Mr. T.'s Journal

Hello from Xizhou!

With a gentle nudge from one of our students' parents, I was encouraged to write a quick write-up about the week that was. On this Day 9 of 28 of the Fearless Group's adventure, there is plenty to share about our time together so far. A good day for it: today we celebrated Ms. Mai's birthday by waking up to a beautiful sunrise outside our tents at the lakeside campsite.

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Well, tonight wraps up the first full weekend of the B-4 Microcampus group. What was scheduled to be a good bit of "down time" ended up being quite busy. I had promised myself that all the students would be up to date with their Inquiry Projects and Service Learning before bedtime, and the last of the students just finished up.

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The bags are packed, and Ms. Mai and I are ready for that early morning wake-up . . . 4:15 AM will be here pretty soon!

Our meeting time at the airport is a bright and early 5:20 AM, which should give us time for a relaxing check-in (and, probably, a nap) before the flight to Kunming.

And we're off! Can't wait for that first deep, pollution-free breath when we arrive in Xizhou tomorrow afternoon!

-T

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It's hard to imagine that the departure date for the Puxi group is two weeks away! Plenty to do between now and then, but the top priority is for the chaperones to have a bit of quiet time before we head out to our 28 days in Xizhou. I'm looking forward to being back there--that first deep breath at sunset will be a good one after the rough air pollution days in recent months in Shanghai.

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It is hard to imagine that the month is coming to a close so soon, but in less than 40 hours the first group of Microcampus students will leave Xizhou and begin the long journey back to Shanghai. It has been one amazing month for all of us, and I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to the next steps after our return to Shanghai.

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Well, the Microcampus kids, Ms. Stagg, and I went on a three-day, two-night camping outing, settling in at the Taoxi tea plantation, about an hour uphill from Dali Old Town. Good times, strong winds (with slightly stronger tents, fortunately), and a good time had by all. For many it was their first time camping while bringing in supplies (food, tents, water), so the packs were lighter this morning on the way down. Good stuff.

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The students and I had an interesting chat yesterday during our afternoon touch-base meeting at the end of a relatively restful Saturday. Student caught up on things: their sleep, assignments, their blog entries, and it was nice to have a bit of down time to explore this place.

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It's evening time at the Microcampus, and the evening "programming" has amounted to giving the students a chance to explore this amazing place. Two students sat outside on the terrace watching the sun go down and the clouds spill over the Cangshan Mountains to the west . . . the photo at the top of the main page was taken from the terrace, and it is the place where the Microcampus students spend 15 minutes each morning in silence, sitting still, looking and listening to the world.

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The students and I are connecting with our main campus (SAS-Puxi) via Skype, and we (and the classmates back in Shanghai) are listening live to a presenter Carl Wilkens who was an eyewitness to the recent genocide in Rwanda. Such a team effort to make it happen: Their classmates Bridget and Cookie, their teacher Mrs. Greer-Wegener, Mr. Marks filming the presentation (just in case), Shane from the Linden Centre setting up the projector, and the Microcampus students themselves, who finished their day of study with focus, energy, and total attention.

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Well, I'm not exactly a father, but for the next four weeks I will sure feel like one. Having 11 grade 8 students here will surely be an interesting test, but it has been wonderful so far.

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We are in our second full day here in Xizhou after a long travel day on Saturday. Today is our first "official" day of school, with students working on their Algebra I packets, supporting one another in the learning process.

Another beautiful day in paradise here, with the bluest skies in the world. The air is clean, crisp, and (at nearly 2000 meters above sea level), just thin enough to make even simple exercise a bit more interesting.

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Well, in twelve hours I will be meeting the eleven students at the airport. Our three hour flight will take us closer to India than we are here in Shanghai!

We had a great sendoff from the school at the assembly this afternoon, and I had so many folks come by my classroom after school that it has been a challenge keeping focused on the last-minute details. Oh, I suppose I will need to pack at some point, too! Details, details.

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What a treat it is to see the Microcampus program continue to develop. I look forward to learning more with and from these amazing students as they explore their world, challenge themselves, and learn to handle themselves outside The Bubble of their usual routines.