Katie M. (Alumni-A)'s Journal

Hello, audience! So the next Microcampus group is leaving tomorrow. Congratulations you guys! The Microcampus is your course description. Xizhou will be your classroom. Have fun! 

I'm in Study Hall now. Confined to four walls and harsh fluorescent lights... oh well. Say hi to the Linden Centre for me!

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This morning, all Microcampers were scheduled for a Parent Teacher Coffee. We couldn’t see the other side of our Skype-in with SAS Puxi, which I guess would make us more comfortable talking in front of a camera. I heard my mother wasn’t there (yes!) because she was out with my sister, but one of her friends attended and recorded the entire conference. Adults from Shanghai interested in what eleven middle school students are doing all the way in a little village called Xizhou, Yunnan.

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What else happened today? I can't remember. The entire day there was only one thing that ran through my mind: the gluteny, heavenly goodness packaged in Jet-Packed™plastic bags. Yes, marshmallows. I daydreamt of setting a marshmallow on fire, making a fire, sitting by the fire doing campfire things... Devouring marshmallows all the while.

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Monday morning in the Sha Ping market! I tagged along Mirabel, Madeleine, and Li Ping, who chaperoned our trip. Mirabel bought apples, I bought sugar infused Chinese pastries, then we went to Zhou Cheng shop some more. I went along and ended up spending 100 kuai on a bag for my sister and a tie-dyed picnic blanket.

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Happy Easter! Got to Dali Old Town early this morning to go to church with Madeline, Madeleine, and Li Ping (curator at the Linden Centre) for my Inquiry Project. There aren't any differences with church service here in comparison to a church service in Shanghai. Then again, the languages are different so I'm not one to say.

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For my workaday Saturday (which totally defeats the purpose of a Saturday in my opinion), I got to get a whole lot of my Service Learning project finished. Not the whole project, though. Audrey (my partner) and I wandered into a little alley and an even narrower backstreet that led to a traditional Xizhou looking house. In there we found three Muslim women, very kind and welcoming. We were roaming around and there they were, sitting on a bench facing the open doors. One woman rushed over to us and invited us to stay for a while, take a seat, stuff like that.

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I thought the three-hour (including intervals) bike ride was the most fun, exhilarating bike excursion of the whole week. Mainly because there was no destination of the bike ride, similar to the hiking and camping trip we went on a few days earlier. There was this secluded temple that was one of our stops, filled with shrines made up of little bits of religions and superstitions-- in other words be defined as a cult. We stayed for a while, observing the statues of the hero gods of the village and other models of human-figures with gnarly expressions.

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Last day of our camping trip! Not that I'm happy about the camping trip coming to a close, but that we're hiking down the mountain to Dali Old Town today! The closer we got to traffic and other people, the more excited I became. Why? Because today was Mirabel's birthday and everybody was celebrating! Not celebrating Mirabel's birthday, though. There were neon balloons being sold and ample food booths all for the celebration of Tomb Sweeping Day (a national holiday that celebrates... spring).

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April Fourth, the day the Microcampus is up at the Tao Xi tea plantation for a full 24 hours.

Hiking again today, this time without a monster-sized hiking backpack. Starting point was the tea plantation, destination was at a waterfall farther up with a steep climb. This would be the second time we went to the waterfall, first time would be Day 6 of the Microcampus. Nothing different happened this time hiking up to the waterfall from the last. Maybe it's because I was distracted by sympathizing over how tired I felt.

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'Tis only the beginning of the camping trip now. I mentioned in my last blog that we had to bring supplies to defend ourselves. To support my Day Sixteen blog, we went to Dali Old Town to buy food for us to eat for the next couple of days. I was assigned to tent with Maddie (this person). From the shop we bought water, jerky, peanut butter, and other less important provisions to stuff into our already crammed 50-liter hiking backpack.

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Nothing special happened today, but the day itself was special. Day 16 of the Microcampus was the day before our hike, the day before the deprivation from showers and Si Fang Jie begun, our last day to lavish in the luxuries of such things.

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Gone to the little tie-dye and textiles manufacturing place with my family and Juan, who came with us to the workshop. I got the chance to talk with Juan about what she did in her religion and what she knew about others in the Xizhou district.

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Today my family and I explored Xizhou. Even though I've been here at the Microcampus for just about two weeks already, I've never looked into the histories of the village. I learned about a man who lived through the Cultural Revolution and writes journals and paints about his memories, stayed right beside my parens while they bargained in the local market, and walked on the grounds of Yang Zhou Ran- the future site of the Microcampus! Back to what I was saying about Mr.

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As soon as I woke up this morning around six thirty I found myself cold and groggy for the first five seconds, wanting to complain about the broken heater and the bed being too hard... then I figured out that I was in a tent, and out camping. I also realized that this was the day my family came to visit Xizhou! So, I got my grouchy self together to pack up.

Finally after two weeks with no visual contact with my family, we got together. The rest of that first day with my family is blurry, so I'll leave this blog entry as that.

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What a lovely morning this morning it is we have this morning!

Visited a little place that dyes and does embroiders cloth. I did some embroidery around the shape of a butterfly, then got it dyed a really pretty dark blue. Interesting to experience the place and people there, just listening to their conversations (even though I couldn't understand a word) made the visit to the embroidery and cloth dying place special.

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Alright, so this was the first (hopefully not my last!) time participating in some Jin-Jitsu/ Ju-Jitsu. I got thrown to the ground, which was fun, and got to try a throw my volunteering friend, Madeline. Or more like weakly shoving Madeline.

Anyhow that was the most eventful part of my day. The least eventful would be the late morning, when Madeline and I swept and mopped our dorm. Lessons well learned that morning, that's all I have to say.

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I finished my math packet and math quiz today. For lack of a better term to express this exuberant moment, I say: booyah!!

Just before 5pm at Yang’s Guesthouse, I brought my raincoat because 1) I was wearing a cashmere sweater and 2) because I was in a rush and did not think. It was just barely sprinkling outside at the time, I brought my raincoat anyway (which was ridiculous). Two hours later it was raining hard, almost pouring. This was my second "booyah" moment.

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As soon as breakfast ended, we travelled by bus to Sha Ping (a village in Dali, a city in Yunnan, province of China, country of Asia, so on and so forth...) and in groups of three, we observed and participated in the Monday morning commotion of the Sha Ping market. About an hour later, we connected with the kindergarteners at Shang Guan Montessori(上关幼儿园)by reading stories (by Theodore Seuss Geisel, Sesame Street) and recess. A lunch was to follow-- the menu consisted of:

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Me: "What happened on Sunday?"
Madeline: "My birthday was on Sunday."
Me: "What else happened on Sunday?"
Madeline: "Ahem."

Happy birthday, Madeline. And happy birthday to the millions of others in the world with their birth date on March 25!

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Wake up in the morning feeling like... well feeling like I'm still asleep. Thankfully the activity for the day was scheduled to start after lunch, which gave me more than enough time to "reboot". The activity of the day? Visiting and engaging a few of the routines at a tea plantation which included tea leaf picking, tea leaf roasting, a tea ceremony, and conversations over tea. This didn't happen all at once; there was a brief (but demanding) trek up the steep mountain from where the tea was cultivated (the starting point) to a pristine waterfall.

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Today was Independent Day here at the Microcampus! Mr. Tafel allotted time for us to use wisely, and in the end I've finished a whole lot of work. Mr. Linden has helped me out so much today-- finding people I can use as resources for my inquiry project. Along with Li Ping, a curator/ encouragement for me at the Linden Centre, I am very confident in my inquiry project. There's another person I want to mention this blog post: a Stanford University former professor. Sorry, I don't recall his last name. But he (David) taught at the university pertaining environmental studies.

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Today's most eventful moment was in the afternoon during a school Skype-in time from around 1:30 to 3pm. SAS Puxi hosted a really inspiring visiting speaker, Carl Wilkens. A prologue of Carl Wilkens: the one and only American citizen that stayed in Rwanda over the Rwandan genocide. I admire what he did, staying in the thick of the war in effort to save lives in Rwanda. What was even more awesome than the fact that an eyewitness to history came to SAS Puxi to speak, but that we in the Microcampus about 2154 kilometers away from SAS could contact Carl Wilkens through Skype™!

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It’s a school day!! Well, yeah every Monday through Friday is a school day but THIS time we’re in school, outside of school. The whole day was mainly devoted to working on our inquiry projects—nothing more I can say about that. As for the entertainment quotient of the day, I learned pool and had an über fun dinner with a few fellow microcampers at a Mr. Tafel recommended small restaurant called Yang’s. The food there was exceptional and the aura was perfect for a group of 8th graders coming from Shanghai.

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It feels like I've been here for a week already, thanks to the Linden Centre staff. So comfortable in fact that I, along with my roomies, overslept. Better waking up late than never!

Breakfast ten minutes after waking up was a great way to start the day and we got to know a little about MCK- a curator (I think) at the Linden Centre. He's cool, I look forward to getting to know him and some more people here soon.

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Departure from the Hongqiao Airport to take a three-hour eventful plane ride to Yunnan's capitol- KunMing. Soon after, the fourteen of us took a six-hour bus ride to the lovely Yang's Guesthouse. The bus ride involved card games, Orion Choco•Pies, and many scenes of Dali's breathtaking flora. After settling into the Yang's Guesthouse was a five minute walk to the Linden Centre, and great welcoming from the Linden Centre committee! Shortly after was a homestyle local cuisine kind of dinner and everything tasted great.

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Hi! I graduated from SAS Puxi in 2016.