various places that are common to Microcampus students.

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As the first day of my journey into Microcampus, I would say it was a great start to an interesting adventure. I think that if anything, our time traveling helped bring me a sense of what kind of tourists or people that traveled to Xizhou. Today was more oriented to traveling the long distance and settling into Yang Zhou Ran, which is the place that we are staying in. Our first challenge came when we were at the airport.

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From the 22nd of February to the 23rd, I was in school, experiencing the Microcampus version of an overnighter. I have created a video, summarizing and reflecting on my experience in the overnighter.

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In March, I will be traveling to a place in Yunnan Province called Xizhou. Although I have never been to Xizhou, I will be writing about some thoughts and ideas that I have about their people, culture, and the place in general. This entry will eventually serve for a comparison between what I thought before and after the trip to Xizhou. I do not have much knowledge on Xizhou as a place nor aa community, but these thoughts are some presumptions that I have about the place and community.

The Place

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Hi! I am 13 years old and was in Xizhou. I have been at SAS for about 5 years and beyond Shanghai, lived in Los Angeles. I am grateful to be able to go to experience the life of others in different cultures and to be able to witness and observe things from a learner's perspective. I liked experiencing new cultures and looking at things from both a tourist and student perspective. In a sense, this serene and vivid city has brought me to realize how everything and everyone works together, perhaps even not realizing it! This trip to Microcampus has helped build bonds with people I never knew, helped me understand a whole different style of living, and be able to learn in a new fashion.