by Erin, Emily, Evan, Xander
Mr. Tan is currently 73 years old. Mr. Tan lives with his wife and sells everyday items near Sifang Jie to earn money. Mr. Tan is the oldest of the six children in his family. He has three sons who are all in their forties. One of the sons works in Zhoucheng. Another one works up near Bao Cheng Fu, and the other one works in Kunming.
Through our conversations with Mr. Tan, I noticed how passionate he is about the things he loves. Mr. Tan talked about how during the Cultural Revolution, he started going into photography and loved it. However, Chairman Mao's regulations did not allow him to open up a photo booth, and he could only go to the rural areas to take photos. On the other hand, Mr. Tan was passionate about photography and opened a photo booth illegally with his friends. This showed me how he had a passion for chasing his dreams even with significant roadblocks.
This experience has not only allowed me to learn about the motivation of Mr. Tan, but also the history of both Xizhou and 20th Century China. Before the conversations, my knowledge of the Cultural Revolution was based on textbooks and documentaries. Now I truly understand the impacts of Mao's regulations from a first-person's story. Mr. Tan shared a lot about his education difficulties. He talked about how during the revolution, farming was collectivized and everyone in his family had to come back to the farm instead of getting an education. He shared that during the time of the revolution, no matter how good your grades were, you needed to go back and farm.
The day before the viewing, we received news that Mr. Tan's wife had high blood sugar and Mr. Tan was trying to find a doctor for her and may not be able to come to the Service Learning Sharing. However, when we called Mr. Tan at 11:00 am on the day of the sharing, he said that his wife was doing better and was glad to come to see his video. It was an honor to be able to share the video with Mr. Tan.
Due to the large audience, the venue was changed to the dining room in the Linden Commons. 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.
From the angle I was sitting at, I could not see Mr. Tan well only occasionally I could be able to see his face. Mr. Tan started the same with his eyes focused on the video but showing a grumpy mood. Then came an extraordinary moment. When the video started talking about his passion for photography, he smiled. It was the first time that I had to seem him smile. When the video turned to talk about his sons, I could see a glimpse of tears of his eyes. I was not sure if it was because he was touched and had memories, but there was more water in his eyes than usual. I thought that I had achieved the best.
When my group walked him back, Mr. Tan kept on saying that he was fine and could go home himself. However, when we insisted on walking him again, he did not say much, but I could see that he had a smile on his face. Mr. Tan talked about how our video was the best out of all four of them and said that he was proud.
We thought that we had achieved the best. But we were proved wrong on the walk back to Mr. Tan's store. We had achieved trust. When we first asked Mr. Tan for childhood photos, he said that he did not like to take pictures when he was younger and did not have childhood photos. However, on the walk back, he apologized saying that he had the childhood photos and if he had given the pictures to us, the video would have been better. At that moment it did not matter how good our video was but how strong the relationship was between our group and our service learning partner. After all, the video's purpose was to say thank you to the community, and the trust felt like more than an acceptance of the appreciation.
I would like to share with future Microcampus students a few suggestions. First off, do not be scared or worried about the workload. There is more than enough time to be able to finish in time if you have a specific timeline. Also, do not make assumptions too quickly. It might be a little challenging if one's service learning partner does not seem to cooperate well and seems to be grumpy all the time. However, the service learning partner will appreciate what one has done for him/her. Ultimately, the crucial factor in this experience is trust. The product is essential, however, the product is a way of saying thanks to the community. Having people enjoy your product may bring happiness, but receiving trust brings satisfaction.