Our service learning partner was Ms. Zhang and she is 59 years old. She owns an antique shop west of Si Fang Jie were she also lives with her family. From Ms. Zhang, I learned many things. i learned what it was like to grow up during many historic events here in China and what it was like to have girls instead of male children and the scorn that came with it. I also learned what it takes to be a successful shop owner here in Xizhou. We did not learn many things about the history of Xizhou form Ms. Zhang because she has only been here for three years. But in her three years, she mentioned how the economy has improved and about how tourism has greatly risen. I learned from Ms. Zhang about how much better it was to have female children but how much that has changed and now her sisters who once scorned here now are jealous of her. I also learned about some of the things that happened to upperclass people during historic events that took place in 20th Chinese history.
When we went to pick up Ms. Zhang at her antique shop, we found she was not there. We panicked but then found she had to return home for a family emergency we were told. Then, my group was bale to relax and luckily we had her husband and her daughter attend the sharing with us. They were both very polite and engaged in conversation with Grace, Alexis, and I, but I could not understand very well because of my limited chinese skills but I still tried my best.
When the screening began, both her husband and her daughter were staring intently at the screen, occasionally nodding as the film progressed. At the beginning of the film, we discussed the hardships Ms. Zhang went through when she had three daughters and not sons. Her daughter watched very closely it seemed. I wondered what she was thinking as her mother discussed how at the time she was not very happy she had daughters. Her husband continued to watch the screen, occasionally having a small conversation of a word or two with his daughter, but then going back to watch the film.
Then, the film went to talk about how Ms. Zhang was very pleased she had daughters now because they are obedient and loving while her sisters, who once abused her, had sons who did not obey anymore. She stated that her sisters now envied her, and I saw Ms. Zhang’s daughters eyes well with tears. She watched closely as her mother discussed about how she was proud of her daughters and I could see her daughter very happy and emotional. Her husband continued to watch closely as the film progressed. After the film was over, her daughter came up and thanked us individually by giving each of my group members a hug, tears in her eyes. It made me feel very happy that we had sparked emotion and shared Ms. Zhang’s story in a way that made her family very happy, even though Ms. Zhang herself was not there.
My three recommendations to future Microcampus students would be: do not be afraid to get out there and make connections with the local people and do not get discouraged if someone disagrees to be your service learning partner, stay on top of your service learning work at all times, and make sure you ask deep questions and not just surface questions and do not be afraid to get to know your partner.