Audrey F. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Before I came to Microcampus, I knew I wanted to experience the interactions between the citizens here and myself, to learn about the culture and history of Xizhou. After I came here, I realized I came to Microcampus to study myself.
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Xizhou, my dear home away from home, you had been such a spectacular host for fifteen classmates and myself. You take up such an important part of my heart. You are truly irreplaceable with anything in comparison, nothing can change how much you mean to me.

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Watching the audience watch our service learning video was like nothing I have ever seen. Before I used to watch my own product along with my audience and now watching the audience watch our video, I see their emotions as if I took a trip inside their heads. At some parts of the video, our service learning partner seemed to smile and chat with her cousin sitting next to her. While other parts, she seemed more serious due to some sensitivity in the video that has affected her and her memories.

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Throughout the first 22 days of being in Xizhou, nothing has gone terribly wrong apart from some less meaningful days with less meaningful conversations, either because they did not have time or simply did not want to have a 13-year-old bother their somewhat perfect afternoon. But the past two days had been quite disastrous. On day 23 of Microcampus, we did not have any electricity, no lights, no charging, no wifi.

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Today marks the first day of a new month, 1/4 of the year has officially passed by. Today marks a new beginning. As today is the first day of April, we were jumping in and down in the courtyard, hoping to fool or trick someone into one of our plays. As a joke, my roommates wanted to trick others in the group by saying we do not have electricity due to the outage yesterday which dragged onto today. But when we woke up this morning, trying to get ready for breakfast and the day, we realized there was actually no electricity at all. Our plans for a joke fell apart, it backfired.

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Starting from around 7:30 a.m. this morning, the lights, hot water, and all the electricity went out all throughout Xizhou. People used the sun as their main source of light, while fire, created by gasoline, kept families warm instead of heaters. As I walked through the dining room door, the food on the table seems to change a shade of color. The original pancakes were substituted by 饅頭, scrambled eggs were substituted by corn, 餌絲 was substituted by sweet potato slices. Things went downhill from there.

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Day 23, March 31st, 10 a.m. is only sixteen and a half hours away from the time now. That is the time we get our check from Mr. T, called Mr. T's Pearls of Wisdom. We spent our time, working on our Inquiry Project and Service Learning. We are six days away from the end of Microcampus and returning to Shanghai. Time passes as quickly as the blink of an eye. Hours have passed, with me working on my final product. The video is finally complete after days and countless hours of work.

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As the deadline for Final Product rushes closer to sight, more us are anxious about not finishing on time or being behind compared to everyone else. This afternoon, I have sat in front of my computer for numerous hours, recording, looking for the most fitting music, and photos matching. I starting to feel stressed over the fact that my video is slightly too short and worrying about not having enough information presented. Nevertheless, I push on my limits and worked through challenges.

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As my first attempt on better fitting into the community, I went back to my seventh-day Inquiry Project partner, Ms. Li. She is a restaurant owner towards the South-West area of Sifangjie. When I first talked to her about the weather, I noticed her kind and colorful personality. When talked to her today, I conversed with her in a casual manner as if we were long-time friends having conversations like we have not seen each other for a long time. I am grateful for this relationship I have developed beforehand.

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Dali Old Town. A familiar name, a heavy-weight privilege. For those approved to visit, it was lighter and easier to carry. Those are the ones who reached expectations and did what they set out to do. For those who did not meet expectations were bound to stay. These are the ones that have not made the most out of this opportunity. I was one of those to stay. The truth hurts, a little fly of hope dies every time I think about how naive I had been, thinking I was doing great and enough. Just when I think I am reaching closer to the destination, the destination moves farther away.

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Today is our final day to work on Phase 3 of our Inquiry Project. I felt a little left behind because everyone is working ahead on their projects and I am still answering questions from previous Phase 1. Through all the efforts and information I have learned while conversing with villagers, I realized that I have a sense of idea on how to create my topic and the different sections for information. My problem was: How will I ever be able to do it? Fortunately, I found out about my issue soon enough to be able to know how to solve it.

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Last night for evening activity, Mr. T conducted his All-Star Whizz Bang Super Duper Trivia Night, like a jeopardy game. We were in our Service Learning groups with three different team members. We were called Asian Spies. The first round started a little rough, we had 0 points after two go-rounds. After a while, we started gaining points from questions other groups chose. At the end of Round 1, we were in the lead, what a comeback. Round 2 started just like Round 1, trailing behind but ended up tied for first with another group.

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6:30 a.m. That was when my tent-mates and I were supposed to wake up. 7:10 a.m. That was when we actually woke up after Mr. T gave the wake-up call. In about 30 minutes, the original pair, Cathleen and I, took down our tent that was covered in frost from the low temperature at night. Breakfast ended at 9:00 a.m. and we began our 4-hour hike to a valley near Shaxi. The hike was not easy as there were streams to pass where some of us dipped our hiking shoes in cool fresh water. There were multiple downhill slopes and uphill climbs which made our energy run low for quite some time.

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Camping. Hiking. Tiring. Those words are the main ones I caught during the talk Mr. Tafel and Ms. Mai gave during a morning meeting. I did not know how this trip was going to be like, but in my mind, camping and hiking always consists of using a lot of energy. When we arrived at our campsite, after a two-hour bus ride, I saw the beautiful view of the mountains and the reservoir and all my concerns swept away. Being around nature is something I do too little of but should do more of.

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February 15th, a day like any other for most of the world population, was special to a miniature village named 城東.  Today was the birthday of 太上老君 which became a festival for this village of 164 residents. After lunch, we were able to visit the temple to converse with some of the elders that were present. We learned a lot about the way they celebrate important dates like today, the foods they give the buddhists, and traditional gatherings where everyone comes together for dinner at 4:30 p.m. In such special occasion, I thought I might pop by the temple around 4 p.m.

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"If you want the rainbow, you have to deal with the rain." -John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I have got to admit that I am not a great fan of bad weather days, but the way I see it; first the rain, then the rainbow. I heard people talking about double rainbows here in Xizhou, I let myself ponder with the idea of sticking up with the rain. Although I enjoy standing like I am crazy under the rain, it gets a little tiring each time, until I get absolutely sick of it. I suppose the only way is to wait for Iris[1] to appear. 

1. Greek Goddess of rainbow

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Ten days ago, the sun peered through the clouds, splattering its sunrays on the little village of Xizhou. Today was no exception, Helios[1] was still standing and merely glancing over parts of this country. Yet, when Kalokagathia[2] woke up in the morning, she found all the cement to be wet and slippery. Nonetheless, her morning passed like no other, simple and ordinary. As she left the house at 1 p.m., she unexpectedly discovered the droplets drifting through the air. When she returned home at 2 p.m.

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As I walked outside classroom 1 for a short breather, fifteen adults from both SAS Puxi campus and Pudong campus walked through the line, glancing at all sorts of directions, smiling in approval. These fifteen adults came to watch us learn and see how our daily life looked like. Although we were asked not to act abnormal or special in any way, we were still quite intimidated by people within our familiarity and out of our comfort zone. Originally, I would have been afraid to have conversations with them because the environment has changed.

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Today was just another typical weekend day. The weather was great, with the orange sun above us starting at around 8:30 in the morning. In comparison to Shanghai, the difference is significant. Although the schedule was quite normal, originally, half of us were meant to stay in for lunch and half of us were meant to be out. There was a miscommunication and the kitchen staff was unable to cook for lunch. We learned to problem-solve through this issue in a timely manner, since we had a shorter period to have lunch. Human error is something occurs in our daily lives.

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First week of Microcampus is reaching an end and I cannot press pause to all the emotions running through me. Am I supposed to feel fortunate that the first week came out successful and could have easily gone the other way? Or am I supposed to feel sorrow that 1/4 of the journey is over already? Either way, this last day of the first week ended with one extra surprise: 150 Years in 150 Minutes lecture given by Mr. Tafel. It was the history of China to help us better understand what led to where we are right now.

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The last four days acted as a preparation to unveil the grand opening: Inquiry Project, outside the house! All of the work completed in Shanghai led to talking to strangers about my topic. The first person I have met was Mr. Yang down at Shacun, near Lake Erhai. He was a local fisherman that raises his whole family simply by fishing for the past decades. I learned a lot from him, he proved a lot of my assumptions wrong, like fishing was simple until the luck plays in.

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Today was the very first normal day at Microcampus, this is the schedule we are going to continue to follow all throughout this journey. I finally started WIPPIS (wellness, inquiry project, pitching in, and still time) where wellness left me out of breath. As a result to finishing early, another classmate and I were able to go exploring around the neighberhood. We came across this modern-looking household and went in to say hello. The lady greeted us immediately and welcomed us in her house.

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As I biked through this village, puny but full of mysterious imaginations, I saw the gorgeous view, the Cangshan standing tall at the West and Lake Erhai flowing peaceful at the East. It was a pleasant ride and although we did not bike for such a long time, I was tired under bright sunlight. We stopped by Lake Erhai for a quick downtime, having lived in Shanghai all my life, it was unusual for me to have this type of silence.

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After the tiring day traveling around yesterday, we finally started getting to know the area we are going to stay in for most of the time we are here. As we walked around this historic village, I discovered all these new facts I have never thought I would learn before. From the paintings on the walls, we can learn about the history, the time period where it was drawn at. We looked at Chinese propoganda, the messages on the wall that has been there for roughly 80 years, some in a semi-protected stages and some taken down during a later time period.

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Along with 15 classmates, I embarked on a 28 day journey that I have been waiting upon for months and months. Being all excited for this trip, I lost some sense of the rules, the "box" items. I knew the regulations were important, to solve issues before they became one. I had problems remembering the rules on the airplane ride there and forgetting I would need a buddy, everywhere I go. It takes a lot of willpower, thought, and care to adjust to these new habits or else it will be a tough 28 days to endure.

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Over winter vacation I embarked on a journey to visit four different cities within China. The purpose was to experience life in China outside of the Shanghai bubble. The first three cities I have visited was Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guiyang. Among those three cities was Kunming, Yunnan. I learned a lot throughout the short two days I was there for. The past three cities had been relatively cold due to the cold winter sensations in China in general. But when I stepped onto the platform at one of the train stations in Kunming, I felt the change in air immediately.

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I grew up in a family of travellers.  Long before I was born, my parents were already travellers, travelling to countries and cities closest to Shanghai because they were more occupied back then.  Travelling brought us together, closer.  But for all those trips, I've never thought about the reason behind travelling, to try new food, to visit famous museums, to plainly spare time?  Microcampus is different.  We learn, we engage, we explore things we might never had end up knowing without this trip to XiZhou.  It's five months before the trip and I worked myself into a frenzy.  Microcampus w

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Hello, I am thirteen years old and am now a Microcampus alumnus. In Xizhou, I studied the weather of Xizhou and have developed many life skills I will use in the near future. Microcampus changed me as a person a lot in a beneficial way and this experience is absolutely incredible, with the view, things we learn, and the kind people in our community. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I appreciate truly.