Aneka H. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

I came to Microcampus to learn. To have a great experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wanted a real experience in China. I have lived seven years inside the bubble and I wanted to get out of it. Whenever my family went on trips of China we always had some kind of tourist thing that we went to. Finally we went on a trip to Yunnan, we went to Lijiang and Dali. While we were at Dali my mom found the Linden Centre on Trip Advisor. My dad was talking about some guy named Craig Tafel and some eighth grade kids who were staying there.

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Today we shared our service learning videos with our elder partners and other people (Linden Centre staff, guests etc.) Overall it was a very nice and warming occasion. Mr. Yang and his uncle Mr. Yang showed up, last year when the cookie monsters came one of their service learning partners (Mr. Yang the uncle) couldn't come. This year we kicked it off with their video to show everyone including Mr. Yang. That was very nice. All the elders had their own character. Ms. Chen was very sweet and dressed up in a nice shirt. Mr.

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Today I finished my inquiry project! I think that deserves an applause. This morning after our science discussion I went straight to work on trying to finish my video. I got a lot work done in the morning and I planned everything so that I would have time to do the reflection this afternoon. I filmed everything I needed during lunch and after lunch and I was ready to get it approved by Mr. T. Sarah and Gayatri then came running to me saying we had our couselor check-in right that instant. We talked to Mr. Letiecq for a while and then I was back to inquriy. Mr.

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Today was just a regular day in XiZhou Microcampus (or as normal as it can be here.) We started the day off with a yummy breakfast then moved on to SAS Essentails/Inquiry Project work scince most of SAS Essentails is done already. We moved on to our daily meeting and then to Pitching In which was a cleaning room time for room 3. We had clothes all over the place and sneakers near the bathroom. So we spent a while cleaning everything up. Then we had a wonderful lunch at Old Town Snacks, Rory and I split dumplings and fried rice.

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Today we had a girls night in. While the bros went out to do whatever bros do, all the girls stayed in Yangzhuoran and went up to the TV room. It was a steryotipical girls night in with a 'chick flick', nail polish and hair brushes all included. Some of us even brought our sleeping bags up to sit on. First we watched All About Steve which looked like a chick flick, but just turned out to be a cheesey movie. While that movie was going on Kate J went around doing everyone's hair in braids and updos. Then we watched Ramona and Beezus with the lights on and did each other's nails.

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Today we were informed that there was a meeting in the dinning room at 7:30 this evening, so at 7:30 sharp we all went and stood outside waiting for what kind of surprise there was waiting for us in the dinning room. I figured scince Anna and Gayatri was the one that was not there and Anna was doing her inquriy project on food, that the surprise was going to be a yummy one. We got in and lined up against the wall while the suspence built. Finally they uncovered the unknown: A chocolate cake with snickers! It was the best yummy surprise ever.

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Although it is a Saturday we had Service Learning time from 1:00 - 5:30. As planned before Anna, Sarah, Andre and I went out to meet Mr. Yang the farmer scince yesterday he was too busy to be interviewed. We went over to his house at 3:00 just as he told us yesterday. We knocked on the door and no one answered. His neighbors weren't very helpful. Finally after five minutes of knocking and calling for him his wife answered the door. She said he was not home and that he was working in the fields even though he had agreed to a 3:00 appointment and it was rainy.

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In XiZhou they are very good about recycling and waste disposal, as well as energy. If you walk along the road leading to Erhai you will pass many solar panels with small windmills on top of them. That is one of the ways they get energy. Xiao Tang said that the hot water for our showers and sink is heated by solar panels on the roof of the terrace right here in YangZhouRan. You also see a lot of other solar panels on top of others people's roofs in the village. Another thing is waste disposal.

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We are getting pretty close to the end of microcampus! I final health reflection is now in order about what I need to improve on characteristics wise so that these last nine days can be the best! I think I need to work on being a little less talkative. Sometimes I go on for a really long time just talking about things. For example during the video shout outs I talk a lot and don't give other people a lot of time to speak. I sometimes finish people's sentences. In general I feel that I'm doing good here with my characteristics.

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So this evening Rory got hit in the head with a badminton birdy while we were making a band out of badminton rackets. Explanation: We were playing badminton after a day back to the normal schedule. It was after dinner at Mr. Yang's Golden Flower restaurant and Rory, Kate W, Gayatri and I were playing a very bad game of doubles badminton when everything fell apart. I had the great idea of making a band and so a band out of badminton rackets began. Rory would sing into hers while Gayatri played the bass guitar and I played the electric/acoustic guitar.

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Well we are back now, but after an eventful day of the hardest hiking yet and a fantastic 6:30 sunrise. I woke up to Mr. T's oprea singing about seeing the sunrise and waking up. Of course that got me out of my sleeping bag pretty fast. It was freezing outside and the sun was up, just not over the mountains yet. Almost everyone was up so I danced around with Chritstina, Kate, Sarah and Rebecca while we waited for the sun to come over the mountains. It eventually did and it was wonderful to feel the warm on me and see the fantastic view.

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Today we hiked up to the highest point we will get to during this hike, 3232 meters above sea level. It was fantastic. After a chilly morning and a okay night's rest we hiked up, and up. It was not as hard as yesterday and definately not as long and tiring. 3 hours of uphill is not as bad as you might think. We got to the second house at around lunch and ate there, then we had the rest of the day untill dinner to relax and enjoy the amazing outdoors. Kate and I imediatly started taking it all in with pictures and just sitting down and enjoying the view.

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There was an excited sense in the air this morning as we climbed on the bus that took us to Huadianba mountains. The first bit was slightly uphill and some people were falling behind, I tried to help as much as I could with keeping people's spirits up. It was hard, after a huge stretch of just walking across the valley under the hot sun. It took us almost eight hours to get to the guest house where we had a wonderful dinner that was very much deserved. The whole day we did not have one drop of rain, so fingers crossed for tomorrow.

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We will be starting our three day hike in less then 24 hours from now. It is now getting pretty late so I will make this journal a shortish one. After a normal microcampus day here in XiZhou we had a packing crazy night. Our hiking backpacks are filled to the brim and we are eager to get some rest before camping for the next two nights. I myself cannot wait until this hike. I like hiking a lot and I guess that comes from my dad. Although I am a little nervous about the cold and the rain I am sure this experience will be one I will never forget, for better or worse I do not know.

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So this time I got to ride PingGuo (apple) when Kate and I took another horse cart ride today. This time when we sat up front with Mr. Yang he gave me the reins. I have to say I was pretty good. Though we did not have much sucess in interviewing Mr. Yang we had fun and I got to drive a horse cart. In other news for wellness today, Kate, and I ran 3 1/2 microcampus laps. Rory also ran with us for 2 1/2 of those laps due to tecnical difficulties with her heart rate monitor.

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Because we went camping yesterday I have not had time to do my journal, so here it is. At 5:45 we made a desion to go camping, even though the sky was grey and rain was sure to come. We packed some dinner and our bags and left on our bikes down to the toungue of the lake. On the way we encountered some wet difficulties when we had to ride through a shin deep puddle. With puddles in our shoes we continued our journey. We arrived at the tounge of the lake just before the sun went down. Our first priority was setting up shelter. That took a lot longer than expected.

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After a nice snack of ErQuan (a wrap with spicey potatos) Kate Grace and I ran into Mr. T Graham and Chuli. T asked us if we wanted to go on a horse cart ride, so we did. Kate and I went up front with the driver and right behind the horse. Mr. Yang the driver even let Kate manage the horse reins for a bit. She kind of got the hang of it after a while, but then Mr. Yang took them back. It was super fun and bumpy. Mr. T helped us with the tourist experience by pointing out different landmarks, including a building that they Flying Tigers used in 1930.

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Grace and I just came back from an amazing experience at a local chinese school. Xiao Tang and I sat in a ninth grade biology class while Grace and Fay learned a whole lot of geography. I learned a lot about my topic before and after class by asking questions, but I also obsevered. I noticed things about how the teens interact with each other, boys and girls sat next to each other even though they walked septratly in pairs or in small groups. I also learned a lot about biology and evolution.

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In general I have not seen a lot of tourists in XiZhou. Every once in a while we see some people visiting the Linden Centre. There is a part in XiZhou that is meant for tourists but if any foreigners come they would most likely go to the Linden Centre. I have been to LiJiang and there was a lot Chinese tourists there. I think that if any tour sits come to XiZhou they would either be Chinese middle class tourists or foreigners visiting the Linden Centre.

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It is Saturday! Finally after a long tiring week of our first in Microcampus we have a day of chill... although that is what Mr. Tafel said. Unfortunatly Rory, Kate and I had laundry, so it was not as chill as expected. After a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs we had to go and wash the clothes. Then we had to be back in time for lunch, and of course after lunch we had Service Learninga and a history lesson for four hours. Finally we had to go pick up the laundry, but not all of the clothes were dry, besides we needed to put in a third load.

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Today we took a evening/half day trip to Dali "Old" Town. There it was a lot more modern than XiZhou and we got some of the comforts of home. Dali "Old" Town was a bit more western influenced, though Rory and I had dumplings, there was still a lot of western restraunts that might help us if we are feeling a little homesick. Rory and wandered around the streets looking into all kinds of different shops, some little some small. Mr. T wanted us to bring our hiking backpacks full of things that are heavy so to practice for our hiking trip.

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Happy moon festival! 中秋节快乐!Today was definatly a day of excitment. First of all Christina and I went to the Linden Centre for terrace time. It was kind of gray and thundering in the distance. There were even some lightning strikes. Half way through Christina nudged me. There was a faded but still beautiful rainbow in the distance. Although it was not raining where we were, it definatly was raining where the rainbow was. After the rainbow excitment we had more news. We were going to a local chinese family to celebrate the moon festival!

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Today we went on a 2 hour bike ride. The highlight of the ride was the broken down building. There was something amazing and wonderful of climbing up a "building" to great the sight on top. After your heart is pounding going up steps with no railing you are greeted with a wonderful view of Erhai lake. I think the building would be a good place for terrace time, but I do not I will get to go there often because you need a chaperone. I want to find a nice place for terrace time in the future on my own. Although I still have not found one I have a whole month. 

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After the wonderful Dong Jiang music performance at the Linden Center, Mr. T asked if anyone had stood alone in a rice field after dark. Of course the answer was no, so we went to a rice field and just stood there staring at the beautiful night sky. The stars were amazing compared to Shanghai, but according to Mr. Tafel it was a 3/10 in star gazing. Though the thing that struck me the most was moon. Since there is only two days until the moon festival and the sky was relatively clear the moon was super bright. It looked like a white sun burning in the black night. I loved it!

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This morning we went for a short run. My main highlight though was our very first Terrace time. Mr. Tafel took us to the first place he had terrace time, the Linden Centre. We sat on the actual terrace and just thought for 15 minutes. I focused on different things and scenery. Sometimes I would just zone out and think of just random thoughts. It was a cloudy day, but when the clouds parted the sun beams shone down on the mountains it looked like a fairy kingdom. Another thing I focused on was a tiny bug sitting on a wall.

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Today we woke up to a slightly chilly morning. After a wonderful breakfast of Er si a noodle dish, half of us went on a tour with Xiao Tang and Ms.Mai. We explored more of the village. We went to Happy Embroidery and saw some amazing pieces done by students and teachers. We stopped by a rice noodle factory and an oil factory. After a delicious lunch at Mr.Yang's restraunt and a bit of XiZhou Baba the two groups switched off. Mr.T sang opera and we went in the middle of rice fields when the thunder started. The three of us made it back just in time for the rain to pour.

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We are finally here! After a one hour car ride, four hour airplane ride and a seven hour bus ride we finally got to XiZhou! I remember some things from when I visited last spring break, but this is still super exciting and I can't wait till tomorrow when we get to explore a little bit more. Right now I'm just excited and a little homesick, but not really. I miss everyone at home, but I love the night sky here. I feel that this will be one of the best experiences ever. 

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We are leaving for XiZhou in almost 8 hours from now! I'm so excited and can't wait to finally get there. After doing all that research and planning I am ready to go! I am a little bit nervous about staying away from my family and close friends for a month. This will be the longest I have stayed away from my family, ever. I know I will miss everyone, but I also know I can Skype and call when we get to XiZhou. I do not think it has hit me that I am actually going yet. I am guessing that will happen when I get to the airport or on the plane.

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On Friday and Saturday we had our Microcampus Lock-In. It was the first time meeting the kids from Puxi and I was super excited. I never knew it took a hour and 16 kids to order a pizza! Mr. T talked to us more in depth about what Microcampus will actually be like. We made a wellness plan that the councilors organized to help us stay in touch and well with the people that we will miss back in Shanghai. Kate, Rory, Anna and I helped Mr.T pump 36 bike tires. After getting all sweaty the shower felt amazing. For breakfast we rode into the village.

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My name's Aneka and I'm 14 years old. I was born in Mumbai, India and have lived in Mexico, Shanghai and now North Carolina. I was at SAS for eight years before moving to the U.S at the end of my eighth grade year. I love XiZhou and miss it so much! I hope I can go back there again some day and visit all my favorite places and eat all my favorite foods(Yum!) I am so grateful for this wonderful experience and I hope that everyone who goes gets as much if not more out of it then I did.