Jie Ling T. (Alumni-N)'s Journal

Before I arrived in Xizhou, I wanted to come here to explore China outside of the bubble. At first, I did not understand what "outside of the bubble" fully meant. Now, I understand what it means. We were given the opportunity to observe our surroundings, interact with locals, as well as take on big responsibilities. Basically, we had to step out of our comfort zone. There were ups and downs along the way, but they are what makes us stronger and help us to grow. This trip has probably taught me more than I could have learned at school for an entire year.

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In less than twenty-four hours, the Nutty Narwhals Microcampus group will leave Xizhou. We have lived in this place for nearly twenty-eight days and I consider it as a second home. I will miss the sky, the stars, our home, and most of all, the people who have changed my life in some way during this trip. I am eternally greatful to everyone for making this trip an experience I will never forget. Even though I miss my family and friends, it will be tough to say goodbye to everyone here. 

Thank you, and goodbye, Xizhou. 

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On Wednesday December 9, we invited Ms. Yang over to Yang Zhuo Ran to take a look at the film we created. First, we gave her a brief tour of the place we have been staying it for the past 26 days. Then, at three o'clock, we led her upstairs to watch the video. When we were airing the video we made of Ms. Yang's life story, I noticed that she was laughed when she saw her face appear on the screen. She seemed to be very focused on the film and would occasionally crack a smile. Personally, I felt quite proud that our group created a video that would showcase the hardships of Ms.

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First of all, we got two hacks while playing hacky sack today! A hack is when everyone in the entire circle touches the hacky sack at least once without letting it fall to the ground. There was around 6 people playing at that time. 

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We had another room inspection today, but this time we scored the lowest. Ryley knew it was mainly caused by her pile of belongings just scattered all over her floor. I'm pretty sure we got 1.7. When Mr. T. saw her "pile", he just gaped at it for a long time and took his beanie off his head. His face was priceless. But more surprisingly, the boys scored highest with a score of 4.9! I would never have expected that. However, they did spend an hour in their rooms presumably cleaning it. I guess our room should have done that. 

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The moment I woke up, Joanne entered the room, presumaby coming from the terrace. In her hands, she held three plastic bags. Intrigued, I walked over to her and she handed me a bag. Being the curious and eager person that I was, I nearly ripped the plastic in haste to open it. Candies and chocolate poured out of the opening, and I gasped. The note attatched to the bag explained who Saint Nick was, and what children would receive on that holiday (coal or candy). Fortunately, we received candy.

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Hacky sack is basically a yarn ball the size of my fist stuffed with sand inside. It's kind of like the traditional Chinese game, jian zi (the object with a metal bottom and colorful feathers on top). The objective is the same: to keep it in the air with your foot. Mr. T. is a semi pro at this game; he can kick it from behind him, in front of him, over his head, and even balance it on top of his head before passing it to someone else. When we played with Ms. Zhang, Mr. T., and Bryce, it was clear that all of us were amateurs.

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Like. Um. Er. So. Yeah. These are all examples of daily viruses - words that we use when we are unsure of what to say. We have all used them before, even if we are unawawre of it. Today, during the daily meeting, Mr. T. was secretly keeping track of the people who started their comittee and school reports with a verbal virus or with a strong opening. I was in charge of reporting for the evening activity comittee as well as humanities work. When he started reading out the names of people that started their sentence with a verbal virus, they grew red with embarrassment.

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Last night, I was one of 8 students who were able to go to Dali Old Town for dinner. The place was a relatively touristy place with many souvenier shops and cafe's that were clearly constructed to attract tourists. Along with Sabrine, Joanne, and Melanie, we went to Stella's Pizzeria for dinner. I had a burger with fries, even though the burger wasn't really good and I mainly ate fries.

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Finally, after nearly spending more than an hour each day for a week looking for a service learning partner, we have found a nice lady named 杨奶奶 whom we've filmed our conversation with. I know the lady from my last entry also had the same surname as 杨, but it's because it is a very common surname here in Xizhou. Margaret, Josh, Cara, and I met her last week and she told us to visit her today.

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During the start of WIPPIS time today, CaraMargaret, and I headed to Si Fang Jie to talk to 杨大妈 (she told us to call her 大妈) who does embroidery there. When we got there, she was sitting on a stool, sewing flowers and sequins onto a silky red material. We asked her if we were allowed to film while we asked her questions and she happily obliged. She told us about her family, her job, and that she led a pretty normal life in general.

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For wellness today, I went to the parking lot behind the Tie Dye street with Sabrine, Riko, and Margaret. Sabrine and I were playing "baseball" with a small tennis ball; she substituted a badminton racket for a baseball bat, and I used a tennis ball as a baseball. I would pitch the ball to her and she'd swing the racket. Then, I would run and pick the ball back up.

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Bargaining is quite a useful skill in China. Many shops price their items for double the price, sometimes even more. So when Ryley, Cara, and I went to an antique shop today, we knew that our bargaining skills would be put to the test. We were just looking around, but I decided not to get anything in the end. Ryley chose a miniature pagoda statue along with a dragon bracelet, and Cara chose a carving of a dragon.

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It's not everyday that you get to see a blue sky in Shanghai. Actually, I don't think I've seen one in Shanghai for years. But here in Xizhou, I haven't even seen a trace of gray. Every morning, the sky is just clear azure. Most of time, it stays that way throughout the way. However, sometimes clouds are visible in the sky. Towards noon, wisps of clouds start forming in the sky. Then, around mid afternoon, huge fluffy clouds take place. Finally, as the sky darkens, the clouds seem to vanish.

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The endless blue sky. The fluffy white clouds. The lush, green undergrowth. None of that was visible to me until we arrived at the Jade Belt. The hike up was tiring and I was often had difficulty breathing in a matter of seconds. But my struggles made our arrival at the top seem so much more worth celebrating. We spent a while at the top, hanging onto our bags as a cold front hit us. Then, we hiked around the side of the mountain before Mr.

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Are there ladybugs without wings? That's what Margaret thought when the ladybug crawled onto her finger. The split in its wings were barely visible. Maybe it didn't have wings at all. As the ladybug crawled from her palm to the tip of her finger, Margaret and I walked over to Sabrine, Shannon, and Cara.

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After lunch today, we had our first official room inspection. Mr. T, with his "phantom of the room inspection" voice, sang that the "phantom of the room inspection" was in town, and so was his lover, "Christine". Ryley and I barged into our rooms to tidy up a few things before Mr. T and Ms. Mai came to inspect our rooms. Suddenly, we heard him call for everyone to stand outside of their rooms. We burst out the door and stood rigid directly outside our room, trying to hold in our laughter. Mr.

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Joanne, Ryley, and I went to the parking lot by the tie dye factory nearby. This "parking lot" was basically a huge expanse of stone floor that we played frisbee, jumped rope, and ran around on. While we were doing wellness (P.E.), the sun was shining down relentlessly on us. After a while, I decided to take a short break. Walking around the parking lot, I observed the different patterns on each tie dye cloth. Most of them were indigo - from the indigo leaf.

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For wellness today, RyleyRikoCara, and I biked out to Erhai Lake. When we were there, Ryley picked up a stone and flung it at the water's surface. It skipped twice. Each time the rock skimmed the water's surface, it would send endless ripples spreading across the lake. The rest of us followed her lead and crouched down, hunting for a light, flat-surfaced rock.

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Early this morning, Joanne and I headed out to the courtyard when no one else was out of their room yet. Recently, we made a pact to do a few minutes of exercise in the morning and night. We each chose a spot on the floor and placed our elbows gingerly on the floor. My phone was in between us on stopwatch mode. On three, we lifted our knees off the floor and planked for two minutes. Somehow, we managed to pull through and even did pushups afterwards.

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After a long wait, we finally embarked on our day trip. 8 microcampus students chose to visit the wind farm, while the remaining 5 went to a tie dye factory in Zhoucheng. Since I was more of a hands-on activity person, I went along with the tie dye group. We were given the opportunity to make our own tie dye pieces, so I chose the Yin Yang. The first step was to sew the outline of it, and it was challenging for me at first. But after a while, I got the hang of it.

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We're currently 6 days into our Microcampus trip, and this time I decided to try a new restaurant for lunch. The name of the restaurant was "古镇小吃", and I ordered 青菜牛肉炒饭 (vegetable and beef friend rice) while Joanne ordered 饺子 (dumplings) and Sabrine ordered 太妃炒饭 (Tafel fried rice). Sabrine introduced the restaurant staff to us, who were really friendly. After our meal, we decided to walk around and get to know some other people.

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It's Day 5 of Microcampus, November 18. Today I've gotten to know a few locals, talk to them for a bit, and ask for their names. Yesterday, I talked to Ms. Song and Ms. Wang at a restaurant named 云个小吃 with MelanieRiko, and Cole . Ms. Song told us that her daughter (Ms. Gao) works at the restaurant; we also got to know another waitress named Ms. Wang.

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Today, we had our first WIPPIS (Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, Still time) session. For wellness and still time, I went on a bike ride with my friends to Er Hai lake. Once again, I was mesmerized by its stunning beauty. After just staring out into the open for a while, I decided to snap a few pictures on my camera, but for some reason most of the pictures came out so bright it looked completely white. Eventually I gave up taking pictures and we all cycled back to Yang Zhuo Ran.

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This morning, a few students got up early to watch the sunrise and identify different planets. However, I was not able to wake up before 7 so I missed it, but I hope to be able to catch it before I leave Xizhou. We also started our first SAS Essentials class today, which was math. Then, after we had lunch outside, we learned more about HRM's here in Xizhou as well as worked on our Inquiry projects

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Today is Day 2 of our Microcampus trip, and we were able to explore several places outside our hostel, such as a nearby market and Si Fang Jie. After breakfast that morning, we visited our neighbor, Mr. Zhao. He was really friendly, and invited us to his place if we wanted some quiet time. There were places near his house that contained traces of history, such as old propaganda, old Chinese characters, and old paintings. However, most of these were either vandalized or destroyed by rain and storms.

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Yesterday, on November 14, 13 students embarked on a 4 hour plane ride from the Shanghai Hongqiao airport to the Dali airport. I was one of those students, and I arrived at the Hongqiao airport around 9:30 to check in. After that, we boarded the plane which took of pretty smoothly with the exception of a 10 minute turbulence. However, there was a huge turbulence towards the end of the flight, and I swear our plane rotated more than 180 degrees. But eventually, we were able to land safely at the airport before getting on a bus that took us to our hostel named Yangzhuoran.

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Hi, my name is Jie Ling, and I am 13 years old. I am currently in eighth grade and this is my ninth year living in China. I was on the Nutty Narwhals Microcampus group and my stay in Xizhou was a life-changing experience. I'm thankful that I was given this opportunity to explore Xizhou outside of the bubble.