Updated 5 years 6 months ago

Our Service Learning partner was Yang Nai Nai. She is currently 78 years old, and she was extremely kind in the conversations that we had with her. For her entire life, she lived in Guizhou as part of the Miao minority. However, her daughter moved to Xizhou to make a living from Miao embroidery, and around three years ago, Yang Nai Nai moved in with her daughter for retirement. When we talked with Yang Nai Nai, she told us a lot about the Cultural Revolution, as well as the Liberation. More importantly, we learned more about her life, and what she did when she was around our age. We were really able to get a peek at China's history, and I am extremely grateful that I was able to learn about Yang Nai Nai's story.

We learned so much about Yang Nai Nai throughout the course of Microcampus. When we first went to her house, she was somewhat reluctant to share with us, and only gave us her name and some information on her current life. Later on, we opened up to her, and in return, she opened up to us. We were really able to connect, and I learned a lot about her. For starters, she lived in Guizhou her whole life until three years ago. The move was mainly influenced because her daughter convinced her that Xizhou was a better place for retirement. We learned Yang Nai Nai's favorite thing to do is embroider. However, around one year ago, her eyesight became weak, and therefore, she had to stop embroidering. Not doing something she loved took some time to get used to, but towards the end, she is still trying to embroider. In fact, when we walked into her shop for the first time, we saw Yang Nai Nai embroidering, and that was when I was first interested about her life. We also learned that Yang Nai Nai is someone who values family more than anything. She told us that when she has her family around her, nothing else worries her, and that showed a lot about Yang Nai Nai's character. Overall, I am extremely grateful that I was able to speak with Yang Nai Nai, and I learned a lot about her life.

Yang Nai Nai was actually our first choice for Service Learning. 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. On our whole walk from her house to Yangzhouran, we talked about embroidery, which is something that Yang Nai Nai loves. Finally, the time was here: we were going to show Yang Nai Nai our video. I was somewhat nervous, but mostly excited about what she will think about it.

When she was watching our video of her, Yang Nai Nai started to tear up a little when we were talking about her childhood and embroidery. Her eyes first started to water, and later on, she took a tissue and started to dab at the corners of her eyes. It was surprising how our video was able to touch her heart, and I feel proud that we were able to do that. As the video continued on, she started smiling when there was the section on how she viewed her family. Finally, towards the end, she started nodding her head and agreeing with herself during the part about the Cultural Revolution and the Liberation. Overall, Yang Nai Nai has been a great Service Learning partner, and I am extremely grateful for her time. The conversations I had with her will always be in my heart for years to come.

From Yang Nai Nai, I learned so much about China's history. First and foremost, I learned that the Cultural Revolution had a great toll on the people. Yang Nai Nai told us that it was extremely harsh, and that her family was only assigned 2 kilograms of grains. They often had to go without a full belly, and at times, they would dig up wild vegetables and make Baba with it in order to be full. However, Yang Nai Nai said that the Cultural Revolution only made her more appreciative of her life right now, and that showed me how positive Yang Nai Nai is. When we asked Yang Nai Nai what she was most thankful for, she said that she was thankful for the Liberation. After the Liberation, she was finally able to back to what her old life was like, and she was able to move to Xizhou. 

After a lot of hard work, patience, and stress, we were able to show Yang Nai Nai our final product for Service Learning. We went to her house to pick her up, and brought her to Yangzhouran. Throughout the whole walk which lasted around 10 minutes, we talked about her life in Guizhou, and how she feels now, since she is living in Xizhou. Finally, it was time to show her our short clip. When Yang Nai Nai was viewing the video, she started tearing up and getting emotional when we showed clips of her talking about her childhood. As we continued to look at her reactions, we started noticing her smiling and laughing at times, and that made all of our hard work worth it. Afterwards, she was extremely nice and grateful, and kept on saying "thank you" to us, which just showed how kind she is. When we gave her the fruits and CD, she started tearing up once again, but they were tears of happiness. I feel extremely honored to have been able to have conversations with Yang Nai Nai, and hopefully, I will be able to see her again.

For future Microcampus students, I have three main recommendations: they should connect with the villagers, they should not "row the boat" all by themselves, and they should get on top of their work. Firstly, they should connect with villagers from Day 1. If they always go outside of their bubble, and talk with everybody they see, Service Learning will be a breeze. Next, they should not "row the boat" for their group members. When I was working with my group members, they did not do as much work as I did. I started to carry all the workload, thinking I would be able to go to the finish line all by myself. However, after some time, I started to feel extremely stressed, and that was not healthy for me. People must remember that they cannot row the boat for their whole team, and they should just do their own fair share. Last but not least, they should stay on top of your own work. Overall, I believe that future Microcampus students will have a great experience, and I cannot wait to hear how the journey for them will be like.

About This Learner

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.