Mirabel F (Alumni-A)'s Journal

Today we met up with local middle school students and got to "restore nature".  In other words we picked up a bunch of trash down by Lake Er Hai.  All the microcampus students and about 30 local students gathered in the Linden Centre to put on rubber gloves and red Xizhou volunteer hats.  We then piled into about five horse carts which each hold up to eight or nine people.  It was a little while before we finally reached "the tongue of the lake" the same place that I wrote about biking to on Day 15.

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Today was Easter Sunday, so we had some fun with that as well.  In the morning about three or four students went to Church in Da Li for Easter mass.  I found out about it too late though, so I sadly was not able to go.  At around 8 o'clock Kaite and Madeline planned an easter egg hunt which everyone had a bunch of fun with.  We broke off into three teams, and my team was joined by a really nice guest named Claire.  She helped us look for our six eggs which took us about 45 minutes to find.  In the end, we actually couldn't find one egg, and the egg planners forgot where they hid it.

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Double rainbow, all the way!  Today we got to see our first rainbow in Xizhou, and I was lucky enough to grab a few quick pictures.  It was beautiful to see, the combination of bean fields, mountains, the sky and the rainbow.  It was probably one of the coolest rainbows I have ever seen, so that's pretty fun.

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Today I turned 14, yay!  It was probably one of the weirdest birthdays I have ever had.  I woke up in a tent, and everyone whispered the happy birthday song from outside my tent.  It was a pretty funny way to wake up.  Then throughout the rest of the day, my friends wouldn't stop saying happy birthday.  In Da Li it was the "San Yue Jie"; the three month festival.  This means that thousands of people come from all over to walk up and down a street full of people and vendors.  The place was full of people and it was an attack on the senses, there were so many smells and sights.

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If we hadn't had enough of hiking, we got to do it again today!  All of us hiked and hiked and hiked for two hours.  Today was a completely different type of hiking though, since it was steep climbing and small backpacks.  I was extremely grateful for my hiking shoes, as I think I would have fallen and twisted my ankle multiple times without them.  We all hiked for 20 minutes and then stopped for a long rest, half of us stayed and rested while the other half continued onward.  I was part of the group that continued up the mountain for an additional hour.

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The hike.  It was one of the most tiring, exhausting things I have ever done.  If you have ever run a far distance, and you are breathing really hard and sweating a ton, then you know how most of us felt.  I don't think that anyone found the hike easy, everyone was huffing and puffing and couldn't wait for it to end.  At first we hiked up paved road which wasn't too bad at all.  I remember just staring down at the floor and watching the stripes whizz by with every step.  It was my way of coping with the circumstances at the time, but the road soon gave way to a dirt one.

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I don't think that I have ever met a person who likes Mondays.  They are always a dreadful day when you have to do work after a break.  Well, today was no exception.  After our relaxing family visit, we had to kick it back in gear for one more day before we left for camping.  Tomorrow we get to go on a two day three night camping excursion, that everyone was excited or anxious for.  Until then though, we had to work hard to try and finish up some of our left over work from the weekend.  Today was strictly a work day, something that some of us appreciated and some of us didn't.  

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Today I woke up early on the weekend just for my dad.  He needed to get in a run while he was in Xizhou, so I agreed to bike with him and keep him company like I usually do.  We went up to the "tongue of the lake" which we found out translates into a peninsula.  It was a pretty bumpy trail, but the view at the end was beautiful.  In total my dad and I biked/ran 5 miles, something that helped my get one of my PE requirements in.  I came back in time for breakfast at 9 am and then got to enjoy a nice long, warm, clean, awesome shower at the Linden Centre.

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Today we had no work except to make sure our family had a good time; it was a full on family day.  My family and I all walked into Si Fang Jie to learn how to make a Xizhou Ba Ba.  My brother and I had a good time getting to bake with our hands, and create something that we could eat.  I got two of the Ba Ba's that I made, and then we continued to walk around the town.  Maddie's family and mine walked around together and just explored on our own.  We went shopping for a little while at small stores and then eventually made our way to a different town square that had a huge stage.

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Today my family finally arrived!  It was really cool getting to see almost everyone with their families all around them.  Only two students didn't have their family come visit, and those two went camping with Mr.T and Mrs.Mai on lake Erhai.  They adopted the two girls for the weekend, as they needed a family to be with.  Most of the parents arrived at the same time, around 2 pm.  By the time everyone got settled in and situated, the parents were all very hungry and in need of food. My family and I walked to Si Fang Jie with a few other families for a late lunch.

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Today we were going to have to wake up at 5 am.  Luckily, that didn't happen.  Our 6 am fishing excursion got canceled/ delayed, something that everyone was grateful for (except for Noah).  Instead, we ate our breakfast "Al Fresco" on our Yang's guesthouse porch at a comfortable 8 am. It was nice getting to eat breakfast in a different setting, and it was refreshing to be able to walk two steps outside of your door to sit down at the breakfast table. After breakfast, we headed over to the Centre and worked until lunch time rolled around. 

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March 30th: Today was a pretty normal day, again.  We had our usual school day and worked during various times of the day. The different event was mainly the dancing!  Mr. David Sutton showed us some of his dance moves and taught us the proper way to dance.  A bunch of us were dancing around in the second courtyard for about an hour.  From the Texas Two Step to Waltzing around, the dancing was a bunch of fun.  We ended with the YMCA and the Cha Cha Slide, two more modern music pieces that everyone enjoyed.  

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March 29th: Math quiz!  Yet another reminder that we are still in school, however far away we get from it.  I took the math quiz at about 1:30 in the afternoon, not too far off from my normal math class.  Everyone just took a quiz, a pencil, and a calculator and found a place around the Linden Centre.  Sabrina and I were up on the terrace, since all of the indoor rooms already had two or three people.  I was one of the last people to start the quiz, since you could study for a while before you took it.

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Today we all went shopping at Sha Ping, try and say that three times fast.  Pretty funny huh?  When we got there we realized that it was mostly a practical market instead of a tourist junk kind of market.  There were a few stalls here and there that were selling jewelry and other knick-knacks though. After 45 minutes of roaming the stalls which included shoes, spoons, buckets, meat carcasses, trinkets, a dentist's office and much more it was time to leave. I hopefully got a few half decent pictures that you can see below. 

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Today was Sunday which meant that we were back to our usual curfews but we could still relax in the weekend setting.  After a wait of about 2 days, the Hunger Games movie finally came out.  It may seem kind of silly to talk about a movie when this blog is supposed to be about microcampus, but this is what happened today so get over it.  That reminds me of a phrase that I love: "Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it".  Back to the Hunger Games movie.  I read all three books at the beginning of the school year, so it was a very long wait until the movie.

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So today was our first official weekend and we got to sleep in a little more. Finally.  Instead of the usual 7:30 breakfast it was a 9 o'clock breakfast.  On Friday and Saturday nights our curfew is 10:30 pm at the Yang's guesthouse instead of 9:30 pm.  This is nice since it seems a little more like our usual bedtimes.  Today was a pretty chill-lax day.  We had two meetings; one from 9:30-10 am, and one from 5:30-6 pm.

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So it's our first Friday at the microcampus, and honestly they don't seem like any special day of the week here.  Do you know that feeling when you're on vacation and you just don't care what day of the week it is?  That's what it feels like for me right now.  To me there are no days of the week right now, just day 6,7,8.... The events here are not determined by what day it is; the day is determined the events.  I am speaking for myself here, so if I'm confusing you then that's totally my fault.

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March 22nd: Today we had more freedom than we ever had!  It felt pretty good to be in charge of your own day. The only things that were required was breakfast, terrace time, daily meeting, and dinner.  For lunch you could go anywhere in Si Fang Jie, the town square. I don't think that I have explained terrace time, so I will really quickly now.  Basically what you do is for 10-15 minutes you go up onto the terrace and just think and sit in silence.  It's supposed to help you clear your mind and have some alone time.  Some people like it and some people don't.

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March 21: Today I wouldn't get out of bed. I am definitely not a morning person, and having to wake up at 6:30 everyday is just... bad.  That's a nice word to use for my emotions, just bad.  Today I tried waking up and showering first thing in the morning (something I usually do), but today it just didn't work.  I caused my roommates to be late for breakfast and then, after eating we went to do our laundry.  After four days, our clothes are due for a washing, so we figured we would try it out.  Who would have thought that laundry could take so long?

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March 20th: I really appreciate how much time we spend at the Linden Centre, since it is such a great place.  So many people who have been to the Linden Centre previously told me I was going to love it here.  Honestly, at the time I didn't know what to expect the place to be like, and I think that it's because the Linden Centre isn't really comparable to any other place.  It is a guesthouse/hotel as well as a learning Centre.  The people who live here have such a culturally rich lifestyle, it's hard to imagine what it would be like to live here for years instead of a month.

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March 19th: Yesterday we experienced our first real school day at the microcampus.  It was completely different from an average school day, but I guess that's pretty obvious. Instead of the usual rush and structured schedule, we were given a tad bit more freedom.  Mr.T keeps saying that as microcampus goes on, we will continue to receive an increasing amount choice in what we do during the day.  Soon we will be in charge of our food, transportation, work schedule and more.

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On March 18th we walked around the village and got to see what Xizhou is really like.  Bryce, one of the Linden boys showed us around on a tour. We found a place called "Happy Embroidery" and saw the process of production before our eyes.  From the silk worm coccoons drying in the sun, to the three women working on a patio sewing thread by thread.  Then inside, we got to see what the finished products look like.  They were all amazing, and it seemed as if I took a long time of hard work.  One of the most complex works of art took three years to create.

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March 18th: So it’s my first morning in Xizhou after a long journey here. It took us about nine hours of travel time to get from Shanghai to Xizhou.  The four-hour plane ride and five-hour bus ride were exhausting, but bearable.  I am currently sitting on a terrace looking out at the mountains and fields. Just last night I was at the exact same place looking up at the beautiful stars. I was able to see three planets with no equipment at all.

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Hello, my name is Mirabel and I am part of this amazing adventure as well. I have an American Passport, but have never lived in America. I was born in Germany and after a few years moved to Belgium. I lived in Belgium for seven years and now am living in Shanghai, China. I love traveling the world, and think that this trip is a wonderful experience. I can't wait to explore all of the different possibilities. This short bio is making me sound slightly boring, so please don't assume that! I am a crazy person, so I doubt that this trip will have any dull moments. 再见!