Becky Z. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

“When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.” -Looking for Alaska 

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Hey. 

My absolute favorite feeling in the world is laughing with someone and then stopping right in the middle and realizing just how much you appreciate them and their existence. 

That is how I feel about this place, this authentic, genuine place. 

Today is our last full day here in Xizhou and in the midst of everything I've realized just how much I truly appreciate this town, the people, this...world. It's existence.

And you know, maybe college, work, success, does not matter in this moment of gratitude. 

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When our group shared our final service learning video with Mr. Yang today, we were able to see all the reactions he had corresponding to it. During the entire film, Mr.Yang would look at the projected screen with excitement and intensity. He would often lean over to his friend, Mr. Yan, and he would proudly tell him with a smile on his face that "This is me! That was when I was young! Look at my hairstyle back then!" Mr. Yang's excitement really gave us the approvement we needed, as he seemed so very proud of it. 

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This is our last week. 

A few more days later and we will be back in Shanghai. 

This is no perfect happily ever after ending, as we will be leaving our home away from home: Xizhou. 

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Have you ever thought about just how much thoughts run through our minds every single day? How many threads of thoughts wander in our heads and then before we catch on to them, they run away once more? 

Well, I have. 

We have 50,000 -70,000 thoughts per day. 

This is, to say the least, a lot of words floating through our minds. 

And you know what, sometimes it is alright to just let these thoughts go. We do not have to feel the need to catch on to them. 

We can let them be. 

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Nyctophilia: Love of darkness or night; finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness.

Sitting in the dark without electricity, without wifi, without power, we could only listen to the creaks of the floorboards and we could only see the sudden flashes of light comings from our headlamps. 

Today, all the power went out. 

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I think this excerpt perfectly describes how humans work and I wanted to share this with you all: 

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"Do I dare / Disturb the universe?" -T.S. Elliot

No. No, I do not. 

Who dares? 

Who can ever have so much strength? 

And even

if you gathered enough courage to move the world,

the universe will

never

ever

move for you. 

You will be forgotten only years after you die,

and eventually, 

no one will remember you. 

The crease of your eyebrow or

your limp when you walk. 

No one will recall any of this.

And yes, we must still make the most of our lives. 

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As we took pictures of the view, our eyes were drawn to this lady. She had a child sitting on her lap and she had a carefree laugh that seemed to brighten the people around her. And as we sat there, we could not help but take a picture of her. 

We were able to capture a picture of both her and the child smiling at the same time. 

We walked up to her, and because we thought the picture perceived so much more depth than just "a photo", we showed it to her. 

Her eyes glimmered in joy as she laughed and said, "I look so natural. So happy."

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Among the thunder. Among the rain. Amidst the voices. Amidst the thoughts. 

You are sitting in the dimly-lit room, looking out the window as if it held the answers to all of your crazy wonders and all of your unspoken words. You look out and you watch as raindrops pour down from the sky. You watch as thunder begins to rumble above your head. You watch on and on and on and on as the rain pours and pours and pours down. 

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So today I finished a book. It's called Looking For Alaska by John Green. 

I do not want to spoil this novel for you, but I will share the ending of it: 

"Thomas Edison's last words were "It's very beautiful over there". I do not know where there is, but I believe that it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." 

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During the hike, plastic trash and broken waste filled up the cracks in between the rocks. Plastic bottles appeared once in a while and among the beauty of the view, there are always leftover pieces of humanity's footprints. 

This is our world now, huh? This is the home we built for ourselves. 

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That night I stayed dreaming awake. It was two in the morning and I knew I should've been sleeping, but I couldn't sleep. I wouldn't sleep. Not when I was lying motionless in a freezing sleeping bag, underneath the glistening night sky.

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"I've always liked quiet people. You never know if they are dancing in a daydream or if you are carrying the weight of the world." - John Green 

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Panacea: A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases. 

What is this solution? This remedy for all challenges and obstacles standing before us? When I asked this question during my conversation with Mr.Zhang, he looked at me with the brightest smile planted on his face. He looked at me as if he had a secret to tell, and that he had been waiting for this exact moment, and for me to ask him this exact question. With a spark in his eyes, he said "Happiness is entirely dependent on your mindset. It is always your mindset."

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Peiskos. 

I highly doubt that this is even a legitimate word, but If you searched Peiskos up on google, this will be the definition:

"The feeling you get when you sit in front of a fireplace and enjoy its warmth." 

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Mr. Huang. 

He had a spark of calming wisdom in his contrasting youthful eyes that promised knowledge and acceptance. The way he smiled once in a while when he talked about his Islamic beliefs showed me his passion for guiding others. He showed me a new and different type of happiness: one only acquired through kindness and a true purpose in life. It is a simple type of happiness, but it is still empowering nonetheless.

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As I was sitting on the terrace a few days ago, I started thinking. Over-thinking to be more exact. And I suppose it was because of the view or maybe it was the silence, but I wrote this little something down in my head as I watched. Because I strongly believe that this piece of writing embodies my perspective on Xizhou, I have decided to write it down here in the attempt to share it with you: 

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The dog had a particular way of limping. He would tranfer all of his weight onto that tiny right paw of his, as his left one was broken and crooked at weird angles. The way he glances cautiously around at passing villagers showed his unease and uncomfortableness towards human contact. 

I have spent exactly six days here in Xizhou and I see this little dude every single day. He is always at that same corner of that same alleyway. He is always crouching in his tiny little area, bundled together in his very own thin coat of fur. 

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Today I biked through a different route, and it was an amazing experience. I had the chance to experience something new, exciting, and completely different. I saw another view that was, like always, breath-taking. But the best part was that during the biking trip, our entire biking group had the opportunity to spread positivity. We literally said 你好 to every single person we whizzed across, and with the company of the mountains and the sun and the people, it just felt great to be able to get others to smile.

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After seeing the breathtaking stars last night, I did not believe that I could witness anything more beautiful than that. However, as our group biked through the canola fields we whizzed past the mountain ranges and we watched the sunlight reflect off of the Erhai water, I witnessed, once again, something amazing. This might sound weird, but everything felt dreamy to me somehow: all the clouds and the mountains and the birds. And during still time especially, It was really quite the view. Today I also had the chance to meet some of the villagers today by introducing myself to them.

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"Perhaps you ache for freedom for the blue that's in your eye, was given as a present from the fabric of the sky. And when you're gazing skywards it's no wonder that you yearn, when part of what you're made of always wishes to return." ~ e.h

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Over the past two days, we had a Microcampus overnighter prior to the trip. I reflected on the entire overnighter, and I filmed a short clip talking about it. Please click here to watch it. Thank you. :)

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A few days ago I was looking through a book written by Slyvia Plath called The Bell Jar, and I happened to come across a sentence that I personally thought was beautiful. Now that I am writing this little "My Thoughts on Xizhou" blog, I believe that this is the perfect moment for me to share this quote, as it truly embodies my assumptions on both Yunan and Xizhou. It is nothing fancy, but this is how the sentence goes: 

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery-air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy"."

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Hey! I'm Becky, and I have called SAS my "home" for around 10 years now. If there was something you had to know about me, it would be the fact that I am extremely passionate about traveling. I suppose that is one of the many reasons as to why I was so drawn to the idea of Microcampus. Now that I am actually here, I can not help but say this place has not disappointed. It is truly a beautiful experience to be able to hear the stories of the community and to truly connect with so many people.