Gayatri B. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

Fresh water, worldwide, is a scarce resource and an essential to all life yet 97% is unsafe to drink. We are fortunate enough to have clean water available to us but much of the water around the world  is spread unevenly. Xizhou is under a rain shadow resulting in a lack of rainfall. There was a period of time in Xizhou's history when there was conflict over water from Lake Erhai. Villagers would turn on each other in order to get water.

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As I woke up, I could already feel the difference and the longing for more time to spend with Xizhou. Today was all about wrapping up what we started here in Xizhou. We had a lot of Check-Out time so we could clean up all our stuff, both physically and on the website. We also did our Final Wellness Reflection today. We filmed one of our final Daily Video Shout-Outs too ;(  I also finally rode a horse cart today! At first, Rebecca was riding it and Mr. Yang, the horsecart driver, jumped off the cart and got onto the back of the cart, leaving Rebecca to ride it all by herself.

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When I first came to Microcampus, I wanted to see how I handled myself when I am independent. I lived in a world where everything was done for me, where somethings were chosen for me. I needed to see myself away from the city. I never really knew who I was but now, I think I know. I was surpised when I came here. It was not what I expected it to be but in a good way. I thought it would be a small village but I was suprised when I came here to see that it was much more modern than I thought.

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Today was the presentation of our Service Learning Videos! The day was finally here! Everyone was anxious and excited because today would be a first, real audience for our projects, and our Service Learning partners would be able to see our product.

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Tonight, the Evening Activity Committee planned BlackJack Night! But that was not the best part, we gambled with candy! Though some people usually ate their candy before they were able to gamble. At first, everyone was confused on how to play at first and we all were goofing around during the first few rounds. After a while, we all got bored and we all wanted to play Apples to Apples so, we decided to gample with candy in Apples to Apples! It was really fun and really funny! Soon, the night ended and it was another day gone here in Xizhou.

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The day started off with a rainy morning and a cloudy day. Tonight, my friends and I played Apples to Apples and like always, it was a blast! Even though I only played for a short time, there were tears in my eyes by the time I left. The always manages to make me laugh on my darkest or stressful days, like today as it was the last day before Inquiry Projects are due tomorrow! You would imagine that I am a bit stressed but Apples to Apples managed to take the stressload i had and lifted it off my shoulders.

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Today was the day that Anna and I reveal our big surprise. In the afternoon, we went shopping for the ingredients needed and arrived at the Linden Centre's kitchen at around 4:15 along with XiaoTang. Shane came in and helped us too to bake our brownies! Once we put them in the oven though, we were wondering what to put on them and just decided to spell out DYNAMITE with Snicker bar pieces. During our Check-In at 5:45, we announced our secret but did not reveal what we were talking about. Everyone was wondering what it was! At around 7:30 then, we revealed our big surprise!

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In the afternoon, we had Service Learning. We started by writing down the information we had collected from our Service Learning Partner, Ms. Chen before going out into the village to interview her. Towards the end, we invited her to come over and watch the 5 Golden Flowers with Rebecca, Rory and some of their other friend they made during their Inquiry Project research. In the evening, when everyone had arrived, we had dinner and Ms. Duan and her friend danced for us! Next, we played Apples to Apples! This was probably the highlight of my evening.

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Today, after we ate lunch, Rebecca and I saw the fluffiest poodle in the world! I felt like Agnus in Despicable Me when she saw the unicorn! It was soo fluffy!! Later, we come home to a game of Brominton, which is a modified game of badminton by the guys. We all watched the game as spectators while Mr. T commentated in one of his many imitations. At one point, he started doing accents! Tonight was Girls Night In...and Boys Night Out. Girls Night started off with a movie which was followed by nails and then another movie.

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Today, the Evenining Committee told us that after dinner, we would be reflecting but had actually planned a horse cart ride to Lake Erhai! At first, everyone brought batminton raquets and hacky sacks in order to keep busy. I tried to hacky sack but as you may imagine, I was not that great....It was only later that they announced that we were not reflecting! The horse cart ride there was a bit slower than I thought but as soon as we got there and saw the shore line lapping against our feet with the lights from the city shining opposite us.

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If you ask someone where Xizhou is in China, many would give confused looks. If you ask someone where Dali is in China, there are more chances that you may get more responses. A 30 minute bus ride from Xizhou brings you to Dali Old Town, the more commercial part of Dali. Tucked away from all the commercialism is the village of Xizhou, a town more peaceful and close to the heart. Xizhou is a village more for people who would like to retreat from the big cities, to somewhere that is more relaxed and who's beauty is not blinded by big lights.

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Today, after a hard days worth of work, we finally went to Dali Old Town! My friends and I finally had some western food. Rebecca and I ate a cheese pizza and a plate of french fries. It tasted amazing! Later, we went to Sweet Tooth. After a hard decision, I decided on the Oreo Cheesecake. It was heavenly! It was an awesome night.

 

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Today, during WHIPPIT time, I finally got to meet Ms. Zhao's husband, Mr. Duan! Since I went earlier than I usually do, Mr. Duan was there instead of Mrs. Zhao, who usually comes after lunch. We learned a lot about him and the business. He used to be a construction worker for electrical plants on mountains but later quit and in Kunming, worked in Carrefour as a pastry chef. We asked him if he like cooking in general, and I quote, " I like cooking as a hobby but not as a duty." After that, they moved here and opened up the business. Mr.

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Today was the final day of our 3 day hike and for some it was happy and sad. We started the morning off by watching the beautiful sunrise as it rose over the mountains. After that, we took down our tents after an inspection and had breakfast before hiking back. It had been an amazing experience so far and now it was only a matter of getting back home. After cleaning up our space, we started walking across the valley. From there, we followed a trail next to a stream. Unfortunately, this hiking was not quite the same as the hiking we had experienced beforehand.

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Today we had a bit of a shorter hiking trip. The hike was around 3 hours long but it was probably the best one. By the end of the second hike, we were at an altitude level of around 3000 metres! The view was amazing though, beyond words. Even though I was tired, I sprinted up the next mountain I saw, like everyone else, to get a better view of the other mountains around us. Once I got up there, I truly felt as if I was on top of the world. Even a camera could not capture the beauty. The only downside was that there were millions of bugs everywhere that were ruining the moment.

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We departed for our hike early morning. We were supposed to leave yesterday but we had to push the departure date a day back due to the rain. The day was long for me and definitely hard but we made it through. We started the hike at 2000 metres altitude. During the walk, At first, the mountain was really steep and slippery but after a few hours, we ended up on flat roads along millions of fields. We saw many yaks(yes, yaks), horses and cows during the walk. Finally, after around 7-8 hours, we finally arrived to our destination, at 2900 metres altitude level.

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Today, during lunch, most of the things I ate were new things to me. One of the things that I was very familiar with were the deep-fried potatoes and as always, they were delicious. There is a stand next to the Potato Stand which I had always wanted to try. It was run by Zhao's friend. Today was the day I decided to try it. It was a bit like a spring roll except it was filled with peanut sauce and veggies. It was good and I was glad I tried it. Next, for dessert, I tried a new ice-cream.

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Today, during WHIPPIT time, I went with Fay to the Potato Stand. We asked her a lot of questions and now, I am left with a lot of data that I will work with. I found out how much she pays for almost all of her consumable supplies. Tomorrow, I will work with Ms. Mai to create an Excel Spreadsheet using the data I have collected. I have spent a lot of time at with Zhao and I think, I now know how to make the potatoes. I have not yet met her husband, who runs the stand in the morning, but I look forward to meeting him soon in the near future.

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We went camping last night even though the weather was not so great. We took some time deciding who should go and if we should go but in the end, we decided that all of us should go. I quickly packed my hiking bag and biked to our camping site, the tongue of Lake Erhai. The bike ride there was not so smooth though. Since it had rained before, one of the roads was flooded with water up to our calves. It was a damp ride but we made it to the campsite safe and sound. Our next challenge was to set up our tents. My tentmate was Rebecca and neither of us had ever set up a tent.

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During WHIPPIT today, XiaoTang and I were supposed to meet Zhao (Potato Lady) but when we go there, we did not see her so instead, we went and interviewed a lady who earned a lottery area, Ms. Yang. It was really interesting to see people go through the experience and hear about what it was like to run a business like this. I also bought two lottery tickets but unfortunately, did not win anything. Ms. Yang also gave us pears, which was very nice. We watched several people buy tickets, hoping to win but unforunately, we did not witness any big wins today. Maybe next time, fingers crossed!

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Today, during WIPPIT time, Ms. Mai and I went to meet the potato lady, now known as Zhao. I learned a lot about the different aspects of the business. It was really interesting and I even got to see them make and prepare the dish! You can learn more about the information I found here! I also wrote a lot in my Phase 3 workspace during WIPPIT time too.

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I woke up today with more than enough sleep and ate breakfast. After breakfast, we had a bit of free time before we did our Wellness reflection for the week. After that, we ate lunch at home, at least some of us did, the rest ate at the square, and then we had 6 hours of free time! It was amazing to have so much time. Tonight was the first night I had dinner at the square. My friends and I went to the Golden Flower for dinner. We ordered fried corn with sweet red pepper, broccolli, potato and fried rice. We also met Mr. Yang's baby, XiZhou. He was really cute.

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Today was the first weekend we had and it was really relaxing. We started of the day by sleeping in and the kitchen was open from 8:30-9:30 for breakfast and were welcomed by the smell of eggs. After that, the day was quite calm. After lunch, we went through our Service Learning Project and Chinese history and later, we went out into the village for an hour to connect with locals and find possible partners for the project. Then, we had free time till dinner and now, we are watching a movie for movie night!

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Today, we left for Dali Old Town a bit behind schedule but we were not disappointed when we go there. It was a busy and lively street, almost as if I were back in Shanghai. Even the prices were the same as Shanghai, which was a bit too expensive after staying in XiZhou for a week. Christina, Rebecca, Anna, Miranda and I finally settled on a noodle place, after passing what seemed like millions of tempting, overpriced, western restaurants. We realized though, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean it's good. The meal was not great but it was not horrible.

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Since it was the Mid-Autunm Moon Festival, XiaoTang planned a special evening activity for us. We were fortunate enough to spend the festival with a local family. Dynamite was split into two groups based on our Inquiry Projects, there was the biking group and the walking group. I was part of the biking group. We had a blast eating mooncakes, pomegranate and other specialties. We were a bit disappointed though because the family did not eat with us but we were still able to talk to them. The weather though did not agree with us as a thunderstorm passed over us.

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Something that struck me during my stay in XiZhou so far is the use of green energy. My views of a village were very different before I came here. I have seen multiple uses of sustainable energy in XiZhou, more than I have seen in Shanghai, which is what struck me. The roads along the farms are lined up with wind turbines with solar panels attached to them. These are probably the two types of sustainable energy that fit XiZhou as it is usually sunny and sometimes, during the day, there is wind, like in last night's thunderstorm.

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Today, we rode around Erhai Lake after lunch at the square. On the way there, the view was beautiful! We passed countless rice fields, each a different shade of green. When we stopped by Erhai Lake, the view was amazing. We could see the lake, the mountains and the trees. We also noticed that the lake had a lot of algae. We were curious so Mr. T explained that this was because there is a lot of nitrogen in the lake, which is caused by the farmers dumping their leftover crops or animal waste into the lake. It was a great experience and I got my 30 minutes for the day!

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Today, during my Inquiry Project time, Aneka, Mr. T and I took a walk around the village. During our walk, we met two ladies from a deep fried, spicy potato vendor. As we bought our potatoes, we started talking to them. We found out surprisingly a lot about them. We learned that they previously were in Kunming, working, and they saw someone making the potatoes. They decided to imitate the business. At first, they were selling them in Kunming but later, they moved back to XiZhou to sell this snack. They had a really interesting story.

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Today, during our down time, Christina, Sarah and I went for a bike ride around the village. It was my first time out without a chaperone so it was an adventure. We went to places we had never been before and ended up in surprising places, in a good way though. We biked past beautiful rice fields, which were painted with different shades of green. We went onto a new path we had never been on before and also passed the Linden Centre, but we didn't know.

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The day started at 6:45. I got changed before having a nutritious breakfast in YZR.  After that, we all met in the courtyard and split up in two groups. First, we went for a tour of the village while the other group worked on their Inquiry Projects. During the tour, we were introduced to the important parts of town. Then, when had lunch at the square. My friends and I had a local specialty, XiZhou Baba. It was pretty good. For dessert then, I had a homemade, chocolate ice-cream. After a fufilling meal, we all met back at home (YZR), and then rotated.

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Though the day was short, it was a very tiring day. After a 3 hour plane ride and a 6 hour bus ride, I was ecstatic to finally arrive in XiZhou. When I arrived at YZR, I was excited to be living in such a great place. It is traditional and comfortable. We then got together with our roomates and settled down into our rooms before having a hearty, Chinese dinner. After some down time and conversations with my friends and family, I was exhausted and ready to go to bed.

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As my first Lock-In, I have to say that it is a lot of fun. Our first task of the Lock-In was to organize dinner which was more difficullt than any of us thought.  Who would have thought it would take 1 hour to order pizza? The pizza place only agreed to deliver only if we payed the taxi fare . After we got our dinner sorted out, the Pudong counselors had planned presentation for us about our Wellness during the trip as well as some activites.

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My name is Gayatri and I am currently 13 years old. I was born in Dubai and since then I have lived in Abu Dhabi, Jakarta and now Shanghai. Xizhou was an amazing experience and it will almost be a memory near my heart. I miss the blue skies and fresh air very dearly and hope to come back soon. I miss Xizhou so much and I hope future groups will enjoy Xizhou just as much as we did.