Alan Z. (Alumni-W)'s Journal

Why did I choose to go to Microcampus? That’s easy. I love Shanghai. I love school, I love my friends, my teachers, and my life. But after a while, your love for Shanghai becomes more of a love for the routine. And after an even longer while, the routine ends up boring you to death. Every day started to feel the same as the day before. I could hardly differentiate between them anymore.

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Today is our last full day here at Microcampus. It's weird. It's pretty sentimental. Xizhou has been our home for 28 days, one whole month, and now we're leaving it all behind. It's pretty sad if you think about it. So many memories were made here. I'm going to miss the popsicles, noodles, and all the amazing people of the community. Going back to Shanghai will not be easy. It may seem like nothing much, but there are too many differences between Shanghai and Xizhou. It's not going to be easy. I'm going to miss every tiny detail of this beautiful place.

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I think that watching the audience and my service learning partner react to my video was a really powerful moment. Zhang nainai seemed very pleased with the entire video and looked very interested in how we turned her speech into a little documentary. Towards the end of our video, I could see that she began to get a little bit emotional, and was really happy with our group's efforts to portray her story in such an impactful way.

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Today, our group completed our Service Learning video and we handed it into Mr. T for some Pearls of Wisdom. He generally seemed very happy with our group and seemed very pleased with our video as well. There were some little things that we had to change, but all in all, we did a good job and I am so proud of our group. We all worked very hard to make this project work and I am so excited for the showcase tomorrow because then other people will be able to see the work we've done and it will be a very good thank-you message for the community of Xizhou. 

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Today, my group and I worked on our videos for the whole day basically. Our service learning partner Ms. Zhang has many stories and experiences that she shared with us, and we wanted to make sure that we portrayed them in the best way possible. We are really excited to show our video to Mr. T for his feedback, and we are so happy that we got to have such informative conversations with Ms. Zhang. I really hope she likes our video. Also, the end of Microcampus is starting to get closer and closer, and I am really sad about that.

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Today, the whole village of Xizhou lost electricity for the whole day. Waking up without light was a pretty weird experience, groping along the walls until I found my flashlight. For the rest of the day, it was weird working without electricity. The wifi was completely shut off, so we basically just worked on finalizing our projects and getting them checked with Mr. T. We spend a lot of time with our service learning partner Mrs. Zhang today, and she showed us many photos of herself when she was younger.

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As the end of our Microcampus journey creeps closer and closer, so does the due date for our projects that we need to complete. Today was a full day that we had to dedicate to working on our Final Products for our Inquiry work. Everyone could feel the pressure, there's no more excuse for slacking off now. I focused all of my work into the video that I was working to produce today. It was extremely hard work, but I managed to get all of it completed today. Also, we found our service learning partner again and we filmed all of our video and we pretty much have that done as well.

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Today was a work day for us, and I managed to get a lot of my Final Product done. I worked really hard today, and I think that my efforts paid off. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with where I'm at in terms of Final product work, and I'm really excited to see my project take shape in the end. Besides that, today was a pretty normal day. Nothing too special happened, and I'm excited to get out tomorrow to continue my service learning work. We finally managed to find a partner after many days of searching for one, and her name is Mrs. Zhang.

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Because of the mistake I made, my computer was taken away for 24 hours and I missed the opportunity to finish my Phase 4 work while everyone else got to complete it. Because of the work I missed, I had to make up everything I missed today. I worked harder than every today during my Inquiry project time. I managed to complete my Phase 4 and my Introduction for my final product. I'm not mad, because this is all a part of the consequences that I need to face and accept because of my mistake. I'm not going to make the same mistake again.

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Today was not too good of a day for me. I used my laptop for purposes other than learning, so I got into some trouble with Mr. Tafel, and I got banned from using my computer for 24 hours. I feel really bad it because I affected my roommates' sleep and it is something I shouldn't have done. Although Mr. Tafel and I aren't happy about this whole thing happening, I also feel like it was a good experience for me in the long term, because I truly understand why it's wrong and why I should not have done what I did.

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Today was the first due date we had to follow through on in Microcampus, and it was the deadline to finish Phase 3. Phase 3 was mostly about background information and information we gathered from local contacts so it's a pretty vital part of our Microcampus journey. I finished answering all of the questions on my list of 10 questions, and I submitted it for teacher review. Tomorrow will be the day we get to work on Phase 4 and complete it, so I'm really looking forward to getting that done as well. Other than that, Microcampus is going very well so far. 

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Today was a pivotal day of Microcampus. During the morning meeting, Mr. T shared a bunch of information and due dates and requirements we had to follow. It was really scary. It was a lot to take in and process, so naturally, I began to stress out about the whole thing. As the day progressed, I realized that I was just wasting my time. Stressing about something wasn't going to get me anywhere, so I decided to prepare for it instead. I learned a lesson today. Rainbows only come out after it rains. 

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Today is day 16 of Microcampus. It's a weekend day for us, so we got to have a really chill day in Xizhou. We went out to do some service learning in the morning, and we met a lot of new people in the village that we talked to. It was really interesting because a lot of people were very open to us students and were willing to talk to us about their lives. We also went out to go shopping, and I bought some souvenirs for my friends back in Shanghai that I hope they'll like. We found a nice little tea shop that sold rose petals to put into tea, and it tasted really good.

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Today is day 15 of our Microcampus trip. Last night was so. Freaking. Cold. I was shivering for such a long time but managed to get some sleep in the end. I slept in a tent with Xander, and I'm kind of jealous because he was warm the whole night and I wasn't. But it's ok. We went on a four-hour hike this morning, and it was really cool because I learned things from Mr. T about hiking that I didn't know before. I was in a group with Xander, Pepijn, Dora, Cathleen, Evan, and Jake. We went down the mountain really fast, and it was a really exhilarating experience.

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Today was our hiking day at Microcampus. We took a long bus ride up the mountain up to a space that we would use to camp overnight. It was our home away from home for the time being. We arrived and began to set up our tents and to make the place comfortable for ourselves. We hiked through two different villages and met a lot of students that were on their way home from school. I can't wait to go on the hike tomorrow, and I hope that camping tonight will be really fun as well. 

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Today is the 13th day of Microcampus, and it is also the first time I got to work alongside farmers in their farms. I pulled weeds with them, and harvested crops such as green onion, garlic, and spinach. I never really had any farmwork experience before today, so it was really eye-opening to get to take part in such hard work that people do every day. It was really nice for the farmers to trust me enough to help them out in the field and I am very grateful towards them for giving me this experience.

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Today was another rainy day here in Xizhou. The weather wasn't the best so I didn't get to go biking again today. I went with Ms. Braverman to a neighboring village and we explored around a little bit for my inquiry time, and I think it was really fun. I think that I am getting more and more used to Xizhou every day, and I am getting more accustomed to the schedule. I hope the weather gets better as we continue to work on our inquiry project so I can get out more.

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Today was a very interesting day out here in Xizhou. It was really sunny in the morning but towards the afternoon, the clouds rolled in and it began to pour with rain. It paused for 10 minutes and began to rain again and again and again. We weren't allowed to use our bikes because of the rain so that ended up being a bit of a challenge for us during inquiry work and wellness time. I ended up doing inquiry work with Ms. Mai and we walked to different villages and looked at many pieces of farmland and learned a lot about the local farming they do here next to Xizhou.

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Today is our 10th day at Microcampus. Most of the teachers are leaving today, so Xander and I took them out to lunch. We went with Mr. Allen, Dr. Mott, Mr. Warren, and Ms. Emily. We went to a really good Muslim restaurant with amazing noodles and rou jia mo. We all had a really good time and got ice cream afterward. I'm really glad that the teachers got to come out to Xizhou to experience what we do every day, and I hope that they will continue to support this amazing program. 

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Today is the beginning of our second week at Microcampus. Our daily schedule has resumed, with WIPPIS time beginning again. This morning, 15 teachers from the SAS faculty came to Xizhou to visit us and to get an understanding of what Microcampus is and what it's about. I took three really nice teachers on a bike ride to Lake Erhai to introduce them to the lake, and it was really fun getting to lead them. I went back to Shen Jiang Cun today to meet with more farmers with Mr. Yang, and I made a big improvement on my inquiry work.

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Today we all on a bike trip to Erhai. We went with Xander, Sejin, Dora, Becky, and Emily. We all biked over to the shoreline of Erhai and skipped rocks on the water, and it was really fun. After we came back from the bike ride, we all met up again and went to Si Fang Jie to go shopping. We walked around for a long time, and I bought things for my sister and parents. It was a really fun experience. I'm really glad that I get to interact and socialize with people that I normally wouldn't talk to in school. I can't wait to make lasting connections here at Microcampus. 

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Today was our 7th day in Xizhou, and it was our first weekend day in the village even though it's a Friday. It was really chill, and we all got some much-needed relaxation. We went out earlier today to make more connection with Xizhou residents, and I met Grandma Yang with my workgroup. She's a very kind and caring old woman and we had a long conversation about her life in Xizhou. I'm in a workgroup with Jasmine, Emilly, and Sejin. We went out for lunch today at a really good restaurant, and we went around Xizhou to find more elders to talk to about the village.

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Today is day 6 of Microcampus. Today was one of the coolest days of my life. We took a 45-minute bus ride up to the middle of nowhere, but it was actually a huge wind farm. There were hundreds of wind turbines along the side of the mountain ranges. We drove up right under one, and it was way bigger up close than it was from far away. It was kind of scary because I always felt like the blades of the wind turbine would hit us, but it was still a really exhilarating and inspiring experience. Before we left for the wind farm, I did some Inquiry project work with Mr. Tafel.

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Today was the first day that we were allowed to go out into Xizhou with a teacher to do Inquiry project work. I went with Ms. Wong, and she was really nice. We biked to a little village called Shen Jiang Cun and took a look at some of the pieces of farmland that the citizens that live there own. I thought it was really pretty, and the view was really nice.

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Today was the first day which we followed the "real" Microcampus schedule. We had Wellness time, Inquiry Project work, and we did some Pitching In as well. I think it was really interesting because I think I will be able to get accustomed to these kinds of days for the rest of the trip. During Wellness time, I went with Dora Emily and Cathleen back down to Lake Erhai on our bikes, and it was really fun to be able to see it again. Also, I finished my conversations with all of my teachers today for resources, so tomorrow I will be fully prepared to find people to help me with my topic.

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Today was our third day in the Xizhou village. It was pretty normal, it gave us a look into what a normal Microcampus day would look like, with SAS essentials and Wellness time. We got to take bike rides with Mr. Tafel today, and I think it really was an experience I won't forget. The view was really pretty, and we got to get really close to Lake Erhai, and it was really fun.

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Today was my first full day in Xizhou after arriving. It was very fun, and I think it was a good start to what is to come. We did a lot of exploring today and went on a lot of tours around our living space and the streets outside of our rooms. I enjoyed it a lot because it was a new experience for me and it was a huge eye-opener. One of the things that really interested me was that in the marketplace that we went to today, we saw people ripping apart a duck and taking out all of the internal organs. I wasn't really used to it, and it was really unique to me.

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Today, we arrived at Xizhou for the first time. It's pretty amazing. We met up at the airport and sat through a 4-hour flight, which was pretty uneventful. There were a lot of instructions from Mr. Tafel, and we tried our best to follow through, although we could have done better. Coming into Dali was really awesome. I was sitting next to the window, so I got to see all the landscapes and everything as we landed and it was beautiful. I could see all the mountain ranges and lakes, and the ground was a shade of red. It was really cool. It's an image that I won't forget soon.

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This year's Microcampus trip will be the first time I ever travel to Yunnan. Although I know where and what Yunnan is, I don't know that much about it besides farming, because it is linked to my inquiry project. From my research I did on farming, I know that Yunnan has a lot of topography such as mountain ranges, lakes, and fields. I also know that Lake Erhai is also a very important spot for tourism and citizens alike, but recently the quality of the water has decreased dramatically because of agricultural runoff. 

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I am so excited. I was in the eighth-grade hallway on Friday, just repeatedly refreshing my email just waiting for the message from Mr. Tafel, and I can not believe I am a part of this year's micro-campus group. I cannot wait to go to Xizhou. I am looking forward to so many different aspects of what makes micro-campus such a good experience for students. I am especially looking forward to meeting new people and working on inquiry projects.

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My name is Alan Z, and I am a 13-year-old eighth grader in SAS Puxi. I was born in the US, and right now I live in Shanghai. I am so happy that I got to be a part of the Microcampus program. I was in Xizhou for 4 weeks, and I am really grateful for everyone who helped me throughout my journey.