Armin I. (Alumni-B)'s Journal

There are a lot of reasons why I came to microcampus, although not all of them are necessarily good reasons. One main reason why I wanted to go on this trip was to get out of the bubble and see the real world. I have been living in China for six years and my family only just went to the great wall last year, so I have not really been to the real China which is what microcampus is. After being here for an entire month I have done so much that I did not expect. We spent so much time in nature observing and becoming aware of things no one in big cities is aware of.

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Unfortuantely I had spent all morning throwing up sick so, it was not exactly a great day. Although while I was just laying there in bed resting I could not help but think of the last month and how it has treated me. I have created tons of friendships within the group and with the elders of Xizhou. I know them all so well and we all get along well. I have learnt to be on my own without anyone nagging at me to do my work or eat healthy. Although Mr.T would give us tons of reminders every now and then just to make sure we stay on track.

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Mr.T has been telling us throughout this trip to make a positive impact on the places we go and the people we see, today I felt like we accomplished that. Why, because today was finally the day where we get all of the service learning partners or elders together at YZR and show them our videos that we have made. My Service learning partner was Mr. Li and at our last meeting he said he was not going to be able to make it today so we went to his restaurant to beg him to go no matter how busy he was.

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After a long month of intense working and researching the very kind and generous Mr.T let us go to Dali Old town for one last chance to go to the Good Panda restaurant. Their burgers are amazing and they have so many different kinds; bacon and cheese, smoked house, chicken and cheese, just cheese, just bacon, you get the point. Although earlier that day we all had to work our butts off trying to get Mr.T approval to our final products.

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Very busy today we had to basically finish most of our Inquiry Projects and go for yet another visit to our service learning partners. From 10-12 I worked on my Inquiry which was not exactly so fun, I mean sitting behind a computer for 2 hours writing long paragraphs is not exactly how I would like to spend my last week in Xizhou.  Although I did start and finish my introduction and got a head start on my reflection which wasn't bad.

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Not only was today a sleep in day it was also a BACON AND EGGS DAY!! Just because of that I was in a very good mood, and enjoyed the rest of the day. I worked on my Inquiry project until lunch. Then Mark and I went to Si Fang Jie and enjoyed some fried rice or as Mark jokingly likes to say "flied lice". Also today was Easter so Nick convinced Mark and I to go on a Easter egg hunt but instead of colorful eggs it was ALPENLIBE and at the time we were both addicted to it.

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Today was a pretty chill day, we went to have a muslim dinner which was delicious mainly because it was nice to have a change in our meals. We went to the Muslim part of town which was not that big or far away. It hit me today that in less than a week from now I will be back home most likely on my couch staring at my computer once again living the normal boring life in our bubble, Shanghai. Although I do miss the my friends and family and my mom's cooking but I will miss the peace and quiet Xizhou.

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This morning we had to begin and complete Phase 4 which is basically coming up with an outline for our final product I decided to make a powerpoint showing what I have experienced and learned through the past 3 weeks. More importantly the International Association of Star Shaped badminton Federation Association was created. Now boys are the brains of this LENG wait for it...waitttt for it...DARY. LENGDARY game. I cannot just simply explain this game to anyone, actually I can but it takes a while.

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It was our last day to get information for our project so that we could start our final product the day after. I already had a lot of information but I still wanted to go to one more school to ask the kids a few questions. The school I went to today was not like any of the other ones because it was a primary school and everyone was just out of control. Although the moment the teacher walked into the classroom everyone quickly went ot their seats and stood straight like they were in the military, I kind of wanted to do the same thing but Brandon stopped me he said it would be weird.

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Today I was not feeling very well but it wasnt that bad of a day, I mean I spent half of it sleeping in my room and the other half wondering around Yang Zhou Ran. I did miss out on a 2 hour bike ride though which according to everyone else was very beautiful. I also did miss out on a lot of work because I slept a lot and I could not go out at all. Luckly we still had one day of research before we would start our Phase 4. In the afternoon I helped finish all the daily video shout outs and catch up on any late work I had not done.

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I really appreciated sleep this morning because we were all forced to get up once again at 7:30 which was very early considering I still did not get enough sleep yesterday. We had to once again get into the routine where we start working on Inquiry Project, Service Learning, and extra school work. That isn't exactly very fun but at least we don't have to hike for 10 hours in the rain.  Since we had a lot of free time on our hands I decided I should spend most of my WIPPI time working on my Inquiry project.

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I really appreciated sleep this morning because we were all forced to get up once again at 7:30 which was very early considering I still did not get enough sleep yesterday. We had to once again get into the routine where we start working on Inquiry Project, Service Learning, and extra school work. That isn't exactly very fun but at least we don't have to hike for 10 hours in the rain. Since we had a lot of free time on our hands I decided I should spend most of my WIPPI time working on my Inquiry project.

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I have never appreciated sleep so much in my life, the blanket was so warm, my head sunk into the pillow it was like I was resting my head on feathers. Big difference considering the fact that I spent the night before sleeping on a rock down hill. The best part was we got to sleep until 9 which is heaven for microcampus students. We still had a few things to do though like journals, skype calls with nurse, and SAS essentials and since I am such a good student I finished all of them which gave me lots of relaxing time.

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Very few words can describe this morning...VERY COLD! When I opened my eyes my back was in so much pain, I could not feel my toes or fingers. I tried opening the screen door but the zipper was stuck so brandon and I started yanking on it until it forcefully opened, when it opened frost feel into our sleeping bags so you can imagine the chaos after that. After that we had to take apart the tent which wasn't that hard. We then sat in the sun and watched the frost melt off our shoes and clothes.

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After a cold chilly night of sleeping with 4 guys on one big bed I wasn't exactly ready for another day of hiking but I didn't really have a choice. The original plan for Day 2 of hiking was to go to Xiao Hua Dian Ba which was 600 meters higher and stay there until the next morning but locals told us that there was lots of snow from the day before. So we had two options; either go up to Xiao Hua Dian Ba and come back down and camp in the courtyard or head back to Xizhou. I did not think either would be fun so I did not vote.

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This mornings breakfast was amazing, everyone got to have at least 2 plates of bacon and eggs, one of the best parts of this trip. All so excited to finally start our 3 day hike, first we took a bus to reach the foot of the mountain once we got there we saw our mules which was very exciting because we all felt like true hikers. A few short hours later we managed to get to the top which was about 2500 meters above sea level.

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Get up at 7:30, eat breakfast, terrace time, daily meeting, SAS work and my favorite part of the day lunch. As you can tell it was a pretty normal day, nothing exciting although, tomorrow we are going on a 3 day hike which I am looking forward too. I did not do much today, just got myself organized and made a schedule for next week. I'm planning to making two more visits to the school to get more information so I can come up with answers for my questions.

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This morning we were suppose to go shopping at Sha Ping but we went to Sha Ba instead for some unknown reason. It was mainly a place for making tombstones and breaking large rocks, but there was also a market very close to it, where they sold spices, toys, sunglasses, and computers. It was basically a outdoor Carefour minus the 20 million people. After that we had a math test which I think I was ready for because I knew what I was doing, for most of it.

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I went to the school for a second time today but this time I got to it through a class, but unfortuanatly it was math. Surprisingly I knew what they were doing and I could understand most of what the teacher was saying. I got to sit in the very back with a student who seemed like he got in trouble a lot, also he didn't look too friendly, kind of looked like the evil chinese kid from karate kid. So as you can imagine I slowly moved my chair further and further away from him as the class continued.

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It definately felt like a monday today, getting up out of bed at 7:29 when we are suppose to be eating breakfast at 7:30, realizing you have to start doing work again. At first, its pretty hard but then I realized that I'm in Xizhou, I get to make my own schedule and do work at my own pace. Since it is our second week here we are starting Phase 3 which is connecting with the people and interpreting information.

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We finally got to sleep in after a long exhausting week, we could have stayed asleep until 2 in the afternoon but unfortuanately the alarm had to go off at some point. The nice thing about today was that I was finally up to date with all of my work which felt really good.The rest of the day was not so interesting I just took a short bike ride and went down to the lake which was very refreshing. After that I had some lunch at the golden flower which was delicious.

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It is finally the day we have been all been waiting for, Saturday our first weekend our first day to do nothing but relax. Unfortuanatly no one got to sleep in or relax because we all had so much work to do. Around 1 o'clock we had Chinese History 101 from Mr.T which was...interesting. After that we got into our service learning groups and tried finding a possible service learning project. We tried the talking to the local dentist Mr.

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We got to go on another halfday adventure today, first we went to the tiedye factory which is where I learned sewing is not easy and very painful. I also found out that a 80 year old grandma is stronger than I am. After that we got to go visit the very adorable and totally not extremely annoying local kindergardeners. After that we visited the local market where I got a Xizhou baba which is like a mini pizza except with ten times more oil.

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Today was a normal day in Xizhou get up at 7:25, eat breakfast for an hour, have some nice terrace time at the LInden Center, have our daily meeting, then my favorite SAS essentials, and then of course lunch. The hard part of the day is deciding what you want to do during WIPPI time because you have so much work to do but you don't know where to start. Usually I just tell myself I'll do it later but today was different, I did not want to get up on Saturday morning, my only day to sleep in to instead have to make up for late work.

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We went on our very first hike today, I now know how out of shape I am. We started hiking up for about only 4  minutes and I could not go any further, and apprantly we have to do 6 hours of that later on in the trip. After the very tiring 4 minute hike we reached the tea plantation, where we tired the tea making process. For about an hour we picked tea leaves from the tea field which kind of turned into a competition between girls and boys, boys won.

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Today we had our first normal day which seemed like I have done it many times before. We had the normal get up at 7, eat breakfast, then some terrace time and the daily meeting shortly afterwards. Then had some SAS essentials time where we do our school work so we do not fall behind and after that is my favorite part of the day, lunch. After that we have WIPPI time whcih is where we work on our wellness plan (working out), our Inquiry project, and pitching in to our committee work from 1-5.

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Today we woke up at 7 again and had a very delicious breakfast but instead of being told what we were going to do next, Mr.T told us we could do whatever we wanted as long as we were on time for the daily meeting, lunch and math class at 4. At first I was really happy because I could relax for most of the day but then, I realized that still have to do all my Inquiry work, committee work, and on top of that my regular school work.

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Today Mr. Tafel took us on a tour of the village, I was really suprised by the amount of tourists there were in the area. Most of them were guests at the Linden Center which we also visited. The Linden Center was so peaceful and quiet especially on the terrace, it really helps you calm down, just relax, and give your mind a break. We also visited the local market which was very interesting, I saw the local dentist who according to Mr.T probably had a little to much "pi jiu" in the morning.

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Well...it took 14 long hours to get from shanghai to our small village of Xizhou. First a long drive to the airport, a 3 hour plane ride, and then a very long yet not so boring 7 hour bus ride with several pit stops. The most exicting part of it all was the last 20 minutes because we started to small villages and we kept getting closer and closer. All my classmates were wondering what it would be like and how everyone would react.

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Hey, I'm Armin. I'm 13 years old, I like playing basketball, swimming and running, also I love pretty much any kind of food. I am lucky enough to be on the B4 Microcampus trip. I have spent most of my life in Shanghai and at the American School, so I don't exactly know what it feels like to actually live in China. Now that I am finally here I'm exicted to learn more about my Inquiry Project and just learning about what its like to live in Xizhou.