Our service learning partner is Mr. Zhao Hua. He is 73 years old and the musician and singer of the local Dongjing band of Xizhou.
I learned that he had a harsh childhood, doing his best to ease his parents' burden. He has four brothers, one older and the rest younger. He went out of Xizhou at the age of sixteen and fought for a living. He was a laborer, construction worker and a bronze miner. Only in his late years, he could pursue his passion, and played for the Dongjing band.
I learned that Xizhou is very advanced, compared to other villages, before and after the liberation of China. It has the name of the Small Shanghai before, this shows how advanced it really is. Xizhou people wanted to be educated and civilized, they studied hard at the old Wu Tai (五台) Middle School. Once they are fully-educated, they went out and did business, Xizhou people are known for their business. They called themselves the Jews of China.
I learned quite a bit about the history of the 20th century of China. I understood how the life was harsh under the cultural revolution. I understood what is was to be a farmer, laborer, miner under the process of China's liberation.
Today we have shared the work that we did with Mr. Zhao Hua, our partner; Unfortunally, he is not present at the sharing. We had a group of Xizhou middle school eight graders, to come in and watch the videos with us. We had fun sharind the learnings that we gained through the interview process with Mr. Zhao. Mr. Tafel also welcomed them to be a part of our service learning in future groups.
We had quite a bit of bonding time after the sharing in the piano room. We sang a few enligh songs, they sang one song and we sang one Bai Zu folk song with Ms. Yang from the kitchen. I then played a few songs on the piano, Lucas did an improv on the bongos. The highlight was Mr. T's amazing comedy improv opera on the piano.
I think that they sure are foreign to the concept of interviewing strangers for service learning, but I am sure they are interesting to be a part of that new experience with future groups. I hope that they will remember us and come visit Yang Zhuo Ran more often.
I have several advices to future Microcampus students. You could find plenty of potential partners sitting around the two big trees of Xizhou. Especially the north big tree, you could find plenty of elders chatting at a kiosk further down the road of Shi Shang Jie. You could also bond with elders early on the month to smooth the process out. You also can simply ask the people that you already know to recommend you a potential partner.