Our service learning partner was Mr. Ma. Mr. Ma is 73 years old, and a Muslim faithful to his religion and family. Mr. Ma is an author and teacher and has experienced various historical events, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Ma has shared his story with us and gave us the opportunity to look into his life. We have learned so many things about Mr. Ma, his passions and hobbies, the hardships he has endured, the proud and happy moments of his life, his religion, and his education and career. But something I will always remember, courtesy of Mr. Ma, is his attitude and faith. Every time he encounters obstacles, he continues without stopping or giving up. His faith has helped him through the most difficult parts of his life, including his son and his siblings dying.
Here is a link to Claire's workspace.
As a result of this experience, I have learned many things about Xizhou. He has described Xizhou during his childhood to us, he has told us about how Xizhou was less developed and much poorer than it is today. He used to live in older buildings and has just recently moved to his new home. He talks about how during the Great Leap Forward, there was never enough food in Xizhou and that many people starved. During the Cultural Revolution, Xizhou was also targeted by the red guards, and they often destroyed the windows and doors which had intricate carvings. He mentions many pieces of propaganda that appeared in Xizhou during the Cultural Revolution.
I learned what normal, typical villagers felt during the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward, as a result of this experience, I have gotten the opportunity to learn about people's opinions of Mao and what they thought was the cause of the Cultural Revolution. I have not learned much that was not covered in the history lecture but more about people's separate experiences and thoughts on Chinese history.
It was interesting watching our partner 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 everytime 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.
All that work was worth it, the moment we see Mr. Ma's expression. He was very grateful for what we made for him and it was immensely satisfying seeing our work presented and I was disappointed it was over so quickly. It was overall very powerful, and Mr. Ma gave us a standing ovation.
For future Microcampus students , one recommendation is to film from the first time you meet, with of course the permission of your partner. The first time we met Mr. Ma, we talked for a really long time and covered a lot of information, which we did not film. Later on, we wanted to include some of the questions and answers from the first conversation, but we had no footage. Another recommendation is to have backup contacts and continue to film them even after you have gotten the permission of one contact already. We did not get much footage because we only got to film Mr. Ma twice and both weren't that long because Mr. Ma is a very busy man. The final recommendation I have for future students is to be very sensitive to the questions you are asking, many people have different viewpoints on historical events and on Mao. The questions we are asking is typically very sensitive material and contacts can be touchy about some of the topics and refuse to answer some questions.