Updated 5 years 10 months ago


Over the course of this service learning journey, I learned many things about the elder whom I had interviewed. Our interviewee's name was Li Zi Gang, a 76-year-old man. Based on my observations over the time that I had talked to him, he seemed like an easy-going person, all in all. He is an extremely stubborn man, and quite strong, mentally as well. He is as easy to move as a boulder on a mountain---which is to say, we hardly budged him, or it seemed like we could not convince him to do much. 

Despite our insistence on him telling us his different thoughts of certain events in history, he was unwilling to do so. In fact, he did not want to be talked to at all, for he had avoided us for a better part of an hour. After relentlessly negotiating him on my part, he finally gave in and at least gave us a small tour around the area that he lived in, and his daily routine. I did not learn much in terms of history, and what he remembered in significant in the past. 

In place of certain historical events that he mentioned, he walked through his daily life, and showed us the back of his shop. He seemed very wary of the camera that Matthew was holding in his hand, but if he did not approve of the device that Matthew held in his hand, he did not say anything. From what he told me, he seems to spend a long time in the shop, oftentimes eating there so that he can keep an eye on his business and potential customers. 

Considering that my service learning partner did not want to come view the video we have created, we were unable to share our video with him. Even while we were asking… no, pleading for him to attend, he shook his head and shooed us away, saying that he had no interest in what we were doing whatsoever and wanted to get this "questioning" as soon as possible. Defeated, we walked away almost empty-handed with nothing to offer except a few photos of his store and a little bit of information on his daily life.

Our first service learning partner had bailed out on us, but this one was about to as well. We begged on our hands and knees, trying to appeal to him. I felt like a brokenhearted man begging for his girlfriend to come back. If it was not for our persistence, we probably would not have completed our service learning project at all. It was quite saddening, really, for our first service learning partner told us she was going to go on a three-day trip out of town and told us to find another person to interview. We wandered around the market, trying to find some potential service learning partners---we did, though none of them were willing to cooperate and were all intimidated by the tripod and camera. When we found Mr. Li by some form of a miracle, he was all for the interviewing. However, the next time we saw him, he was in the crabbiest mood and had grudgingly went along with our antics. 

To future Microcampusers (?), please, listen to all of Mr. Tafel's suggestions. He has seen the past six groups, and ours, struggle on this project. Personally, I feel that finding connections, and I mean a lot of connections, means a lot. Start out by talking to some of the locals. Once they become comfortable within your presence, start to talk to them a bit, ask them if it is alright with them to videotape them. Make sure to do this earlier in the process---if I had done so on, say, the second week, it would have made my life a lot more easier. 

About This Learner

I am currently thirteen years old and am from Fremont, California. I have lived in Shanghai for nearly ten years now, and since I heard about this Microcampus program, I was set on signing up as soon as I became an eighth grader––for the sake of the learning experience and close interaction with the locals. Initially, I had based my inquiry project on tea processing and its evolution in Xizhou, though it had shifted to finding more information on tea ceremonies.