Katherine Y. (Alumni-F)'s Journal

The past 28 days have truly been an experience I will never forget. There are so many words to describe what I did after the experience, I barely know where to start. It's important to reflect on the things that have happened, but also equally as important to reflect on why I came to Microcampus.

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Today will be the last day spent in Room 3 of courtyard 2 of the Linden Centre in the village of Xizhou in the province of Yunnan in the country of China apart of the continent of Asian in the Northern Hemisphere of Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy apart of the Universe in space. Saying that just reminds me of the many stars in the sky. Once we depart for Shanghai, it'll be a while until my family and I set out for here agian. Today we begin our packing for the early departure tomorrow.

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On the last days of Microcampus, the groups displayed their final projects. We invited our service learning partner, and he came on time with his nephew, Mr. Yang the antique dealer at Sifangjie. After a rush of trying to finish up final details and exporting videos, we quickly set off to get Mr. Yang after inviting him the day before. Then entire way back was nerve-racking with myself trying to hold a conversation with my broken Chinese. However, we made it to the Linden Center after a short history lesson from Mr. Yang, and guided him to the upstairs TV room.

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Today the rain cleared up, much to our surprise, and the sky was blue once more. It was a miracle, but I suppose it was slightly predictable because winter is the driest season. Todat was spent mostly on our inquiry topic. With everything due that afternoon, everyone was rushing to get things done. Because so many people were uploading at the same time, the microcampus websites became unstable, and resulted in most people not being able to upload. It was such a hectic day today, and it resulted in many of us who need to upload tomorrow. Tomorrow is also the day for Service Learning.

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Today was the first day raining since we arrived. We woke up to the sound of drizzling water in the courtyard, and instantly felt the need to wear extra layers. Bundled up, we were half-way through the first pitching-in time when the day cleared. It was weird-- a bright and sunny day, but the constant pitter-patter of rain hitting the stone floors. Of course, this meant the perfect situation for a rainbow, something rarely seen in Shanghai if at all. As expected, we recieved a call from Mr. T calling us to the terrace.

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Today's time dedication was all going towards working on our final projects and working with our groups to finish up our service learning. I think that we've gotten quite a lot of work done, and we'll be departing again tomorrow for final questions and photos to take.With all the due dates coming up, I know that I will need to stay organized and on topic with a specific list of things I need to do during that time. Tomorrow will be normal schedules again, and it'll be up to us to finish things.

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Today my service learning group and I went to Mr. Yang, the Sifangjie antique dealer's house and interviewed his uncle. At first, the answeres were awkward and didn't give too much insight on what we were looking for. However, as the conversation progressed, he gradually opened up and gave us deeper, and deeper understandings of his role as a teacher, education in Xizhou, and how the way the villagers care so much about education really makes him love Xizhou. I think that we have found an amazing partner, and our group has already decided to focus in the topic of education in Xizhou.

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From the very beginning of Microcampus, we were told to make connections, make connections, and make connections. Now nearing the end, we realize how important it really is. Note to future students: take everything Mr. T says seriously. Service learning can arguably be the hardest facet of Microcampus. The interactions with elders really challenges you to adapt to the situation, and have immense patience. Overcoming these challenges shapes a different learning style, and it is the new learning styles we develop on this trip that really matters.

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The main part of today, I'd say, would be working to come up with an outline for our final project. It was amazing to see how other past microcampus students applied their knowledge that they gained from this experience and created something to teach the rest of the world that. For two and a half hours, we focused on developing and invisioning what our display would be. For me, it was difficult to comprehend that we only had a week in Xizhou left.

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After finishing up phase three, the Microcampus Fearless group had an offer to go to Dali Old Town for the first time since the beginning of the trip. We left at 5 and made it to the area in 15 minutes. On the way, we went over all the safely rules and tips in a place where tourists and pickpocketers mill around freely. These included rules such as don't give out contact information, and bargan as hard as you can. After grouping for a little while, we split off in groups of three and four. First stop: Sweet Tooth- Mr. Tafel's favourite pastry shop.

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This journal is a requirement for my humanities class. The prompt was to write about Xizhou and it's relation to the UDHR Article 16: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.

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As we reached the end of the trail road, a series of emotions overwhelmed us. First relief, then hunger, and finally the feeling of appreciation. After hiking downhill for four hours, everyone was elated to see the small bus that would be taking us back to the Linden Center. Our initial feeling was relief. Relief that the physical challenge of three days of hiking was over, and relief that the mental challenge of the hike was over as well.

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Today was really an important day for my Inquiry Project. As the knowledge that phase 3 would be due on Wednesday sunk in, we all sort of clicked that there was work to be done. After signing out with Fay, we walked along a small path, and she pointed out many messages that she found interesting, as well as gave me some insight on it and her personal opinions. After snapping a new few photos, we discussed possible ways the inquiry project would head. Eventually, we wandered to Mr. Yang's jade shop and asked about his opinions.

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Day two of hiking was far better than yesterday. For one, we didn't have all our camping supplies strapped onto our backs. Today's trip was from the temple we're living at, to the top of the mountain (or a part of it, anyways), and back. With only our lunch, etra clothes, and water bottle, the load was signifigantly lighter, and on the 5 hours easier to hike. Everyone found a hiking stick, and those also helped ease the use of energy going both up and down the mountain. On the way we saw bamboo, pine needles, ice, snow, pine needles, pine trees, and did I mention pine needles?

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The first day of hiking officially began. In the beginning, we were tired after every five minutes. Hiking backpacks were strapped and filled to the top with enough clothes to last for three days of intense hiking, one huge sleeping bag, and other heavy camping necessities. With three walkie-talkies, and the safety of 20 in question, everyone was assigned a radio-name. Mine was Kit-Kat, but others included Identity Issue (Apoorva) and Stinky Tofu (Ben). Although we didn't use them much, the names were fun to come up with.

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Xizhou is a place overfilling with culture and tradition, and this is clearly shown and expressed during the New Years, in which we were present. The events are all held in the square, Sifangjie, or a very public and open place. The people are very open to all, and welcome everyone even if they aren't local. It is very common for a group of tourists, foreigners, or students to join in the festivities.

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Today's highlight was going to Mr. Dong's with Shirley and Daniel in order to find more sources for our inquiry topic. Mr. Dong is an 88 year old man When we arrived, he greeted us and proceeded to quickly answer our questions. After writing a page in his impeccable handwriting, however, we were shown through a secret stairway (more like a small door hidden with the disguise of same-type wallpaper) into a large attic, or second floor. There, Mr.

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Tonight was a rushed dinner-- cold noodles at a vendor in Sifangjie with Vivian and Shirley. The reason behind scarfing down strips of cold jelly-like noodles was because a very special guest would be visiting the Linden Center. His name is Mr. Duan, a retired soldier and Xizhou government official. For the next hour or so, we asked him question after question. Questions about his religon, doctors, medicines, opinions, and recommendations were fired one after the other, yet he still graciously answered all of them. I suppose to biggest thing, though, was the last thing he said. Mr.

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Next to the Agricultural Bank in Sifangjie lies a large expanse of land with many hidden treasures inside. Welcome to the Yan Compound: the 'summer home' of the second most-wealthy family in Xizhou. WIth five interconnecting courtyards, the currently-museum exhibit allows people to step into the luxorious lives of the famous trading family. Today I spent and hour there with Ms. Mai, Shirley, and Henry. Constructed with wood, one of the most interesting things we saw were paintings on the flaking wood. We learned that these paintings were directly painted on.

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On Tuesday, there was an intrduction to an event that would happen this afternoon. This event was called the Xizhou BaBa festival, the inaugural one, to be preceise. It's purpose is to spread awareness of this Xizhou, Yunnan specialty to places where this food is not avalible. Created by intern students living in Xizhou, they invited dancers, musicians, baba specialists who have made baba their entire life, the villagers, and us- the Microcampus Fearless Group. After getting a ticket for completing our Wellness reflection (a highfive from Ms. Mai), we headed out to Sifangjie.

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It was around five-thirty, and everyone had just finished a filling dinner at the Linden Center. The day had been relaxing for everyone, with late breakfast and time to sleep in. However, we, the Fearless Group, knew that the adventures of this weekend were only starting. As soon as the plates were cleared, we filed out to pack for the exciting bike ride that evening. For the first time since arrived, we would be camping out for the night. With tents and sleeping bags securely strapped on, we were soon off to Lake Erhai.

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From early in the morning, the sound of firecrackers and bands of traditional Chinese instruments could be heard throughout Linden Center. At Sifangjie, four bands were playing simultaneously. However, the real show wasn't until later that evening. After dinner I sat in the middle of the field near the Linden Center in near-pitch black darkness. Throughout the entire day, bangs and pops could be heard from anywhere in Xizhou to celebrate the New Year.

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Lunch time came quickly today, and everyone went to Sifangjie. With Vivian, Taylor, and Daniel, Jing Rong showed us to a new eatery after spending the first half of the day at the Morning Market. It was a roll with a spicy cabbage and beansprout filling. Once returning, WIPPIT time started. Today was a fairly relaxing day after finished Phase 2 yesterday. I spent a majority of WIPPIT time working outside on the terrace. The silence and sunlight was both comforting and easily productive as I finished making some final touch-ups on my Inquiry Project.

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The highlight of today was being able to experience the new bikes for Microcampus. Our large bike-trail lasted two hours, and went through a variety of terrains and vistas. We rode around the border of Lake Erhai and saw numerous trees growing out of the clear, blue water that had once been farmland. On that large strech of paved road, we all pedaled as hard as we could in attempt to get Time in Zone for our Wellness plan. It was tiring, of course, to be biking on hard gravel and random bits of rocks while also avoiding the many dips and dives of the ground.

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Today, before inquiry project time, I painted a wall, or, more accurately, re-painted a wall. Of course, I didn't do it alone. With nine other Microcampus students, we were given buckets of limestone solution and directed to paint a wall. We were decked out in plastic rain-ponchos and 'stylish' working gloves as we slathered a white solution and smeared it out with large brushes. Just a heads up, never give buckets of paint to 10, hyper middle school students.

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It's 8pm, and the sky has been dark for over an hour now. I'm outside enjoying the absolutely astounding stars in the pitch-black sky, and the sound of the crickets that are never heard in Shanghai. During terrace time, 6:45-7:30, I sat on a small rock in the middle of a field of ready-for-harvest garlic greens. Despite what you may think, the smell was of ash from a nearby small fire and fresh, clean skies. While observing a fire flicker high and low from afar, I felt the wind pick-up, and vaugely noted the change of the clear sky from a bright blue to a goregous lavender purple.

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The day started early, with me crawling out of bed, and stumbling to get ready. The night before had been a hectic day of final packing. However, everything was worth it. We arrived at the airport, and everything was set. Taylor and I ate at Costa Coffee for breakfast, hopped on the plane, sat on a bus for 7hours, and, with much difficulty, arrived at the Linden Center. It was amazing at first sight, especially as we had just walked with all our luggage (which is quite heavy) for about 10 minutes non-stop to reach there.

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Hey, my name is Katherine. I was born in Michigan, USA, moved to Shanghai for around two years, and currently reside back in Michigan. I'm 13 years old, and I no longer attend SAS Pudong. My friends and I enjoy drawing, and just joking around. Hobbies and interest of mine include drawing and preparing for my future (haha). A goal of mine was to stabilize my drawing style based on learning and reflecting in Yunnan. Xizhou was such a beautiful place and rich with culture and colors. The people who lived there were genuinely interested to meet us, and often happily asked us for lunch or dinner with them. It's one thing to visit a place as a tourist, but it's completely different when you live in the area for a month and try to reach out towards everyone in the local community. The time I've spent in Xizhou not only helped me to think and know outside of the Shanghai bubble, but also exposed me to the wonders of nature. The three day hike was spent close to nature, and every night was a spectacular night show of stars never seen in Shanghai. The 28 days have ended much too quickly, and the experiences have changed the way I know and perceive life.