Kara T. (Alumni-E)'s Journal

In the application for Microcampus, I wrote that I wanted to go on this trip because I wanted to have a new experience. Goal achieved. Now, after 26 days of living in Xizhou, I have learned more. Not only have I learned about the village, I learned more about myself. The reason I came on this trip was because I learned that if I speak up, I can be a good leader. I also learned that I tend to concentrate on the little details of things when focusing on the general ideas are more important.  

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Today is the last full day of Microcampus. This was a great experience, and I really don't want to leave. I have met so many nice people here, and Xizhou is just amazing. Today, we are all packing and doing some final posts on our journals, profiles and Inquiry Projects. Everybody is very busy, and we are all trying to finish everything in time. We have a list of things to do before 5:30. I am kind of in between going back and staying here, because I love everything here, but I miss my family and house too. Just by taking walk around the village, you can see how peaceful everything is.

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Today was the last day of work for us. We finished up our Inquiry Projects and tomorrow we will be packing and saying our final goodbyes. Unfortunately, the Lindens won't be back until Saturday, so we will not get to say goodbye to them. But, Nala is still here! I feel like she has been growing everyday. She is definitely bigger than she was when we first arrived Xizhou. I don't think anybody wants to leave, and I know that some of us are secretly hoping that there will be a snow storm big enough that they cancel the flight back to Shanghai.

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Since we did not have power yesterday, our Service Learning projects were cancelled. My group already finished interviewing our partner, we just had to make an iMovie about it. Also, our final products for our Inquiry Projects were pushed back a day. So, it is now due tomorrow. I am making a skit explaining the roles of music to the local people in Xizhou. Our goal is to have the drafts done by noon, and finish the final product before 4PM, when we are leaving for Dali Old Town again.

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Since last night, there was a power outage. We ate breakfast in the dark, but we still had Er Si because there was a gas stove. We did not have to do much work today because of the power outage. I finally learned how to play Solitaire, but I have not won yet. A while after breakfast, Risa and I went to the Linden Centre. I knew that the terrace there would have a great view, and Risa wanted to play ping pong. When we got to the terrace, we saw that there were already many people there.

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From yesterday to today there were some crazy changes in the weather. Yesterday, it was sunny. Today, there was rain, hail AND snow! When it first started hailing, we were already pleasantly surprised. Then came the rain. Because of the rain, all of us hid in our rooms, the music room or the TV room. Abby, Risa, Jacob and I decided to watch a movie. We watched Paranoia, starring Liam Hemsworth. After that, Marisa, Jacob and I walked to the Linden Centre.

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This morning, we had pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Many of us decided to make a sandwich out of them. At first, I thought it was going to be kind of gross, but once I took a bite, I realized that it was actually pretty good. After breakfast, we found out that both Risa and Nicole were sick, so they would be staying in bed all day. This afternoon we had Service Learning until 6PM. Since many of us had some work to catch up on, we started at 2:30 instead of 1:00. After our little meeting, the groups set out to find a Service Learning parter and start filming.

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Today was a big exercise day for me. Abby, Marisa and I went jogging this morning, but I did not get a full 30 minutes In Zone. We have to have at least 30 minutes In Zone all in one go, so I had to to it again this afternoon. This morning, I only got 21 minutes, so I wore my watch and heart rate monitor strap until the afternoon. Since it is Room 9's laundry day, Marisa and I went to do our laundry. We did not have many clothes, so only two of us had to go.

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Today was a big day for our Inquiry Projects. We finished our Phase 3 and Phase 4. I have to admit, seeing all of those "Completed and Approved"s makes me very proud. By Tuesday, we will all have our FInal Products finished. On Wednesday we will have our Service Learning presentations. Anyways, today was another "craigular" day. We had WIPPIT Time until 5:30, and for many of us it was a very productive day. I went to work out at the gym with Jacob today. We saw Nala there, and we also met Elmer. I'm not exactly sure what he actually does there, but I know he works there...

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Today, WIPPIT time ended at 4pm because we went to Dali Old Town. I finally got to have a conversation with Mrs. Wang, and she was very nice! She even gave me some small dolls I can hang on my clothes. For her age, she is very very busy! I tried talking to her on Monday, but she was taking a nap. When I visited on Tuesday, she was not home. Finally, I could talk to her today. At Dali Old Town, we went in our study groups, but since 4 people did not go, Mr. T put two groups together. My group consisted of Vincent, K2, Marisa and I.

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Many of us are still not fully rested from the 3 day hike. Since the 2 In Zone people (Kevin C. and Nicole) had an average of 1.5 hours in zone on Sunday, we only need to have at least 2 times in zone this week. This morning, Abby, Marisa and I went jogging. Although I was exercising for over an hour, it took a long time trying to get in zone. During SAS Essentials, we took the math test. I finished earlier than expected, so I could work on my Language Arts essay. Since it is almost Christmas break in Shanghai, we will have more time to do our Service Learning projects next  week.

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Today we went back to our routines. This morning, the Linden family left for Vietnam. They are all very friendly, and many people were sad to see them go. We do not know when they will come back, so that was probably the last time we would see them. Besides that, everything went pretty normal. For Terrace time, Risa, Marisa and I went to SiFangJie to sketch. While we were sketching, many people stopped by to see what we were doing. There were even a few tourists who complimented us. Other than that, my day was pretty normal. On Wednesday, we might be going to Dali Old Town again.

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We just got back from the 3 day hike. We hiked for 4 hours to and took a bus back to Xizhou. All of us are very tired, but we are back and we can take showers again. Those of us who were waiting for their turns in the showers started playing Hacky Sack. It was a game we started when we were camping and now we are all kind of obsessed with it. Tomorrow, we will go back to our regular routines. 

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We just got back from climbing the Cang Shang mountain. It was 3200 meters high. The hike up was okay, but the hike back to our camp site was the worst. The view from the top was amazing! Today is the last day we will be staying in the tents. Tomorrow, we will be hiking back to Xizhou.

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We just hiked for 7 hours! When Mr. T said the hike would be 7-10 times worse than we thought it would be, I got scared. But after we arrived, I realized it was not as bad as I thought it was. WE took a few breaks, and everybody was very tired at the end. We had packed lunches, and ate it at around 1PM. The view was amazing! Our campsite is about 26,000 meters high. Everybody's shoulders and legs are still very sore. Tomorrow is an even bigger hike! We are going to the top of CangShan, and coming back to sleep in our tents near the temple at the end of the day.

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Today is the day right before the big hike. We are leaving tomorrow right after breakfast. We will have a meeting tonight about packing. It will be very cold, so we have to pack many layers of clothes. I just found out that Annaliese and Fay will be coming with us, so it will not just be the Microcampus group. I am nervous yet excited for this trip. I have never been hiking for long before and I have never been camping outside. It will also be the highest I have ever been, so this will definitely be a new experience for me.  

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Tonight is the long awaited Trivia Night! I don't know what to expect, but I know it will be very fun. According to Mr. Tafel, it will be the best night of the trip :) Other than that, today is a regular day. Next Tuesday is the last day to do research for our Inquiry Project. We are also working on Hangers, which will be the main idea of our Final Product. Friday is the big hike. We are leaving right after breakfast, and we will hike for a couple hours. 

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Today was another usual day. The most interesting part of my day was when I went to the gym at the Linden Centre with Shane. Jacob was coming with us, but he had to do Service Learning with his group. Since I had my watch on, we jogged to the Linden Centre. When we arrived, we found Nala there as well! Shane let Nala into the gym, but soon after, she peed on the floor. So Shane had to get the mop and clean it up. Nala did not come back after that. As we were working out, Bryce came in. He started with the punching bag. Soon later, they started doing Ju-Jistu.

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Last night, we did not have Trivia Night because there were a few people that needed to talk to Mr. Tafel. So the oh-so-famous Trivia Night was postponed to tonight. Hopefully, we will have Trivia Night tonight. This morning, I went running with Shane again. At the breakfast table, it was very quiet. I think it was because on Saturday and Sunday, everybody woke up later than usual and we were not used to getting up so early. For the rest of the day, we had the usual schedule. The Daily Meeting ended a little early today, so we had more Pitching In time.

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Today was a chill day. Besides our Wellness reflection, we did not have to do much. We had the whole day to ourselves. For lunch, I went to SiFangJie to eat and had dinner at Yang Zhuo Ran. Today was a total lazy day for me, besides working out at the Linden Centre gym in the afternoon. I also did some of my Social Studies homework since I had been so busy with Math and Science on the weekdays. Tomorrow is another work day, so we have to sleep and wake up early again. 

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Today we went to Dali Old Town. Since it is a Saturday, breakfast was from 8:15-9:30, and we could go whenever wanted between that time. We also had lunch at Yang Zhou Ran because we were going to have dinner at Dali Old Town. After learning about Service Learning, we went to Dali Old Town. The ride there took about half an hour, and it was a tourist place. We learned the roads, and then we were free to go wherever we wanted to go. As long as we were back at Xi Men by 8:00pm and we texted Mr. Tafel where we were, we could go anywhere.

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This morning, I went running with Shane to get my 30 Minutes In Zone. We ran to Er Hai, the lake. It took us about 30 minutes to get there, but I still was not In Zone because my heart beat went above the range. I am still not completely used to the thin air in the mountains, so I got tired very easily. Shane kept on sprinting ahead of me and would not stop until I reached him. Thanks Shane, that definitely got me In Zone... Also, on the way back to Yang Zhuo Ran, there was a black dog on my right side.

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Today we did not go anywhere, so we had another day of the regular Microcampus routine. Although my WIPPIT Time did not go as planned, I was still flexible and able to finish everything I needed to do. In the afternoon, Benjamin and I went to SiFangJie to talk to elderly people for our Service Learning project. We met Mr. Yang, who is the owner of the antique shop. We talked to him for a while, and he was more than happy to show us some of the antiques he collected. Although it was only the second day of the "Microcampus routine", I think I can get used to it. :) 

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Today was not like regular days. Instead of WIPPIT Time, we went to a Tie-Dye Factory in Zhou Cheng. The place is called a "factory", but it actually was a family business. Zhou Cheng is another village in Xizhou. Once again, we split into two groups, and the first group (my group) went to the market while the second group started their Tie-Dye design. When we got back, we started our designs. It was a very complicated process that took a lot of patience. All of us required at least some help from the experts that worked there.

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In the morning, we saw a funny scene when Bryce was going to take Nala for a walk (as seen in the picture). Today was the first time a student ran the Daily Meeting. It went pretty smoothly; better than I thought. During lunch, we went to Old Town Snacks (a restaurant that does not sell any snacks). Why everybody wanted to go to that restaurant was because they have "Tai Fei Chao Fan" (Tafel's Fried Rice). They have that dish there because Mr. Tafel went to Xizhou so many times that he became friends with the local people.

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Today, we finally started SAS Essentials and the famous WIPPIT Time. Although we took up the first hour, we still had the rest of the 4 hours to do our Inquiry Project, Pitching In and Terrace Time. It was very different because in Shanghai, we never had so much time to finish our work. We were always given a specific time to do things, so I wasn't used to having so much time to plan my work. During Terrace Time, everything was so peaceful and I could take in everything; the fresh air, the farms, the mountains and the birds chirping and flying around. I started my 3 to 5's.

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Today, we broke up into two groups and worked on our Inquiry Project and had a tour of the village. During the tour, we saw many old buildings, and visited some shops in town. Everybody was very friendly and helped us out whenever we need it. We had lunch at SiFangJie. There were many restaurants the food was all so good! While we were waiting for the other group to come back from the laundry place, we played a badminton game. There were 6 players, and there were 5 cones set up like a star. The 6th player had to stand behind one of the other players.

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We finally arrived at the Linden Centre! The trip to Xizhou wasn't as tiring as expected, but it took up most of the day. On the way, we learned some history about the people in Yunnan. We also learned that the mountain side is always West, and the Er Hai Lake is always East. After we arrived at the Linden Centre, we were introduced to the Linden family, and all the helpers/workers. The air quality is so good! The sky is amazing too! I saw the Milky Way, and Venus! There are so many stars in the sky, and during the day it's so clear too!

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We are at the Lock-In, and we learned more about the trip. I now know what we are going to do daily, and what we should do when we have issues. I also know what kinds of things we will be should and should not do. I am very excited to go to on the trip :) 

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I am going on the November-December trip, and I'm so excited about it! I can't wait to live this new experience and learn about the culture there. 

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I am 13 years old and this year will be my 7th year living in Shanghai. I have lived in two countries: U.S.A and China. Even though I have lived in China for a long time, I haven't traveled to many cities here. I am interested to see how different our lives are from the people's lives in XiZhou, because we live in such different environments. The Microcampus trip was great! I loved meeting the people here, and the scenery is amazing. Feel free to read my journals to see the highlights of my trip!