Erin S. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

If I had received this question 28 days ago, my answer would be about being able to understand a culture better and simply learning about my Inquiry Project: Body Language. Or perhaps I would have thought that this was a perfect opportunity to leave the building of the school and learn about other things.

28 days later, I do not have a specific and clear answer, but I have a general idea. 

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"Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I'll miss you until we meet again."

Today was the last full day of Microcampus. Although we had much to do in the morning, in the afternoon we had free time to spend time with the community and say the last of our goodbyes. After walking around with my friends, we sat down with Ms. Ma a store owner that we have grown close with throughout the four weeks and we just talked. We also tried to help her get customers. Today was a really nice day to just be totally immersed in the community.

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When our video started to play, our group was sitting in front of the audience facing the audience. It was an exciting experience since I have never watched my audience watch my product. I have always become the audience and watch my product with them. 

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"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do." - Pele

Today was the last project work day. Although most of us probably did not want to keep working for the whole day, we did. We worked hard and used perseverance to stay on task. Throughout the 3 checks for our Service Learning videos, we learned and learned. We studied Chinese beforehand to be able to translate the video. We sacrificed free time to make our video the best we possibly could. 

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"Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard then succeed on purpose."-G.K. Nelson

Today was the second day that we worked on our final product for our inquiry projects. Today, I spent most of my time working on the video. I worked really hard and had to overcome many challenges. One of the main challenges was aligning the photos to the voice over properly. However, after many trials, I was finally able to find a way to align the photos. After overcoming these challenges, I felt really successful and good about my project.

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"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." - Warren Buffett

As soon as Mr. T shared with the Wildfires the quote of the day, I started thinking of all the things in my life that could relate to this quote. I had an immediate thought then thought of many different ideas and connections, however, I kept on coming back to my initial thought. The tree of Microcampus. 

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"Life is short. Smile when you still have teeth."

During my bike ride to Er Hai with Joanne, I noticed something. Smiles. Not just smiles from anyone, but smiles in the results of Hellos. When we passed anyone who was walking on the street, we waved and said hello. Though some may not have said hello back, faces brightened and smiles appeared just like a rainbow during a storm. When they smiled, I smiled. And when I smiled, I made more people smile. And since I was smiling, I noticed more of the beautiful nature during the ride than all the times before.

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"The past is like a puzzle, like a broken mirror. As you piece it together, your image keeps shifting. And you change with it. It could change with it. It could destroy you, drive you mad. It could set you free" - Max Payne

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"Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges. So relax." -Bryant McGill

This quote was applied to my day many times. 

Once was when my buddy and I was looking for service learning connections. We could not find anyone in the beginning, but I stayed calm knowing there were much more than 40 people around the area. Within 10 minutes,  my buddies and I were able to find 10 connections per person. Due to this experience of being calm, I was able to meet a lot more people and know how to approach people better. 

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"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving."

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"And suddenly you know... It's the start of something new and trust the magic of new beginnings."

At 6:00 PM when the Wildfire group stepped foot in the Dali Airport, it felt like someone had covered my ears. I experienced something I had not in a long time. Quietness. Everything seemed so calm. It was comforting yet at the same time, strange. 

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2 weeks before our departure to Xizhou, the Wildfire group had an overnighter at school.  I have made a short clip to reflect on the event. To see my reflection, click here.

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I have never been to Xizhou before, however, after working on my inquiry project, I have come up with some assumptions of the place and the people of Xizhou. 

I think that the province of Yunan has a lot of mountains, but also plateaus. One of the most important geographical features of Yunan is Erhai. I have heard that Yunan is famous for their spicy food and have snacks that are different than other parts of China. The architecture of the village are probably traditional Chinese buildings made of wood. 

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I'm 13 years old and my favorite hobbies are to bake and do crafts. I am originally from Taiwan, however, I have only lived in Taiwan for a year. This is my 8th year at Shanghai American school. I awent to Xizhou and enjoyed the environment a lot. Although the place is different from what I expected, it is even better.