Sarah C. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

Today was your 23(st) Microcampus Jammie Awards. After the beautiful (but last) sunset at the Linden Centre, we all came back to YZR, changed into our pajamas, and walked the "red carpet" to the TV room. We all waited for Mr. T to project the powerpoint onto the TV, but he had some technical dificulties. At the end, we moved to classroom 2 for our Jammie Awards.

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Before I arrived to XiZhou, I believed that I came to Microcampus for one simple reason: to escape my bubble and try something new. But once I got here, I've learned that escaping your comfort zone was only one part of many different reasons. 

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Today was our due date for our service learning project. All of our service learning partners came to watch the final videos that we have made, except for one group's partner. The Linden Centre staffs, the Linden family, the Linden Centre guests, YZR staff and chaperones all came to YZR (our home). We were all a little bit nervous, because it was our first time having an audience watching our final product. Our service learning partner, Mr. He, arrived a little bit late, but we were all glad that he could make it. 

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Everybody was rushing this morning to finish up their final inquiry product. My final product was not only my Powerpoint Presentation, but also my miniature tombstone. Before getting approval from Mr. T, I decided to voiceover my presentation. It took me a while to finish the voiceovers on iMovie, and I rushed it a little bit, but I'm very proud of my polished final product. There was a very long line to see Mr. T, so I waited until the end to get his approval. Everybody's final product looked different.

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Today was the day I started and finished on my final product. My final product is a tombstone that represents our Microcampus group Dynamite because our journey is ending very soon. Before leaving for the tombstone carving shop, I visited Ms. Li- Miranda's embroidery teacher. After Miranda got the teacher's help on her piece of embroidery (a blue humming bird), we left to meet Mr. Dong. Mr. Dong exactly knew what to do when I got there. He asked me how big I wanted my marble to be, and he immediately cut it down. Then he did some measurements with his pencil.

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Today, Gayatri and Anna gave us all a big surprise. At the daily meeting, Anna announced for everyone to meet in front of the dining room at 7:30. We all thought that this was going to be Anna's final project: yellow bean noodles. We all waited patiently until 7:30. After they let us in, we've realized that this surprise was actually a cake that they made especially for the Dynamite group. Gayatri told me that they made the brownie cake at the Linden Centre kitchen, and bought Snicker bars and cut them into piece to spell out Dynamite.

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Today, we had some service learning difficulties today. We made an appointment with Mr. Yang (the farmer) at 3, so we bought some fruit as a gift and walked over to his place. We knocked several times until someone finally answered. After several minutes, his wife answered the door. She didn't look as willing to let us into her home, so Xiao Tang had to explain to her that we weren't harmful people and that we just wanted to interview her husband. She wouldn't tell her where her husband went, so we just sat down and interviewed her instead.

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As today's evening activity, we have decided to have a boys' night out, girls' night in. Kate J and I went to the Linden Centre and prepared some movies (as well as nail polish) for this event. The boys' plan was to go out camping for the night. 

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Today was a special day- Xiao Tang arranged horse carts for us so that we could ride to Erhai Lake and back after dinner. During the daiy meeting, Kate and I told everyone that we would have deep reflecting time for evening activity today. So everyone was astonished when we announced that we kept the evening activity as a surprise. The whole crew met up at Si Fang Jie and played badminton and hackysack for a while as Xiao Tang did her final preparations. 

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Today was the last day for research on Phase 3. I have decided to focus on the tomb-stone carving for my final product. For the 3rd time, I have decided to visit the stone carver. In the morning at 8:00, I made my way to his workplace to take a glimpse of him carving a tomb-stone, but the shop was not open. I headed back home in disappointment, hoping I could see him carve in the afternoon. When I went back in the afternoon, Annaliese and Ms. Mai helped me translate my questions to him and asked him if it would be okay for me to study and learn how to paint and carve on a tombstone.

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Just like the beginning of Microcampus, we unpacked our things and settled back into our rooms. Breakfast tasted never so delicious, with the Ersi (Chinese rice noodles) and the banana muffins (that I adore SO MUCH).

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Today has been a very long day. Christina and I woke up at 6:00 to watch the sunrise at the valley. It was freezing cold, even colder than last night. But as soon as the sun came out, our bodies melted like a popsicle. We headed for breakfast after we cleaned up our wet and muddy tents. Breakfast was boiled corn, and some oatmeal with warm milk (which was absolutely delicious!) After breakfast we had a inside-tent inspection and packed them up for our last day up on the mountains. 

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Today I woke up with frozen feet in the icy tent. It was 7:30, and the sun was just rising. I zipped up the tent as the bright sunlight struck my face. For breakfast, we had some noodles and plain Xi Zhou Ba Ba. They were amazing, especially with a whole lot of peanut butter on top of it. Today morning we departed a little late- 10:30. I knew that the day was going to be tough, so instead of feeling like I cannot make it, I thought positive!

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I could say today was a very challenging and difficult hike already, which worries me on how I will survive for the next 2 days of the hike. Today morning, we all got up before sunrise and had our breakfast. The weather was fine, since it wasn't raining. At 8, we headed towards the Big Tree and took our bus to our starting line. The 16 of us and 4 chaperones- Mr. T, Ms. Mai, Fay, and Andrew (our tour guide) were part of this remarkable camping trip. 

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Today we had modified schedules. Originally we were supposed to be heading for the 3-day hike today, but the weather forecast announced that it would be raining all day- which was very true. We got up on the morning and realized that it was getting pretty cold and chilly outside as it started to drizzle. 

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Today's highlight was the hiking trip that we've planned for today's evening activity. The morning was a normal schedule, but we left at 6:30 with our tents, bags, clothes, hiking boots, bikes, dinner (packed in a plasitc container) and some other necessities. Our way there was very bumpy and rough. It was about a 35 minute bike ride to the campsite, and on our way there, a part of the road was completely flooded. We had to walk our biked through the area, and by the time we got through, our hiking shoes and pants were completely wet.

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As you can tell by my title, today's day was more of a chill day. We had a normal schedule today: breakfast, SAS Essentials, Daily Meeting, Pitching In, lunch, WIPPIT, and dinner. It's been a while since we've had a normal schedule!

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Trivia Night consisted of 4 groups: Nerdie Herdie, Oddballs, KARS, and 3G+K. Every team worked hard on dressing up for this event. Our group, the KARS, dressed up as well. We wore gray t-shirts, jeans, flip flops, bandanas, and wore towels as capes. We also drew whiskers on our faces, and put a sock on one of our arms (we were super wacky!) . The Trivia Night started at 7:30, with our host T (Mr. T). The game was separated into 3 sections- single jeopardy, double jeopardy, and final jeopardy. Our group started off smoothly.

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It's been a little more than a week since we've arrived here at XiZhou, Yunnan. XiZhou is a village with mountains surrounding the west side of it, and has a beautiful lake called Erhai Lake. The climate is just amazing: a 3/10 in XiZhou is a 8/10 in Shanghai, expectation-wise. There are lots of land for farming and crops, unlike huge cities like Shanghai. In the evening, we are able to see bright stars everywhere. Even a clear moon!

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Today was the first day we got to sleep in (Until 9:00!). I caught up with all the extra sleep I've needed for the past week. I think I was never this energetic during Microcampus before. Today morning went smoothly, since we got to chill and hang out, catch up on anything we haven't finished yet. I have completed my wellness for this week today, which was getting time in zone 3 times a week (30 minutes each session). Surprisingly, it was very easy to get 30 minutes in zone today. After a delicious lunch at Si Fang Jie, we finally started on our Service Learning.

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Today consisted of 2 activities that I want to share with everyone. In the afternoon while I was working on my Inquiry Project Phase 3, adding information about my interviews with locals. I suddenly got a  call from Mr. T, asking me to come outside to the casket maker, Mr. Yang's place. When I arrived at his workplace, I was astonished. The 2 caskets he was working on was all gone, replaced by another casket that hasn't been painted yet, but that was being smoothed our by Mr. Yang. Mr.

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Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival! In the morning, we did our usual routine: breakfast, SAS Essentials, Pitching In, Daily Meeting, lunch, and WIPPIT time. After dinner, Xiao Tang has generously planned an activity for us. We split into 2 different groups to bring moon cakes and celebrate with a local XiZhou family. I think this was a great experience for intercultural understanding on how locals celebrate a yearly festival. It was also an opportunity to make a positive impact on the places we go.

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Today, I did lots of work on my Inquiry Project. Ms. Mai, Fay and I went to meet locals who were selling items used in a funeral: such as clothing, flowers and caskets. Mr. Zhao, our guard, kindly led us the way to the shops. Some things I've learned are that there are lots of things the family must prepare after someone passes away. Lots of the items needed for the ritual take a very long time to make. For example, the flower-decoration takes about a week to make and the casket takes at least 5 days to complete. I was surprised about how quickly Mr.

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Today morning, a lot of other people and I went jogging for wellness. We woke up earlier than usual, then we quietly and gently tiptoed out of our rooms. The HRM check in took a very, very, very long time. At the end, I only ended up with 9 minutes in zone. 

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Today is my birthday! The whole microcampus group helped us celebrate Christina, Matt and my birthday with an amazing chocolate cake yesterday. Thank you everyone for that! Today was also very special because of one other reason. We spent the morning following the normal schedule: we caught up on Inquiry and started on WIPPIT time. Today, Gayatri, Christina and I biked out of our comfort bubble. We went out of Si Fang Jie and biked to another direction after we reached the laundry place.

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As soon as I woke up this morning, I knew there was going to be a long way ahead. My roommates and I all woke up at 6:30 to take showers. We all took turns doing that while packing our bags for the little village tour ahead of us. Half of us (8 of us) stayed behind with Mr. T as the other half of us went with Xiao Tang for the village tour. I went with Xiao Tang for the first half and went to some amazing places around here. We visited a lady who was a part of the Bai minority dance club, we watched people make rice noodles and embroidery.

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Getting up at 3 in the morning wasn't very easy. I dragged myself to my changing room and got ready for the plane ride. The packing took a long time last night: there are too many things to pack!! After one final check around the house, I was all set to leave. I said goodbye to my dad, who came back very late from work due to the flooding that night. I also said farewell with my brother, wondering if I would miss his talkativeness over the month. The roads were very empty so my mom and I arrived at HongQiao airport a little earlier than planned.

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I can't believe it's time to take off!
We've all worked very hard for this moment, and I'm sure that all 16 of us are more than excited for the adventures we'll come across for the next 28 days. 
I have a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement. There are so many "what if" questions floating around my head. I cannot wait to reunite with the Puxi Campus students!

To watch my video on pre-departure thoughts, click on the link!

http://videonew.saschina.org/watch_video.php?v=MWM842UXA544

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The previous lock-in was a chance for all of us to meet/ talk to each other for the first time (Puxi and Pudong Campus). I was thrilled after meeting everyone, for they would be my partners for the upcoming month! A challenge we had was trying to order pizza, but it was a fascinating experience, trying to get 6 boxes of pizza delivered to our school. We created our wellness plans and talked specifically about our upcoming journey. In the evening, we wandered around the school trying to find a comfortable place to spend the night in, but all of us ended up in the library.

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Hello! I'm a 14 year old eighth grader. I'm from Korea, and it is my 7th year in Shanghai. I was very excited to be a part of the September-October Microcampus trip. XiZhou is a peaceful, bright, and unique town with friendly locals and wonderful scenery, not to mention the night skies, stars and fresh air. This town offered me self-confidence, and let me try something different for a month. I wish luck (and lots of fun) to the next group who will be part of this remarkable journey!