If the video above does not work for you, you may also view it by clicking here.
Our service learning partner was Mr.Yang FaCheng. He is 72 years old and sells clothing along the street to SiFangJie. He is a local of Xizhou.
From this experience, I learned a lot about my elder. I learned that Mr.Yang has always wanted to run his own business since he was little, and that he has realized this dream, as he now has his own clothing store. I learned that before owning his clothes shop, his job was transporting coal, and he did that job for ten years until the company collapsed and the Reform and Opening started.
I learned that Xizhou itself actually does not experience many earthquakes- Mr.Yang says that the last time that there was one was before the founding of the People's Republic of China (1949) and even before he was born (1942). This surprised me because I thought that this area would have experienced a lot of earthquakes. I also learned that other than the new buildings being built, Xizhou itself actually has not changed very much.
I learned that the Reform and Opening which happened at around 1980 had a very big impact on the lives of people here in Xizhou, and generally made their lives a lot easier. Mr.Yang says that life became a lot happier and that whatever the local people wanted to do, they were able to do it- it was more freedom. During the Cultural Revolution, people had to work a lot harder to make a living- Mr.Yang supported his family of five on a job of transporting coals.
After finalizing everything, we showed our service learning videos to our partners. Kelly, Caleb and I walked out to our service learning partner Mr.Yang's clothing store to pick him up. We took him back here to YangZhuoRan and showed him around and gave him a tour of the place. Then, all of us and our service learning partners filed into Classroom 1 for the viewing of the videos. Our group was up first in the presentation, so we sat up front while our video played. As that happened, I observed our partner Mr.Yang. He seemed to be very focused on watching the video, smiling as he did and occasionally talking to his friends- the other partners for other groups. From that, I can infer that he was pretty happy with it, and that even his friends were learning some things about him from the video, so I think that he thought it was a good experience. When we gave him our CD with the video and put a photo of us as the cover, and he was very glad to receive it and showed it to his friends. Overall, I think the Service Learning Project was a good experience for both Mr.Yang and ourselves.
A suggestion I have for future Microcampus students is to start early. It sounds cliché and has probably been said many times, but it really is important to make those connections early so you can develop trust. Another is to always have many options, so that if for some reason one person does not work out, you always have other options to go to- out of your many options, only very few will actually be willing to be your service learning partner. The more options, the better. One last thing I will recommend is that once you and your group have a decent amount of options, figure out as early as possible if any of those options have already been done, then find new ones, otherwise you will end up finding it very difficult to get someone who is willing to be a partner.