Jamie L. (Alumni-M)'s Journal

Others may have came to Microcampus to learn how to live. They may have came here to learn how to work more efficiently, but the reason why I came to Microcampus is completely different. Before the trip, I thought I came here to go outside of my comfort zone. I strongly believed the reason I came was because I was scared about confronting people, and this journey would be able to help me reach outside of my comfort zone. However, once I came to Microcampus, I realized that this was not the case. I did not have that big a problem talking with locals and finding connections.

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Today was the last full day of Microcampus, and a feeling of melancholy followed me everywhere. However, we were able to finish things on a nice note by hiking. I mainly hiked with Annelise, Charissa, and Heon, and we were able to keep each other company throughout some trecherous trails.

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Yang Nai Nai was actually our first choice for Service Learning (if you would like to look at my Service Learning, click here). When we first went to her, she was not at her house, which was why we moved on to other plans. However, in the end, we were able to find her, and she became our Service Learning partner. After one month of hard work and editing, our group was excited to finally show her what we came up with.

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Today at Microcampus, I was finally able to understand my purpose for coming here. But that will have to wait for later...for now, I would really like to just appreciate how finally, I learned how to let go. For a long time, Service Learning has been extremely stressful for me, and I felt like I had a lot of the responsibilities. I thought that I had to carry the workload, but thankfully, I found a way to balance everything.

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These days, it seems like everybody is stressed out about inquiry projects and Service Learning. It seems like we do not have enough time to just appreciate Xizhou, and that is truly a disappointment, since what I love about this village is how beautiful it is everywhere. However, during dinner, everybody's stress levels seemed to have went down. Charissa, Kayla and I ate together, and we were finally able to take our minds off of stress.

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Today, I was finally able to eat Baba. Surprisingly, in the last 22 days, I have not thought of eating this tourist hit. However, this dinner, Annelise and I got some Baba and were able to savor this treat. It was pretty chilly outside, and so the Baba really warmed us up and filled our appetite. As we ate, all our worries disappeared: deadlines are set up everywhere these days, and both of us were pretty stressed. However, as we ate, we finally took our minds off of our worries and were able to appreciate Xizhou.

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These days seem to be all about presentations and deadlines...however, we were able to have the priviledge to see Forrest Watkins present to us. Forest cycles around the world, and at stops, he gives presentations that bring awareness to climate change. We got to learn more about fossil fuels, and how we can all contribute towards making the world a better place. As he talked, I realize how important it is for us to contribute towards making the world a better place. After all, the world is our home, and if we do not protect it, then soon, we will all perish as well.

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Mr. Tafel gave us all a great talk on genetics tonight...and we were all amazed at what he came up with. As Microcampus students, we usually see him just as a supervisor. However, we all knew that he used to be a 6th grade teacher...but we did not know he was working on such amazing things! As he gave the Linden Centre folks his genetics talk, we all sat in, and started finding out what he did before he became a Microcampus teacher. We took a flashback back to 7th grade, when Hodin enlightened us with his own knowledge.

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Something I love about being in Xizhou is that everybody here is very kind and open to everyone. I got to experience this firsthand when an old lady asked me for help. I was jogging for wellness towards the Linden Centre when she called Heon, Kayla, and I to help her with her rickshaw. She only wanted us to go for some of the way, but since we had nothing to do and pushing the rickshaw helped our wellness, we helped her.

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Today proved to be a stressful day because of all the deadlines for Phase 3 and Service Learning work. However, we got to participate in the great Mr. T's Whiz Bang All Star Super-Duper Trivia Night. Our group was called the "Troyals", meaning tribal royals. In the beginning, things were going pretty great for us, but we started messing up towards the end and accidentally let the "Straight Up Winners" win.

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Dali Old Town is a place mainly targeted for tourists...and the occassional SAS 8th graders. A select number of students were able to go, and thankfully, one of them included me. The already narrow roads of Dali Old Town were filled with tourists from one end to the other, and sounds, sights, and smells were extremely diverse and interesting, varying from food carts to souvenirs.

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When we look at ourselves, do we really see us the way others see us? Or do we see what we want to see? I have been thinking over this for some time, and I have learned more about myself in these two weeks than any other time. In these two weeks, the hardships I faced showed my true character. In these two weeks, I realized what my instincts were, and what my fears were. Last but not least, I learned how to truly face myself. At times, I would wind down and go out of line, and at those times, I would always discipline myself from the inside.

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After last night's busy camping trip, we were all pretty tired and ready to spend a day relaxing and having some down time. However, before we did that, we also had to create connections for our Service Learning project. This was pretty easy since we already created connections by talking to people from the village ever since we got here. This was to our advantage because we had time to go to Happy Embroidery, an embroidery place where there were the most adorable kittens.

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Today was a beautiful Saturday afternoon...and something that made it even better was that we were going camping at Erhai! One of my favortie moments there was sitting down in a circle and then telling ghost stories...Chris from the Linden Centre had some really spooky REAL LIFE stories. Everyone was pretty freaked out, but the stories entertained all of us. We also tried to scare Jake, since he was already in his tent. As we creeped up to him, giggles escaped from our mouths, and he probably overheard.

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Throughout the course of two weeks, I have found that I have few options for what to wear on days...but not so few that I would want to go underwear shopping with Mr. Tafel! That was unexpected, but in a way, things just happened. We were just walking about, on our way to Sifangjie to have a conversation with Zhao Ayi for my Phase 3 work. On our way there, Mr. Tafel stopped by to greet a lady who was running the shop at this moment. They talked and caught up, and then the lady noticed me.

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Today, we experienced our first lightning weather...it was surprising, since the weather here is usually all sunshine and beautiful clouds. We actually found this to be a pleasant change, and we all went outside to watch the lightning. It was extraordinary: the lightning streaked through the pitch-black sky, creating a beautiful abstract painting. The rain created a steady rhythm against the windows, and as we piled into the TV room, we all felt at home. The great part about this was that while we were coming back from dinner, I noticed a beautiful pot of flowers, sitting outside.

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Today was, to be honest, a pretty normal day: there were not any lowlights, and the highlights were not exactly memorable enough for sharing. However, I did get to try something new...a "cheese stick". During dinner, Annelise, Charissa and I decided to get one after seeing tourists eating it on multiple occasions. It turns out that all this snack requires is cheese and rose sugar. This treat was sweeter than I thought it would, and it definitely tasted great.

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Today, like the title suggests, has been a sweet and sour day due to many reasons. I was able to have a conversation with Zhang Ayi, a kitchen staff from the Linden Centre. She was able to provide me with a lot of information regarding my topic, and that has been one of the highlights of my day. However, I am still quite nervous about what I will do later on, since I do not know what I want my final project to be like.

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Today, to be honest, was the first time I really ran out--literally ran out--of my comfort zone. I had to talk to locals to gather some information, and that was something that has slightly intimidated me. However, after mentally preparing myself for this for around 3 days, I finally worked up my nerve. The first conversation was nerve-wracking and I was edgy and tense throughout the whole thing.

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First of all, happy Mid-Autumn Festival! All of us headed out to the Linden Centre to enjoy a great celebration in honor of this holiday. One of my favorite parts was trying to guess the lantern riddles, which is a traditional game played during this festival. They were pretty challenging, and in the end, all of us had to guess the children riddles...and even then, it was pretty difficult for us to guess them all correctly. However, Ms.

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Well, after what seemed like forever, the weekend has finally arrived. For today, it was quite uneventful, except for the fact that Annelise and I headed outside for a jog to the Linden Centre. We were just about to get started, and we made a turn to the ficus tree. As we continued on, we had this feeling that someone--or something--was following us. It turned out to be a fluffy white dog with slightly red eyes. This dog looked like it was a stray, and continued chasing us.

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As mentioned in my Day 5 journal post, our group went to the tie dye factory. Over there, I met a great person called "Yang Nai Nai", and she offered to help me for my inquiry topic. Today, I revisited her, and got a lot of answers to my questions. This is just the start of my Phase 3 work, and I have already gathered a lot of information.

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Today was somewhat a normal day...besides the fact that we had no electricity, wifi, or anything related to power. All the 10 Microcampus students scrambled around, trying to finish everything before the wifi crashed. As that hectic chaos happened, I wondered how our lives would change if there was no electricity. Sometimes, it scares me how heavily we rely on technology, and how so many things operate on it. On other occasions, I wonder...would our lives be better off without having our faces in screens all the time?

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Today, so far, was probably my favorite day because of two things: tie dye and creating connections. After we did inquiry work and completed Phase 2, we hopped on the bus and got to go and create our very own gorgeous tie dye cloths. The people there were extremely kind to us, and welcomed us with warm hearts and happy smiles. I feel like I made a great connection with Yang 奶奶, one of the people there at the tie dye factory.

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Today was the first time we got a hang of what we are going to be doing in Xizhou for the upcoming weeks. We had our very first daily meeting at 10:00 AM, and that was a great experience since I was able to know how to get on the right track for SAS essentials. I was also the "timekeeper", meaning I took notes on what everyone had to say during the daily meeting, as well as being next in line to leading tomorrow's daily meeting.

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Today has been one of those days where life did not exactly go that great, and I had some trouble balancing my thoughts and emotions. There were some difficult news that I received, and that certainly changed how I pictured my third day here at Xizhou. In order to find peace and balance in my own life, I went to the Linden Centre terrace, which is a great place to relax, stay calm, and be alone and gather your own thoughts.

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On the second day, things were not extremely intense...in fact, we were just starting to get to know the village. One of my personal favorites of this day was playing "hang nail" with the Marvel Musketeers group. For those of you who are wondering what hang nail is, it is a brutal and visually torturous game that brings hang man to a whole new level.

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Well, the time has finally come. The 10 students going on the Microcampus trip have started their journey. Waves of emotions constantly surprise me: happiness, anxiety, nervousness, exitement, and many more. One of my favorite moments of this first day was before we even went on the plane. Mr. Tafel had us all sit down in a circle and share our own thoughts, weaknesses, and strengths. We were able to know each other and feel connected to one another, and this was the first time that we felt like we bonded with one another.

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Can you believe it? It is nearly time for us to go on our month-long adventure! Our Microcampus group will be departing on Saturday, and I can hardly wait. I am extremely excited about being able to go out of my comfort zone. Our lives usually stay on a plain routine, involving going to school and then going home. At Microcampus, there will be no such thing as having such a strictly planned schedule, and that will really make me put forth my best effort. Hopefully, I will be able to make everything work out, and I can not wait to be able to adapt to new situations.

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Before embarking on my Microcampus trip, we have experienced a lock in to bond with each other and learn more about what the trip will be like. In the reflection, I talk about what I have done during the lock in, what aspects I am looking forward to during the Microcampus journey, and what I have learned from the lock in. This is a very informal video, and so keep that in mind. You can view my video here.

 

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This journal entry is truly just to show my thanks to Mr. Tafel and Ms. Mai for giving me this great opportunity to enjoy the Microcampus experience. Even though I have been living in China for awhile now, I have only lived in urbanized China, and I have never seen another side of China. Going to Xizhou will truly be a life changing experience for me, and I am looking forward to the month that I will spend there. Microcampus isn't just about learning: it is also about embracing a new culture, interacting with the locals, and truly living life to its fullest.

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Hello, my name is Jamie, and I was part of the Microcampus Marvel Musketeers group. My experience here at Microcampus was truly unforgettable, and I have created many memories and learned many life lessons throughout my stay at Xizhou. My inquiry project was the Bai language, and I have finished. Current and future Microcampus students are welcome to contact me for advice, and I will always remember the days I spent in the beautiful village of Xizhou.