Margaret M. (Alumni-N)'s Journal

I came to Microcampus for several reasons. The first reason is that I wanted to become more confident. Throughout the first couple of weeks, I had many opportunities to do this but I did not jump at the chance. By week three, our group was not doing very well. I realized that if me and several others did not step up, we would not have a good final two weeks. I decided that this was something that mattered to me so I stepped up. This was the first instance that I showed an extreme example of confidence during the trip.

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Today is our last full day. As part of our work, we have to follow a checkout list. There is one list for the morning and another for the afternoon. The morning list includes checking for typos in my Inquiry Project, return all our books to the Yang Zhuo Ran guard, and finishing touchups on our Service Learning projects.

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Every day we have Pitching In for 2.5 hours. Pitching In responsibilities include filming and uploading your daily video shoutout when it is your day, uploading photos to the hard drive every other day, writing our daily journal, service learning work, meeting with our committees, washing our laundry on our day, exchanging 100 rmb bills into smaller bills at the bank, cleaning our bedroom, and cleaning our common area.

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My roommates are quite messy, it really is quite gross,
When I say this I mean not to boast
But I think of all the rooms, dirtiest we are the most.

With stinky dirty socks sleeping on the floor
Cleaning up after their mess feels like such a chore.
I do not know how much more
I can handle before I need to roar.
As you can probably see
My roommates are much messier than me.

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Today for morning pitching in, I went to the Back Packers Cafe. It is a western style cafe in Si Fang Jie. Sabrine, Shannon, and I went there to work on our inquiry project. However once we ordered hot chocolate and connected to wifi, we did not have much time left to work before we had to return for lunch.

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Our inquiry projects are due on Monday at 10 in the morning. There are two parts of our inquiry projects. Our written reflection and our final product. My final product is a design of a souvenir shop which I will be explaining through an iMovie. Yesterday and today I worked on my final product. I hope to be finished by the end of today. Tomorrow I will be spending the day working on my written reflection.

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Today we did speed dishes. Riko and I were on dish duty but soon after breakfast, she had a formative math quiz. We rushed in and scraped the plates into the trash, compost, or noodle sink. Then Riko rinsed all the plates while I rinsed the bowls. Next, she scrubbed the dishes and passed them to me and I rinsed the soap off, placing all the dishes into a plastic basket. After all the dishes were clean, we dried them together. This was the fastest time I had ever washed dishes.

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Yesterday eight of the 13 Microcampus students got to travel to Dali Old Town. We left around six in the evening and arrived in Dali Old Town 15-20 minutes later. We talked for a few minutes about pickpockets and our meeting time. Then we dispersed in two groups to go eat dinner and explore the area.

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Yesterday we went out to find our service learning partner. We meet a lady who sells embroidery items at Si Fang Jie. At the beginning of our conversation she asked us if we talked to her last year. We explained that it might have been a different SAS group. We then asked her if she had ever visited Yang Zhuo Ran and she told us she had visited once to see a service learning video. This sounded to us as if another group had already talked to her last year.

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This morning two of my roommates had to shower. We decided to wake up at six so each person could have a 20 minute shower. We also planned on the other two people taking 10 minutes in the bathroom each. Our math skills were not on point last night and for some reason, we decided we were going to need 20 minutes of transition time in total. This is totally unrealistic because we were all out of the bathroom and ready for the day at 6:45. I got my ten minutes in the bathroom from 6:00 to 6:10, then I went back to sleep.

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Yesterday night we swapped beds. I switched from the top of bunk one to the top of bunk two. Melanie swapped beds with me. Sabrine who is on the bottom swapped with Shannon who is also on the bottom. Basically the two people sleeping on the top bunks switched with each other and the two people sleeping on the bottom bunks switched with each other.

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Yesterday we left Yang Zhuo Ran at 12:30 to take a 30 minute van ride to the base of a mountain. We started our hike around 1:00 and it took us until 3:30 to walk up and then walk along the flat section called the Jade Belt. We took a group photo while it was very windy and we all had to hold onto our hats so they wouldn't fly off the mountain. We then started our decent. Mr. Tafel explained the best way to walk downhill without sliding.

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Yesterday for my inquiry project, I signed up for teacher support with Mr. Roberts. Then I realized I needed to go with Ms. Zhang because she knows Fei, the lady I wanted to go talk with. However, Shannon needed two hours with her so I went with Mr. Tafel instead. On the way to see Fei, we took a short cut which actually ended up being a very long cut. 

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Every week day, we have still time. It is 30 minutes of doing nothing but sitting still. I have never really done it yet this trip because I have been taking too long on wellness and I always run out of time to do it.

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Every week day, at 10 in the morning, we have our daily meeting. There is a different leader that is in charge of the meeting each day and today it was Sydney. We start with attendance to check that all students and teachers are present. We then go through the “looking ahead” part where we check to see any upcoming events like our hike on Friday. After that, we have our “committee updates” to listen to reminders or changes in our schedules.

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Yesterday for my inquiry project, I went and talked to locals. I gathered lots of information regarding my topic. I first talked to Ms. Yang at a snack stand. I then talked to another Ms. Yang at a dried fruit stand. I also talked to a worker at a milk tea shop and a lady who goes by the name Fei at a souvenir shop. Fei buys her products from all over the world including Tibet and Thailand.

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One Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we have math. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have humanities and science. My humanities is all done for week 1. The science teachers have not posted any work yet. This is making everyone here very nervous because we know we have a big project due the day we return. We even have to present on our first day of science back at SAS! I don't think this schedule is very smart because I have much more work for humanities and science than I have for math.

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Yesterday we went to a tie dye factory. We each got to pick a pattern shown by orange dots. Then we sewed up and down among the dots and pulled the string tight to scrunch the fabric. Finally, a kind lady names Ms. Yang took the fabric from us to dye. Wearing thick rubber gloves, she dunked our pieces into boiling blue water. She have them back to us and we removed the strings. The dye had covered every part but where the fabric was scrunched.

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Yesterday I was sitting on the Terrace working on my inquiry project with Sabrine. It was pretty sunny and I couldn’t see my screen. I decided to walk downstairs to sit in the shade. I was wearing my hiking boots which are really hard to walk in because they are so big. I was also carrying my laptop, headphones, camera, phone, and folders so I couldn't’t see where I was stepping. I was walking down the stairs when I fell. I fell on my back and elbow.

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When you have dish duty, you get to eat a few minutes early so you can start washing the dishes on time. This also means that you are too early for the pancakes to be out. When the other people come, they all attack the pancakes and you have to fight to get one.

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Every four days, we receive one ¥100 bill for lunch/dinners. We have to take it to the bank and exchange it into ¥20 bills. This way, the locals don't have to supply us with so much change. Today Jie Ling, Sabrine, Joanne, and I went to exchange our money. There was a very long line at the bank and people kept cutting in front of us.

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I am part of two committees plus one other rotating committee. 

I share laundry duty with Jie Ling. Thankfully we do not have to do everyones laundry, just make the schedule. Everyone gets to wash their clothing one time during a five day schedule. You along with you room mates wash and hang your clothing together. There are four rooms so for days along with one washing day for the chaperones. 

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We went on our first bike ride today. We came upon an aqueduct and it was overflowing. We had to ride under it but I started to hesitate because I didn't’t want to get wet. I decided to ride really fast through it but that meant I wasn't’t paying attention to the road. I ended running into a tourist. But good news because he was nice and didn't’t get mad at all at me.

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We had a long journey to get here. We arrived at the airport and the parents took way too many photos of us all. After going through customs, we dispersed to eat lunch. However, when we got on the plane, they served us lunch again so I was well fed. Most of my group thought the plane ride had lots of turbulence but I thought it was okay. As we approached Xizhou, I noticed how red the rock was.

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In the morning, before breakfast, we were still able to see two "stars" in the sky. Mr Tafel told us that instead they were Jupiter and Venus. He told us that is we were to come out of our rooms 15 minutes earlier then we would have also seen Mars. We took a tour of the village to help us find our way around but I am still pretty lost.

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When I first heard about this trip I instantly wanted to go, but then I started to get second thoughts and I started getting nervous. When I finally built up my courage to apply, I still was nervous but that feeling of excitement also came back. However, I soon relaxed as I found out the great friends and supporters who would be on the trip with me. I know from other students that this will be a immensely impactful experience to my eighth grade year and beyond.

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I came to Shanghai in 4th grade. Before moving to China, I lived in Canada, Australia, Dubai, and South Korea. My favorite thing about living in Shanghai is getting to meet people from such different backgrounds. After my second week at Microcampus, the time flew by so fast. I most enjoyed talking to my service learning partner, Fei and getting to know my group members.