During our time talking to our service learning partners, we actually had two partners. The names of these people are Yang Guo Lan, and Deng Xiu Fang. The two are best friends and have been for over thirty years now! Yang Guo Lan has lived in Xizhou for all of her life now. However, her best friend Deng Xiu Fang moved here from Lijiang, and has only been living in Xizhou since her early thirties. Yang Guo Lan and Deng Xiu Fang both like to embroider.
What I learned about both of the people that I had conversations with is that they are very optimistic. This optimism is very surprising because Yang Guo Lan and Deng Xiu Fang have both been through very tough times. They also say that even though they might not have much today, life is much better than it was fifty or sixty years ago.
I learned that Xizhou had a harsh past. Mostly everyone in the village agreed with that fact. I learned that people during this time did not have clean water to drink, and many died from starvation. I also learned that a lot of its culture was lost during the twentieth century, because the government was trying to unify China and make everyone equal.
China in the twentieth century I discovered was generally, a very harsh time. Many people did not have enough food to eat, and clean water to drink. It was a time of mass production without the people of China's well being kept in mind. I also discovered that most people call the great leap forward a "natural disaster" to this day, which means it must of been catastrophic. You do not have a natural disaster everyday.
Sharing my service learning video with my partner was simply breathtaking. It really made my heart leap with joy when I saw them laughing at some of the clips in the video where they are talking about one another's relationships, how they are friends, and other silly but interesting parts of the video. I guess you could say that I relaxed a little, and thought that everything was going to be okay because I could see that they were enjoying the experience.
However, there were also parts of sadness in our video. Our Service Learning final product covered many sensitive topics that include the Cultural Revolution, and the Great Leap Forward. In general, Yang Nai Nai and Deng Nai Nai both were frowning during the time of the video of which we were explaining their childhood. I noticed that during the time we were talking about their child hood, the smiles were almost immediately wiped off their faces, and sometimes they even shook their heads. This made me sad and kind of embarrased that we put it in the video, however the two seemed to be fine with it. In the end, they told us that our video was outstanding and they would miss us dearly.
If I were to recommend anything to future Microcampus students, it would be to start making connections as soon as you come to Microcampus. If you start trying to find a Service Learning partner when Mr. Tafel tells you that it is time to find one, you will not have enough time. A second suggestion that I have is to schedule meeting times with them. Our group learned this the hard way when we could not find our partner for two days! Also, if possible I would strongly recommend getting a phone number of your partner if they have a cell phone. My final suggestion is to let them talk. If you let them talk you will learn a lot more of the interesting aspects of their life if you just ask your questions and leave. If you let them talk, you are actually connecting and building a relationship with your partner.