Jasmine Z. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Why I Came to Microcampus? A question all Microcampus members have been trying to answer the entire trip. Why is it that 16 students would want to go to Xizhou, away from their parents for a month? I have my own explanation. And this will have to trace all the way back to five months before today when I first heard the two words micro and campus said together. That day, all the 8thgraders of Shanghai American School were gathered in a small room with a projector at the front of it.

0 Comments

Xizhou, the people of Xizhou, the culture of Xizhou, the simplicity of Xizhou all of Xizhou would never be forgotten by me. In the 672 hours I spent in this wonderful community, I learned so much about myself and the others around me. It felt like yesterday when I walked into the doors of Yang Zhuo Ran, curious to find out more about this place. And now, I am 20 hours away from leaving. I will miss all the people I have met during my time spent here. All I can say is that farewells for now and I will definitely come back with my family in the future.

0 Comments

When the time has come, my service learning group and I walked Ms. Zhang into the dining area of Linden Commons. "Be careful," we insisted her as Ms. Zhang stepped onto the staircase that leads to the garden nurtured by Mrs. Linden. As soon as we walked into the garden, I could tell from her eyes that she loved this place.  She loved the flowers in the garden and could almost name them all due to her years of experience in making flower crowns.

0 Comments

At 10:10 pm last night, I heard a sudden rush of water flowing in the water pipes in my room. I sat up straight almost immediately and turned the knob of the faucet in the bathroom. Out came a steady stream of water that was absent for the past two days. WATER IS BACK! Yesterday, our host Yang Zhuo Ran ran out of water due to the electricity outage. Because of our high elevation in terms of the area in Xizhou, we were the last ones to run out of the water but also the last ones to retrieve it when there was an outage. It was only until last night that I found that this is a big problem.

0 Comments

I woke up to a classic alarm clock and found myself staring at the dark ceiling. I then quickly tiptoed into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As a natural habit I have grown into the past month, my hands fumbled on the surface of the wall in search for the light switch. My fingers felt an elevated surface and I pressed the switched as I waited for something to happen. Nothing. I pressed the button again receiving the same response. An extended day of an unexpected blackout. And this time nobody is prepared for it. When I went out of my room, it was still dark outside.

0 Comments

Today was a phenomenal experience for me. I woke up fumbling to the light switch and realizing that the lights won't turn on. Then, my morning brain came to realize that it was the electricity outage we were warned about, and now it has come true. Before today, I have never noticed how much our lives revolve around electricity. I have come notice today that no electricity also means goodbye hot showers, outlets, lights, heaters, and most importantly: Wifi. This experience reminds me of a quote we were shared a week ago.

0 Comments

Today, we had our first conversation with our service learning partner, Mrs. Zhang about her life in Xizhou. My first approach to this project was just to get our work done on time so we could finish editing our video before the due date next Monday. However, my takeaway from this conversation was merely the opposite of my intentions. First, I learned much more about Chinese history than before I woke up this morning. I was also surprised by the fact that Mrs. Zhang herself experienced this in the first person.

0 Comments

Today, without doubt, is the most stressful day so far. I have been working without stop during my inquiry and pitching in time so I would be able to meet my deadline two days from now. Our goal is to produce a video that shares our learning with our target audience so they would be able to learn from my learning process too. I am hoping to finish all my work before tomorrow so I will get at least 24 hours to revise my work on Sunday. Another reason why I want to get my work done before tomorrow is because there might be a possible power outage on Sunday.

0 Comments

All today, flashbacks of bright lights illuminating crowded crosswalks would appear in my mind. What is the flashback of? It was of the two hours I spent in Dali Old Town during evening activity the previous night. Last night was known to be a special trip to "celebrate our learning" in Microcampus. The trip was known for its freedom, its sense of novelty, but moreover, a test of accountability. All ten students that went to Dali Old town were given the biggest responsibility so far on the trip: To step out of the box and still do the right thing.

0 Comments

March 27th, 2019, I spent my first birthday away from my family. On my twelth, eleventh, tenth.... birthday, I have always celebrated it on the same old dinning table that every one of my siblings and parents celebrated theirs on. Everyone would crowd around the birthday boy/girl and we would all sing the birthday song as loudly as we can into his ore her ears. I remember how someone would always switch into their head voices in the middle of the song just because we started off too high. This year is all different, but not nessasarily in a bad way.

0 Comments

Today is the last and final day of field research. In other words, today is the last day we are able to go outside and learn more about our inquiry topic by communicating with the local citizens of Xizhou. Knowing that it is our last chance today to do clarification, I asked for an extension so I could learn all the techniques necessary for me to complete my final product in the near future. As usual, I spent all two hours of my extended field research time in my favorite place: Happy Embroidery.

0 Comments

Today, our daily meeting overlapped our morning pitching in time by 30 minutes mainly because we got thrown a bunch of due dates that either took place this week or the following one. For example, our Phase 3 work has to be finished by tomorrow, Phase 4 work has to be finished on Wednesday, and our inquiry final product finished by the end of this Sunday. Everyone is quite stressed out about this because we are suddenly introduced to all these projects that are expected to be finished in these final two weeks.

0 Comments

Today was a day of recharging and making up the sleep I missed the previous night while camping. After eating a late breakfast, Emilly L. and I set up our tent in the main courtyard again so that the frost on the rainproof tart would dry up under the sun rays. Then, I plugged straight into my wellness reflection of the week that helped me learn more about my own physical wellness. The hike played a huge role in my reflection because I not only worked through many challenges during the hours, but I also had personal growth by stepping out of my comfort zone.

0 Comments

Waking up from a devastating night of sleep inside my "professionally" set-up tent, all 20 limbs of mine were more than just cold. I unzipped the door flap of the tent and almost immediately, my eyes picked up the bright light reflecting from the lake in front of me. Stretched across the lake was a mirror-like reflection of the mountains I knew we were going to hike along today. I have never completed a hike as long as five hours and as difficult as this before, but I think I am ready. I stepped outside the tent and placed my foot within my freezing hiking boots.

0 Comments

Today is truly the turning point of my microcampus journey. In other words, today is when the entire microcampus team had made it to the top of the mountain and the rest of the trip will just be downhill. What I found interesting is that today is not only when we reached the top of the trip, but is also when we reach our campsite which is literally at the top of the mountain. After roughly two hours bus ride from Xizhou, we finally arrived at a small village called the Shi Long Village.

0 Comments

I stepped into the pagoda of Happy Embroidery as I lingered at the doorsteps. Under the shade of the pagoda sat five women with their heads down, eyes narrowed, gently pulling their arms back, and back below their eyes again. For five hours a day, seven days a week, the employees of Happy Embroidery work long hours straight. What do they do? They work with thin silk threads of all colors and an even thinner needle to try to create beautiful artwork out of it. Stitch by stitch, they would complete the same movement over and over again.

0 Comments

Today, I woke up one hour early to go on a morning jog with Cathleen C. and Pepijn V. We headed out at 6:15 am while it was still dark and chilly outside and came back at 7:00 am to get ready for breakfast. The usually open front door had a wooden lock on it when we sneaked out in the morning. Just as we were going to bang on the door, our guard named Mr. He came out from his room and opened the lock to the back door for us. We stepped outside quietly to explore the village of Xizhou in its dark night form.

0 Comments

Today was more of a normal day after most of the teachers from SAS have departed on a plane. The tension in the classroom decreased a lot compared to yesterday when 15 extra pairs of eyes were staring at our "casual" meeting. Today, our schedule was just back to normal where we do the planning in the morning and the WIPPIS work in the afternoon. My favorite part of the day is wellness. I went on a jog with two of my friends Audrey F. and Claire Z. and they showed me around a small alleyway in Si Fang Jie which opens up to a completely different view.

0 Comments

Today, just as normal, 16 students sat quietly in our main classroom and were all dialed into their math homework from school. Just as I was finishing up the last page, I heard a crowd of muffled voices coming from the main entrance of Yang Zhuo Ran. First, I was really confused about who are the people making these noises. Then I remembered that it must be the 'folks' Mr. Tafel was talking about a few days ago and I stood up excitedly from my chair. Several students had a similar reaction and we all rushed outside the classroom door.

0 Comments

Today was a really chill and relaxing day. It felt as if I was back in my house in Shanghai, sleeping in on a Saturday morning just as usual. What was different was the weather. Checking the weather forecast in Shanghai where rain clouds hover on the sky every day, I am very grateful to be able to be here in Xizhou. Here, the sun is out every day and there are no puddles on the mud floor. Instead, it is warm in areas the sun shines and the floor has a golden color under the rays of the sun. Another thing that is different is the environment.

0 Comments

Today, we had an early weekend which means that the schedule is flip-flopped and we get to sleep in late. When I woke up this morning, everyone else is already eating breakfast and some had already started their inquiry work. I ate a quick breakfast and hurried upstairs for our 150 minutes lecture about Chinese history. Despite the long lecture, I feel like I learned much more in the 2 hours than I have ever learned anywhere else. I learned about why things came to be in certain areas of China and why Chairman Mao is such a hero to so many Chinese citizens even today.

0 Comments

Today we had a special outing to somewhere called Zhoucheng. I was surprised by the fact that we were only on the bus for 15 minutes and we have then already entered a completely different village. Zhoucheng is known for its local tie-dye which incorporates nature along with folk's life into a piece of art. What I mean by incorporating nature is that most of the color used to die the fabric is made out of natural resources. We learned that with a rose's pedals, a light color of yellowish-green can be made, and with grape skin, a vivid red can be made.

0 Comments

Today, I had my first field work day, meaning that I got to go outside Yang Zhou Ran and into the village of Xizhou to communicate with the local villagers. Mr. Tafel was my support teacher who accompanied me to the place I have always wanted to visit since the first day we got here: Happy Embroidery. Happy Embroidery is an embroidery school where students of all ages are welcome to become part of the community by learning about embroidery. In Happy Embroidery, I met the founder named Mrs. Li.

0 Comments

Today we had our first "normal day" where our entire day is based on the full WIPPIS schedule. The "w" stands for wellness, the "i" and "p" stands for inquiry project, the "p" and "i" stands for pitching in, and the "s" stands for still time. After experiencing the entire WIPPIS schedule for the first time, I feel quite accomplished. In order for this to happen, it took hours of preparation and full attentiveness during morning meetings. After that was making daily progress on my inquiry progress so I am not behind on anything.

0 Comments

Today, we went on our first bike ride around the village. I enjoyed this opportunity to get out of the house to get some fresh air along with pulling in some wellness and still time on the way. I guess it was quite stressful at first when we were suddenly thrown all the different rules of biking and the ways to bike safely. Almost right after the lecture, we were already on the road with all eight students in one straight line.

0 Comments

Waking up to a soft buzz of my new smarter phone, I peeked outside the curtains of my room. 7:00 am, still dark. First full day in Xizhou and I know already that it would be a phenomenal experience. The most interesting thing today is probably our trip to the local market place. Of course, it wasn't like what I expected with everything tightly wrapped in plastic films and placed amongst tall shelves in a supermarket. It was merely the opposite. Everything was just okay with the smell of raw flesh and blood flooding the pavement until I heard a loud screech.

0 Comments

7:45 pm, 16 students arrived at their new home: Yang Zhou Ran. That is when Microcampus officially began. The first thing I noticed was the fresh and clean air in the narrow alleyway. Unlike Shanghai's choking air, Xizhou's atmosphere is completely different. We unloaded 18 luggage from the bottom of the bus and started making our way to the place we are staying at. The second thing I noticed, it is way too quiet. There is an absence of loud honking cars, screaming crowds, and ringing sirens.

0 Comments

I have never been to Yunnan before but I have heard a lot about it from both the people around me and from microcampus meetings. I learned that Yunnan compared to Shanghai is not as populated nor is it as well rounded. The province is filled with low towers and flats that provide enough space for the small population of Yunnan. Especially Xizhou, the village is embedded in natural barriers such as mountains and the well known Lake Er. Lake Er is the second longest Lake in China and an essential resource supply for the citizens of Xizhou.

0 Comments
I have lived in Shanghai for almost ten years and attended SAS for most of the time I lived here. I was 13 when I attended Microcampus with the Wildfires group. My family and I always valued experiences whether they are positive or negative. I thought that Microcampus would be a once in a lifetime experience to explore the truth of China outside our Shanghai bubble. Indeed, when I saw the welcoming smiles of the local elders, I knew that Microcampus is an experience I would never forget.