Grace C. (Alumni-D)'s Journal

Today at 3:00, all of us met up with our Service Learning partners to show them our videos on the big screen. I saw everybody's partners walking into Yang Zhuo Ran with the assistance of my classmates. Earlier this morning, Miranda called our partner and he said that he was planting trees today. Chuli and I ran to the mosque to try to persuade him to come see the video. We asked someone where he was, and he replied that he was at home relaxing. That to me was very frustrating because after all our hard work, he didn't want to see the video.

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I think that I could say that today was a sad day for all of us. I have grown to deeply love Xizhou, and now I have to say farewell! It's not fair. I am going to miss the clean air, which you can't find in Shanghai, and I'm going to miss the blue skies during the day and the beautiful stars at night, that also will not be visible in Shanghai. We had to finish packing today, which made it even worse! After all these days, I've been having the greatest time of my life, and now I have to wave goodbye?

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Why did I come to Microcampus? I thought that I came to study my topic: The Daily Life of a Girl in Middle School here in Xizhou. I thought I came here to experience new things. I thought I came here to meet new people and have fun. Yes, I did come here to do all of those things, but no, I came here to do other things, bigger things as well. This trip is about personal growth.

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Today was a very stressful day for everybody because our final products for our Inquiry was due. I spent hours perfecting my movie, yet I still felt like I could fix up some things. I talked to Mr. T and as he was watching my video, he was able to point out a couple things that I needed to redo. I got so much filming and editing done that I was so proud of myself and what I have accomplished over the course of this month. I realized that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything. I already climbed a mountain. I already made so many new friends and new memories that will last a lifetime.

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I was very busy with Inquiry today. For WIPPIT time, I did 4 hours of working on my final product and boy, was it exhausting! I was trying to find people to help me film out in the village (because I am not allowed to go alone) and every time I filmed for about 5 minutes at a time, my camera would run out of battery, so I would have to find 4 new, un-used batteries to replace the old and junky ones. At one point during WIPPIT time, Rory asked me to come with her to film for her Inquiry project only for a short while, so I agreed and off we went.

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Once again, today was not a very productive day, because it's a Sunday. Tonight right after dinner, we were all supposed to meet up outside the dining hall. We had an after dinner surprise hosted by Anna and Gayatri. Everybody assumed that it was going to be Anna's final product for her Inquiry Project, but that made me wonder. Why would Gayatri help Anna with her final product? I understand that they are both on the food committee, but Gayatri's Inquiry Project has nothing to do with food.

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Last week, at this time, I was hiking on a mountain. Let me just say, that weekend was anything but relaxing. Today I woke up at 8:30 and went to breakfast. To my delight, eggs, bacon, and pancakes were all being served! From breakfast until lunch, we had freetime, but Kate W., Chuli, and I went to do our laundry which took about 2 and a half hours. I had lunch at Yang Zhuo Ran with all my friends and had wonderful conversations. From 1:00 to 5:45, we had Service Learning, but because our partner was unavailable today, we are going to do it tomorrow.

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Tonight was Girls' Night In and Bros' Night Out. I have no idea what the guys did or where they went, but it was very peaceful and quiet at home. The girls watched a couple movies while doing each others hair and painting nails. All of us were snuggled up in our sleeping bags, all warn and cozy. The first movie we watched was called All About Steve, which I thought was ok. The second movie was Ramona and Beezus which was a movie that definitely brought back memories of my childhood. That series was probably one of my favorites when I was young. At some point during the night, Kate J.

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Our evening activity tonight was supposed to be a reflection in Si Fang Jie about our journey so far. Everyone groaned and moaned, but tried their best not to complain. We all met up at 7:30 after dinner, prepared for a very boring night. Kate J. then announced that we would be taking a horse cart down to Lake Erhai just to check it out. I sighed of relief. The horse cart ride was very relaxing and cozy, considering the fact that we were are squished up next to each other. Sarah and I had a very interesting chat with Mr. T on the way there.

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Today, as a half day trip, we got to go to Dali Old Town again! I was so excited! Everybody was craving western food, so I just tagged along, only hoping that it actually tasted like it should. I was with Rebecca, Gayatri, and Christina, and we ended up having to split up into 2 and 2 due to the "6 at a restaurant" rule. I was surprised at how normal the food tasted. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't horrible. I had baked mac n' cheese and Christina ordered banana pancakes and the hawaiian delight pizza. Christina is a great friend of Maya's, who was my absolute best friend in 5th grade.

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Today Mr. T and I biked to a temple that he had just recently discovered to discuss my final product for my Inquiry Project. He gave me some amazing advice and great visuals to keep in mind for future reference. Now I know exactly what I going to do and how I am going to do it. After our chat, we walked around the temple and I was fascinated. I could not believe all of the wonderful elements in this temple could be combined into one. It was beautiful, colorful, and bright. What surprised me the most, was that there was no one there except for the people who take care of the temple.

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After 2 vigorous days of climbing up the mountain, it was finally time to come down. When we first started, I was having a great time, and keeping up with everybody. However, when we got to a certain part, I assumed that it was going to be easy. Boy was I wrong! We were walking right along a stream that we had to pass about every 10 minutes or so. By the time that first stretch was over, my feet were soaking wet. We rejuvenated by taking a short break and rehydrating, applying sunscreen and lip balm, and just relaxing.

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Today was an amazing day! Compared to yesterday, hiking was so easy. For 300 meters (984 feet), we were at a constant incline until we reached the top of the mountain which was 3232 meters. This was definitely the highlight of the trip. We were surrounded by mountains, and for miles, you could see yaks and sheep roaming freely in the valley below us. It felt so good in that moment, as if I was standing on top of the world. Sarah, Christina, Rebecca, Gayatri and I laid on the ground, cloud gazing. I haven't used my imagination like that in such a long time.

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The 3-day hike started off very early, 5:45 in the morning early. Breakfast was at 6:30, so in between that time, I packed some last minute things into my hiking backpack. I cherished my last bites of recognizable food for 3 days and started feeling butterflies in my tummy. How was I going to be able to hike a mountain for 3 days? I'm not strong mentally or physically! Mr. T explained to us that we would overcome challenges and become stronger mentally, because if you put your mind to it, it won't be a physical challenge at all. You are simply putting your brain to the test.

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Today I went to the middle school yet again, because I feel like I learn most of my information for my Inquiry Project there. Fay and I were just about to leave when it started to lightly rain. I put my raincoat on and Fay brought an umbrella with her. About half way there, the light sprikling turned into a downpour. Fay and I ended up stopping in an electronic store only 5 minutes away from the middle school because it was raining so hard. 10 minutes later, we decided to find our way there whether we were soaking wet or not.

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Very early this morning, I learned how little things can have such a big effect on others. It all started when we started to bike home. At the gate of Tongue of the Lake, we did a count-off. Number 2 was missing. After 15 minutes of patiently waiting, Mr. T and Jeffrey appeared, but Ms. Mai was not with them. It turns out that a boy forgot where he had placed his bike key the night before and could not unlock his bike. Ms. Mai had offered him her bike and she ended up having to walk home.

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Today we went camping at the Tongue of Lake Erhai. It's called the "Tongue" of the Lake because there is water to your left and right, so you are on a peninsula. After an exhausting 30 minute bike ride, carrying our hiking backpacks, we finally set up camp. Aneka and I shared a tent and she brought the tent on the way there, meaning that I would be the one to carry it on the way back. Mr. T gave us very clear instructions as to what we were supposed to do and how we were supposed to do it.

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The highlight of my day today was the horse cart ride around the village. Kate J., Chuli, Graham, Aneka, Mr. T and I sat in a horse cart for 25 minutes soaking in the scenery and learning a little bit about history. All was going well until Chuli tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed to me thigh and to my disgust, a wasp was perched on my black sweatpants as if life was amazing. I on the otherhand, was freaking out. Mr. T told me to calm down and I tried to keep my cool. For five minutes, Chuli and I were staring that bee down as if we had nothing better to do.

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Geography Class

As you may know from my Phase 3, today I went to school! Aneka, Fay, XiaoTang and I rode our bikes up to the local middle school to experience what it was like to go to school here. We made it just in time for Geography class. There were 40 kids in a class, all of which were 14 years old. They are in their 2nd year in middle school, so it is called 2nd grade. The teacher asked the students to rise and say,"Hello, Teacher", in Mandarin.

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Today was a very chill day. I woke up at 8:45 (score!) and had a delicious breakfast. From 10:00 to 11:30, we worked on our Wellness Reflection for Week 1. We answered questions about our social, physical, and emotional wellness. At noon, I had lunch with about half of the group while the other half went to SiFangJie. We had a bunch of free time in between lunch and dinner, so I used that time to relax and just enjoy my time while I had it because the next five days are going to be extremely busy.

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Saturday is finally here! I got to sleep in, relax, and not worry about a thing. Today at lunch, Anna and I went to the morning market. I was craving potatoes, so we walked down to the potato lady. Anna is a big fan of spicy food and is very tolerate of it. I, on the other hand, cannot handle very much spice at all. The second I popped that  potato in my mouth, my eyes widened and my mouth started to burn fiercely.

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Today we went on a half day trip to Dali Old Town from 3:30 to 8:00. Dali Old Town is a popular tourist attraction not but 25 minutes outside of Xizhou. There were many Western restaurants that seemed very tempting, pizza, hamburgers, recognizable food! Then reality slapped my face. I live in China and as of right now, I am here to learn about the culture of Xizhou, not to pretend I'm in the US. Besides, I really, really, love the local food here. Since we've arrived, I've been craving Chinese food, and today, I got my fill.

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Autumn Moon Festival Performance

Today, as you may know, there was a huge celebration in China for the Autumn Moon Festival. There was no school and work hours were minimized so that families could spend the holiday together. Tonight there was a full moon, symbolizing the beginning of the celebration. Instead of sitting around at Yang Zhuo Ran, we went to other people's houses to celebrate with them. When it started to sprinkle, we moved dinner inside and the little girl of the family decided to give us a dance performance!

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I would say that today was a very excited and exhausting day at the same time. I have made definite progress on my Inquiry Project and am polishing up Phase 3.  While half of us we working on Inquiry, the other half of us we on a 2 hour bike ride with Mr. T. I was in the second group, so I went bike riding at 3:15 with the rest of my group. Both groups went on different routes, so we have some knowledge to share with others about the places we went and the information that we learned on our journey.

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Chuli and I are on the Laundry Committee, therefore, we were allowed to do our laundry first today. Kate W., Chuli, and I rode our bikes over to the house in which we wash our clothes, with our trash bags full of dirty clothes in our backpacks. With minimum information on how to work the washing machines, we managed to successfully start this foreign looking monster that had not one word of English on it! However, above the washing machine was a sheet of paper that had the meanings  in English of the words below the machine in Chinese.

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Terrace Time

Today was an awesome day! It was close to a typical day in Xizhou, including Terrace Time and SAS Essentials. Terrace Time was definitely the highlight of my day. All 18 of us, including Mr. Tafel and Ms. Mai, walked over to the Linden Centre for Terrace Time. We had to be respectful of others because they were staying at the Linden Centre to get away from all the noise of China. Once we got to the terrace, my mouth almost dropped to the ground! It was so beautiful.

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This morning we woke up to a beautiful blue sky and fresh air. On the terrace, we could see individual trees on the mountains. I don't think I've seen anything so beautiful in my life! After breakfast (which was delicious), all of us got an hour of chill time to settle in or just relax. At 10:00, half of the group went on a tour of Si Fang Jie while the other half stayed back to work on our Inquiry Projects. Then we had a delicious lunch in Ran Yi Xiang at the Golden Flower Restaraunt which had some amazing dishes.

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Our first day in Xizhou didn't actually start until 6:00 in the evening. I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to finish my last minute packing and then we drove to the Hongqiao Airport. From there, we said goodbye to our parents and boarded a plane not too long after that. After sleeping, talking, and just messing around with friends for 3 hours, we arrived in Kunming! That was just a warm up for the 6 hour bus ride ahead of us. After what seemed like days, we finally started noticing rural towns outside our windows! We were almost home!

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On Friday, a group of 6 kids from Puxi got on a bus that took them to Pudong. Little did they know that they were about to meet 10 other kids that would remain their friends long after Microcampus ended. Being one of those 6 kids from the Puxi campus, I had no idea what to expect. I was just told to make a great first impression. I think that we worked together really well and overcame obstacles (such as ordering pizza) as a group. We were given an introduction to our Wellness Plan, Service Learning, and the Daily Life at Microcampus.

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Hi, my name is Grace! I'm 13 years old and I am now a Microcampus Alumni! I was born in the US and have been in Shanghai for almost 3 years now. I chose to study the daily life of children (especially around my age) in Xizhou. I deeply miss Xizhou and the fresh air, blue skies, and the loving people in the village. I am here as a reference for future groups, whether it be Inquiry, Service Learning, or anything else, I'm here!