Chelsea C. (Alumni-O)'s Journal

Shanghai. The goodbyes. The first countoff. Our journey begins. So many mixed emotions- the excitement of the start of an adventure, the sorrow of leaving my friends and family for a month, the anxiety, wondering what the future holds. 

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Today, by ten o'clock in the morning, we had to finish our service learning video draft for Mr. T's Pearls of Wisdom. We had to finish adding translations, and the already made intro and outro for the Service Learning videos. After the daily meeting, our group went to receive our service learning video Pearls of Wisdom. Later on, Mr. T told us parts of the video that we needed to edit and revise. Today, we need to edit parts of the video, and cut and add parts of the film.

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Yesterday, we had our first horse cart ride of the trip. Everyone had arrived at the main courtyard after having dinner at seven o'clock in the evening. Two horse carts waited for us outside and we divided into two groups. As the horse galloped forward, heading towards the tongue of the lake, the cart bumped and rocked behind. The view outside was beautiful, by the time we got to the lake, the sun was starting to sink into the horizon, its warm colors melting into the mirror-like lake. We walked back to the horse carts on a rocky path with our work groups.

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Today, we visited Yang Nai Nai again. She, as always, was at her embroidery shop. Before we went, we bought a bag of long yuan, and a bag of oranges for her. She was working on embroidery and was sewing bags. We gave Yang Nai Nai some oranges and long yuan and she gave us some apples and pears. The apples were really sweet, and Yang Nai Nai was really nice. She also gave us some fried fish which she really enjoyed eating. After visiting Yang Nai Nai, we went to her sister's embroidery shop, which was further down the road.

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Today, not only was it a busy day where we had all spent lots of time working on our Inquiry Projects, and the continuation of a busy week, today is also Max's birthday. During Pitching In times, the evening programming activity committee as well as Ms. Mai had gathered up small groups of people to go to decorate, make cards, and prepare. By the end of our pitching in, we had prepared some balloons, a card, and plans to give Max a surprise, Mr.

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Today we had visited Mr. Zhao again. We called him earlier on, and he welcomed him to his house. Together, we sat in the front yard with our work group and had a long discussion with Mr. Zhao. He told us about how he was living a healthy life by waking up at six o'clock in the morning, sleeping at nine o'clock every night, and constantly exercising and eating healthy. Overall, we had a great time talking to Mr. Zhao and I hope our next conversations for Service Learning will be great as well.

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Last night, five students went to Dali Old Town with Mr. T. The town had many tourists, and many foreign restaurants, showing how globalization was occuring in the area. At Dali Old Town, we were able to eat at a restaurant with Western food. It reminded me of the restaurants we ate at in Shanghai, and reminded me of home. At the restaurant, we each ordered a pasta dish, and shared a pizza. We had not eaten Western food in a long time, and the meal was really delicious. Afterwards, we went to a bakery called "Sweet Tooth" where we each ordered a dessert.

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Today, we had another rather normal schedule. However, today we had to finish Phase 4, and yesterday we had finished Phase 3. We had completed a lot in these few days and by tomorrow, we will be starting to work on our final product.

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Today was a rather normal day- we had breakfast, SAS Essentials, daily meeting, pitching in, lunch, and WIPPIS. However, today was quite a busy day. We had to finish our research today. I had to record some previous information that I have gathered, and answer the 10 big questions that I had created a while ago. I decided that two of my ten questions did not help me on my topic, so I did not use those questions. The answers to my questions were a bit different than I imagined.

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Today is the start of our next week here at Microcampus. This week, we will be rather busy, as our research will be due by the end of tomorrow, and we will have to finish organizing our research by Wednesday. We are all starting to think about how we will present our work in the final product, and how we can make an interesting and successful final product. Although it feels like a normal day with a normal schedule, I think we all feel like today is the start of the coming busy days.

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Today marks the end of our second week at Microcampus. Since it is a Sunday today, we were able to get omelettes and bacon for breakfast. Also, this weekend, we had started our Service Learning project. Our work group decided to visit a few people on our list. We headed to the antique shop first, to meet Lao Mao. Since Lao Mao was not here, we talked to his wife instead. Next, we talked to Yang Nai Nai on the way to Si Fang Jie, and then went to meet Mr. Zhao.

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This was our third weekend at Microcampus. Today, Max and I decided to visit Mr. Jake's students at the Cheng Zhang Kindergarten. We helped teach them how to speak English. The students were very nice- there were five girls and one boy. Most of the students were around eleven years old, and one student, six years old (Angela). These students took this English class as an extra class. The class started at ten o'clock in the morning and ended at around noon. During this time, Max also played guitar for the kids.

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With the accelerating beats of our hearts pounding through our ears, our heavy breaths escaping into the thin air, and our feet dragging along behind us, we struggled up the jagged rocks coated with thousands of soft pine needles. Despite the exhaustion, we continued to go uphill, but at a steady past, careful to maintain a sustainable speed so that we could reach our destination. Today, we embarked on a five-hour hike heading up Cang Shan to the Jade Belt. This hike reminded me of our current progress in Microcampus.

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Today, after the daily meeting, Mr. T gave us a small presentation about what is coming up in our Inquiry Projects and about the "hooks and hangers". By the end of Tuesday next week, we should be finished with our discussions with the locals and collecting information for Phase 3.

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Yesterday, a guest speaker came to Linden Center to talk about modern dance. The presentation was at 8:15 in the TV room, and there were a lot of audience who were invited there- the Linden family, the Shanghai American School students (us), the Sidwell Friends School students, and many others. In the beginning of the presentation, we watched a video on the guest's dance performances.

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Nervousness crept into us, crawling through our fingers as we began our MAP testing. MAP stood for Measures of Academic Progress. We had six of these standard tests each school year- two times, and three tests each time, each with a different subject. Today, was MAP testing for Language. Tomorrow would be Math, and the next day, Reading. The MAP testing took around one hour for me, and by the time I was finished, I was extremely relieved, and decided to do some committee work (website janitor), and work on some of my SAS Essentials (Language Arts).

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As our Microcampus journey continues, we are experiencing a slight dip in the process. The trip had started out great, and was off to a good start; however, all of us are beginning to relax too much, and are not aiming high enough to reach our goals and expectations. Microcampus existed to help us experience life outside of the bubble, and to overcome challenges, but right now, we are not being responsible enough, and we are not following instructions enough to do this. This dip, or valley in our journey is just part of our process, though.

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Yesterday, the camping trip was fun and exciting, but very tiring, too. The wind made it hard to fall asleep, and I did not adjust well to the new environment. Before we could rest, we had to complete our reflection on our wellness plan first- this is when we reflect to see if we had completed our goals for social, emotional, and physical wellness, and set new goals for next week's wellness. Next, was Pitching In, and after that, lunch. After having Tafel Fried Rice, we decided to visit Yang Nai Nai and to make connections and talk to her.

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We settled down at the farmer's place, dropping of our large, heavy hiking bags, looking around to see where we would be spending our night. On the right was the field, where there were rows and rows of crops, and also empty spots with only dirt. The farmers were harvesting their crops, and were almost finished and cleaning up for the day. On the left was Er Hai. As always, it was a wide expanse of deep blue, and velvety ripples. In the distance, there were layers and layers of mountains, and behind it, the clear sky.

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Today, we went to Zhou Chen, and arrived at the tie dye place, where we all sat down and started choosing our tie dye pieces. On the cloth, patterns were already roughly drawn out for us in orange (this would not show through the indigo dye afterwards, but is only a guide for us). We were allowed to choose the pattern- a snowflake, butterfly, leaf, ying and yang symbol, and other patterns. Next, we were given a needle and string to start sewing the pattern using the guide.

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Today, before lunch, the Microcampus O.R.E.O group had their first room inspection. As we came back from Pitching In, and entered the second courtyard, we noticed the Phantom of the Room Inspection singing, checking Room 4. He looked into the room, and walked in it, making comments along the way. When he walked back out, we all waited as he announced the rating of the room- 0.5 out of 5 stars. Next, the Phantom of the Room Inspection moved on to the next room- Room 3.

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We had a normal Microcampus schedule so far today- breakfast, SAS essentials, daily meeting, pitching in, lunch, and WIPPIS. The one interesting event that had happened today was during WIPPIS, as I was walking towards my room to get my charger in order to continue working on my inquiry project, I saw two Linden Center guests. The two women were walking together, speaking in French. I said 'hi' to them, and asked them if they were French.

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With the wind tousling our hair, and our hearts beating fast from the excitement of our first independent bike ride, Max and I rode down the road. We watched as yellow, viridescent, and azure sailed past our view. Yesterday, Mr. T had brought us on a group biking trip to earn our biking licenses. Now that we got our licenses, and earned Mr. T's trust, we were on our own- free, nervous, excited. We payed lots of attention to safety, and constantly reminded each other of the safety tips and rules that Mr.

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Today, numbers seven to twelve had lunch outside on Si Fang Jie. We split up into two groups, with three people in each group. Angelesia, Maya, and I sat down at Old Town Snacks and ordered some Tafel Fried Rice, which tasted amazing. We also had cold noodles which were sweet and spicy. As we ate, we noticed students who looked like they were around our age, wearing blue and white uniforms with "sport" printed on their backs.

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This morning, we got up early to see the sunrise. We opened our doors to a dark sky, turning on our phones to light up the path in order to go to the terrace. We walked in the chilly morning air, and looked up to the sky, seeing the crescent moon gleaming in the dark. After taking some pictures, we walked up to the terrace, and turned east to see the sun rising above the dark silhoutte of the mountains, crimson spreading out through the dark, blending into orange, then amber, then blue. 

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This was our first day of our Microcampus trip, the beginning of the 28 days that we will be spending in Xizhou. I was buried by so many emotions as we said goodbye to our parents, checked in our bags, left to buy lunch, and boarded the plane. The plane ride was around three hours. When the plan landed, we knew our trip had begun. Excitement as well as anxiety and other emotions built up. Throughout this long day, the bus ride from the airport to the Linden Center was quite memorable for me.

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My name is Chelsea, I am 13 years old. I was born in Chicago, and I moved to Shanghai when I was 3 years old. Ever since then, I have lived in Shanghai. I really enjoy reading, art, music (I play piano and violin), anime, and traveling. Throughout our journey in Microcampus, I learned so much and grown as a student of this program. I discovered more about myself and enjoyed becoming part of this community. Microcampus has become an extremely unforgettable and life-changing experience for me.