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Part 1: Preparation
Before starting to work on our article portion of our Service Learning project we had to read sections from an example article. We also had to come up with 3-5 questions that could have been asked during the interview process of constructing the article. One of the articles we read was about Chen Tingtao, some of the questions we thought that could have been asked during the interview include;

  • What was is like growing up in the country?
  • What was life like during the Cultural Revolution?
  • When did you join the Communist Youth League and what was your job?
  • Why was your daughter sent to do labor in the country?

The second article that we read over was Qian Yaqin’s. Some questions we would have asked if we were to interview her are:

  • Why was his daughter sent to Anhui?
  • Why was she sent to Anhui?
  • Why was her son sent to a factory and her daughter wasn't?
  • Why were murders so rare back then if Japanese soldiers killed 300,000 people in Nanking?
  • Why does she think that the Chinese liking to play mahjong is shameful?

Being a Service Learning partner is a difficult task. To be a partner includes having to answer personal questions while being filmed.  With this is mind, our Service Learning group came up with a list of characteristics we would like our partner to have.  We would like them to be outgoing, kind, honest, curious, helpful and open-minded. We chose these certain characteristics because with these, it will be easier for our partner and us to connect with each other.

The following villagers are possible options for Service Learning; 

Xi Yang is a 75-year-old local. He used to be a farmer when he was younger and is a local here in Xizhou. He invited us over for lunch and we talked about why were here in Xizhou and about the service learning project. I wanted him to be our service-learning partner because we met him at the Linden centre and we talked to him for a while and he invited us to his house. He was very open, nice and friendly. The only problem was that he was not willing to be filmed and he was busy on the days we needed to talk with him.

Mrs. Yang is a 57-year-old villager who moved to Xizhou 30 years ago to marry Xi Yang. They live by themselves in a small courtyard just 7 minutes away from the Linden Center. A couple of days ago, we were invited over for a home-cooked meal. We were able to gain a strong connection with her and Mr. Yang. Unfortunately, Mrs. Yang wasn’t very open talking about the history of China. Mrs. Yang is very generous and always welcoming us to her home.

Bing Xiong Yang is also a local of Xizhou. Mr. Yang is 79 and is a former teacher and a Muslim group leader. His nephew is Mr. Yang the antique shop owner. Over the past three weeks our group has built a strong connection with him.  Because of this,  he let us interview his uncle.  Bing Xiong Yang is a very kind man and was willing to share his story with us.  He was very open and said he enjoyed our company.

After a group discussion we have decided that Bing Xiong Yang would be the best option for a Service Learning partner. We chose him because he fit all of the characteristics we wanted in a partner and has been very helpful so far in the Service Learning process.  Bing Xiong Yang was the leader of the local mosque and was also a teacher.  He is also a Xizhou local. Some of the main questions we would like to ask is “How would you describe the educational system in Xizhou?”, “Is education important to live a good life?”,  and “What did you learn while being a teacher?”. Following the main concept of education, we plan to focus our video and article on this. The following questions were used in past Service Learning groups and we narrowed the list down into a few that we would also possibly ask our partner.

·             What is your full name (Chinese characters, pinyin)?

·             What should I call you?

·             How old are you?

·             How many children do you have?

·             Where are your children?

·             As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

·             What was the time of your life that you most enjoyed?

·             What are some of your hobbies?

·             How did you meet your significant other (spouse? best friend?) in your life?

·             REQUIRED: What suggestions do you have for people our age to live a long,
              healthy, balanced life?

·             What has changed in Xizhou/China/the World since you were my age?

·             Do you have any regrets?

·             Of what are you most proud in your life?

Part 2: Interviewing and Interacting with our Partner
Over the past three weeks,  my service learning group and I have been building a bond with Mr.  Yang the antique shop owner.  Mr. Yang is a very nice man and it was easy for us to interact with him.  After a while we asked him if he knew any elders we could talk to and he offered to let us speak to his uncle. Thus comes our Service Learning partner Bing Xiong Yang.  

First Interaction (February 14th)
Today was the first day we met our Service Learning partner Bing Xiong Yang. Bing Xiong Yang introduced himself and so did we.  We recorded his nephews phone number (Mr. Yang) so we could schedule times to come and talk to him. During the first meeting we introduced Service Learning to him and he was glad to help.  We also showed him a video of a past Service Learning partner and this helped the process.  After this he asked if we could come back and talk to him the next morning.

Second Day of Interaction (February 15)
Today we went to go visit Bing Xiong Yang at 10:00.  We briefly talked about our lives and then we got straight into the interview.  We asked all the previous questions created by past Microcampus groups and we finished most of our filming.  Bing Xiong Yang is busy tomorrow (February 16th) and we will see him again on Monday (February 17th). The following questions will be asked in our next meeting;

  • How do you spell your name?
  • Can you quickly tell us, the changes from your childhood until now?
  • Did you work in High school?
  • Was your entire family teachers and or educators.
  • Did you like being a teacher?
  • What year did you retire?
  • What year did you get married?
  • Whens your birthday?
  • Do you have a religion, and if so what?

Third Day of Interaction (February 17)
Today we met with Yang Bing Xiong again at 1:00 to ask him for a short story of his life. He mostly talked about his teaching career in Kunming. We asked him if we could interview him but at first he said we couldn’t because he wanted to watch a TV show. We told him that it would only take 20 minutes and then he agreed. We learned a lot more about education from his perspective.

Part 3: Production
Our final Service Learning project was made into two parts, an iMovie and an article. These two products are located above.

Part 4: Reflection
Service learning was one of the, if not the hardest part of Microcampus. The process of finding our Service Learning partner was very difficult but it just made finding a partner a lot sweeter. During the interview process with our partner Bing Xiong Yang, I learned a lot about him. Some of the main things I learned were about his child hood and current life.  Mr. Yang was a teacher for 31 years and a former mosque leader. He is currently 97 now and he has four children. Mr. Yang is a very kind man and during every meeting we had with him, he always had a smile on his face. 

Our Service Learning partner mainly talked to us about Xizhou’s educational system and his story as a teacher.  Not much about Xizhou’s history was mention, however; Mr.Yang did tell us that he was the first in his family to move out of there courtyard after Liberation which was the time when Mao gained power.  All of his family is educators and he started teaching right after college. 

The whole experience of Service Learning was challenge.  Our first choice for a partner said he would be happy to help. We went back his home to film and then he decided he didn’t want to help us anymore.  He was uncomfortable with the idea of being filmed. After this we were left with no partner. The next day we went to the local Mosque, wishing that we would find a partner there.  It turns out the Mosque was closed.  After this we were all very disappointed. On our way back to the Linden Center we passed Mr. Yang, the antique shop owners home.  He told us he had an uncle who would love to help us.  We then went to go meet him and he agreed to start working with us. This was the highlight of my day. 

Finally all of our work has paid off.  Today was the day when we presented our final Service Learning video in front of the Linden Center staff, fellow classmates, chaperones and our Service Learning partner. We were all so worried we would not finish our video on time and we were all super stressed. When it came time to get our Service Learning partner from his house, all of us started to get butterflies.  We walked him to the Linden Center and brought him up to the viewing room.  Watching our partner, Mr. Yang meet Mr. T was really neat.  It seemed as if they connected immediately. Mr. Yang sat down next to us and he was right at home.  

When the presentations started you could clearly feel the emotion in the room.  Watching all of my classmates interact with these villagers was one of a kind.  I have never before felt that kind of pride.  Over this month I have not just experienced myself growing, but all of my classmates.  This experience was spectacular. When it was our projects time to be shown I was supper nervous.  I wanted our Service Learning partner to be happy he helped us, I didn’t want him to think he was wasting his time.  During the movie, I saw him smile.  His smile made all of the work, all of the stress and all of the worrying worth wile.  I am very proud of myself and my group for not giving up and working so hard to finish our final project. 

About This Learner

Hello world! My name is Grace S. and I am 14 years old! I have three younger brothers and an older sister. I am originally from Plymouth, Michigan and lived there for 10 years until I moved to Hiroshima, Japan and I now reside in Shanghai, China. My whole family loves it here. One of my passions is the violin. I have played this instrument since fifth grade and I love it. I also love Taylor Swift and competitive soccer. I had a great time in Xizhou and can't wait to come back and create more incredible memories.