Claire Z. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Students taking in the scenery at the wind farms in Xizhou

Before I came to Xizhou, I wanted to escape the fast-paced city life of Shanghai and truly experience what a less-developed village would be like to be a part of for such a long period of time. I also felt really tired of the regular schedule in Shanghai, and I guess I just needed something new and fresh in my life.

1 Comments

The most of today is to finish reflections and check-ins, and to prepare to leave on Friday. There are a lot of things that I will be missing in Xizhou: the lifestyle, the different aspects of its culture, and how open the community seems to be. However, I do look foward to returning to Shanghai, as there are many things I miss back home as well. I look forward to reconnecting with folks at school, and perhaps see if I have changed in any way as well. See you all soon!

1 Comments

When showcasing our video, we were to sit in front of the audience instead of with them. This is for us to be able to observe the reactions of the crowd, and more importantly, the reactions of our service learning partner. The audience this time was huge: a lot of the Linden Commons guests, SAS visitors, Mr. and Mrs.

0 Comments

Today, we celebrated the fourth birthday of Microcampus. It was Pepijn's, and before him, there was Xander, and Jasmine and Erin on the same day. Mr. Tafel told us that usually, there are only about one or two birthdays per Microcampus trip, so we were quite the lucky bunch. The cake this time was a chocolate-mint one that Ms. Braverman got this morning from Dali Old Town. Since Pepijn's father worked at the Oreo company, we prepared oreos as well.

2 Comments
Home-made lamps by tying our headlamps to our water bottles.

It was raining. The plitter-platter of the constant downpour droned on outside. The first thing we all heard in the morning was an ear-shattering Boom! as a loud bang of thunder seemed to roll right outside our door. The lights were still out. What was supposed to happen at 11 p.m yesterday did not arrive, as the massive rainstorm had cut out the power yet again. Without electricity, practically everyone's electronics were low on battery. Groaning, we realized that today was April Fools- what a great prank by Mother Nature herself!

1 Comments

We had our Pearls of Wisdom session with Mr. Tafel today. Essentially, he reviewed our inquiry project videos and provided feedback accordingly. I see a lot of people needing to fix their entire videos, having to basically start over from the top, but mine did not really turn out that badly. I only needed to fix a couple of subtitles and re-record the ending segment due to background noises and such. With that out of the way, all that will be left is the Service Learning project.

1 Comments

This would be a break day usually, but with our deadlines pulling close, everyone is hard at work. It is quiet everywhere, and students are scattered in many different places. Occaisonal bits of voice-lines could be heard in the silence. I am pretty much finished with my inquiry, so there is a sense of incompleteness looming in the corners when seeing everyone typing away at their computers and working when I am all done. There is still some service learning stuff to do, but so far I am on track.

1 Comments
Mr. Yang and Becky

Since Dora and Pepijn have already found a service learning partner the other day, the rest of the work group went to visit him today for the filming process. His name is Mr. Yang, he works a s a sort-of technician who fixes things like radios or clocks. He was really open to us when we were asking questions and he talked a lot. It was obvious to everyone that he is lonely, so we were more than happy to visit him a second time today. On our second visit, he brought up a plate of fruits, along with yogurt and tea, bought specifically for us.

1 Comments

For some reason, the stress seems to have caught up with me today all of a sudden. Perhaps it is because I have finally begun thinking through the project carefully and realizing the amount of work we have to do in three short days. I have finished the plan for my project, and is halfway done with the script, but there is still so much left to do: drawing the final product, the editing, practicing and recording the voiceover. Not to mention how our service learning partner is not available today.

1 Comments

It is Jasmine and Erin's birthdays today, and coincidentally, both had dish duty today as well. However, it was really nice to see others volunteering to help do the dishes for them, as it is their special day afterall. Phase 4 was also due today, but that was not too hard and we had plenty of time to finish. It is raining outside. Nice change of weather, not too nice for us, room 3, because it was our laundry day. How come every time we have a laundry day it rains? Last time we had to move our clothes inside to dry as well… oh well.

1 Comments

Not much has happened today yet. Phase 3 is due, but I am on track and is nearly complete with everything. It is really nice outside; the sunshine brightening the atmosphere significantly, basking everything in light so details were crisp and scenery was refreshing. It is warm as well, the kind of warm that makes one sleepy if they stay in one place without doing anything for long. Emotions today are sort of mixed; the feeling of having everything in place yet knowing that the hard part is yet to come, feeling mostly complete yet incomplete at the same time.

1 Comments

"What is important in life? Purpose." That was my draw for today. We have this thing we do after meditation everyday, where we pick one card each from two piles: the question pile and the answer pile. It is completely random, and once in a while, something really meaningful or deep may come out. After a rather stressful daily meeting of looking at upcoming due dates, the purpose is sort of thrown out there and starting to get blurry. Did we come out here to complete all our projects on time? To research our topics?

1 Comments
La  randonée

En la seconde semaine de Microcampus, les événements majeurs étaient les professeurs des SAS Pudong et Puxi sont arrivés et la randonée et camping. Le principal de lycée m'a suivi pour mon inquiry projet, et j'etais vraiment nerveux.Toutefois, j'ai bien réussi et il a été satisfait. Nous sommes allés randonée pour deux jours; 2 heures de le prémier jour et 3 heures de seconde jour. C'etait très froid de nuit; il y avait une couche de gel en la pelouse, nos tentes, et nos sacs à dos. Et à midi, c'est devenu très chaud. C'est comme ça dans les montagnes.

0 Comments

The trail for this hike is mostly natural; roads created by previous travelers and animals that stretch through the mountains. It was also a lot more dangerous than the trail yesterday, with steep slopes filled with slippery sand, shallow streams with a few scattered rocks, and thorny bushes that reached their twisted branches onto the path. At around 150 minutes into the hike, we had the choice to go with a faster paced group, or continue with our current pace. We split into the two groups accordingly, and I joined the slower paced group.

1 Comments
The lake we camped beside

Camping is a first time for me. After our long, 2-hour hike, nearly everyone is exhausted and ready to sleep. It was getting really chilly, so we decided to room three to a tent. However, nothing would have prepared us for how actually cold the night was about to become. I recall waking up multiple times throughout the night, and in a half-sleep state, start to zip up my jacket or pull on another pair of socks. Once, at around 4 am, I had to use the bathroom. Mr. Tafel has told us that there is always a bathroom, and nature is usually the best option.

1 Comments

There was a festival at a temple in Cheng Dong Cun today. When we went in the late morning, there were groups of elders sitting around tables, eating lunch. Upon asking around a bit, we found out that this celebration was only once a year, and the food provided was free. Since our time was limited, we had to leave after around 15 minutes. The other time we went was after lunch and in the afternoon, when there was a group of musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments, like san xian, er hu, and pi pa.

1 Comments

The rain is still here. Coming and going, pelting hard when you least expect it to, lifting just when you prepare all your gear. Becky and I went together to buy stocking caps, comfort food, and scarves. Too bad neither of us were very good with roads… we ended up passing the market before realizing our mistake and retracing our steps back. She pointed out how the clouds were all dark, murky gray in the distance, serious and intimidating, promising rain again after a short break.

1 Comments
At Happy Embroidery

There is rain and there is sun. However rare, both can exist at the same time. Rays of sunlight spilled into the main courtyard, reflecting off the drops of water falling to earth. Thunder sounded in the distance, seemingly nearing with each roll. The rain came and went, came and went at an uneven pace, until finally settling into a steady shower. It was warm, and the rain did not dampen the mood. Playing with an orange kitten, we watched the drops come down. Making our way back, more clouds started to gather. The sky darkened, and cold winds shook the leaves.

1 Comments

During inquiry today, I met three elderly women cooking at a temple. Upon asking some questions, I discovered that they were here to pray to the god Kui Shen. Kui Shen is the god of exams and education, so the three were there to pray for one of their nephews, to wish him good luck on his high school exams. The nephew was one of the women's, and the two others were there to help her cook. I learned that the different gods ate differently: some were vegan, some were carnivores, and some were omnivores.

0 Comments
Blue skies at the place we did still time at.

Today has been another weekend break day for us. I personally really enjoy these days, as the stress of all the work and the tightness of our schedules are suddenly lifted off our shoulders, and we could just sit out in the sun and enjoy the blue skies. Apparently, during lunch time, there was a miscommunication with the kitchen staff, and they have not prepared a meal for the people eating in. In result of that, everyone got to have lunch outside. My group ended up a bit late coming back as the food was served half an hour after we ordered, for some reason.

1 Comments
My work group with Grandma Yang

Weekends are really chill, judging from the experience today. We get to wake up later than usual, as breakfast is available anytime between 8:15 and 9:00. After that, we listened to Mr. Tafel's lecture on Chinese history: "150 Years in 150 Minutes." He kept telling us beforehand that it was a really boring lecture, but I found it pretty interesting and learned a lot from it. Later, during our service learning time, we met an elderly woman running a stand. She told us to call her "Grandma Yang". She was really nice, and openly chatted with us about her life when she was younger.

1 Comments

Today, we had a half day trip to either the wind farm or the tie-dye factory. I chose the wind farm since I wanted to go outside. The wind farm was farther than the tie-dye factory, since it was up farther on the mountain. On the winding roads, Mr. Tafel asked everyone on the right side of the bus to move to the left, probably so we would not tip over the side of the road and down the mountainside. So that was fun. A few minutes before arriving, we were required to keep our eyes down, so we could see all at once how enormously enormous the turbines were.

1 Comments
The inside of the temple

Today, we went outside to connect with the locals for the first time. The first person on my list was Ms. Zhao from Old Street Snacks. She was really open and willing to chat, clearly familiar with the program. After chatting with her some, we still had a lot of time till my Inquiry Project block was over, so Ms. B and I went to a couple of temples nearby. The first appeared to be in disrepair: lots of rubble and construction equipment lay in the corners of the main courtyard, and no one was in the rooms of the temple to pray.

1 Comments

Yes, it is technically the first day- the first work day, that is. We had regular WIPPIS time, along with separate schedules and such. Still time is definitely an enjoyment; watching cars pass by, horses, dogs, humans bustling around with their jobs. Wellness was also pretty fun. I went jump roping with Audrey, and I can say that it was nice to exercise in a clean environment. After wellness, Audrey and I realized there was still some time, so we visited a woman's house. She was really kind, inviting us in to chat.

1 Comments

Today, we went biking in groups of 8. It was our practice ride essentially, to see if we could get our "licenses" in order to have the right to bike ride in the future. After around half an hour or so of riding, we arrived at Er Hai. It was serene and beautiful, with waves from the sea rolling to meet the mud on the shore. There were many grasses that were tugged and pushed rhythmically with the water, and I could even spot a dead tree in the middle of the water, signs of the Great Leap Forward. I look forward to more still time in the future like this.

1 Comments

We explored the village today. Mr. Tafel taught us a lot about the purposes certain architecture were built for, and why their structures look the way they do. We also visited the embroidery place right near our home, but the hostess was busy with some other tourists. Lunch was only decent. Our group went to a typical restaurant one would expect to see in a town of China; tomatoes and eggs, some veggies, pork, and rice. The best part of the day, however, was visiting the Lincoln Centre during evening activity time.

2 Comments

Arriving in Xizhou was not a piece of cake. The 4-hour flight was somewhat boring with no electronic devices, and the weather at Xizhou was a lot chillier than expected. Half an hour was spent working through the challenge that was fitting all the luggage in the under-belly of the bus. It was still rewarding in the end, though, as we managed to complete the task despite the driver's disbelief in us. Another tough time was when we had to lug our large suitcase and two backpacks across the bumpy, uneven roads to reach Yang Zhuo Ran. My shoulders and back still ache now.

2 Comments

My beliefs towards Xizhou as a place would be that compared to Shanghai, there would be more blue skies and less polution, due to the fact that it is less technologically advanced there. Perhaps also quieter, since Xizhou is a small village, and won't have too many cars traveling throughout it all the time. The food would also be different; from what I have heard from my mom, there are a lot of starches and grain foods, like noodles or rice. 

0 Comments
Hello! I'm currently 14 years old, I'm born in Illinois and I've lived in China my entire life. Microcampus was a great experience, forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me try new things.