Katie S. (Alumni-C)'s Journal

Today was our last day at Microcampus, and I was really sad to see it pass.  We walked around the village, saying goodbye to the people we had got to know.  After packing and finishing up our work, we had the Jammy's Awards which was super fun.  Everyone different awards for crazy things such as best/worst photo, fastest eater (which I shamefully won), best twins, ect.  Out of everything, I am going to miss your group the most, they were really amazing.  We worked so well together, and were just ourselves.

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Today we shared our service learning videos!  It was a bunch of fun, but sadly our service learning partner, Mr. Zhao, did not make it.  We called and he was supposed to come, but never showed.  I was very proud to show our video, and loved watching all the others.  People from around the village were with us, local students, Linden Center and yangzuoren staff, and three camera crews.  It was great to see all of our work finished, and definitely payed off.  

Reflection:

 

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Today we finished up our inquiry project and our almost done with the service learning projects, and it feels great!  It is impossible to put everything I have learned into one small imovie, but I tried my best to share my learning about the family planning policy.  For my journal picture, I decided to share one of the microcampus favorite foods, erquai.  It is nuts and oils mixed together, in a purple rice wrap.  It is our version of a peanut butter sandwich.

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Today, I was a bit frustrated with some of my work.  I was all excited to meet up with the local government, an opportunity I did not want to miss.  We had been setting up the meeting for days, and come to agreements of what I could and could not say about the information they gave me.  I was supposed to go today, when a few hours before, they canceled.  They said it was too much of a sensitive topic to talk about.  I could understand where they were coming from, not wanting to talk to a middle school girl about such a thing.

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For an evening activity, we decided to make our own dumplings and spring rolls, and let me tell you, they were DELICIOUS!  We had a whole crew in the kitchen, rolling, cuting, and stuffing dumplings.  We were playing music, dancing, and singing, while cooking.  Ten people crowded around a little table in the small kitchen was quite a sight to see.  By the end, I was covered in flour, and was breaking a sweat from rolling out all the dough.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it.  They were the yummiest dumplings I had ever had!  

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We kicked all the guys out of Yangzuoren, and had a girls night out!  First, Natalie, Ms. Mai, and I headed over to the "hair salon" and got our hair cut.  I have to say, it was a pretty courageous thing to do since no other girl in Microcampus history had gotten their hair done here.  I have to say, the risk was worth it, even though I may have gotten a few more inches off than I wanted.  We then bought a bunch of bottles of nail polish, fried rice, baba, and of course movies.  The movie room had turned into one big bed.

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For an evening activity tonight, we had a karaoke night.  Instead it turned out more like a sing along.  After dinner, we all gathered in the movie room and had a sing/dance party.  It was a blast.  After we wound down, we settled in for a movie, then headed off to bed.  I realized that I had spent 21 days with these people, and we had turned out like family.  We have lived together for so long, and have been there for each other through the ups and downs, and seen people at their worst.

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Yummy in my tummy!  Today we went on a food quest, for American food.  We went to the Bad Monkey, and had some pizza and shakes.  Then from there, the five of us got some well deserved foot massages.  Lets just say, I am very ticklish, and it did not feel too good.  Once we were relaxed and digested our first meal, we headed for round two at the sweet tooth.  Peanut butter pie, ugly brownies, and cheesecake filled our tummies to the max.  But then we ran into Xiao Tang who told us of another good pizza place, better than the Bad Monkey, so of course we headed over for round three.

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Today was my chill day for the month.  After I finished my work, I spent awhile just reading, relaxing, and soaking up the sun on the terrace.  It was really refreshing to be able to breath and not feel rushed or have to go somewhere, which I would probably be doing in Shanghai.  I love being out of the bubble and in the country side, where I feel like there are few worries.  

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This is what a normal day in Microcampus looks like:

7:30 Breakfast time! Yum Yum

8:30 to 10 SAS Essentials (work on all SAS schoolwork)

10 to 10:30 Daily Meeting (whole group comes together and talks about what they are doing for the day, comitee reports, SAS essential reports) 

10:45 to 12 Pitching In Time (laundry, clean room, ect)

12 to 1 LUNCH (either at Sifangjie where we go out to eat, or at home Yangzuoren)

1 to 5:30 whipit+sl time (wellness, inquiry project, terrace time, service learning)

5:45 check in with group

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Today I headed over to the local middle school along with Aakshi, Aidan, Hannah, and Xiao Tang.  I When we arrived I was shocked.  It was a lot bigger than I had expected, containing 1,200 students.  All the kids were laughing and staring at us like we were some kind of aliens, which I guess we were to them.  I went and talked to three teachers about the one child policy, and different aspecs of it in schooling.  I got lots of information from an English teacher, admistrative director, and Mr. Zhao who was most knowledgable since he background checks all the students.

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I did not get that good of a nights sleep considering we squeezed four girls in a tent to stay warm.  We made a bonfire to warm us up in the morning and had a yummy breakfast with peanut butter and jelly, a nice change!  We had some visitors, three mountain pigs, who tried to steal our packed lunch.  Sleeping across from us were yak, and sheep, and as we were hiking back down the mountain, we had to stop for a cow crossing!  It was pretty cool to see all the animals.  We went all the way back down the mountain today, and I was never so happy to see a bus in my life, or a shower.

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Today I had two of the best experiences of my life, that I will forever remember.  We made it to the top of the mountain!  At the highest point, we were 3232 meters above sea level.  To put that into perspective, that is about 10 Jin Mao towers in Shanghai stacked on top of each other!  The view was amazing, and I felt as if I had just accomplished the greatest feat ever!  All the sweat and hard work we had put in the past two days, paid off with a great reward.  Surprisingly, the day just got better.  We walked a little farther to set up our tents for the night.

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We started our hike, which was challenging, but paid off in the end.  In the beggining, we were over looking Lake Erhai and Dali Old Town.  All I kept thinking was the farther I walked, the closer I was to getting in my sleeping bag. :)  It was as challenging mentally as it was physically, because you had to find the will to keep hiking and stay positive to help the people around you.  The farther we went, the more I felt myself enjoying it, especially the scenery.   While we were walking, storm clouds were following us.  Suddenly, it started to hailing and storming.

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The most amazing thing happened today.  As Hannah, Xiao Tang, and I were interviewing people, we ran into this man and his daughter at the baba place.  After 10 minutes of talking to them, they invited us to see their farm.  We rode for about 15 minutes away, then another 5 minutes up the mountain.  They warmly welcomed us into their farm, and showed us around.  Chickens and geese were running around everywhere, and apperently they had cows a little farther up the mountain too.  They also had loads of goats, and one of them had just had two babies!

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At lunch, I had the yummiest meal I have eaten in awhile.  Right next door to the Baba man (almost like Chinese pizza with veggies), was a little idy biddy restaurant.  I tried it for the first time, and got a broth with veggies and dumplings with pork inside, otherwise known as wonton soup.  I was not feeling to good earlier, so this settled my tummy really well.  I plan to head over there many more times for lunch!  It is my new Sifangjie (the main square where we always eat lunch) favorite!  

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Today we went to a tea plantation.  We had the opportunity to pick the leaves, and dry them, and take them home for our own tea.  The view was spectacular since we were on a mountain looking over Lake Erhai and Dali Old Town.  It was a very peaceful experience, I did not want to have to leave.  I can not imagine how people do that for a living though, it requires so much patience and persistence.   I have a new respect for the people that make the tea we drink!  After we made our tea, we hiked up a farther up the mountain, until we reached a little waterfall.

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The sky was so clear and the stars so bright, it was the most beautiful night sky I had ever seen.  Occasionally satellites would move across the sky, looking as though they were racing each other. The planet Jupiter was shining brightest, right in the middle.  As I was learning the names of different constellations, a bright light shot across the sky, than vanished.  I just saw my first shooting star!  I immediately made a wish.  I saw two others tonight.  This made me happier than I have been in awhile, even if it was just seeing shooting stars.

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We spent a solid portion of the day talking and working on our service learning projects.  A few doors down, is a 94 year old man, named Mr. Yang.  We headed over there to meet him, and he warm heartedly welcomed us into his home.   His wife passed away 2 years ago, and they had been married since they were 18, for 74 years.  They had five children together, and moved back to Xizhou when he retired.  I am fascinated by his story and plan to go by and visit him again soon.  Mr. Yang is a very sweet man, filled with wisdom and life lessons, some of which I hope to learn from him.  

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Today was our first night camping which was an absolute blast!  With our hiking bags and tents on our bags, we biked over to Lake Erhai which took about 25 minutes.   Setting up the tents was a real challenge, especially after we bent half of our stakes in process :)  Hopefully it will come with practice!  We played hacky sack, told ghost stories, and looked at the night sky.  We woke up to the sun rising overtop the mountains.  The camping trip was a great bonding experience and I had so much fun, I cant wait for more to come! 

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Today we went to the San Yue Jie festival in Dali Old Town.  I felt like I was back in Shanghai with all the people.  There were a bunch of street vendors, and food.  After walking around for awhile, we found the Sweet Shop, and got an ugly brownie, which was absolutely delicious after a week of Chinese food.  

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This afternoon, we headed over to Dali Old Town for the Sanyuejie Fair.  It was very crowded, and reminded me of Shanghai.  There were street vendors and lots of yummy food.  We stopped by a chinese restaraunt and found a cafe with a brownies and other yummy snacks :)  

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Today was my first laundry day along with Aakshi, Ying Yang, and Aidan.  We biked a few blocks down with our clothes in trash bags and hampers, to go do our laundry.  We had to fill the machine with water, and right as we were about to dump a bucket in, we realized someone had put a fish in it, which was pretty amusing.  After hanging the clothes and picking them back up, Aakshi and I wore our heart rate monitors and ran from the laundry place back to Yang Zuo Ren, with our trash bags filled of clothes, making our Xizhou version of PE class.

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Two parts of the day really stuck out to me as I am reflecting back on it.  This afternoon, Hannah, Grace, and I went on a jog down a dirt road by the mountains.  The scenery was beautiful and I could not stop breathing in the clean air and looking at the blue skies.  It was really refreshing, especially coming from Shanghai.  Another highlight, believe it or not, was room inspection.  While waiting for Mr. T and Ms. Mai to check our room, the five of us girls, came up with a little song talking about how we "cleaned" our room.

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We spent most of the time in yangzhouran (our hotel) and worked on various things.  Besides working on SAS essentials, I attempted to take a nap, and spent lots of time resting on the terrace and soaking up the sun.  On the other hand today, as I was researching facts for my Inquiry Project about gender roles in the local schools, I was starting to lose interest, and there wasnt much information I could find.  I came across an article about the one child policy, and my attention completely diverted.  I wanted to know more.

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After a nice noodle soup and pumpkin pancake breakfast this morning, a few of us went over to Dali Old Town which was about a 15-20 min bus ride to go to the Catholic Church.  It was beautiful with ornate decorations, carvings, and paintings covering it, resembling a colorful temple.  Although the ceremony was in Chinese, it was interesting to attend and I look forward to going most Sundays for serivices.  We walked around "Foreigner Street" bought some fruit at the market, checked out some antique shops, and headed home to Xizhou.

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Wow.  I cant believe we are finally in Xizhou!  After the 4 oclock wake up call, plane ride, and a seven hour bus ride, it was well worth it!  This village is amazing.  

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Today we had our lock in, and reality really set in.  I was going to go with these other 15 kids and 2 chaperons to a little village called Xizhou for 28 days.  I got a chance to bond with the other people going on the trip, and to step outside the "Bubble" for the first time together.  Last night we talked to Mr. Monteith and Nurse Chen to talk about our wellness plans and how we are going to stay healthy while we are gone.  We worked on them and thought about the different ways to stay emotianoly, spiritually, physically,  and socially healthy.

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Hello! My name is Katie and I am an eigth grade student at Shanghai American School. I am so excited to be a part of Microcampus and am making the best of such a great opportunity!