Angelesia M. (Alumni-O)'s Journal

After being immersed in a small village called Xizhou for 28 days, it is time to ask myself this question again-Why did I come to Microcampus? For me, it is a bit more complicated then just escaping the streets compacted with cars honking at each other. When I was sitting in a classroom applying for this program, I wanted to experience a life out of Shanghai, out of all the pollution and cars, and even the people I love dearly, I just wanted to get out and experience something out of the unexpected. That was all I wanted.

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"Time passes by so quickly. Change happens all around us everyday whether we like it or not. Enjoy the moment while you can, one day it will just be another memory". Even though today marks the last chapter of our day in Microcampus, I believe that this is not the end for the O.R.E.O. group. During my time spent here in Xizhou, I have created such an indestructible bond with the students in this group that when we arrive back in Shanghai, I am positive that this relationship will continue to grow.

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On the 30th of March, our Service Learning video was presented to Grandma Yang and her older sister. In the beginning, I could tell that it was a little awkward and difficult for both Grandmas' to interact and communicate with the other guests, since there were many new faces to learn and I myself felt a little uneasiness in the start as well.

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Today our Service Learning group has officially finished our footage of Grandma Yang, but progress in our group had not always been so solid before. Just twenty-four hours ago, our group's progression was not going as planned, and we all thought that we were not going to get past this roadblock. However, we figured that pointing fingers at each other was not going to solve what had happened in the past, and bringing up what each other did was not going to help us move past this stage.

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Today Maya, Aniketh, Alba and I went for a run around the street of Yang Zhou Ruan, where we visited the Cheese Factory. I had only been there once, which was during teacher support when I asked the owner of the factory about information regarding to agriculture. However, I never had the chance to actually taste their home-made cheese until today.

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Today we finally wrapped up our Phase 5 work, which incorporates 3 parts- the introduction, the product, and finally the reflection. I must admit when my final product was successfully exported, I felt extremely accomplished of the work I had done in just the amount of 4 days. At the same time, it was also a great challenge for me, since all three requirements for the final product had to be completed in a very short amount of time.

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Today my service learning group's growth did not start off very progressively, since the grandma that just confirmed with us that she was able to be a potential partner said she was not able to, since she said: "If you want to learn about the history of XiZhou, just look at this book", as she handed us a Chinese history book about Yunnan. When we told her that reading a book was not the purpose of this activity, she then recommended us to another family, which is all the way uphill. As a result, we understood the message she was implying to us, and left.

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Today I went back to Yang Nai Nai's shop as usual, not just to visit her again, but I went and bought two of her own sewn pouches. I did this because I wanted a souvenir of Yang Nai Nai when I arrive back in Shanghai, so when I look back at those pouches, it will take me back to my journey in XiZhou, and remind me of all the wonderful people I met along the way, especially Yang Nai Nai. My favorite pouch that I got had a rectangular design on top of a jet black cloth, where two people are actively having a conversation with their hands flying in the air.

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Today's weather was pretty gloomy, and the weather in Xizhou is usually not like this at all. The fiery ball of light is usually always shining ever so brightly, and the cloudless sky is usually always as blue as the lake Er Hai below it. But today, was different. The day had been beautiful and the sky was like a dome of plasma blue, however, during the afternoon around 3:00, a huffing wind rose up, and then came the tinkling sound of the first pearls of rain dropped onto the floor.

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Today during teacher support Mr. Jake took me to the Linden Centre staff "dormitory" to see a variety of crops grown in their backyard. I was actually astounded to the number of crops there were, even though most of them had not started growing yet. When I first walked in, I was revealed to a small patch of field that was growing potatoes and watermelons. On the other side, there was a tree of orange leaves which appeared to be a pomegranate tree, and another which immediately brought out my smile; DATES (my favorite fruit of all time).

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Today currently marks the end of our second week staying in XiZhou. Overall, everything has been going great and I'm so glad to say that the boat has resumed rowing. Through this week, I have made much more connections with the village than I did during the previous week, and I am finally feeling like part of this warm and wonderful community. Recalling from what happened yesterday, we told one of our service learning partners the main difference from Shanghai and XiZhou, since 'Ye Ye' has lived in XiZhou for his entire life. "Here in XiZhou, it's like everyone is one big neighborhood.

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Trudging along the trail with our heavy hiking boots and bags, our calves burning and our backs aching from the pressure compressing onto our shoulders, we were on our way to the Jade Belt. We hiked for a total amount of 5 hours, and it was honestly one of the most exhausting experiences I have ever encountered. Hiking can be described as anything other than relaxing, at least not when you were welcomed with another steep step over and over again.

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Happy St. Patrick Day! Today was an extremely eventful day for me, since it was my first time encountering a community service activity. Basically, Chris from the Linden Centre organized an event where we would all go outside and pick up trash.

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Today Maya and I went for a very refreshing run in the garlic fields. Even though it was just a run, I was exposed to a very beautiful and ravishing view.  Running no longer seemed exhausting and colorless, at least not when my eyes were projected into such a beautiful view. While I was running, I could feel the mild wind blowing against my back, constantly rejuvenating me whenever I was beginning to feel worn out.

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Today we had our first MAP test in Microcampus, and the subject was based on Language Usage. As expected, I was able to focus and concentrate a lot more since the environment is quieter and the volume is lower. In addition, I also found myself finishing up my test much faster than I expected, even though I was one of the last people to finish. Overall, XiZhou is a great place to study and discover more about yourself since everything moves in a very slow pace.

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Every journey has its ups and downs, and right now the O.R.E.O group is experiencing its own little dip. Our ship is slowly descending to a step because almost half our group is not following directions. Sometimes, we forget that there is a whole new world outside of Shanghai American School. Sometimes, we are not applying our best efforts to our decisions. Lastly, we often times forget to work to our fullest potential. In my own personal perspective, our group has the capability to aim higher.

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Even though camping at the lake was from day 8, I will still be talking about it since I did not have the opportunity to do so yesterday. When Alba and I set up our tents on the irregular side of the soil, we immediately knew the night would become a rough one. During the night, I had a hard time sleeping since whenever I turned, I was welcomed with another jolting side of the soil. When I finally found a decent spot, the wind strutted its way in.

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Dear Journal, today marks our first week staying in Xizhou! I still remember the day when we first arrived at the Linden Centre, when I immediately fell in love with the scenery and was already planning busily in my mind the adventures to come. Now, the same sentiment I felt on the first day is still here, and everyday here is an opportunity to discover and relish. My favorite part of the this week was going to Yan Nai Nai's house.

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Dear Journal, today passed by so quickly, that before I knew it, I am already sitting in the TV room describing my journey of day 7. I was supposed to go to the windmill farm, but due to an upcoming rain, we switched and went to the tie-dye factory. I must say, it was indeed a spectacular experience. Firstly, I picked out a pattern that I liked, which had an illustration of ying-yang imprinted on a piece of cloth. We were taught how to sew along the lines of our picture, and at first I experienced a strong wave of frustration and irritation.

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Today Ms. Mai and little Sophie took me to Yang Zhou Ruan to meet Mr. Zhao. This was my first time talking to a local outside of the Linden Centre, and I found myself becoming easily agitated. However, when Mr. Zhao opened the door for us, I immediately knew that talking with him would not be as hard as I imagined it to be, and developing a connection didn't seem that hard anymore. I noticed that he was a very buoyant person, as he joked around with some of my questions. I also noticed that he has a special bond with little Sophie. Mr.

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Today's bike ride with Aniketh and Max certainly did not go as smoothly as I thought it would go. As we made our way uphill, the wind was exceptionally strong. Chunks of dust hurled at me with the addition of a powerful wind. In fact, for a moment the wind was so strong that I could feel my bicycle being forced into another direction. In regardless, it was still a pleasure to be able to spend my wellness time with them.

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Day 4 marks the official day of Microcampus, since Mr. Tafel and Mrs. Mai has stepped away from the head of the boat, and handed the steering wheel to us. This really just indicates that Mr. Tafel has given all of us the bucket of trust, and now it is up to our actions to determine how full the bucket will turn out to be. In fact, I actually like it better to be able to plan my own schedule, and to manage my own work, without a teacher giving us every step of guidance and direction.

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The beginning of day 3 started off with a heavy pang inside of me. I knew that today would become the last orientation day of Microcampus, that Mr. Tafel and Mrs. Mai will soon step away and hand the responsibilities to us. Even though I was very nervous for the upcoming weeks, I was yet infused with a type of enthusiasm inside of me, awaiting for the challenges. Everything started off pretty normal and expected, but lunch at Si Fang Jie was definitely something I want to remember.

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6:10 A.M-the sky outside is still pitch dark. As Chelsea, Nicole, and I made our way onto the terrace floor to catch the sunrise, the mountains surrounding the farmlands had already developed into a crimson shade of pink. As we sat there in silence and watched life slowly pass by, the colors faded from a marsh mellow pink to a light orange color, drowning the silhouette of the mountains.

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After being on the plane for 4 hours, we finally arrived at the Dali airport. Everything seemed so surreal, each of us carrying our hiking bags and suitcases, making our way to our buses. That was the moment when I realized I would be immersed in an environment so diversified, different, and spectacular. Even though we had 3 months from the day we signed up for Microcampus, everything seemed to have happen during the course of a second. After an hour ride on the bus, we arrived at our home, the Linden Centre.

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Wow I cannot actually believe it's December already! We are almost heading towards 2016, and I am anticipating to what this following school year has planned out for us....probably some very interesting stuff :) This also means that the Microcampus trip is coming towards our way, which is a mixture of both excitment and nervousness for me! I didn't think that this would come so fast!

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My name is Angelesia, and I was lucky enough to become part of the O.R.E.O. Microcampus group. Being immersed in this beautiful village has taught me more about myself than I could have ever learned in Shanghai. This spectacular learning experience has shaped myself in every aspect, and it has encouraged me to constantly strive and aim for a higher benchmark. I will never forget my adventure here in Xizhou, and I hope to visit again in the future.