Our Service Learning partner was Lao Mao. His real name Zhang Liang Chun. People call him Lao Mao because he has a big beard. He just turned sixty years old and is not from Xizhou. He is from another city in Yunnan.
We learned that Lao Mao believes in reality. He believes anything that is realistic. We also learned that his has split views on Chairman Mao. He thinks that Chairman Mao has a good side, as well as a bad side. To him, Mao's is good because he united China, and he united all ethnic groups. He aslo sees Mao as a bad person because anyone with skill and or talent cannot surpass him and that he surpresses the individual. Lao Mao said that because of this, Mao is two faced.
We learned that it was a hard life living an area like this at this time. Mr. Tafel stated that if the people wanted meat, they could not get it. When there was meat, their bodies did not know how to digest it, therefore they could not eat it. It was also hard to make money because there was not very much money flowing through the economy. Lao Mao even stated that if they wanted money, they could not get it. Also, if they wanted meat, they could not get it.
We were able to learn how life was during Lao Mao's teenage years. He stated that people like himself were of the lower class did not have to attend political meeting. He also stated that people in the lower classes did not have to attend political meeting, however higher class people, such as teachers and government officials, were required to attend these meetings. We also learned about his experiences during this time in China. He stated that he was around 15 or 16 years old during this time. He stated that when he first saw the bodies, he was instantly scared and ran back home. He wanted most of the fighting and those sorts of things to stop so that he could not be scared anymore.
Lao Mao was not able to come to our presentation. Because of this, we went to see him after the other guests had left the Linden Centre. Once we arrived, we gave him our thank you gift, which was a fairly large bag of apples. He was pleased when he took one of the apples, but when he realized that the entire bag was for him, he was overwhelmed. We sat down with him and began playing the video. About a minute of two into the video, he paused it and went to call his wife to watch with us.
When we played the video again, they were both smiling with excitment. As the video explained why people called him Lao Mao, he said that it was because he had a big beard. When they saw this, they both began to laugh. Their smiles never left their faces, even as the video was coming to an end. He said that he really liked it. We asked if we could take a picture with him, and he agreed to do so. He asked one of his neigbors to take the picture for us. As we were leaving, he shook all of our hands, and made sure that we knew how thankful he was for this opurtinity. He ended up showing his neigbor the video as well. We really enjoyed going to talk to Lao Mao and we will miss him dearly when we return to Shanghai.
There are a few recomendations I would give to future Microcampus groups. One recomendation that I would give to future mircrocampus students regarding Service Learning is to make sure that they start making connections with the local elders from the moment that they get into the village. This will help them when the time comes to select their service learning partners. The second tip that I have is to make sure that you follow Mr. Tafels instructions to make sure that they stay on track and that they are able to find a service learning parter that is for sure going to follow the guidlines and attend the final presentation. The third and final tip that I have for future microcampus students is to stay on task when working and make sure that they stay one hundred percent dialed in so that they will be able to relax and recharge over the weekend, so that they are ready for the next week to come.