Our Service Learning partner was Lao Mao. He is currently 60 years old and he is always very energetic and happy to make conversation with us. During his life, he was always moving around Yunnan. He has now lived in Xizhou for 10 years. Lao Mao's given name is Zhang Liang Chun. However, people call him Lao Mao because of his beard. He even changed his store name to Lao Mao's Old Antique Shop.
We learned a lot about Lao Mao as a result of this experience. He is always happy and open to share tough times of his past with us. He also educated us on his points of view of Chairman Mao. He talked to us about the good things he has done in his life and the bad.
Through this process, I learned a lot about the history of this area. During the cultural revolution, life was hard. Even if his family was very hard working and wanted money, they could not get enough. If they wanted food, they could not get any. If they wanted meat, they could not afford it. Even if there was a lot of fighting in the streets, the ordinary people, like Lao Mao were not involved in the political parties therefore they were not involved in the war.
We learned about how tough Lao Mao's life was during his teenage years. He was talking to us about the higher class and the lower class people. The higher class people, government officials, teachers, and others needed to attend political meetings. However ordinary people like Lao Mao did not need to.
Our Service Learning partner could not come to the showing of the final showing of the video. However we did go and see him later to show him our video. On the walk there, I was really nervous. So many thoughts came into my head. I was wondering whether he would like the video or not. We finally got to his shop, he greeted us kindly and we sat down all together to watch our final Service Learning video.
During the video, I was looking at Lao Mao to see what he thought of our video. Lao Mao was so happy. He was smiling at the beginning of the video but later on, when his sensitive parts came up he was more quiet about it. When Lao Mao was smiling it warmed my heart. He made me feel so much happier inside. Knowing that all our hard work was worth it. In the end, he smiled and gave us a thumbs up. He was thanking us multiple times for the work we have done with him.
Lao Mao brought out his wife for her to see the video as well. They were both very happy. In the end, we posed for photos with them. Lao Mao ended up going to the shop next door to get the store owner to watch the video as well. He was so proud of himself and of us. I am so happy we got to make these connections with him and he is one man I will never forget.
For future Microcampus students, I have a few recommendations. The first one is to always follow Mr. Tafel's instructions as every instruction he and Ms. Mai give, is an attempt to solve a problem before it becomes one. Not only will you gain Mr. Tafel's trust, you will also have more freedom in the village where you can go out and make connections with the locals. My next tip is to make connections starting from the beginning of the trip. It might be hard to get out of the bubble and into a different surrounding but it will help later on in the process. Throughout the process, some potential Service Learning partners might say no or might not be there to complete the process. This is why making connections is very important. In the end, students will be happy to have many potential options for Service Learning. My last tip is to stay on top of your work. Sometimes it is hard to complete but by putting in 15min a day of work, everything can end up being completed on time without any stress.