Yang Nai Nai is our Service Learning Partner, and was kind enough to spend some time with us, and talk to us about her as an individual. She is the younger sister of a previous Service Learning Partner also named Yang Nai Nai. They both run embroidery shops next to the Linden Centre. Our Service Learning partner has been extremely welcoming, kind, and generous. She was born and brought up in Guizhou, and is part of the Miao minority here in China. She then moved to work in Lijiang, and then came to Xizhou to help support her daughter. Yang Nai Nai has taught us so much throughout the course of this project, and I hope that her story can be shared with dozens more.
As I said before, I was able to learn so much about Yang Nai Nai due to this experience. When we first came to her, she immediately said yes, and started giving us lots and lots of information. She is such and open and welcoming person, with a very kind heart.
Since Yang Nai Nai has only been living in Xizhou for the past three years, we were not able to gather much history about the village of Xizhou. However, we gathered lots of history about China itself.
She talked to us on how her and her family grew up. We discussed main turning points in Chinese history, and was able learn lots of information from her. We were given a personal insight into these times and about her Miao minority.
On March 30th, 2016, we were able to share our Service Learning video with our partner and her older sister. I must say that it felt very rewarding to see their faces watching the final product. I felt so happy to see them laughing while watching our video. There is not really one emotion to describe this whole experience, as it was a jumble of many. I felt happy bringing them over to the Linden Centre, and showing them around. Knowing that this would be the last time I would be able to see them until I returned, made it even more special. I could see the tears in their eyes when they were watching part of their movie, and I could see the joy on their faces when they were watching other parts of their movie.
Dropping them back to their homes was a tough thing to do, as I knew this would be the last time I would see them until the years to come. I felt sad, knowing that I may not ever see them again. Saying this, I was happy to be spending all of the time I could with them. It gives me joy to be with them every moment I can. Both of the Yang Nai Nai's are people with the kindest hearts I have ever known. Every moment they can, they try to give us fruits to eat. If we do not accept, they say we must eat it to grow strong. However, there is no doubt about it, the moments I shared with them on that day will be forever cherished.
For future Microcampus students working on the Service Learning project, I have three main recommendations: make as many connections as possible, make sure everyone is 'rowing the boat,' and do not stress. My group had some struggles finding a Service Learning partner, since many of our contacts backed out last minute. Remember: even though a Service Learning partner is confirmed, they may not be. Remember to always have a back up plan for this project. Next, make sure everyone is 'rowing the boat.' Though some people may be working harder than others in this project, make sure everyone is aware of this. We had some struggles regarding 'rowing the boat' in our group, so make sure everyone in the group is aware of the amount of work each group member is putting in. Then, let the group make adjustments to help support each other. Last but not least, make sure to keep track of all of your work, and do not stress.. At first, it may seem like lots of work to be put on your plate. However, there is plenty of time for everything, just make sure the whole group knows exactly what work needs to be done for all Project Work times. Overall, this Service Learning project is an amazing experience, and remember to enjoy and learn from every minute of it.