Emily Z. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Why did I come to Microcampus? Even until now, I do not have a direct and specific answer. But perhaps it is because there are so many factors to it, that there are so many different answers for me. 


Last full day in Xizhou. 

Last. Such a melancholy word. Last, is when we are towards the end of something. Last, is when there is only a bit left. Yet last could be something that leads to another beginning. 


When our video started, my group sat facing the audience, so that we are able to see the reactions in them. Through the dim lights projected from the projections, I saw glimpses of Mr. Tan's face. It was our time to share our Service Learning video to our audience, and we were so honored to invite Mr. Tan to come to watch our product. Through the video, Mr.


Fate has pulled off another April fools trick on us Microcampus students. 

As I woke to the low rumbles to the thunderstorms, I knew that something was not right. There was no light on. Not even the sky. Pitch black darkness greeted us.

"The lights are still out!"


Today for the entire town of Xizhou, the electricity is out from 7 am to 11 pm. And from today's incidents, it has shown me how bad of a memory I had. This morning, as I went into the bathroom, I reached out and tried to switch on the lights. To my "surprise", the lights did not open. Who would have thought? In the afternoon, as I had tried to open the lights in the closet, I had then realized again that the electricity was off. As I had tried once more to charge my computer, it did not light up. I then had to go to the Linden Centre to charge it.


We all have a day, where we are determined to finish something. If we stay dialed in, focused, determined, almost anything can be accomplished. This is what I went through today, determined to finish most of my service learning and inquiry work. We all kept going, going, and going, focused in hopes of finishing our projects. Now, because of my determination, I was able to finish the goal I had set today. If you all want to find out which mindset you are in, here is a good template to check:

"I won't do it

I can't do it

I want to do it

How do I do it?


1, one old man, waiting for the arrival of four students. 

2, two minutes, the time it took to reach this old man.

3, three knocks, the welcoming sound of skin and wood.

4, four students, waiting for him to greet them.

5, five large smiles, the rain suddenly has stopped.

6. six handshakes, including one with the grandmother in the kitchen

7. seven minutes, the ticking time that goes by as we wait for the camera and tripod to set up.

8. Eight eyes, softly gazing toward the talking man. Ready, set, action.


Birthday, a day where the special person gets to celebrate itself, but the chance to realize that you are one year older then last year, and you are growing up. Today, we got to celebrate two birthdays. In a row. And today, because it is such a special celebration, even thunder and rain could not help but come and participate. First off, Erin. You are the coolest and funniest girl I have ever met, and I am so glad that through Microcampus, we are able to get closer to each other.


Family are like branches on a tree; we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.

The sacred time... or to be clearer, the time where we are able to chat with our families. 


What would you need in order to achieve serenity today? Love.

Definition of serenity: the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil

Love, such a vague word for me. What is it, something you recieve? Something you give out? A feeling? Affection? A dream? Or perhaps, all of them? And how does that possibly relate to serenity? After recieving these two cards, my heads swarmed with questions. 


She combed straight the yarn piles, chatting with nearby costumers strolling along. 

"Ms. Duan!"

She turned around. Even the wrinkles can't hide her smile. Putting down the yarn piles, she came towards us, and gave each of us her biggest hug. I couldn't help but grin. 

"How are you?"

"I'm great! And you?"

"I'm doing good. Going out to eat lunch?"


"Okay. And anytime you need me, come here. I'll always be free."

She is truly a beauty, a beauty inside and out. 


"Count your rainbows, not the thunderstorms."

Three strips of colors arcs into the sky, the subtle hue appearing and disappearing into wisps of cloud. Perhaps it was a just a optical illusion, or it could be telling me, if you want to see the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain. Or, it could be a message, telling me that I have done a good job, and that I have tried my best to overcome challenges and have personal growth.  Either way, nothing else could have lifted my spirits any better. 

Perhaps soon I get to see another triple rainbow. I really do hope so. 


Today is the day where we celebrate 泰山老君, one of the gods of Dali. 

As soon as I arrived to the temple, music filled the air without any effort. A lively tempo elevated my spirit, making me dance to the beats of the melody. The Dongjing temple music has been passed down from the Song dynasty, and yet here we are, listening to the melodies that came from the Song. It is truly beautiful, it is.

Talking with two of the musicians afterwards, I found that they had volunteered to come and play.

"You are not paid?"
"So, why did you come?"



Serenity is not freedom from storm, but peace amid the storm. 

I'm very proud to say that I met a new friend.

Rain was trickling down from the sunny clear sky, a miracle that we don't usually see in Shanghai. As usual, it was still-time, and I decided to head to Happy Embroidery to watch the scenery there. Sitting down in the shades of the roof, I held my hand up to feel the drizzle of the rain. The tranquility of the air stunned me. Ah, so this is the real meaning of still-time. 


The sky slowly darkened, as the lights of the Linden Centre slowly lit up. In the center of the courtyard, a group of musicians sat in their placed chairs, getting ready to play their instruments. They all wore traditional Dongjing costume, as women wore headdress and head pieces, and men wearing shiny yellow jackets. 

This, of course, is the music group of Xizhou. 


If you want to do something well, put in the effort. Of course, dishwashing is no exception.

In order to get those shiny clean plates of our dreams, no rough work should be done. People don't understand the efforts put into these utensils; clean, soak, scrub, dunk, wipe, shine. They don't understand that by thoroughly scrubbing the plates, you get the grease and chemicals off. And that by cleaning the bottom of the plate, you can be at ease when stacking them together. A lot of hard work goes into dishwashing, and we should honor that.


March 16th, 2019...

The last day of the first week. And, we had our first wellness reflection. 

One section allows me to reflect on my daily blogs and journals. As I am reading my journals, I realized that I am very positive about what I am experiencing in Xizhou, even when I was having some bad times. Each day, I would learn something new, not only about the place's culture, but also about myself. 

I will try to keep up with my work ;)



A single camera. Imagine how much we can do with a single press of a finger.


A still picture appears on my camera. An old women, sewing her flower print, sitting quietly in the shades of the roof. Click, another shot. This time, two small chickens, nestled in their basket, bathing in the warm morning sun. 


Wednesday, March 13th...

Venturing outside our little community, us microcampus students are finally given the chance to begin our contacting researches in Xizhou. My plan? Well... I have multiple.

Plan A:
Visiting Mr. Yang, a musician that plays the 三弦, as well as the head of a music group in the village. Just as I was about to go, I recieved an information that Mr. Yang is not in town for these two days. What am I going to do now?


Tuesday, March 12th...

Another day, another sunrise, another responsibility. Today is the day where my teammates and I wash our laundries. A simple and common task, yet not everybody knows how to do it. 

Neither did I. 


Life is like a bicycle: you don't fall off unless you stop pedaling.

Monday, March 11th...
Day 3 of our amazing journey, a group of 8 students went out from Yangzhuoran to the northern countryside of Xizhou. Through the endless pedaling and cycling, we stopped at the side of the road to have quiet time. As I took off my sunglasses, I just knew that the throbbing muscles and achings arms were worth it. Staring out at the magnificent view of Erhai and the mountains, I listened to the distant roar of the vehicles and the soft chirping of birds. 


Sunday, March 10th...
It's day 2 of our Microcampus trip, and I am more than ready to experience some of authentic food and cultures in the village. Mr. T had planned a tour for us Microcampus students to better understand and become more familiar with our community.


Even though I have never been to Yunnan or Xizhou, I do have some prior knowledge from previous conversations and research. I know that the environment is a very important factor, as Yunnan is filled with lush mountains, lakes, and green fields. I also know that Xizhou has many mountains, and that it is near Lake Erhai, a lake that has significantly large importance to the place and people around it. I think that because people wish to preserve these beautiful mountains and nature, the economy is much slower because there are fewer factories. 

Greetings! I'm Emily, and I was part of the Wildfire group of Microcampus. No doubt, I was not only able to travel with my fellow classmates and teachers but also able to have the chance to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone and my Shanghai "bubble". It has been an indescribable experience, and I hope all future Microcampus students are able to cherish the wonderful moments in Xizhou.