Our Service Learning partner was Mr. Yang, owner of the Golden Flower restaurant.
- What did you learn about your elder as a result of this experience?
I learned that Mr. Yang was not greatly affected by historical events like the Communist Revolution or the Reform. He is very proud of his restaurant, the Golden Flower, and he is the happiest when he sees his customers from all over the world finish their food and sign his guest book. I now know that Mr. Yang is a very joyful and untroubled man who loves his life and the village he lives in.
2) What did you learn about Xizhou's history as a result of this experience? (2-3 sentences)
I learned that Xizhou used to be a place that did not have a very economy, and that most families were poor and could not afford a lot of things. Xizhou also had bad roads and just was not a beautiful town, as it is now. The village has dramatically changed, and has become a wonderful place to live in and visit.
3) What did you learn about 20th Century Chinese history as a result of this experience? (2-3 sentences)
Since Mr. Yang was still small, he does not remember much from this time of his life. What he does remember is that he and his family had to wear red bands around their upper arms. We are not sure if this had something to do with the Red Army, but he seemed like this time did not affect him greatly. Mr. Yang had statues and pictures of Chairman Mao, and he says that Mao was a great man who helped China become a better country.
4) Describe the experience of sharing your final video with your Service Learning partner--please copy/paste this as your daily journal (2-3 paragraphs)
It was amazing sharing our video with the other groups, other service learning partners and people of the village. When they started arriving at Yang Zhou Ran, students started serving apples, bananas and oranges and the elders happily accepted them. We were all conversing and sharing our experiences and having a good time. At around three, it was time to inside the dining room to watch the other videos and share them with the people. I could feel the excitement in the room and there were butterflies in my stomach because I was hoping that everything would go well and that the elders would love the videos.
Unfortunately, Mr. Yang was not yet here because he was very busy at the restaurant. Each video was shared, and they were absolutely amazing. I especially enjoyed Mr. Zhao’s video. He mentioned that he would miss us greatly when we left and that we have had a very positive impact on him. This meant a lot to me because I have not said more than good morning and good night to him. This showed me how much a small gesture can mean a lot! When Mr. Zhao was asked abruptly about his opinion on Chairman Mao, a whisper went around the room, and the elders began to talk about Chairman Mao as well. Finally, it was time to show our video, but Mr. Yang was still not here. When he did show up, we showed the video once more, and he enjoyed it so much! It was wonderful seeing his happy expression as he watched himself tell us about his life.
Once all the Service Learning partners were outside, talking to us, taking pictures, and eating Mrs. Dou’s tofu, I realized how wonderful this project was. The word “Service” received a whole new meaning. We did not build houses, help people or donate money, but simply learned about their stories and their experiences, which made both us and the partner very happy.
5) What recommendations do you have for future Microcampus students who will be involved in a Service Learning project?
One recommendation that I have for future groups is patience. These elders have possibly gone through a very tough time when they were our age, and asking them about it might bring back uncomfortable memories. We had to have lots of patience with our elder, and establish a strong relationship of basic question and answering before we were able to talk about more serious topics. Another word of advice is be flexible. If you meet an amazing person it might make you and your group immediately want to chose them as your partner. Be ready, because this person might not want to be part of this experience, so be flexible when you have to chose another person. A final recommendation is enjoy and cherish the time you have with your elder. I believe that I did not cherish my time with Mr. Yang as I should have. It was such a great opportunity, and I believe that I should have been more reflective of it, because we only have a short amount of time with this amazing person.