Our service learning partner was Mr. Yang (SiQing) who owns a convenience store in Xizhou. He is currently (as of 2015) seventy three years old and he has two daughters and one son. While interviewing Mr. Yang, I learned a lot about his personal life, ideology, and advice to people our age (he believes that we should have a balanced attitude and that we should be nice to our enemies. Another interesting thing that I learned was that when Mr. Yang was younger his dream was to travel China, which is different from dreams of children today (as they generally want to travel the whole world). Furthermore Mr. Yang also told us about how his greatest regrets included not being able to show talents; I find this interesting because that is something I will consider as I grow older.
Through the service learning process I learned a bit about Xizhou’s history. For example I learned that around 2000 men left the Dali area during WWII and only 200 came back. Something else that I learned was that before the Great Leap Forward, Xizhou used to be famous for its different types of fish. Moreover I found out that (about China) that a lot of the environment was destroyed all around China. Also, I learned that many people thought that the reform and opening was one of the best parts of Chinese history because many things became better.
Sharing our video with our learning partner seemed like a very scary thing to do initially. I felt this because service learning is basically community service done differently. We chose elders to share their stories and recorded them because when they are not with us, their memories and dreams will continue to live on. I think that the sharing our video began with going to Mr. Yang’s house and picking up him and his wife. When we first got to his house, he was very excited to see what we have planned to do with his story and thoughts, something which I thought was very interesting. He was so excited that he coaxed his wife into coming, the latter of which was not very interested at all.
As we began to present our service learning video, both Mr. Yang and his wife were very interested. I think that they were confused with the way that we started our service learning video out, because we did not mention his name but we went straight to his philosophy. Right after this we showed footage of Mr. Yang’s opinions on WWII, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. During this time Mr. Yang was very confused and began to tense up because we were sharing a lot of sensitive information.
However after this we began to show his life story. This included his memories of his family and his childhood dreams and we decided to end our service learning video with this. He began to tear up when he listened to things about his childhood and when he mentioned his dreams at the end, he was very happy. His wife also was impressed with the video, as she finally began warming up to us. Sharing someone’s story was much more interesting than I thought. When I first began thinking about service learning, I had no idea that sharing a person’s story has such an impact on them.
Some recommendations that I have for future Microcampus students that are also going to face the challenges of service learning is that always ask your contacts if they know anyone who would be a possible candidate for service learning and always have more than one backup source. Another things is to be helpful to your teammates that might be putting in more work than you are. Something else is to really show your gratitude and thanks to your service learning partner.