The focus of our service learning project is to create a connection with a local elder from Xizhou and learn about their experiences. We have not yet chosen our service learning elder. Click here to go to our group's project page.
Some characteristics that would make an interesting Service Learning partner would be someone who is kind, unique, strong (mentally), talented, have a deep history, fascinating, cooperative, and sincere. For instance, if the elder was somehow involved with the Chinese Revolution, or if they were in the army. This will help me see how hard it was, or how scary it was, or how life-changing it was.
Our service learning partner is named Ms. Chen. She is a 75 year old woman who works at the restaurant, Old Town Snacks, on Si Fan Jie. I learned a lot about my elder through this experience. I learned all about my elder's life in her hometown and her life here in Xizhou. I learned how difficult it was to be born in such a hard time. I did not learn as much as I would have liked about Xizhou's history because my elder was not born in Xizhou, but another small village in Yunnan. Mr. T's history lesson in the beginning helped a lot in understanding what a hard time these people had gone through. I learned so much about 20th Century Chinese history as a result of this experience. I have enriched my knowledge on The Great Leap Forward, Flying Tigers, and New China. I realized how important knowing the background information about these topics can help when interviewing. I would recommend to spend as much time as possible finding and getting to know your Service Learning Partner. There is a lot less time than you think. My group had just the right amount of time, but other groups were unlucky. Also, find a person who could also be an asset to your Inquiry Project. This could help a lot. My last recommendation would be to get to know your Service Learning Partner before bringing a camera and a tripod and asking sensitive questions. Spend at least 30 minutes, 2 times a week with your service learning partner. Maybe even more. Do not just ask questions about their lives, also share stories about your life in Shanghai and what not. It really helps, trust me. Also, if they love to sing or dance, ask them to sing or dance for you. You will be amazed at what you will find.