Anna S. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

Tonight was our last night at Xizhou, and we had the Jammies™, and we all gathered in the TV room to view the PowerPoint of the Jammies™, but since the computer would not hook up to the TV, we switched to Classroom 2.  The Jammies™ is like the Grammies. In the Jammies™, there are Mr. and Ms. Inquiry, Mr. and Ms. Microcampus, Golden Broom (cleanest room during room inspection), Dirty Sock (dirtiest room during room inspection), the Tough It Out award, Stepping Up, Photo Bomb, Toughest Day, Best Dancer, Best Pun, and more.

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All my past journal entries have been about my days at Microcampus or while I was preparing to come to Microcampus. The real question was what compelled me to come to Microcampus. In sixth grade, when I was first introduced to Microcampus, I was attracted to the program because it was a month spent somewhere far away from home. I was intrigued and wanted to experience something new. Then in eighth grade, there were a lot of aspects of Microcampus that captured my attention.

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Today was the day that our Service Learning project was due.  As a part of our Service Learning project, we had to make an article and a video. We shared our video with our Service Learning partners. The video was us asking questions and then Mr. He's answers. The article was a story without the questions written in. In short, it was a biography. We then had a native Chinese speaker check the Chinese translation, (Xiao Tang, Annaliese, or Fay) and then Mr. Tafel would watch the Service Learning video to see how it was.

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Since the plan to go to Tongue of the Lake and watch a family make yellow pea noodles had not fallen through, I still needed some help with making the noodles myself. After coming back from Service Learning with Andre and Xiao Tang, I asked Xiao Tang if she could come with me and help me find Mrs. Ma, and if she could come and teach me again how to make the yellow pea noodles, because the previous time she had come had not worked out well. She accompanied me to Si Fang Jie, and to the spot where Mrs. Ma usually sold her noodles. Except the spot that Mrs.

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In the past two days, I had planned on going to the Tongue of the Lake to look for people who made yellow pea noodles. Finally, the weather was remotely nice; it had been raining that morning, but it stopped. For the past two days, it had been raining hard for the whole day. After breakfast, Mr. Tafel and I planned to bike to Tongue of the Lake and seek a family who made yellow pea noodles. We biked for thirty minutes to Tongue of the Lake, passing roads filled with telephone tiles and trees filled with spiders and their webs, as well as passing a local market.

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Today was Day 23, and our last week in Xi Zhou. Then Food/Meal Planning Committee (Gayatri and I) tried to make the menu a little different because it is our last week here. We left a dish on the menu for the cooks to decide, so we could try something new. We also thought that we should plan something that would help us push through this last week, to motivate ourselves to finish our Inquiry Projects and our Service Learning projects. Gayatri and I thought we should have something sweet, and our conclusion was dessert.

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I am on the Meal Planning Committee, and we plan the meals for lunches and dinners. But we rarely handle breakfast. We usually leave it to the kitchen staff. They put out muffins, eggs, fruit, and pancakes. Gayatri and I decided that we should have something different instead of pancakes. We decided that we would be making crepes, and since I knew how to make them, I would be in charge of the crepes for breakfast. I was in the kitchen at 7:45, and Rebecca (my roommate who happened to be up) helped chop bananas. Then in came Jeffrey and later Brice, one of the Linden children.

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Once in a while, anyone wants time to themselves. In Microcampus, it is not very easy to have time to yourself because the walls are very thin, and the doors do not block out sound effectively. That is the reason why the Evening Planning Committee planned a girls' night in and a bros' night out. The bros had established at lunch that events that happened at bros' night would stay at bros' night. As for the girls', we blurted out that we would be watching movies and painting each others' nails. That was what we did at girls' night in, in addition to braiding each others hair.

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Day 20 was a day where an evening activity was not the original evening activity. Instead of doing a reflection, we made our way to Si Fang Jie after dinner. After hanging out and playing a little badmitton, Xiao Tang announced that we would be boarding two horse carts and riding to Tongue of the Lake. I brough my camera, planning to take some cook photos of the night sky on our way there, and of Erhai Lake at night. The photos on the horse cart did not work out so well because the cart was shaking too much for me to take a nice photo.

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Day 15. The last day of field research. Work hard, be productive, and produce informative facts and information so that we are ready to start our final product. There was a reward if we got all that done. It was a trip to Dali Old Town. Miranda and I walked from one end of Dali Old Town to the other, arriving and passing through the North and South gate. We almost reached the West gate, while we were looking for a shop. The shop was called Sweet Tooth, a dessert shop. We were walking towards the East Gate, the gate that we would meet the other Microcampus students at 8:00.

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Today during WIPPIT time (Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, and Terrace) Xiao Tang (a chaperone) and I went out to Si Fang Jie and went from one pea lady to another. Then we found one that would come to Yang Zhou Ran that night and teach me how to many the pea noodles. Xiao Tang said that Mrs. Ma had a powder and all you did was add it. Mrs. Ma would come that night at 9:00 PM to Yang Zhou Ran, bring the powder, and teach me how to make a small batch of the garden pea noodles. She came around 9:15, and she brought the ingredients with her.

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Day 17 was the final day of our hike. In my opinion, it was the hardest day because it is downhill rather than uphill, and I find uphill easier. Another reason why I thought that going uphill was easier than going downhill is because when we were going downhill, the trail was narrow, rocky, mossy, and had miniature streams trickling down the middle of the path. Most of the time, the path was less than a foot wide, so it was hard to get a good hold on the ground because it was narrow, rocky, and wet.

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A walk. That was how it all started. It was a simple walk with Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, and Fay. After a while, the yak started to wander over to our tents, a little too close for Mr. Tafel's comfort, and he headed back to shoo them away. Ms. Mai, Fay, and I decided to stay and continue our walk. Except we did not continue our walk... for long. We walked a few meters before we stopped to watch the sheep. We watched them for what seemed like eternity. As they passed us, some of them sped up, others just passed us cautiously. Some who passed us had baby sheep.

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Day 15. The day we departed for our 3-day hike. We had breakfast at 6:30, and we were on the mountain by 8:00. Then the mules arrived, and after we loaded the water bottles, snacks, and tents, we were ready to rock and roll. It took us seven hours and forty-five minutes to reach our destination. It took us so long because we probably spent one hour and forty-five minutes resting. We walked up hill for the majority of the hike. There was a stretch that was flat for about forty-five minutes to an hour long.

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Day 14, the day we were supposedly leaving for the 3-day hiking trip. We decided to leave the next day because it was supposed to rain in Xizhou, and if it was raining in Xizhou, then it would probably be snowing or hailing on the mountain. Or as Mr. Tafel would say, all three forms of precipitation. So we were going to set off the next day. But before that, we had some preparations to do before we were ready. We had to organize the tents because some tents did not have enough stakes, and what we later found out was that many tents had bent stakes.

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The night before was an experience for us all. One of us dropped our phone in the water, and all of us got our shoes and pants soaked. Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain hammering against our tent is not as pleasant, or unpleasant as it sounds. We were all mildly (if not already really) annoyed with waking up in the middle of the night, at least it was not to the sound of thunder and lightning galloping across the sky. In the morning, the ground was not as wet as I had thought, and it was not that muddy.

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Each day we have evening activities. One night we had Movie Night, another was Trivia Night. The evening activity for Day 12 was camping. We were going to go camping at Erhai Lake, on a spot called Tongue of the Lake, a little peninsula jutting out of Erhai Lake. Mr. Tafel had said that the camping would not be the best because it had rained earlier that morning, and it was probably going to rain during the night. We all agreed to go, even though we knew it was going to be tough. It was tough. Putting up the tent was easy. So was taking down the tent.

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Day 10 seemed a little busy after a relaxing, leisurely two-day rest. I got up around 6:30, and I went up onto the terrace with my book and my camera. As I sat there on the terrace, reading and taking an occasional photo, everything was peaceful. No one was making a sound, and as the world transformed from a blue-gray into a bright baby blue, you felt as if you were a waterfall, gently cascading down a canyon. You are a single strand of hair on a head; a single stream that is contributing to a great river.

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Day 9 was a relaxing day due to the fact that it is was a weekend. We had breakfast from 8:30-9:30. Then we did a reflection of how we have been keeping up with our wellness. We finished around 11:30 and had thirty minutes to hang out until 12:00, when we had lunch. For lunch, some of us stayed at Yang Zhou Ran to eat while the majority of us went to Si Fang Jie to eat. Then from 1:00 until 5:45 we had free time. Most of us used this time to do committee work or catch up with friends or family and school work. Others just used this time to do a little bit of Inquiry Project work.

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Today was Day 8; and our regular weekend day! We didn't have a regular weekend days on the first and second days because we were settling into Microcampus, but today was finally a usual weekend day at Microcampus! Breakfast was from 8:30 to 9:30, and Mr. Tafel said we had to eat breakfast so we would not be able to sleep in past 9:25, so we could grab some fruit. Then if we were behind on Inquiry Project work or had not done our journals, we had to spend from 9:30-12:00 making up the things we had forgotten to do.

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Today is Friday! It has been six days since we arrived in Xizhou! And it is our first Friday at Microcampus. We visited Dali Old town today, but before we visited Dali, we had SAS Essentials, the daily meeting, pitching in, lunch, and then three and a half hours of WIPPIT time (Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, Terrace). We had to be done with our Phase 2 before we could go to Dali Old Town, and thankfully, we all worked diligently, and all went to Dali Old Town together! We had to be in a group of more than two, but we could not be more than five at one restaurant.

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Even though September 19 was the moon festival, we still did the same morning routine; eating breakfast around 7:30, SAS Essentials around 8:30, and the morning meeting. Then we had pitching in, and then we had lunch. During lunch, Miranda (Momo) turned left, to the morning market instead of heading right, to Si Fang Jie (the square). A couple days before, Gayatri and Mr. Tafel had gone to the morning market and had gotten fried potatoes with multiple spices.

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Today we had the usual breakfast, SAS Essentials, daily meeting, and lunch. After lunch, we split into two groups, one went with Mr. Tafel on a bike ride to Er Hai Lake, while the other group stayed behind with Ms. Mai, Xiao Tang, Fay, and a new chaperone named Annalise. I was on the first group to bike ride with Mr. Tafel to Er Hai Lake.

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On the fourth day of Microcampus, we had breakfast around 7:30, SAS Essentials, the daily meeting, and then lunch. After lunch we had WIPPIT (Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, and Terrace Time), and after that, dinner. After dinner we had some down time before we headed to the Linden Centre. At the Linden Centre, we listen to traditional Bai minority music. There were a variety of different instruments; there was an instrument that appeared to be similar to a flute, and there were two or three instruments that were similar to a guitar.

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This morning, we had SAS Essentials, the Daily Meeting, and Pitching In. The afternoon were my favorite part. After Mr. Tafel gave us a brief history of Xizhou, we went to do Terrace Time. Terrace Time is a period of thirty minutes where we do nothing but observe our surroundings. Terrace Time is a period in our day where we slow down, and observe our surroundings. I find that when I slow down, everything becomes magnified. The smallest whisper is being in the middle of Grand Central Station in the middle of rush hour.

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On the second day of Microcampus, we woke up, and had breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast, we split into two groups. Half of us went on a tour around Xizhou with someone from the Linden Centre named Xiao Tang, while the other half stayed with Mr. Tafel to work on Inquiry Projects and other things. Then we met in Si Fang Jie for lunch. After lunch we swapped, and the group who went on the tour in the morning went to work with Mr. Tafel, and the group who had worked with Mr. Tafel earlier in the morning went on the tour of Xizhou. Then later in the afternoon, it started poring down rain.

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The first day of Microcampus was very exciting, although it was also a little tiring. It was tiring because we had to be at the airport between 5:15 and 5:30. We took a 8:00 flight to Kunming, and we arrived around 11:30. Then half of us went to go get lunch, and the other half of us went to go get the baggage. After six or seven hours of riding the bus, we finally arrived in Xizhou. After we dropped off our bags, we walked to the square, Si Fang Jie. Around 7:00 we had dinner.

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The lock-in at the Pudong campus was very exciting! The Pudong kids were really nice, and escorted us around the campus. They showed us where places were, and introduced us to some places where we could have slept for the night; but we all ended us sleeping in the library because it was the only room that was being air conditioned.

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Hello, I am Anna! I am 13 years old, and I have been at SAS for four years. When I first heard about the Microcampus program in sixth grade, I was ecstatic, and was ready to go, but was greatly disappointed when I was told it was for eighth graders only. I was apart of the Dynamite group, and greatly enjoyed the Microcampus experience. There were so many new things I was introduced to, and I strongly recommend anyone who is even slightly interested to look into it more.