Hannah H. (Alumni-C)'s Journal

I remember sitting outside the cafetiria, filling in my application for microcampus. I wanted to be apart of the microcampus expirence because I wanted to expirience a new culture and meet new people. I first met Mr. Tafel in the LLH, he was talking about the goals of Microcampus which included expirential learning, personal growth, intercultural understanding, and having a positive impact on the people and places around us. I came to XiZhou because I wanted to expirence my learning. After living and learning here for a month, I have learned much more because of the expirenceing.

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Today was filled with goodbyes. Saying goodbye to the sun, the clouds, to the big mountains, goodbye to YangZhouRan, fried rice, wonton soup and XiZhou Baba. Our final farewells to the fields of rice and the wonderful people. I waved goodbye one last time to the people I've met and grown to love. After a hard day of farwellage, the group gathered in the common's room for the Jammy™ awards. Every microcampus group member was given a very unique award, like "fastest eater," "best puns," "best tent mate.." things of the sort.

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Today, as I ran through the fields in the late afternoon, my breath was taken away. The sun was almost setting in the sky, and was headed to greet the mountain peaks. It was a beautiful sight, the sun bursting through clouds, lighting up the clear blue heavens, the mountains all green and bright. I know I will miss that kind of sight. I continued to run through the vast fields, and noticed a new crop being planted. The fields were filled with watery rows, and little green plants were being sprouted.

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It was love at first taste, me and that Er Kuai, I'm sure of it. A purple rice tortilla, with sesame peanut butter on the inside. All warm and gooey, I am sad there are only three days left to enjoy the Er Kuai chinese peanut butter sandwhich. But I will eat more, and bring them on the bus, and ship them back to Shanghai...maybe. At the end of a good, hardworking day, finishing up my inquiry project, I decided to retire to the terrace.

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Today, after finishing a good amount of inquiry work, I headed outside. I sat on a bench, and soaked in the sun. After being indoors, recuperating from a bit of an upset stomach, being in the sun felt quite nice. I sat in the sun, reading a book, and felt the true lifestyle of a XiZhou resident. The lifestyle were there is no where you need to rush to, where you don't have 20 things going on at once.  I had time to breath and think, time to just watch the sparrows catch the wind and sore high into the sky, watch clouds role over the mountains and pass over my head.

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We ended the twenty third day of microcampus, with dumpings. Alot of dumplings. More than we could even think of eating. We gathered around a table in the kitchen, and created an asembly line of sorts. The dough was roled and cut, then to the next people and shaped, and finally filled with filling. They were fried and steamed as we continued to make a mosterous amount of dumplings. Soon, XiaoTang began to hand feed us, we would take a bite of a dumpling, while folding more dumplings, it was quite a test of our multitasking skills.

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I bought seven fruits for 4 kuai, which isn't even a dollar. I was excited to eat these green and red peach-nectarine-plum-apricot things. The skin was tight around the juicy fruit, and popped when you bit it. I began to walk home from the market, but then I passed the supermarket and thought of my friend Yang Bai Yuan. I thought she might also like a fruit. So I walked into the store that smelled like plastic sugar, and found Yang Bai Yuan. She was shelving cartons of milk in the middle of the supermaket. I handed her a fruit.

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Today, was a nice day. A wonderful day to finish off week three. Which is amazing. Three whole weeks gone by, and only one left. Anyway, today was also a good day for a run. A long run through the fields of harvested onions and burning leftovers, meeting farmers, sitting under a big shady tree once we were tired. Right when we came back from our lovely run, it began to rain, to pour actually. So I sat in the music room, listening to the rain pour, working on my inquiry work. Quite cozy if I do say so myslef. Later this evening, we had a "Karaoke" evening program.

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What a marvelous day in Dali, the old town, the down town. The sun was semi-shinning, clouds a bit more prominent than usual, but yet, another beautiful day in China. We arrived with time on our hands, and decided to fill that time with food. Alot of food. Restaurant number one: The Bad Monkey. We enjoyed a few pizzas, hamburgers, and fresh juice. Our stomaches were full by 5:30, and we still had time. A foot massage was just what we needed. So we sat in a quiet window shop room, and thoroughly "enjoyed" the painful massage.

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Today was a get-to-know-people kind of a day. A day of introductions, smiles, and quick friendships. I met wonderful people, kind people, open and closed people.

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Today I met a wonderful man. A kind man, who smiled, who was humble and happy. We walked past the buzzing SiFangJie, past the Baba, past the fried rice and tye died fabrics, into a small, quiet welcoming allyway. We walked into the courtyard, an old courtyard, that had ancient shingles and beutifully carved doors, telling stories of heaven, of flowers, and magical fire birds. Looking behind the doors, was an old man with a kind auora, his smile contagous. Being next to this man just made me feel happy. A gentle look in his eyes, a playful smile, that was truely contagious.

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It kind of felt like being in a cliche movie. Walking into a classroom of 35 chinese eighth graders. I stepped int the rm, and they all stared at me, then laughed good-naturedly. The teacher walked me to the back of the classroom and sat me down next to a shy boy. She said we had to share a textbook, and everyone whooped and laughed. It was quite odd, being the center of attention, heads turning then whipping back towards the front of the class.

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We started the decent downwards. We were at elevation of 3,232 meters, and hiked down to 2,000 meters. It was quite the hike, going down so far and so fast, as well as enjoyable. We walked through tunnels of trees, thier branches bending over our heads, protecting us from the midday sun. The downhill paths were scenic beyond compare, smelling of fresh pine tree, sounding like rushing water, and growing moss. Being in nature opens your eyes and all other senses to one's surroundings. As a group, we expirenced the minature adventures of hopping from slippery rock to slippery rock.

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I've always dreamed of living in the clouds, or playing in the clouds, laying on that fluffy cotton candy in the sky. Today was that day. After about two hours of hiking, we reached our camping spot, the sun was shining for a while, and then the clouds decided to take a turn. First a drizzle, Grace and I ran into the rain, running through the hills in the valley. Then we decided to take shelter in our tents when it began to rain a bit harder. When the rain took a break, we decided to come out and look around the valley a little more.

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Sunshine. Rain. Hail. Electric Skies. Rolling Clouds. Uphill and Downhill. Zig and Zag. Sweating and then Shivering. We started the day off at the foot of the Dali Mountains. They were looking quite friendly and beautiful, little did I know, how hard it was to climb those monstrous mountains. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the trees were green and the flowers blossoming. After a few hours of hiking, we stopped at a pass to The Valley.

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Today was marvelous. There is nothing like playing basketball with a new group of friends. We started off with three on three, half court. But as more local kids joined us, we changed to full court, six on six. It was quite the expirence, playing basketball, which requires much communication, and not being able to speak your team member's language. That just made things even more interesting. We passed, ran, jumped, sweated, hopped, slipped, and made a few baskets. After a good solid hour of teamwork, XiaoTang treatred us to bottles of water.

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Picking green tea leaves, watching flowers bloom, listening to the water fall dripping down rocks, soaking in mother natures beauty. Climbing up a few steps, and walking a bit, which took my breath away, we reached a cove of sun, water, and slivery rocks hidden in the mountains. We walked through the rock caves, braving the cold water that filled it's mouth. When terrace time came, we found our own places, I chose the top of a rock, hanging over the gurgling water.

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Today we looked into the night sky. The big dipper, bettle juice, little dipper, rigel, orion's belt, orion's nebula, archturous, spika, and satellites, lots of sattelites. We settled in on the star terrace after a good sessions of Friendly Feud Trivia (our team one by the way). The stars slowly became more apparant, shining brighter and brighter as our eyes adjusted and the sun went down. The quiet wind accompanying our shining show, there were many stars on stage. I think looking at the stars is the most peacful and miraculous things a person can witness.

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Mr. Yang. Who lives two doors down from YangZhouRan. Who writes chinese characters in chalk on the ground, helping us understand him. Today a few students had the opportunity to meet this 94 year old man. We walked into his courtyard, which looks very similar to YangzhouRan, and were warmly greeted and seated in his living room. After talking to Mr. Yang I learned about happiness, I learned about how to confront people, how to listen and ask questions, and also that XiZhouBaba is bad for your. Mr. Yang was open to answering our questions, lending us some of his life-learned-lessons. Mr.

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Today was a camping day. Aakshi and I set up our tents, quite an adventure if I do say so myself, and settled in by the lake with our dinners. We watched the sun set and the bugs settle in. The lake was shinning, the mountains painted gold and white from the sinking sun. We watched the big white birds fight the wind with their flying wings. The world turned "evening blue" as the sun set, and the microcampus students gathered in a circle and began hacking. Let me explain hacking.

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People. Everywhere. It was like being in a real city again, with the people, smells, noises and all. Because today is the third month, according to the luner calander, chinese people in Dali area, celebrate SanYueJie, Three Month Festival. Along with all the chinese candies and snacks, a group of microcampus students disccovered, the secret. The microcampus secret; the ugly brownie. A mouth watering, gooey, caramely, crispy, sweet, confection, that is like a brownie, but even better.

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Today, I learned and experienced something wonderful, different, and interesting. I walked to SiFangJie for lunch, and along the way, saw children finding their happiness, they were throwing bottle caps and cards, playing their own happy game. After a delicious lunch at the muslim restaurant in SiFangJie, I, along with Lucas, Ivy, Vincent, and Alisa, went to a Muslim mosque. There, we learned about arabic studies in XiZhou's mosque, and the duties and studies of the Iman, Muslim mosque leader.

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Today was filled with real magic. We rode our bikes through the farms, then reached the bamu temple. The temple and religion of eight mothers. We continued to cruz through XiZhou, l until we came upon Lake Erhai. It was one of those moments where your breath is taken away by natural beauty. One of those moments were you want to dive into the blue, moving water, and explore! We walked on the tongue of Lake Erhai, splashing around in the water and learning about shells, their molecular structures, from the sicence teacher, Mr. T.

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What a marvelous day of health and cleanliness adventures! Im pretty sure my lungs and muscles are smiling, if thats possible. Thank you running, volleyball-ing, badmintoning, and stretches. Along with my happy body, my clothes are smelling fresh as a daisy! Finding the door to the laundry room was probably harder than actually washing my clothes. Jorge, Colton, Grace, and I, walked to the laundry mat, or more like walked pass the laundry mat, and had to ask around where it was.

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Today was absolutely marvelous! We woke up to the wonderfully impressive opera voice of Mr. T. We headed down to breakfast and had a relaxing morning of religious practices. Colton, Grace, and I, all sat on the terrace of YangZhouRen, tuned into our church meeting. After, we went to lunch in SiFangJie, the center area of XiZhou. After scrambling with my improving chinese skills, I enjoyed a delicious lunch of rice and vegetables.

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Hello Everybody, my name is Hannah, and I've got to say, XiZhou was absolutely amazing! The microcampus experience was surely a great one and I learned so much about people, culture, and lifestyle. I miss XiZhou and hope to go back soon!