Ryley S. (Alumni-N)'s Journal

At the beginning of the trip I was coming to Microcampus to learn about the economics of bamboo weaving in Xizhou, and at the end of my experience I was going to write a report on my findings. Now at the end of the trip, 28 days later, my reasoning for coming to Microcampus has changed significantly.

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Today was our last full day in Xizhou. Today we went around the village saying goodbye to the locals which we had connected with. It was a sad occasion because it was today that we were fitting in all of our "lasts." Our last meals in SiFangJie, our last conversations with our Service Learning partners, our last walks around the town, our last bike ride, and (for me) my last meeting with the Wang Family. I found my eight favorite photos of my time spent with the Wang family and I had them printed.

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I was so relieved today because I finally finished my Inquiry Project. I was able to finish my entire final product as well as upload and embed my 10 minute video. In total I have without a doubt spent more than 50 hours on my inquiry project throughout the duration of Microcampus. Watching over my video now I am so proud of my work and I feel very accomplished for what I have achieved.

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Tonight we had a very fun evening activity which was held by Mr. T. Each service learning group was a team and we would dress up and choose a team name and would be entered as a team into the trivia night competition. My team, The Red Violets, were leading the score with 96 point for the first two rounds, but after the final round we were booted down into second place. This was a sad ending as our reign was defeated, but the night was fun anyways!!

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I have finished my final product for my inquiry project. I finished my basket this afternoon and it was both a happy and sad time. It was happy because I had completed what I had been working on, but also sad since I was saying goodbye to the Wang Family. Although it was sad to leave today, I want to go back either tomorrow or on thursday to say my final goodbyes to the Wang Family and thank them for all they have done.

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This morning I had woke up and walked outside to see a very nice sight. Inside all of my roommates and my shoes were bags of candy, and attached to the bag was a note. It explained how this bag of candy was to celebrate the Christmas spirit and that the bags were from Saint Nick. I was very happy about the bag as it was another reminder that christmas was near. It was a very nice gesture from whoever put the bags there and I would like the person to know that I appreciate the gifts very much. 

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Today while eating dinner at Old Town Snacks a boy and his friend walked past the restaurant playing with their Rubik's Cubes. Mr. T had seen them and told me to go after them and show them my skills. I went after them and pointed to the cube to ask if I could try. The boy gave me the cube and I started while his friend hid behind him as he seemed scared of me. The boy "my opponent" started on another cube 20 seconds after I started, and unfortunately I had messed up my cube.

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The entire trip the weather has been picture perfect, and today is one of those odd days where the weather is not flawless. Last night and this morning the ground was wet from rain, and as I am currently sitting here in YangZhouran writing this entry there is drops of water falling around me. The weather is chillier today and there are clouds filling up the entire sky. To be completely honest I like this gray day, and the chilliness reminds me that christmas and new years are approaching soon. 

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Mr. Wang is the 72 year old man who is teaching me the art of bamboo weaving. He has a great granddaughter who seems to be around the age of 3 or 4, and she is a trouble maker. She likes to throw things at me when I visit the house. So far she has thrown a knife at me, nearly thrown a bowl, and hit me with a bamboo stick. It is due to these habits of hers that everyone in the family calls her " A Pain In the A**," and I am nearly convinced that she believes that is her name.

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Learning an entirely new math unit while on Microcampus is quite hard! We are learning about the slope intercept form, linear regressions, and finding equations through two points. The way we are supposed to learn the unit is that the Algebra point person, Sabrine E., teaches us, but that is quite hard when she doesn't understand half of the topics we are covering. In the end we all decide that it is best to call Mr.

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Today during SAS essentials I continued to work on my science project which is based on human spine and pelvis bone evolution. I started drawing out the different stages of evolution and I must say I am quite impressed with my drawings. I drew a gorilla, a chimpanzee, and then a human to show the stages of evolution.

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Today after wellness Jo and I decided to bike to a large tree in the middle of the fields and climb it. We called Mr. T first to make sure it was okay, and then we started climbing. She got up first and decided to sit down in a "Y" in the tree branches. I went up second and I climbed up one of the limbs of the tree and laid on it. We stayed up there for around 20 minutes and spent our still time there. It was really peaceful, there was a nice breeze, and it was a really pretty view.

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This afternoon I biked over to He Yi Cheng Town and went to meet Mr. Wang. I spent around 45 minutes at his house; I did some weaving, talked with him for a bit, and discussed how my inquiry project will work. He said that he would love to teach me how to weave a basket, but that it will cost around 50 kuai an hour (which is perfectly reasonable.) I am very excited to soon begin learning how to weave a basket, and the best part is that I get to take the basket home as it will be my final Inquiry Project.

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The nature here is so beautiful, and yesterday walking along a forested path it reminded me of the U.S.. There are leaves falling off of the trees, and the air is crisp and cool. It is making me homesick for my house in America. The trees are so pretty to look up at, and I especially love watching the trees blow in the wind during still time. The sound of the leaves rustling sounds so comforting for some reason. It will suck to return to Shanghai where the air is polluted, the sky is typically grey and cloudy, and there aren't as many trees nor forests.

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Today we went on our half day hike up to the jade belt and back. On the hike we had to carry our huge hiking backpacks which were heavy, and they made the hike much less enjoyable.  We hiked for around 3 hours constantly going up hill with very little breaks. When we eventually got to the Jade Belt at around 2,600 meters I was very tired. My calves were really hurting, but it was almost like the good feeling of pain. After resting for a bit we continued our hike along the Jade Belt for an hour. The Jade Belt was entirely flat so it was much more enjoyable to walk along.

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While walking around the village at lunch time today I passed some fruit venders. As I passed I noticed the abundance of fruit... especially clementines. All of the fruit look so fresh and so good. Everyday at YangZhouran they have a plate of clementines and they are so delicious. I will sometimes eat 6 or 7 a day. In my opinion they are one of the yummiest fruits, besides strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and mangostenes. It is going to be sad when I go back to Shanghai, because the fruit there is not as good.

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Today I did my wellness in an empty lot behind a woman who is selling tye dye cloth. The seller has all of the cloth's pinned up on a clothes line, and they blow in the wind. It looks so pretty, and it sounds really nice as they rustle together in the wind. After wellness Jie Ling and I decided to take our pitching in time to walk around the different stores in Xizhou. There were a bunch of cute things, but I didn't find anything that I liked enough to buy.

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During morning pitching in time Shannon and I went off on an adventure to find playing cards for an evening activity.  We were walking along the road that intersects RanYXiang when we finally found the supermarket. As we entered the store our mouths dropped open. The sight was glorious! The store was so big and there was everything; candy, clothes, shoes, plates, etc.. After we grabbed a few packs of cards we proceeded to walk around the store in awe. We wandered around for 10 minutes then went on to check out.

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As a repercussion for abusing our room privileges we have been given the one person in a room rule. This means that during the entire day, except for at night time, only one person is allowed to be in their designated room at a time. If one person needs to grab something from their room while another needs to use the bathroom really badly, one person will have to wait. Although this ultimately sucks we all have to deal with the consequences of our actions. Mr.

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This morning we woke up and got to enjoy the beautiful sunrise on Lake Erhai. Then after packing up our tents, which proved to be harder than we thought, we biked back home to YangZhouran. We then got to eat a yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes. After that we all went to go work on our wellness reflection but we ended up doing something completely different. We received a lecture from Mr. T about our behavior.

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Today we went on a campout on the tongue of Lake Erhai. We packed up our evening meals, PJ's, hats, and hiking backpacks and biked down to the lake. We got there just as the sun was setting so we had to hurry up to pitch our tents. I was sharing a tent with Shannon A. we were the second people to set up our tents. We then ate our packed dinner which consisted of; noodles, carrots, chicken, cucumbers, and a sweet and sour sauce... it was really good.

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  Today we took a half day trip up to the top of a mountain where there was a wind turbine. It was really cool to stand underneath a turbine since it was so big! You could hear the sound of wind being pushed as each arm of the turbine spun past. To express how massive the turbine was; it took 13 of us who were holding hands to cover the diameter of the base of it.  While we were up on the mountain we got to climb along the hillside which was really cool. I climbed down and sat on rocks that were on the edge of the mountain and had some quiet time.

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This morning I woke up with a migraine and I felt quite nauseous. I knew that I was lacking sleep and that I was dehydrated so I told Mr. T, and he told me to sleep for the first half of the day and that he would wake me up for lunch. I slept through the morning in the nurses room, and then Mr. T came to wake me up at 12:00. As soon as I woke up I felt a noticeable difference, and I was feeling much better. Ever since I woke up after right before lunch I have been feeling back to normal, and I'm so glad that my headache was gone.

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Today I worked on my 3-to-5's which, as you learned in my phase 2, are 3 to 5 minute conferences with 3 to 5 different people. I interviewed 4 people; A Ling, Ms. Mai, Ms. Zhang, and Mr. Tafel. They all had given me the same information about my topic. They all had said that there was a bamboo weaving town, He Yi Jiang, which was 15 minutes away, and that a lot of the products made there are sold in Xizhou.

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Today was our first official day where we followed the Microcampus schedule. In the afternoon we had something called WIPPIS time which stands for Wellness; Inquiry Project, Pitching In, and Still Time.  For wellness today a group of people and I decided to go biking down to Lake Erhai and then take a 20 minute run. The bike ride was about 20 minutes each way, and there was beautiful scenery throughout the whole ride. We took  the same route we had taken the day before when we went on the bike ride with Mr.T.

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This afternoon our group split in half; one half focusing on hear rate monitors and Inquiry Projects while the other half went on a bike ride. My group was the first half to go biking. In order to be allowed on the bikes we had to wear a helmet and a yellow and orange reflector vest (neither of which were attractive). We biked to the edge of Xizhou and then crossed the highway and biked along the road. We were following the road down along Lake Erhai. We practiced riding in pairs, riding in a line, passing each other, learning a general sense of direction.

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Today we woke up at around 7:00 to get dressed before breakfast which was at 7:30. We had eggs, toast, muffin, pancakes, fruit, and èr sī (a local breakfast consisting of rice noodles, cabbage, pork, and broth). We then went on a tour around YangZhouran (the facility in which we are staying). We then had some time in our rooms which we used for doing some homework and unloading our luggage. We then went outside and met Mr. T to do a tour of the village. That was really fun and interesting, it also helped me establish a better idea of how the environment was laid out.

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Yesterday we began our Microcampus adventure from Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. We had a four hour plane ride until we arrived in Dali airport, and then an hour car ride to our home in YangZhouran. After arrival we ate dinner, it consisted of rice, spring rolls, tofu soup, spicy chicken, green beans, and pork.

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My name is Ryley, and I am 13 years old. I am new to SAS and China as a whole. Microcampus was an extraordinary experience, and I had such a great time in Xizhou. I had connected with many villagers as well as formed tight bonds with my peers on the trip. The village was so beautiful, and I hope I go back to visit soon.