The tour of our service learning project is to create a connection with an elder from Xizhou and learn about their experiences. We have not yet chosen our service learning partner. Click HERE to go to our group's project page.
As we look for a service learning partner we want to person to have interesting characteristics some of which make the person unique and fascinating. For instance, if an elder's family was in the cultural revolution they would have an interesting childhood, or if the family was very poor they could talk about their struggles. Having a partner with interesting partner would make a great ending product.
Our service learning partner is Ms. Chen. She was born in a small county in Yunnan province, but she currently works at 'Old Time Snacks' in SFJ. Ms. Chen is a 75 year old woman who has a passion for singing, but ended up as a farmer.
Ms. Chen, a 75 Han, was born in Yunnan, Yan Jing Xiang and just came to Xizhou last year but during the Spring Festival, she vists her hometown. She has 5 children 4 sons and 1 daughter, but only her son works in Xizhou along with her daughter-in-law and the her other children work in Kunming. They both run Old Town Snacks, a restaurant in Si Fang Jie, and Ms. Chen helps there as well. She herself has no siblings as her father passed away when she was 2 and was raised by only her mother. Her mother passed away about 24 years ago. She had no education growing us and therefor, is illiterate and cannot speak Bai. Throughout her life, worked as a farmer and only stopped 5 years ago. Ms. Chen currently owns land in Kunming, which is being used by her daughter. As a farmer, she used to grow corn and tomatoes. She had no friends growing up but her hobbies include singing, which she started when she was 17 or 18 years old. As a child, she had no hopes and dream because they were too busy focusing on the future. She was 11 years old during the Cultural Revolution. She knew New China had started when she saw people walking around the streets carrying posters with Mao's face on it. Now though, she says that her hometown is doing much better.
I did not learn much history about Xizhou, but rather information about Yunnan. Since my service learning partner has lived most in Yan Jing Xiang most of her life, she had lots of history from there. Ms. Chen has lived there her ever since she was young, and she has just moved to Xizhou to be with her children. I learned that when Ms. Chen was a young child there was a rally going on during the Civil War in 1949, and people were walking around with portraits of Mao. The childhood of Ms. Chen was very difficult for her, but her and her fmaily all fought through it.
I can't believe microcampus is almost over. We just have one more full day until we leave, even though is feels as though we have just arrived here in Xizhou. Today we all presented our service learning videos. It was a lot of work finalizing everything and editing the video, but it was all worth it in the end. Everyone had invited their service learning partner over to YZR, so they could watch the video with us. My groups partner was a 75 year old woman named Ms. Chen. She has 5 children 4 sons and 1 daughter, but only her son works in Xizhou along with her daughter-in-law and the her other children work in Kunming. Ms. Chen is very friendly and she has a passion for singing, but became a farmer.
Before showing our video to our small audience, containing the Linden Centre staff and everyones service learning partner, we had to move to the front of the room to sit by our partner. Since she did not have an education when she was younger, Ms. Chen could not read or write any chinese which made watching the videos quiet harder. Lucklily, in our video she was talking very loud, and could understand herself. It was amazing to see our partner smile at her answers, even though some of them were very sad. After showing her the video we asked if she liked it, and she said it was the best thing she has ever seen. This experience was one I will never forget.
I recomend for future microcampus students to choose a service learning partner that is a local to this village. This makes it easier to gain information about Xizhou in general. Another tip to help with service learning, is too record the video in an environment that is easier to be heard in. Try to record somewhere inside or where there are not many people, that will make creating your video very easy. Finnaly, always get to know your service learning partner before you ask them questions. This will make them more open to you, and for their answers to be deeper.