Grace S. (Alumni-C)'s Journal

Today was our last day! We were so sad to wake up and realize that this is our final day in the wonderful town of XiZhou. Today we finalized our service learning project and inquriy project. We also walked around the vllage to see the fields and people for the last time. Tonight we had JAMMIE AWARDS!!! Yay! Everyone got a silly award, mine was best picture because in every candid picture I am always smiling. hehe :) It was so cute to see all of the funny pictures and awards! After the awards Aakshi presented a 15 min video that she made with a bunch of pictures from our trip here.

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I remember the moment when I saw the email and my name was listed as one of the 16 members of the group going to microcampus. That was the best feeling thinking of all of the fun memories and expirences that I would be able to be apart of. Thinking back on my last day while sitting on the terrace I remember why I wanted to come here in the first place. I wanted to be apart of something that I would remember forever.

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Today we got ready for our service learning presentations. Yay. Unfortunetly our service learning partner couldn't come because he was working. However I felt a bit better when nobody else's partner could come. About 15 kids from a local school came to watch the presentations which was really cool. For the next group one of the local students will join each service group. I think that is so cool and the SAS students will be able to connect with locals our age. Afterwards we went to the music room and there school and ours prefromed some songs. It was really fun! I am so sad..

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We picked up our laundry today, so sad- last day to be in there. Today was our last day to finish service learning and inquiry! Everyone was working non-stop to finish their final project. It was so sad to think we are finished with our research :( Other then inquiry we had to finish up service learning, so while Aidan and Ivy made the video, I got the lovley task of writing the essay.. fun fun. Tomorrow we share our videos infront of everyone so that is exciting. Cant believe we go home in three days ;( tear, I am going to miss this place. 

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Today is our last laundry day. Even though I miss non-stiff clothes that smell nice, I will miss doing my own laundr :( today was our last day of service learning so we did our interview. At first our partner was not very open, but after a few questions he became very open. He is the sweetest guy and I loved talking to him. I was especially proud when he understood my questions. :) Aakshi, Katie, Hanah, Natalie and I also did a one hour session of wellness. It was so fun! First we did some ab workouts, then we ran and then we did more workout.

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After an exciting girls night, and sleeping in, we were excited and sad for our last sunday in xizhou. Once again we went to our service learning partner, and he agreed to allow us to interview him. Yay! We started some of the questions today and we are finishing them up tomorrow. Tonight we planned a making and eating dumplings activity. It was so much fun. Some of the guys prepared the batter while Katie, Jillian and I waited to create the skins.

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Today was prettt chill, we finally found a servie learning partner. He brought us to a school and after many conversations with the students, we played basketball with them. It was so much fun! Tonight was also girls night! Natalie, Katie and I planned a girls night out while the guys go on a camping trip. We all got take out dinner and bought like 50 bottles of nail polish. Then we brought it back to YZR and watched the notebook and white girls ♥. So good and so funny! It was like a huge slumber party- tons of food, nail polish, glitter, pillows, blankets, movies and PJ's.

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Only a week left of fun in XiZhou :( Today all of the girls wore our hippie pants! It was so fun. For evening programming we planned an AWESOME karaoke night! Only problem was- no one wanted to sing. How do you solve a problem like that... you blast music and have a dance party while everyone "sings" their version of lyrics. It was so fun. We had bought lots of food, but Aakshi and the guys had eaten it by the time we came haha. I am so excited to sleep in tomorrow!!!! I am still sooo shocked that we have a WEEK left :( so sad.

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Only a week left of fun in XiZhou :( Today all of the girls wore our hippie pants! It was so fun. For evening programming we planned an AWESOME karaoke night! Only problem was- no one wanted to sing. How do you solve a problem like that... you blast music and have a dance party while everyone "sings" their version of lyrics. It was so fun. We had bought lots of food, but Aakshi and the guys had eaten it by the time we came haha. I am so excited to sleep in tomorrow!!!! I am still sooo shocked that we have a WEEK left :( so sad.

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So today was our last day to finish up our phase three research. I complied some of my information on the Five Golden Flowers movie as well as going though my interviews. It is so cool to look back at all of the research we have found. The rest of the day was pretty chill, Hannah and I went for a run though the fields, I cleaned up my section of the room, and walked around the village talking to people. Some students were filming a health video, and I got to participate in it! Good times here in XiZhou. Natalie and I also planned all of our evening activities until Sunday.

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Today I am exhausted! We have been here for three weeks and we have only gotten to sleep in once :( but all is well once I fully wake up. Today we picked up the rest of our laundry and it was like Christmas! I love receiving fresh smelling clothes. I visited Mr. Zhao at hi work with Xiao Tang in the afternoon. He works in a tourist show that performs bai minority songs and dancing. It was really cool! Some of the dancers taught me a dance, lets just say it is a lot different then jazz and ballet.

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Once again today was laundry day!!! Our bags were overflowing today and it took 4 loads to clean them all. Laundry day generally takes all day (this one was especially long), we had to put or clothes in 2 washing machines, eat lunch, go back to the laundry place, hang the wet clothes, put more dirty clothes in the maching machine, go back and do work, then come back and hang up the wet clothes, and finally go back the next day to retrieve your items. It almost like christmas... recieving clean clothes that smell like sunshine.

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Today was our last day of our three day hike. We woke up to a sunset in the meadow, and penut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was so sad to leave the beatiful meadow, but happy that I would be able to take a shower and sleep in a bed tonight. It took us all day to hike down the mountains, and it was more beautiful then the hike up. Pine tree's surrounded us as we hicked down waterfalls, rivers, and more rocks. I was proud, only fell 5 times (cant even count how many times I slipped).

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Today was day number two of our three day hike. Unfortunately we were not greeted with crazy weather or never ending valley's, but it was beautiful! We had a shorter hike, around 3-4 hours from our previous campsite to our new one. We arrived around 12:45 and were stunned by the meadow that sat on top of mountains 4,000 meters above sea level. The meadow was thriving with trees, grass, flowers, yaks' (my new favorite animal ♥) sheep, and pigs. We hiked to our camp site (across the meadow) and set up our tents. We are now professionals!

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Today was our first day of our three day hike! Lets just say Mr. T was not kidding when he said this would be the toughest mental and physical challenge we have ever phased. Complete with high altitude, we were out of breath before we got on the trail haha. Once we got used to the high altitude, we were cruising though the trails. We motivated ourselves with promises of comfort food and fit legs :P. Despite acking legs, numb toes and a hot sun, we hiked through valley's and mountains for hours.

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Today was the day in which I wanted nothing more then a hamburger, pizza, sushi, or any other non chinese food. Dont get me wrong, chinese food is great for a day or two, but after two weeks, you pretend to love it, but inside you just really want a burger. Besides small cravings for food, I have had a great day. I had a math test today, and I think I did pretty good :) crossing my fingers.

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Today we went to Dali oldtown to go to a tea plantation. We learned what leaves to pick and how to pick them. It was so much fun! Once you started you couldn't stop! Afterwards they showed us how to dry and rolll out the tea. We then hiked to a beatiful water, the water was so clear! For almost snd hour we sat on the bank took pictures, skipped rocks, dipped our feet in the cold water and watched one another test if there shoes were waterproof :P That night we went to Dali old town for street performances, good food and hippy pants.

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Today was our laundry day! We managed to create minimal damage- just overflowed the washing machine :P.... laundry day is always fun. Later that day my service learning group went to talk to our possibe service learning partner. He has lived in the Middle East, Russia, Egypt and of couse Xizhou. Tonight we went star gazing and we fortunate enough to see shooting stars, plantes, satellites and even the ISS (international space station)!!! I have loved this project and talking to the elders of the village.

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Today we woke up from our night in the tent to a spectacular sunrise. The sky was like blue and pink cotton candy (yum yum) with golden sun reflecting its light on the water. After that perfect few moments, we went to our unperfect world. Including us attempting to unbend stakes, spending 20 min rolling up sleeping bags, and half an hour trying to figure out how on earth we were to roll up a six foot tent into a 2-3 foot bag... but all was well and we managed to all of that under an hour :) we felt very accomplished in those moments.

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Today we woke up in preparation for our first camping trip! We camped out on the toung of Lake Erhai. The lake was beautiful, and the mountains circled us like a wall. Today was our first time setting up our tent, and though it took a few bent stakes, falling beams and brused fingers, we accomplished the task am hour later :) afterwards we ate dinner, played hacky sack and told a few "scary" stories. To end the night we sat under the night sky and watched the stars. We were lucky enough to see 2 satellites and 1 shooting star.

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Friday... finally! This week has been full of laughter, fun, work, and learning.  I have obtained more knowledge then I could on Google in Shanghai. Today we went to Dali for San Yue Jie festival (the third month festival). The streets were busy with activity with tourists, locals, hippies, markets, shops and restauraunts. If any of y'all have been to the New York streets, or even tai kan lu in Shanghai, multiply it by 10 and you would get the exciting streets of Dali old town. My friend and I were even fortunate to perform a song in the festival! It was so fun!

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I woke up this morning smiling bright as I awoke to friends and a vibrant sky. Which is a nice change from shanghai. Everyday I remind my self to embrace the culture and diversity of this unique village. We were able to meet an 87 year old man who has lived his whole life in this village, as well as writing the best selling historical novel of this town. Once again we went to Si Fang Ja for lunch. We expanded our palette with muslim influenced chinese food.

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Overall, today was wonderful. I have loved waking up each morning to beautiful blue, pink and orange skies, filled with singing birds. Today was our first day to have WIPPIT (wellness, inquiry project, pitching in, and terrace) time. In this time myself and several otehr students went for the first time to do our laundry, interact with locals, go on a run in the beautiful fields and relax on the terace in the linden centre.

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This morning Katie, Hannah, Natalie and I woke up early and went for a morning run. At first it was difficult adjusting to the high alltitude (which resulted in tight lungs and less oxygen). However it was beautiful to run along the famrs and watch the sunrise over the mountains. It was also nice to be able to breathe crips clean air without chocking in pollution. Later that day we worked hard onour inquiry projects inorder to receive more information.

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This morning I woke up the first morning  to the sounds of singing birds, the sway of the wind, and cheerful voices of farmers and villages. We were welcomed to the new day with friendly faces, amr smiles and happy people. As we explored our new home, I paid attention to the beautiful surroundings. Our backyard was large, lushious, blooming mountains that surounded the villages. Blue skies settle over our heads swarming with singing birds, fluffy clouds and soft winds blowing in every direction.

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Today we departed from Shagnhai to XiZhou. I woke up around 4:15 a.m, after three longs nights of play performances. The plane ride was around 3 hours in which we arrived in KunMing. At the time it begn to hit me that I was living in China without any family members along with 15 other students. After the plane ride we boarded a long 7 hour bus ride to XiZhou, As we arrived in the village, I was overwhelmed with fresh, clean air, blue skies, singing birds, beautiful mountains, and smiling faces.

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On Saturday was our lock in with all 16 students of the trip. We were fortunate to hear Mr. Montith and Mrs. Chen speak on the Wellness Plan. The Wellness Plan is a large part of our experience in microcampus. This is our physical, social and mental wellness throughout the course of the trip. The next morning we traveled by bike to a near by village outside of our school. We then used our language skills to locate and communicate breakfast restaurants in the area.

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My name is Grace, I am 14 years old and attend Shanghai American School Pudong. I was fortunate to be a part of the first SAS Pudong Microcampus. I have had some much and I have learned so much while being here. I am going to miss XiZhou and the hanging out with the other students so much! I know this will be an experience I will remember forever. ♥