Nicole L. (Alumni-P)'s Journal

Microcampus. The first time I heard this word, I was intrigued. I have always loved adventures and Microcampus was a perfect chance for one. There were also the obvious reasons, the fact that it was so far from Shanghai, in a village I have never been to, made it very appealing. I had also previously heard so many things about this trip, alumni talk about their trip as the best month of their lives. But I just could not imagine, what was so amazing about this trip? Well, I could only find out if I joined.

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Yesterday evening, our whole group went to Dali Old Town. I was really excited to be able to go shop at Dali and I have heard that the food there was really good. Risa, Rachel, and I milled around for about one hour, buying some small souvenirs for family and friends. We then decided to eat, finding the restaurant was the hard part though. None of us could decide on what to eat, and most of the restaurants were bars anyway.

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Today was the day, the day of final service-learning presentations, the day that we have all been waiting (or dreading) for, and the day where we say goodbye to our service learning partners. We got to watch our service learning partner: Mr. Ma watch our video. We were facing away from the screen so I did not know which scenes were going on. But I couldn't help peeking at the screen every time Mr. Ma smiled, gasped, or frowned. We loved that he liked it and made us feel appreciated. Mr. Ma looked sad when we were talking about his hardships and I instantly felt sad too.

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Tonight was Mr. T's All Star Whizbang Super Duper Trivia Night, our team was Four Shades of Mal (Mao) because Mallory was our team captain. We wore the caps from the communist party, dressed in all gray, and put dark sunglasses. There were 3 rounds to trivia night, the first round was normal jeapordy, the second round was doubled points, and the third round you wagered points, if you answered 5 out of the 7 questions right you get the points you wagered, if you didn't you lost the points you wagered.

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Walking into the cheese factory today with Mallory and Claire, the smell of homemade cheese wafted toward us. The cheese factory was not what I expected at all, it looked more like a tie-dye factory, with tie-dye draped all over the walls, and stacked into piles that almost reached the ceiling. In the distant corner, there were a few roles of cheese, and a small stove to fry the cheese.

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Mr. Ma is an amazing man. He has witnessed the up's and downs of Xizhou, and has been an amazing teacher to my service learning group and I. Today, we have been transferring his story into an iMovie to share with the rest of our peers and some other people in Xizhou. I have been working with my group all day to prepare this video, and only have a little bit left. It has been really fun to witness and learn from him throughout our time in Xizhou. This Wednesday is our viewing party to celebrate our times with him and create our final memories together by sharing his story.

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Everywhere I turn, every room I peer in has groups of people crouching in corners with stiff backs and focused eyes. Everywhere is completely and utterly silent, a plank creaking or a phone buzzing is always followed with hushed shs. The only voices belong to those reading off rehearsed scripts, with clear and even tones ringing throughout the walkway. I don't dare make a noise as I creep into a classroom, careful to ease every door open ever so gently.

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My dumb phone is perhaps the most complicated device I have ever handled. There are separate buttons for sound, texting, and calling. And a few presses of those fancy buttons can lead to a buzzing screen or a noisy ring. There are elegant numbers and letters carved onto the keyboard, and it is actually something that isn't on the screen. As a scroll through the modes slowly, I stumble upon something unbelievable. The radio!

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Yesterday and today were both jam-packed with Inquiry work. Yesterday we finished Phase 4 in 2 hours, today we immediately moved on to our final product. I worked on my Inquiry for about 3 hours, staring at the computer screen until my head started to feel dizzy. I feel very scared about what is ahead and I am not sure I can make my final product as perfect as I want it to be. I am not sure I have enough footage or even the information I need.

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Today, I am going to write about something that happened yesterday. Yesterday, at the 5-4-5 meeting, we saw a double rainbow. At first, it was just one with bright colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Then a rainbow started to appear on top of the first one. It was very faint but still visible. We watched in silence as the drizzle began to slow down, the clouds began to move, the sun began to leak out of the puffs of grey and white, and the rainbow began to disappear.

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Yesterday night, a few people from our group Phenomena were caught on their phones in a restaurant playing games. This led to a serious punishment and a breaking of trust. Almost everyone's phone was confiscated and many of us are going to be in house a period of time. Therefore, I will take this journal entry to reflect on one standard of the more of and less of document. I have chosen the Interactions w/Adults standard.

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For wellness today, we decided to go exploring until we found a good place to do wellness, we just kept on jogging toward the direction that seemed right, as Risa and Rachel had previously mentioned there wasa really good exersising place. When we reached the fields we were all awed, there were these big droopy trees lining the path, creating a comfortable shade for us to jog on. There was lush green grass covering most of the field and flowing streams.

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Today was a rainy and cold day for all of us, we were all freezing and bundled up in scarves and coats. My group had to go out for service learning, we were all soaked outside in the rain despite our rain jackets. We got lost in the various alleyways and none of us could remember which house Grandpa Ma lived in. We ended up knocking on the wrong door and calling him to find out where he lived. BUT even though we got really wet and cold, we filmed at least 30 minutes of quality service learning.

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Today, we went for service learning. Our goal was to ask our potential service learning partners whether they were okay with being part of our project. We went to Si Fang Jie first to find Grandpa Li, our most likely potential service learning partner but it turned out he was on a trip and wouldn't be back for a few days. Then we went to Grandpa Yang's house to check with him, but it turned out he was out with a couple of friends playing cards and chess. But at Grandpa Yang's house, we did meet Crackers.

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Yesterday, we went on a half day outing. We went hiking and ended with Phenomena S'mores and some group bonding games. We camped for the night on the ground and got the opportunity to connect with nature. I decided to brush my teeth in nature. As I was brushing, my headlamp blinked out, so I was left in the dark. When it was time to spit the toothpaste into the ground, I felt really bad so I decided to pour some water onto the toothpaste to wash it away a bit.

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Tourism in Xizhou has caused many effects on the community here, with both positive and negative impacts on the people, their lives, and the environment. Some positive impacts of tourism are the preservation of natural sites and wildlife. People in Xizhou have banned fishing in Er Hai in hopes of it becoming rich with fish again to attract tourism. Banning fishing will also maintain Er Hai’s clear blue water for tourists to enjoy.  Tourism will produce funds for conservation of nature, such as the mountains in the west of Xizhou.

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Since our room only has three people we switch every ten days or so for positive impact. Today is my first day on the positive impact committee with Marie, Nicole F, and Michael. We reviewed over having a positive impact on our peers, our teachers, and the community. Mr. T reviewed various crucial components with us in order to have a positive impact on everyone.

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Today, for still time we went to Joanne's Tree. I went with Mallory, Risa, and Nicole F. We climbed the tree and stared out at the beautiful view with the rice paddies and the little pond. I climbed up onto a branch, rested my head against another branch and almost fell asleep. The scene was so tranquil, I felt happy and at peace.

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I went out with teacher support from Mr. T today during Inquiry Project time. Today was also a funeral, outside of Yang zhuo ran were these old ladies and men, sitting there mourning the dead. I went up to the nearest group of old ladies, and introduced myself and explained to them my Inquiry Project. I thought they would have a lot of experience on traditional clothing. The group of ladies were uninterested and told me to go ask in Zhou Chen, and that they didn't know. I had thought the conversation would go better.

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Today was a very relaxing day for us, we didn't have anything planned so we just chilled and chatted. We played many card games such as Egyptian Rat Screw, Speed, Signal, BS, Fight the Landlord, 24, etc. I also worked on my homework and finished my book.

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We went out to make connections for our service learning project today. My service learning group is Claire, Mallory, and Steven. First, we met with Grandpa Li, he was very nice and told us many stories of his childhood. We listened intently for a really long time, almost taking up all of our service learning time. He was very open about himself, and he is a potential service-learning partner for us.

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Today was a very exciting day for all of us. In the morning after breakfast, the Phantom of Room Inspection appeared *dramatic music playing*. It was actually just Mr. T with a beanie covering half fo his face, singing and dancing about how he became the Phantom. He also spilled water on himself which sent us all into a fit of laughter. Then he started room inspection, our room was first. He came out and solemnly told us that we had scored a 1.1 out of the 5-star scale. Everyone started laughing at our room even though they didn't fare much better than us.

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Today during lunch we played a small game called Think-it Link-it. Basically, the rules are Mr. T give us a clue about a rhyming phrase of two words. If he says think-link it means that both words are only one syllable long. If he says think-it link-it it means that both words are two syllables long. If he says thinkedy linkedy means that the words are three syllables long. Annie was pro at this game and got almost all of them right while everyone else would get one every few questions or so.

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It has been almost 5 days since I have arrived in Xizhou, and the food is simply amazing. Whether you are eating in house, or out, you will love the food. Today I went to 院子口, Yard Entrance, and I had the best meal of pork with mushrooms and onions. I strongly recommend all of the pork dishes there. After lunch, for a snack we went to get Xizhou Baba, it was delicious if not a bit oily. There are also homemade popsicles all around Si Fang Jie, although I have only tried blueberry, milk, and chocolate, I have gotten recommendations for the plum flavored one.

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Mr. T has continuously stressed the importance of making connections, and today during WIPPIS and lunch time, I did just that. Today, my goal was to smile and greet all who walked by and look for potential service learning partners. I met many nice villagers today including Ms. Zhu and Ms. Li and go to know the kitchen staff and the guards during pitching in. I also had a full lunch of noodles that prepared me well for my Inquiry Project time. In Inquiry Project time, I went to talk to Zhao Shifu briefly about my project to gather a bit of additional information.

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Today was our first WIPPIS day, WIPPIS stands for Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching in, and Still Time. These are four essential components that make up our Microcampus trip, Wellness is basically a physical activity that we do to achieve our 30 minutes of time-in-zone, Inquiry Project is our research project here in Xizhou, Pitching in is doing our chores and assignments, and Still Time is a 30 minute break where we can go anywhere quiet to just sit there and rest.

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Today we took a tour around the village, one very memorable stop was the rice cake factory. We walked in to the smell of boiled rice and started poking around at the baskets of rice. The people there didn't seem happy to have us there and told us to stay away from the machines. We followed their rules of course but couldn't help walking closer out of curiosity. There was a grinding machine that processed and heated the rice, making it into a soft and squishy dough. The ladies then spilt the dough in pieces, giving a few pieces to the men and keeping some for themselves.

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Today, we arrived in the beautiful town that we would call home for the next 28 days. We set a new record for the earliest arrived group ever, at 2:15 in the afternoon, which gave us lots of time to unpack and explore. We met Ms. Zhang and many other staff members working in our home and as soon as we settled in we got the choice to take a walk and meet the villagers. I chose to go on the walk to Si Fang Jie, we had to talk many detours to Si Fang Jie as many roads were in construction. Mr. T explained to us the wall propaganda decorating the walls of most of the buildings.

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Hi, I'm Nicole L. I was part of Group Phenomena, and my Microcampus journey is now over. I am currently back from Xizhou. I have now left Shanghai American School but I will forever remember Xizhou, as it was one of the best months of my life. You will not regret coming to Xizhou, and I wish future Microcampus students a journey as amazing as mine!