I was put into a service learning group with Norman and Yisu. Our service learning partner was Mr. Yang. He is 66 years old and is currently a horse carriage driver. He used to be a local minority expert, but in order to make money for his family, he started a horse carriage business. During the cultural revolution, he was a red guard. Our video shares some of the experiences and strong opinions he has had over time. Mr. Yang was incredibly generous and willing to share all of his opinions, even though some of his views are not looked kindly upon by others.
As a result of the experience, I learned a lot about the history of China, and also about how people now feel when looking back at the time. I learned that Mr. Yang was an extremely hard working person who holds strong opinions. I also realized, that even though during the cultural revolution most people just went with the ideas, it did not mean that they agreed with them or did not have their own ideas. They would do anything to survive through that hard time, even if it meant not being allowed to speak their mind. Because Mr. Yang's children are a bit far away and he does not get to see his grandchild very often, he took us in and treated us as if we were his grandchildren. He was extremely kind and generous.
I learned a lot about Xizhou's history because of this. I learned about the personal opinions of elders about that time, and what they did to get through it. One thing I learned that I found very interesting, was that if someone was not well educated they would shoo us off, saying that they did not know anything and had nothing to share we. I found this interesting because even though most of those people were forced to drop out of school to help their families, they still thought that the experiences they have gone through do not mean much.
We began our service learning journeys with a lecture by Mr. T. This lecture included the whole of China's history and many important patterns and dates that have been found. I learned a lot about events that I had only heard of before. I also actually learned about personal experiences of events that I had only read or heard about before. This provided a whole new way of looking at China's past.
On Day 26 of the trip, we had the incredible opportunity to share our service learning videos. We had a presentation/showing in classroom 1, and about twenty guests came. Our group had been split into three service learning groups which made us have three final videos. When we were presenting our video we introduced ourselves (in English and Chinese which was a bit of a surprise) and then sat at the front of the room, with our backs facing the screen where our video was being shown.
We were positioned this way so that we could see how everyone watched and reacted to our own video. Since we made the video, we already knew what was in it and how it went, so there was no need for us to watch it once again. Being able to see everyone's reactions to different parts of the video was awesome. By looking around and seeing the expressions on people's faces and their body movements, it created a whole new dynamic that I had never experienced before. Yes, it may have been nerve-wracking, but I will definitely be taking this back to Shanghai and maybe asking the teachers if this is something we could try in the future.
For future microcampus students, there are a lot of things I wished I would have done differently with this project, but it is all in the past now. The few recommendations I have are to never give up when you are looking for a partner, you may be turned down tons of times, but just keep trying. Also, make sure everyone in your group is doing an equal amount of work, I struggled in this area because I did not have the Chinese skills that the rest of my group had which made it a lot more difficult. One huge thing is to listen to every single one of Mr. T's pearls of wisdom, they will definitely help your work and prevent some meltdowns in the future. Most importantly, tell a story and make new connections.