Riko T. (Alumni-N)'s Journal

The first reason I applied for microcampus was to step outside of the Shanghai bubble and also my bubble, which I had built up over the years of school life at SAS. In many of my classes at school, teachers often write for me to step outside of my comfort zone in my report cards. I thought that by going to microcampus, something would magically happen and make me confident enough to take risks. But to tell the truth, it was nothing like that. I struggled a lot, and had a hard time coping with the pressure sometimes.

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Today was our last full day. To say goodbye to everyone, we had lunch outside of Yang Zhuo Ran instead of having it inside like we normally do. Melanie, Joanne, Jie Ling and I went to old Town Snacks, which is the place where many microcampus students favor. They have a special dish called the "Tafel Fried Rice," named after Mr. T. After we ate, we said our goodbyes to the owner of the restaurant, who is a very nice young lady. Mr. T then had a special treat to offer for us, which was ice cream. I chose the milk and egg flavor, the most simple and plain one.

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Today was a big day. We shared our Service Learning videos to our Service Learning partners. But when we shared our service lerning project, unfrotunately, Ms. Yang, our partner, was not here. Joanne and Shannon went out beforehand to pick her up, but according to them, she said she will come at her own time.

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Yesterday, we had the phantom of the room inspection come to our rooms and rate our rooms out of five. Last time we did this, we came in second to last, and recieved 0.6 points out of 5. But this time we were able to recieve 3.7 points, probably because we cleaned our rooms and and I closed my suit case. But the surprising thing was, that the boy's room recieved 4.9 points, as opposed to their previous score, -1.7. We got second to last once again.

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These past few days, we have been playing the Hacky Sac often. Hacky Sac is a game where you kick the sac around with your foot between the players, and try to keep the sac off the ground as much as possible. Although I am not so good, many people are starting get really professional at this game, kicking the sac behind their backs and such. There are four basic kicks in the hacky sac-ing process, the side of your foot, the knee, behind your back and side. Once someone passes the sac to you, in order to get balance, you first kick the sac up, and then pass it to somebody else.

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Today after dinner, we had another problem in our bathroom. A gigantic fly had flown into our bathroom from a little window that connects the room to the kitchen. The bug just buzzed in right when Sydney was doing something in there. After she burst out of the room for refuge, we got really freaked out and called Cara, our other roommate. The call made Cara run to the music room and grab the fly swatters, which always sat on the table next to the guitars. We successfully ended up killing the huge fly, and we desposed it outside so it will decompose and go back to mother earth.

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Today was a work day. Since the Inquiry project and the Service learning is due in two to three days, I had a lot of work to do. I first made the slides of my inquiry project, which I will make into a movie and put a voice over. The pictures I took became very useful as I made the presentation, because of the visual impact it had. I also wrote my introductory paragraph for my final product, which took me approximately 40 minutes.

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Today was the last day of SAS Essentials, which is a time frame that we were allowed to work on SAS things. When the day was about to end and Sydney, Cara and I were relaxing in our rooms after the long day of Science work, an issue came to life. Sydney went to the bathroom, and after she flushed it, 'stuff' came up. We called Mr. T for support in order to 'exorcize the demons', which is what he always says after unclogging the toilet.

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Today was our first day of Phase 4. At one o'clock, the start of WIPPIS time, a meeting was held in order to receive an explanation on the final product, which was needed to complete phase 4. Unfortunately, my Wifi decided not to work, leaving me unable to connect to the internet. During our work time, I made use of the minutes by discussing with Mr. T about my hangers and hooks, or in other words, my final product. Mr. T told me of his idea of a photo mosaic, which I was thinking about earlier. I was delighted to hear that he will provide or purchase the software needed or the process.

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Today after the 5-4-5 meeting, eight people were chosen to go to Dali Old Town and eat dinner there. I finished up my Phase 3 and was able to go, though some of the girls and all of the boys were not. When we reached, Mr. T gave us a rapid tour of the place, and made us split into groups. In my group, I had Cara, Sydney, and Margaret. We went to the Stella's Pizzeria for dinner, where we all individually ordered a burger and got one big mozzarella and chicken pizza. It felt nice to have a western dinner once in a while, and we ate it all up in less than 30 minutes.

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Today during 5-4-5, we had another reminder/conversatiton on the behaviors. At the end of the meeting, we each had a turn to speak up and say our opinions, where many of us said our honest comments about how we felt about the meeting and othr group mates. After we weredone with dinner, me and my roomates talked about our recognition of our surroundings and how we could make the trip better.Sidney made a speech about how we could make the trip better, and I saw a slight hope in this trip as we all agreed on one objective, let's be the leaders.

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Today for wellness, Margaret, Sabrine, Jie Ling and I went to a big parking lot that is a few blocks away from Se Feng Jie, which is the plavce where we always eat our lunch and dinner. The parking lot is huge, and although it is a parking lot, cars never park there, making a great spot for exercising. We brought a racket, a small ball, and a rugby ball to play with during the time. Me and margaret passed each other the rugby balls for the first few minutes, ad since Jie Ling had to go get something, me and Sabrine were left in the parking lot.

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My big highlight today was during the afternoon. Joanne, one of the microcampus students, had to take a buddy to go to Dali old town. Since I had fairly nothing to do, and everyone else was very busy, I offered to go with her on the trip. Joanne’s Inquiry project topic is local wood carving, and in Dali old town, there are many wood carvers. That is why she decided to go there in order to learn how to carve, and make a piece for her final project. As I tagged along, we walked into a several wood carving shop to have a little conversation and to ask if they could teach her how to carve.

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Today was the weekend, and most of our time was down time, when we could do almost anything we wanted. Joanne, Cole, Ryley and I went out to town during down time for service learning, since we needed to talk to the locals for our big project. We first went to Ms. Yang’s accessory stand, where she sold chinese hand made accessory such as little shoes. We asked her if we could do project with her, and answer was yes. We celebrated this success, but we didn’t forget that we have to have plan B C D E F G H for our service learning partners, and that plan A usually didn’t go very well.

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Today, we went to a half day hike up to the range called the jade belt on a mountain. I felt like we were going up at 80 degrees. But unexpectedly, going down was harder for me because of the blisters that formed on my feet. With te friction made, my skin started to tear apart inside my shoes, which hurt a lot. By the time we got back to Yang Zhuo Ran, I was limping. The first thing I did was run into my roo and jump on the bed to see the blisters. It wasn't as bd as expected, with no blood, but still some of my skin was coming off.

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Inquiry time today, I rolled out into town with Ms. Zhang, one of the teachers I have not gone out to research with before. The first thing we walked into was a stand that sold mi hu and tou fu hua. Although they were both not a traditional Yunnan food, Ms. Zhang told me that it was eaten all around China, so I though I would try it. Mi u was a yellow sticky substance that were made of rice and gesso. I do not really know what a gesso is, so I will research about that later on. To add flavor, you pour in molten brown sugar, which makes the sticky thing a delicious treat.

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Today during Inquiry time, I headed out into the town with Mr. Robert to research about hand made food of XiZhou. First, we went to the market to taste Mi Liang Xia, a local jelly like sweets that are often sold on the streets. Although the jelly is tasteless, the honey you put on gives flavor. I ate it at super peed in about a minute, and as I looked around, I saw something interesting again. It was again like a jelly, but instead of being fragile, it held its shape. The color was dull yellow. I asked Mr.

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During the morning pitching in time today, I got to visit the XiZhou baba makers with Ms. Mai once again in order to take more pictures and ask more questions. During the visit this time, I was able to actually see how Mr. and Mrs. Wang, the shop owners, make the baba from scratch. I was also able to record the movements on my camera. Although they were very busy, Mr. and Mrs. Wang did not hesitate to answer the questions Ms. Ma and I asked to them. At the end, they even gave us a free baba for a gift to eat at home.

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Today is Monday, and a start of another week. Last night, our group and Mr. T had a talk about how we were doing with our expectations, and as a result of our discussion, we found out we were not doing very well. But there were parts we were sccssful at, and we discussed how we could improve the ones that were not doing very well. At the end, we reached a conclusion that icoorperating the things we learned and experienced from the first week, we will start a new week from today. 

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After having a good night sleep in our cozy tent, the sound of an alarm clock woke me up. Today, our camping ended. As we woke up, the sun started to rise, so we got to watch the beautiful light over lake Erhai with the marvelous mountains in the background. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that I did not bring my camera, but feeling the light and the warmth of the sun was not bad too. After came packing our tents, and we went through the process pretty fast, although we had some bumps on the way.

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Today, we had two highlights. One was Mr. T's three hour lecture on the history of China, and the other was camping outside next to the tougue of the lake Erhai. After having breakfast, pitching in, and some down time, we had our so-called "Mr. T's world's most boring lecture on Chinese history", which was not really bad at all. He explained to us in a quick pace the 150 years of Chinese history to now. I had some prior knowledge to the context, but the lecture still interested me very much. After the lecture, we got ready for the bike out to Erhai for camping.

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During today's Inquiry, I had the time to visit the rose jam factory with Mr. Robert. As we walked down the streets, he told me many things about XiZhou and also himself, and I was very surprised when i heard him speak in Japanese. After what it seemed to be a 10 minute walk, a pile of pink rose petals caught my attension. The petals were being dried to make the rose jam, and Mr. Robert lead me insoide the shop where two women worked hastily with the dried petals.

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Today, we had our first opportunity to interact and have conversations with the local villagers. As my first visit, I went to the local cheese maker's house to meet Ms. Zhang. I went with Mr.T, Mr. Robert, and Cara, who is one of my roommates. Since I am not able to speak Chinese, Mr. Robert and Mr. T helped me translate my English questions to Chinese and the Chinese answers to English. During our chat, Ms. Zhang served us all a piece of dried cheese with a bit of rose jam on the side. The chewy cheese matched with the fragrant rose jam.

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Today, Margaret, Jie Ling and I ate lunch at Si Fang Jie, and tried some new menus at a restaurant called Yun Ge Xiao Chi. We all ate noodles, but the kind I ate was a cold chicken noodles, and the noodles they ate were the hot pork noodles.The chicken noodles reminded me of a Japanese dish called 'udon' back home. We also had a small conversation with Ms. Wang, a young woman who works at the shop. After paying about 10RMB for the food, we went out to make some connections with the local villagers. We first met with Ms. Yang, an owner of a local dried fruit stall.

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Today was the first time we had the WIPPIS, which stands for Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, and Still Time. Although ususally we make our own schedule, since it is our first WIPPIS time, Mr. T made it for us. For my schedule, I had Inquiry Project for the first two hours, then pitching in for one hour, and then wellness for and hour. Still time for thirty minutes came last. During wellness time, I went biking with few other girls, including jie Ling and Shannon. We had still time by the lake erhai with the mountains in the background, making a great scenery and a photo spot.

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We started off with the same menu for breakfast as yesterday, ersi and some more dishes. Then right after, we took off to start our SAS essentials, where we do normal SAS work with the people in your class. Today was the math day, and I did classwork for geometry with Melanie and Joanne, who are the two people in the same class as me. After working for a decent amount of time, the daily meeting started. In the meeting, we discussed and checked our roles, or the so-called commitees in the trip, such as the laundry person and the dishwashing person. Pitching in time came after, where we basically started writing this journal and did some committee meeting. After came lunch, where a group of people and I ate outside. With the energizing done, we got on to the heart rate monitors explanations and biking. We biked around XiZhou, and had a great time absorbing the clean air and great scenery decorated with beautiful fields and mountains.

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Today was the first full day we had in microcampus. In the morning, we ate a traditional rice noodle dish called ersi. Later on during the tour of the town, we were able to see how they actually made the ersi from rice. Also during the tour, we cruised around our neighbors’ houses and observed some architectural characteristics that explained many of the history of XiZhou. More places we went to are the ‘Happy Embroidery,’ where the villagers made silk fabric out of silk worms that were grown in the place, and the market place where locals sold fresh vegetables, meat, and spices outside.

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Today, we had a long journey traveling to XiZhou. First, we had to head to the Honqiao airport individually. After we successfully met up with each other in front of the meeting spot, gate three, we proceeded on to the check in and started our four-hour plane ride to Dali. From Dali, we took a bus that took us to Yang Zhuo Ran, our new home for the month. Bryce L. and Mrs. Lindon joined our dinner, in which we had rice, soup, spring rolls and other little dishes. After settling in, we decided our room and roommates.

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Yesterday, October 23rd, we had the microcampus lock-in and had some awesome time with my group, the Nutty Narwhals. Click here to watch my Lock-in Reflection Video.

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I really had a marvellous time at XiZhou, I experienced so many thing that I would never have been able to back in Shanghai. I miss the beautiful fields and the nice villagers here. I really hope I can go back there sometime.