Our Service Learning partner was Mr. Zhao, he is the owner of the old Flying Tigers site. In his 73 years of life, Mr. Zhao has been through many experiences including being in parts of World War 2, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and many other events that happened in China during that time. Mr. Zhao is a father of two children, a son and a daughter. His son works in Yunnan while his daughter is in Xizhou. During our discussions with Mr. Zhao, our work group has learned that Mr. Zhao has appreciated how the Cultural Revolution has brought him land and equality. He believes in Chairman Mao's quote "为人民服务", which means "serve the people". When he was young, Mr. Zhao spent much time studying- he later explained that he studied hard when he was young because he wanted to be able to "serve the people" as he became older. Mr. Zhao also explained how individuals in Xizhou were very poor in the past, and life was more difficult before. Mr. Zhao told us how this has changed throughout the years of living in Xizhou, and how life is easier now. Mr. Zhao also explained that during the Cultural Revolution, all the farmers were given pieces of land to own. This way, they were able to plant and harvest their own crops. He also shared with us his memories of the Flying Tigers. When they had come to Xizhou, Mr. Zhao said that he was only four years old. He remembered how the Flying Tigers had tall noses and blond hair.
After we completed the Service Learning project, we had one last step. We had to present and show the video to Mr. Zhao to fully express our thanks to him. He helped us share his experiences and has created memories in the trip that will definitely stay with us. Although Mr. Zhao had thought that he was available today, a sudden appointment with the doctors came up since his blood pressure was getting too high, so he was not able to come to the group presentation at the Linden Centre. Instead, at the end of the presentation, we went to Mr. Zhao's house, since he had just arrived home, and gave him the DVD with the movie, which also included a picture of us and a letter to him. Mr. Zhao's sister-in-law was also in his house with him. We all sat down and everyone watched the video together.
While watching the video, Mr. Zhao first started to laugh a bit. I think he was not used to seeing himself on a computer talking and sharing experiences and advice. Afterwards, Mr. Zhao continued to watch the video calmly, as well as his sister-in-law. They seemed to appreciate the video, and I believe that our team did well presenting what he shared with us and sharing the new bond that we had created. After watching the video, he was smiling, and started talking to his sister-in-law, introducing us to her. I feel like this shows how we know each other now, and I am very thankful to have gotten to know him. I told Mr. Zhao how we were going to leave to go back to Shanghai in a few days and we said our thank you's and farewells. When we left his house, Mr. Zhao thanked us again for the DVD and told us that we made a really great video, and we thanked him again and said a final goodbye.
For future Microcampus students, I would recommend that they make sure to make many connections while still in the beginning of the trip. Although this instruction or recommendation was repeated many times by Mr. T, I would like to strongly emphasize this piece of advice from him. Making connections before the project starts will certainly help with finding Service Learning partners as the project starts. Adding on to this piece of advice, student need to make strong connections with the villagers and really make sure to know them and bond with them. This way, the Service Learning partner will probably be more open and share more information. In addition, I also suggest that make sure that they divide the work into the translation and discussion part, and the tech (editing and revising) part. This way, the work can be shared, even though it is very hard to share it evenly since some group members might not speak Chinese very fluently. Those who do speak Chinese fluently can do translations and have discussions with the Service Learning partner, while those who do not speak Chinese fluently can help put together the video (including editing it, finding the music, and downloading the intro and outro clips), and help film. Also, since there is only one computer to work on, there will be times when one or two group members are not able to help. To make sure they do not waste this time, they can help out with the other group member's pitching in responsibilities; for example, laundry and posting daily video shoutouts. The last piece of advice I have is to make sure that all the work and projects is completed on time. Although this is required anyway, some group members fall behind from time to time. It is very important to complete everything on time from the beginning. For example, in order to start on Phase 4, one must complete and have Phase 3 approved. Next, after Phase 3, Phase 4 must be completed and approved before moving on to working on the final product. The final product should be finished soon, since missing the deadlines will eventually result in having to take out Service Learning time in order to complete inquiry projects. This will slow the group down. Also, the deadlines that Mr. T and Ms. Mai set are very useful as guidelines to make sure that there is time for working on the rest of the Service Learning project at the end. For example, filming ends on Sunday because we need the time after that to work on our video. Groups should receive their first Pearls of Wisdom by Tuesday, so that we have the rest of the time to edit and revise.