Rory W. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

Tonight, sadly, was our last night it Xizhou, and we had the Jammie Awards, were we all went in Classroom 2 to view a powerpoint presentation. The Jammies, is like the Grammies, accept we all wear our pajamas. Some of the awards for the Jammies are, Mr. and Ms. Inquiry, Mr. and Ms. Microcampus, Dirty Sock , the Tough It Out award, Stepping Up, Photo Bomb, Toughest Day, Best Dancer, Best Pun, and more. As the Jammies went on, I was awarded best photo bomber, best hugger, e.t.c. As we won an award, we went up to the front of the room and gave a 'speech'.

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There are many reasons of why I wanted to go to microcampus in the beginning, but towards the end I realized my answers were very different. I first wanted to come for experiential learning, personal growth, to have a positive impact, and to expand my intercultural understanding. I heard of microcampus last year from the 8th graders that came last year. They said microcampus was the best year of their life, and told me all about it. I was unable to attend the microcampus meeting last year, but soon after it I learned everything I needed to know about microcampus.

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There are many reasons of why I wanted to go to microcampus in the beginning, but towards the end I realized my answers were very different. I first wanted to come for experiential learning, personal growth, to have a positive impact, and to expand my intercultural understanding. I heard of microcampus last year from the 8th graders that came last year. They said microcampus was the best year of their life, and told me all about it. I was unable to attend the microcampus meeting last year, but soon after it I learned everything I needed to know about microcampus.

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Our inquiry projects are complete!!! Well, they are almost done because Mr. T still needs to have a final approval for them. Today was full of lots of intense work, and getting things done. Since our inquiry projects were due at 3:00 p.m. today, we were all very excited to be almost complete with them. This morning I finished my reflection, and during the beginning of WIPPIT time I was able to finish my movie. So, I was all ready for my final review at 3 with Mr. T. Because today was full of everyone working hard and some getting stressed, we had a very fun and exciting evening activity.

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This week has month has gone by so fast! I can't believe this is our last week. I am trying not to think about it, but that thought is still in my mind. Today was full of hard work. Since our inquiry projects are due tomorrow, we are all trying to get everything finish to our best abilities. For my final project I am creating an imovie, but everytime I go onto imovie my screen freezes which cause me to slow down. After a hard day of work, my friends and I decided to do something fun and intersting. Which is why we went to a local picture store and got sticky pics.

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Our last Saturday of microcampus, which was full of catching up and rest. Tonight right after dinner, we were all meet outside the dining hall. Anna and Gayatri were preparing a special dessert for all of us, and we were all waiting for them to come out. Everybody thought that it was going to be Anna's final product for her Inquiry Project, because Anna is studying all about cooking here in Xizhou.

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Today was a very special and exciting day because dancers were coming to our home to perform for us, and teach us how to dance. When they first got here they started to teach Kate and I different movements that involved a decorated stick and a tambourine. It was so much fun learning how to dance like a traditional Bai dancer. After the people came to dance, they were scheduled to watch The Five Golden Flowers with Rebecca and I. We gathered up our people and sat in the T.V. room. In the beginning of the movie, many of our guests sang along which created a happy environment to be in.

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Once in a while girls just want to be themselves, and do girl things. That is why tonight, we would be have a bros night out, and a girls night in. The bros had established at lunch that any events happening for them would stay top secret, even though we all knew exactly what they were doing. As for the girls, we were going to watch a chick flick, paint each others nails, and braid each others hair. The night started off with watching All About Steve, while braiding each others hair. Once the movie was finished, we all painted each others nails, and watched another movie.

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This morning during our daily meeting we were told that tonight we would be having deep reflecting. Once everyone was told this we all started morning and groaning because none of us wanted to think after dinner. The whole day non of us where excited for the evening activity. We had finished up dinner and met in SFJ, but as we came closer we started to notice horse carts! We climbed into them and headed off. We all thought to ourselves, this is way better than having deep reflections. I was sitting in the front of the cart, with the horse right in front of me.

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Yesterday Mr. Tafel said that if we had all finished our Phase 3's, then we could have a night out  at Dali Old Town! Since we has all completed that task, we were able to go. We departed from YZR and then set off on our adventure. There is such a variety of foods in Dali Old Town. Western restaurants on every street, with local foods mixed in. The first foods I ate was delicious pasta and melty pizza, then the dessert part. We started off eating some carmel popcorn which was only 3 RMB, and defiantly worth the walk.

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Who ever knew that badminton could be such a violent sport. Well, today I figured that out. It was after dinner, and we were all having a friendly game of badminton. Kate .W, Aneka, Gayatri, and I were gently whacking the birdie back and forth. Several times the birdie was hit a little too hard and flown to the second floor. Then someone had to quickly run upstairs and fetch the birdie. Our game lasted for awhile, but then we became board and decided to create a band with our badminton rackets. I was the lead singer, while Aneka and Gayatri were bass players.

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Our final hiking day. It seems as though we had just began our hike, even though it is almost over. We all woke up early to watch the beautiful sunrise, but little did we know how beautiful it was going to be. I expected the sun just to come up from the valley and into the cloudy gray sky, but that is no where near what we say. Right as I came out of my tent the sun was beginning to rise. Behind the majestic mountains the sky was beginning to turn neon orange and pink. The sun finally began peeking out behind a silhouette of the mountains. It was surely a site I would never forget.

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Even though sometimes I would just want to give up, I know to keep trying because everything is worth it in the end. I realized this today when we were hiking up the mountain. The pathway was steep with rocks everywhere and the ground was very slippery, but no matter the terrain we all kept on going. Nothing and no one could bring us down. We hiked and hiked for over 3 hours, and then finally reached Xiao Hua Dian Ban, the most beautiful mountain I have every seen. Once reaching a stopping point we immediately threw our bags off and headed up the mountain.

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After a early breakfast of all of our favorite foods, we departed on our 3 day hike. We took a 25 minute bus ride to the bottom of the mountain where we met up with our mules that would be carrying our tents and food supply. After a tiring first couple hours of hiking up, we finally reached a valley of flat ground and stunning scenery. Cows, sheep, and yaks were surrounding us, along with ravines flowing through the valley. Once finally reaching our destination we ate our delicious dinner and hiked up to our camping site.

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Today was a very stressful, yet exciting day. It started off as a normal morning completing our daily needs, but during our daily meeting we got some very exciting news. The chaperons told us that we would be having mules to carry our tents and food supply. I was worrying so much that I would have to carry all of those on my own, but thankfully now I don't have to! After an uneventful morning of pitching in and collecting our laundry, we set off for WIPPIT.

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This morning I woke up to a damp camp site full of impatient teenagers. Since mostly everyone was awaken from a rain storm at 1:00 in the morning, nobody got any sleep. After getting dressed, and packing up our sleeping bags, we headed out from the tongue of the lake. My bag was weighing me down to the ground because I had a sleeping bag attached to my hiking backpack, so I think once I got back home I would be around 5 inches shorter than I was before!

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Today was probably my most exciting day so far. It all started of at 5:45 when Mr. Tafel decided that we will be going on the camping trip because the weather was better. This morning as soon as we woke up it was pouring rain, as if a waterfall was right above us. However, that did not change the fact that we were going to go camping. After packing our bags with waterproof gear, collecting our dinner, and preparing a bike for the trip, we set off. The beginning of our bike ride was very smooth and calm, but that stopped as soon as we reached the half-way point to our camping site.

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In Shanghai it is not normal to see a blue sky, or for someone say hello to you. However, in Xizhou that is everything you see. Immediately when I arrived here I noticed the beautiful, clear blue sky. Some mornings it is pouring rain, but towards the afternoon it clears up, and the sky is it's usual color again. While walking along a street connected to SiFangJie, the town center, it is certain that you will see someone smiling at you, or saying hello. You always know you are welcome around town because everyone around you is super friendly.

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Usually Microcampus nights end with Chill & Chat or Card Games, but today we had a whole new twist on things. Today was Trivia Night! Mr. Tafel was the host and we were the contestants split into 4 teams. Those were: The Nerd Herd, KARS, Oddballs, and 3G+K. My team was The Nerd Herd and we dressed up as nerds; putting high socks on with flip flops, pulling up our pants, and putting our hair in high braided pigtails. Trivia night all stated when we all proudly walked into the classroom ready to win. We started with double jeopardy and worked our way up to final jeopardy.

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Today was a very relaxing and calm day. We started off with a relaxing breakfast and morning. Luckily, the only work we had to do was a wellness reflection and journal posts. Everyone is getting excited for our three day hike next weekend. I can't wait to be up in the mountains with the land below me! I hope that good weather comes to us, although it has been beautiful for the past couple days. Apart from a heavy rain on Thursday it has been amazing. Blue sky’s fill the air with the mountains surrounding us. I know I will be able to get used to this view! :)

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Weekends are for relaxing and catching up on our work, however they can sometimes become very stressful. For example, today was a very tiring day with lots of running around. In the morning I was able to sleep in until 9:00 in the morning which was really nice, but the day was just beginning. After a delicious breakfast of eating pancakes and cooking bacon, Aneka, Kate and I set off on our laundry adventure. It was our first time actually working the laundry machines so we were very nervous.

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Today was our first time visiting Dali Old Town. Before our departure Mr.T told us to bring along our hiking backpacks packed with heavy items. This was practice for our actual hiking trip that will take place during October Holiday. In my bag I packed my rain gear and a pillow which I though was going to be heavy, but ended up being about 6 pounds! Once the bus reached our destination we split up into groups to explore. Our first stop was a delicious dumpling restaurant where we enjoyed warm vegetarian dumplings.

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   Since many people have seen or heard of the movie, "The Five Golden Flowers," their expectation of Xizhou is much different than reality. Tourists expect to see all Bai Minority people walking around in traditional uniform, however, they are just normal people doing their daily needs. The movie influenced many people to come to Xizhou to see the dancing they saw in movie, but when the tourist came here they were very disappointed with the dancing. Therefore, the Bai people had to adjust to others needs so people would come and watch their shows.

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Today was our first bike trip around Xizhou. I expected to be riding along the rice fields and seeing the same sights everywhere we went, however, it was even more beautiful than I could have imagined. It all started off by getting our bikes, and riding down by the Linden Centre. I started in the front of the group because I wanted to get 30 minutes in zone for P.E., but sadly I ended up only getting 2 minutes. Despite how I was unable to my heart rate in zone, I still had an amazing afternoon!

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Today was quite an adventure. It all started off when Kate, Aneka and I went for our morning run. We ran silently, taking in our surroundings, to the rice fields. Kate talked constantly before about the beautiful view we were going to see towards the end of our journey, and once we reached our destination I could clearly understand why. The sky was baby blue with the sun rising up  the mountains surrounding us, and the clouds looked as if they were tiny balls of cotton up in the sky. I couldn't believe what I was seeing!

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Today we had our first tranquility time. Mr. Tafel took us to his favorite spot which was the terrace at the Linden Center. He loved this area because it was the place where Mr. Tafel first generated the idea of microcampus. In the beginning it was very hard for me to stay still and just let nature talk to me, however towards the end I felt comfortable not moving around and just letting my mind be free. I noticed the birds gracifully soaring around us, the dedicated farmers working hard, school children riding their bikes home, and pigs walking to the dinner plate.

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Day 2 was even more exciting than yesterday. Today we woke up at 6:30 to see the sunrise, and then realized that was too late because the sun had already risen. After we ate our delicious breakfast of pancakes, banana bread and toast, we set of on our tour of the village. We first walked to a local farm, and saw a huge tree which we later found out was our meeting point. While going around the village we stopped in a shop where the owner was a former dancer. She performed for us, and then I was able to attempt at trying the dance moved myself.

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Today we finally arrived in Xizhou after a 3 hour plane ride and a 6 hour bus ride. After many hugs and goodbyes at the Shanghai airport, we set of on our journey. The plane ride was fairly relaxing as we only rested and talked. However, the bus ride was full of energy! I guess we just needed some sleep after waking up at 3:30 in the morning. Once we arrived in Xizhou everyone had to haul their bags for what seemed like a mile, but then we eventually reached Yang Zhuo Ran (our home). The rooms are amazing and the bunk beds are super wide.

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I don't know about everyone in the DYNAMITE group, but I am SUPER excited for microcampus. Everyone who went last year said it was the best time of their life, and I can't wait until I can live their memories. Packing is LOTS of work because there is so many items on the list, but it is also half the fun finding all of our hiking gear and buying comfort food. Before we leave on September 14th, I really need to brush up on my chinese speaking skills. I don't really want to make a fool of myself saying the wrong chinese.

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Hello, my name is Rory and I love participating in Microcampus. I was excited for Microcampus because I love to learn through real-life experiences, an now I know it is more than I expected. Since next year with be my last year in Shanghai, I would like to end it by taking away more Chinese culture. Ever since I have moved to China, I have always been interested and in-awe of unique culture of the Chinese. Also, I love learning and experiencing new things. Microcampus has been an amazing adventure and experience so far, and I can't wait for what will come next.