Shannon A. (Alumni-N)'s Journal

Microcampus is a experience where a small group of students get to go and live a month of their life in Xizhuo, a village in southwest China. I was lucky to be one of those students. I came to Microcampus to discover the real me. I wanted to know what I am like without my family, without soccer, without everything I am used to. I came here to find out about farming and how farming has changed. I came here to become a better person. 

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Today is the day I say goodbye to all my friends here in Xizhou. The hardest goodbye will be to Wang Le, he is a little boy who is in Si Feng Jie. His mom works at a restaurant and he is always there. I will miss him the most because he always puts a smile on my face whenever I see him. He also always sits with me when I come to his and his mom’s restaurant. He is 3 and is the person I have come the closest with him in the village. Another person I have come close with is Yang Nai Nai, She worked with Sabrine o her embroidery and I went with them every time.

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Last night I had a weird dream, I saw some of my American friends and some of my Chinese friends all in America watching a soccer game. It was astrange dream with my friends from all over the world. Then I woke up and thought about my real dream. This dream is to stay here, but have my family here too. I would love to have Yang Zhuo Ran be my new home and eache room is for a different person in my family. My parents would have Mr.T and Ms. Mai's room. I would have room 3. My little brother would have room 9. My little sister would have room 4.

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The clouds are dark as they tower over the mountain that towers over me. They sit near the mountain, still. I look out the window wanting to see the sun shining in a blue sky, but instead I see dark clouds, but an even darker mountain. I look out the window and all I see is grey clouds, not even one ray of sunllight. Jut grey. The clouds remind me of myself, sometimes I am feeling horrible, those are the rainy days. Sometimes I am feeling down, those are the cloudy days. Sometimes I am feeling ok, those are the sunny days with some clouds.

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I sit in the TV working with Cara as she gets a call I here her saying, "A What, A What?" As she tells me there is a fly in her bathroom, she runs to the music room to get the fly swatter then she gives it to me. I enter the bathroom and the fly goes through a hole into the kitchen then it comes back. I thought I hit the fly like 10 times. I then call Cara in, she comes in and on her first swing hits the fly, it falls to the floor, its dead. I grab the fly swatter, pick up the fly and carry it outside and but the lifeless animal in a tree.

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I wake up this morning get ready for breakfast then when I walk over to the door I open it and grab my shoes. Sitting ontop of them is a bag full of candy. With kinders and M&M's and Hot coco and suckers. Saint Nick must have come and given us gifts. That Saint Nick was Margaret Sabrine and I. At 4:00 AM we woke up and went to everyone's door and put these bags on their shoes. We were like ninja's. When we put the bags down at Mr.T's door we alsoleft a little to for Sophie.

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After a day of cold rain I get in the nice warm shower. As the water falls on me I shampoo my hair. As I am washing the shampoo out of my hair the shower head comes down and hits my head as the shower head hits the floor my roommates ask me if I am ok, I answer, yes I am fine. I tell them what happen then I call Mr. T to tell him the story of the shower head. He says to use the other shower head, but the other one has very light pressure, you could say it was an interesting Microcampus experience.

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The tan tiles turned brown, drop by drop. The light rain falling until it bounces off the now brown tiles. I try to follow the rain drop as it falls from the sky. I never can, it's always going to fast and it's to small.  As I sit in the white chair doing my work I look up at the sky again and see the rain drops falling harder and faster.  I look at the puddles starting to form on the tiles and thats when I start wishing we did not have laundry today.

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Today I felt proud of myself. Not because I scored ina soccer game, not because I got 60 fire on snapchat, but becasue I worked hard and I tried really hard. Today I did Phase 4, almost finished my book, wrote a humanities essay, and did a science project. I worked hard and was very focaused from the moment I started to the moment I ended. I have never felt good for doing wok, but now I will be wanting to feel proud of myself. 

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Today is the day I realized who I was. The day I changed, the day I became a better person. I looked into myself and looked at my flaws I looked at the person I wanted to be. I told myself that I could be that person. I tried to fix my flaws I tried to become a better person. I did. I am now willing to step farther outside my comfort zone. I am now willing to punish myself. I am now willing to speak up and do the right thing. I am now the person I have been dreaming to be, but like everyone I can still be better. And I will Strive to be better. 

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6:00 AM my roommates get up. They get in the shower and get ready for a exciting day. I on the other had lay in bed. Time passes it's now 7:00 AM, but I still do not move. Finally the clock his 7:15 that's when I get out of bed. I put on my jeans, and my shirt. Brush my hair and teeth and walk out the door. I am careful putting on my Nike 5.0's I then tiptoe up the stairs grab my phone then back down I go. I'm in the courtyard as the clock strikes 7: 25 AM, I am ready to now eat breakfast. 

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I always relied on other people to speak Chinese for me. I never had confidence and I never thought I was good enough, but today I talked to one of the chefs. She was holding The baby and started asking me question. It flowed into a nice conversation and l talked about who I am and learned about her and her background. She also told me about the village. She then asked Ryley some questions. Ryley, speaking almost no Chinese asked me to translate and I did it successfully 

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Today I felt something I have never felt. It was a feeling of becoming friends with all ages and All people in the village. I got the chance to meet different people of all ages and hear different stories. I got the opportunity to hear different perspectives about the 86 year old grandma living on  the side of the street. To Ms. Cheng it is fake they just want attention from tourist and the government so they will feel bad and give them money. On the other side the grand mother wrote a sign saying her family kicked her out of the house and she needs help.

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One cloud drifting through the air disappears. That was the one and only cloud. I look down at my laptop then I look back up wanting to see the clouds. It was not there. It had turned into a gas. It was gone and the rest of the dad I did not see one single cloud. 

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It was like being an ant and looking up at a giraffe. I was the ant and the mountain was the giraffe. I was ready to climb it and once I reached the Jade Belt I new it was worth the 2.5 uphill hike. I remember looking out over Dali old town. It felt like I was on top of the world. My camera could not even capture the beauty of the mountain as it towered over me. I looked up even farther up the mountain to see snow. I have not seen snow in 3 years. It felt just like Michigan. I saw the tip of the mountain white like Christmas.

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After a long day of work and meeting many people it was time for food. I step in the kitchen and see turkey, 3 different types of potato's, and vegetables. It was like a thanksgiving in America. It felt like home and I love that feeling. It reminds me of my grandparents house. To conclude the meal we ate the best food yet, apple pie. With every bite my mouth would water. The slices cut perfectly as I saver the moment that made me feel like I was in America.

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I haven't seen fresh strawberries in 3 years. Now I can say I have not seen strawberries in 3 minuets. I always look down at the flowers turning green then turning red. I look at them and think about my home, America, where strawberries can grow unlike Shanghai. Everyday when I see the strawberries they are more red then yesterday. I think about the weather here and stop wondering why the strawberries grow, I already know. In Xizhou it is the perfect temperature.

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Everything I see and everywhere I go in Xizhou is picture perfect. It's like looking at color after being in black and white. I always want to take a picture, I never do I get distracted listening to the birds chirp the wind howl. I just look around at the clouds moving and the mountains looking so perfect they almost look fake. It reminds me of when you look through a lens and you capture the perfent moment. Except here every moment is the perfect moment. 

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Today I got to explore the village by going and meeting local farmers. I meet a man named Mr. Zhao he is a farmer and raises a cow. He is 70 years old and has been farming since he was 13. He also take car of the many generations living in his home. He said that he is old and weak, but still wise.  He says that farming is in his blood. He is the 4th generation to farm and he says his children and grandchildren and even his great grand children have already started farming. He thinks farming will continue to be passed on thought the years. 

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After a night in a tent, I get what I had been waiting for, the sunrise. I sat on the edge of the bench camera in hands. I lookup at the sun as it starts to lift p right over the mountains. I was so amazed it felt warm again. I was so amazed I did not even take a picture. I just sat on the edge of the bench looking at the sun sparkle on the lake. That moment when the sun covered my whole body was the moment I had been waiting for.

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Shanghai is where my house is, Michigan is where my home is. Xizhou is where I want my house and my home to be. The clean air, the nice people, it's my dream home. All the worries float away, no weight on my shoulders. It feels like it's just me. This is the place where I can be myself, the place where I will always remember. The place where the stars shine, the place where the mountains tower over you, the place where I want to stay.

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Others say I am short compared to most people. They sometimes call me short Shan, but even the tallest person would have felt short compared to the wind turbines. I stood under looking up at the propellers spinning. The big white pole towering over me, I don't know what to do other than be amazed. I felt like an ant standing next to a giraffe. I look up at the spinning places and laugh like something was funny, but nothing was funny. I keep laughing as I give the giant pole a hug and I don't know why.

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6:00 my alarm goes off. I wake up and put the laundry holder on my back. My roommate and I head to the washer, as we approach it Mel knocks over 3 bikes one landing on my foot. As we walk thought the door to get to the washer we hear barking as the dog comes out at us and starts barking like crazy. Margaret, the one who is scared of dogs made a run for it, the rest of us tried to show the dog that we were here for laundry.

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 I sit in the white chair looking up at the sky. Rain lightly falling, but I don't move. I stay and see the clouds pass by as they are taken by the wind. The sun peeks out behind the clouds. The liquid clouds turn into gas and drift up and disappear. The air clean, I can breath well, unlike Shanghai. The birds singing, the dogs barking, and the plants blowing in the wind. The mountains towering over the village I am in. But all I see is the clouds moving. 

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Day 3. We had an early morning and went straight to breakfast. After enjoying our meal we had SAS work to do. Yannick and I worked on graphing on calculators and watched videos on linear equations and graphing them. We then had our daily meeting discussing and assigning jobs to people and scheduling different activities. We then had lunch; I was one of the 6 people who went out for lunch.

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Day 2 was the day to get to know the village of Xizhou, we woke up at 6:30 so we could have enough time to be ready before 7:30 which is breakfast time.  We then went and explored the village taking a tour lead by the one and only Craig Tafel. We saw rice become noodles and I was given a rice patty, it was very good. We went through a little food market that sold all kinds of stuff, from meat to veggies to candy. We then were sent off on our own in groups of 4 to go and get our own lunch.

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Day 1 was our travel day we took a 4-hour flight and then had a 1-hour bus ride to our temporary home in Xizhou.  We learned about Yang Zhou Ran and the history of the linden family. We went over expectations for rooms and in the house. We got to pick our roommates mine are, Mango tree (Margaret), Beans (Sabrine), and Melon (Mel).

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I moved to Shanghai from Michigan almost 2 years ago. Although I miss my friends in America, I love it here. In my free time I play sports. I especially enjoy soccer and rugby. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I'm totally the middle child!! One of the things I really enjoy about living in Shanghai is all the vacations and great places I have been. My favorite so far is Boracay, but am excited about New Zealand in December. If I could change one thing about myself I would want to be taller. I am now back in Shanghai. Xizhou It was amazing and was the best 28 days of my life.