Nicole N. (Alumni-S)'s Journal

I came to this trip mostly because I wanted a break from school, to get out of my comfort zone, experience China and to experience what my sister had told me. I did not notice how much responsibilities and freedom we had in this trip. Responsibilities started even before the start of the trip, it started when we have received an email from Mr. Tafel that we have to complete our phase 0. I was amazed because I thought Mircocampus work started during the trip.

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Today is the last full day of Microcampus and I am feeling so sad that we have to leave tomorrow. These 28 days have went so fast and I enjoyed every minute of it. I have learned so much as I have written in my day 28 Journal posts. I really want to go out to say goodbye to the villagers but I have to do my check out list which I still need to cleaning my room and packing my bags. I am going to miss this place as it has became so special to me. The good part is that we have the jammy awards later in the day and I am still very excited about who is going to get the award. 

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Watching our partner watch his story was memorable. There were more audience than I expacted and many of the audience was very sad watching the video. I think our movie is very different than the previous ones. I mention this because we had lots of special video clips and props like the letter, the walk, he making Xizhou baba and more. I am not sure if he enjoyed because he was wearing sunglasses, and he left the first. Maybe he left because of his buisness but overall I think we did a really good job of turning our conversations into a movie.

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I have finished my final touches on my Final Product and sometime today I would post it and complete my inquiry project journey. Even though the inquiry project journey have sadly ended, but the learning and the topic stills goes on, I will still ask other people and learn about this topic because this topic needs to have more research especially asking the wealthy people living in this world about their ideas and perspectives.

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Today for a break from our projects, we played with Sofie. Sofie is absolutlety adorable and she smiles all the time. She is always so energetic and she would say "ball" when she sees the hacky sack. Hacky sack's shape is like a ball but it is made out of beans and it is really soft. We played throw and catch with her and Angela would hug her everywhere. She is so fun to play with and I enjoyed the time with her. 

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Today I finished my drafts of the final product video and it is very different from other people because I used all kinds of media. I had pearls of wisdom from Mr. Tafel and he told me to never say my product is not so good because it destroys the video itself even before the video starts. This video is mostly about the changes of my thoughts of wealth and status through out communicating with the villagers. I really grew as a person throughtout these moments and it is very personal.

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Water is something that we all need and the lack of water could cause many disastorus effects that we do not want to have. I experienced some of those effect and I felt so uncomfortable. I think I should change my habits because in Shanghai, I would not drink as much water and I will still be fine. But in here Xizhou, because of the level of humidity and altitude, I would feel those effect in a much worse level. After this experience, I would drink water as it benifits my health and how well I make descions. 

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During Wellness, Barton and I was playing play frisbee,and hacky sack. I improved lots on my skills with throwing frisbee with a curve and I could throw and catch with my left hand. Today I will start with my final product and I am very excited. I will need to get more pictures and videos. I was also looking at quotes today and it was so meaningful. Quotes are based on wise words from people who have lots of experience or intelligence that could change or inform someone's opinion or perspectives. Understanding quotes are great leisure activity to do. 

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Today I worked non-stop on my inquiry project Phase 4 and I spend around 2 hours on it. It was lots of work and I still remember before those two hours I did not know what my movie would look like but I do know the big idea of my inquriry project. It is 5:42 which means I am on the edge of going to dali old town or not. Please look at my final product and it will be the product of around 4 months work.

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For wellness, Annie and I played Frisbee and it was the highlight of my day. I loved catching the frisbee with one hand and once I had this weird position where I caught it with two fingers. Annie taught me how to pass very fluent (no wabbly) to each other and after playing for ten minutes we improved so much. We then tried playing volleyball and my whole enitre arm was hurting. Annie on the other hand, was very skilled at volleyball and she could bounce the ball around 15 times in a roll. She was amazing at volleyball.

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It is the start of a new week in Microcampus and we are going to watch Forrest Gump for today's evening activity. I am very excited for today's evening activity because I never watched it and I heard that it is very funny and sad. This week I would need to be very productive because we have to finish Phase 3 by tuesday and Phase 4 by wendsday, so we can go to Dali Old Town.

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During lunch, Annie and I went to a pearl store and I decided to pick a shell out of a random bucket. The quality and quantity of the shell depends on your luck. I choose a shell which include 28 pearls with mostly pink medium size pearls.  The shop owners said that they raised the shell by themselves and there is powder when they drill the hole into the pearls. So the pearl cannot be made out of plastic, but the pearls intotal only cost 70 RMB, so I am debating the fact if it is a fake or real.

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The highlight of my day was when Mr.Wang and I had a very good conversation to get to know each other better and we even talked about some parts that revolves around my Inquiry project. He is a very nice person to talk with and I think that he is willing to be our service partner if our following plans does not work.

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During day 14 of the the microcampus trip, we have hiked up the horse tea trail and went camping in a farm land. We each indvidullly have grown from these four big mirocampus visions (experiential learning, personal growth, expanding intercultural understanding, and having a positive impact). For experiential learning, we hiked up the trail ourselves with some guidence from the guider. Personal Growth is where I was the leader of the hike when we hiked uphill and sleeping alone in a tent.

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Today, I was worring so much about my inquiry project that it distrurbed my morning's mood. This was because we have almost a week time or more to finish our inquiry project and I could not visit the elderly people because of my time slot. I also felt lots of pressure because I am the first one to ask about this inquiry topic "wealth and status" and it is pretty hard to discuss with the villagers.

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Writing an idea in the journal is very difficult because there are so many events that happened today. There is a time where I was the meeting facilitator and it was the first time I held a meeting. I was very glad that the superior group students supported me along the way because I was not very sure what to speak. I was really nervous and after the meeting, I felt much better and next time I would not be as nervous anymore. Another time that sparked me was during still time where I was in lake er hai with Barton.

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After a week of communicating with villagers, I felt that my skills really improved. Today, for my inquiry time, I had a conversation with Mr.Du and he helped me so much. I asked him lots of questions and he was very open to talk with me. This time, there was no awkward silence and we both kept on making the conversation going, Mr. Du is a very nice, wise, and open guy which anyone can talk to. In the conversation, he would openly share his life with me and how he puts allegory to describe something better.

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Today from one pm to five thirty pm, we have the freedom to do anything we want to do. So, I cleaned my room, fix phase 2, fill in my calendar, exercised, and meditate. Meditation was the best part of my day where I listen to this youtube music and just meditate in a sleep position. It was so relaxing once I got the hang of it. I felt that I was so relaxed that it was the only time I did not worry about the past or the future. I just listen to music and breath.

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History always fascinates me where we record pieces of the past and teach it to the future. Today we have 150 mins of 150 years of China's history. The purpose of this lesson is to teach the accurate events that happened here in China, so we could complete our service learning project. It makes me really happy that i learned these accurate events because in the world right now many information we gather are false. For example, websites that would not tell the truth because they are would want to hide it from everyone or they do not even know the infromation at all.

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My highlight of the day was when Mr. Tafel bought us pineapples and they was the best pineapple I ever ate in my life. Pineapple for me used to be a fruit I occasionally eat because of the bitter taste. However, this pineapple had a taste of sweet flavor twirling in my mouth. We got this pineapple just outside of our living area "Bao Cheng Fu" and there are living wonders just anywhere in Xizhou. The reason it has a bitter taste is because they wash it with salty water.

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Expectations in Microcampus are much more higher compare to Shanghai where we could choose to not follow directions and still be forgiven. In Microcampus, we have to work together as a family and remind each other follow these instructions, so we could still meet the expectation. However Microcampus is more than following these directions, but making them a habit in Microcampus or life, and these would really improve ourselves.

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Today was our first time communicating with the villagers to get information about our inquiry project. I choose Mr. Yin for my local contact because he was one of the main five wealthy families. Today, he was not here, so I interviewed Mrs. Yin, his wife. I felt that I was not prepared for talking with her and there was many awkward silence. To make sure that this does not happen again, I am going to write down some chinese vocabulary and practice more on speaking out my question.

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Nolan and I went on a bike ride to lake er hai and as you can see in the last journal post. Cycling was tough for me and today I fixed many of the difficulties I have yesterday like adjusting the height of the seat. So, I choose another bicycle seat that was lower in height, so I can ride better. Another difficulties I fixed was that yesterday, I could not ride through gravel and I had to stop in the middle. However today, I could ride back and forth without stopping. I am really proud of my improvement and I hope to ride bicycle agian. 

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Today, we had a bike ride and we traveled all the way outside the village.  The roads had lots of obsticles like moving, stopping cars, gravel, bubby road, motorcycle and more, but when we stopped focusing as much on urselves, that is when we truely see the beauty of the landscape.  I certainly cannot believe how beautiful the view is. There are beautiful mountains in the landscape with green paddy and most important the weather is amazing. The weather had swirly white clouds floating peacefully in the air with blue bright sky and some sunrays shinning down.

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Xizhou is a village much more than lots of tourists and traditional food like "Xizhou baba", in every corner you go you will see something fascinating. Today, we went to see a man creating rapeseed or canola oil by putting large pieces of flower into a machine to create oil.  In shanghai, we would not have seen this and later we went to see how they made Xizhou baba.

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My first impression of Xizhou was much more different than what I expected. I expected a village with lots of farm places but when I visited the village, I saw lots of restructured ancient bai houses. Also, I was really surprised with the blue sky and the rich red soil.  When we walked around the village to meet Mr.D, at first we saw a normal house with lots of bricks. But truly inside his house had artifacts that were more than hundreds of years. Mr.D was an artifact collector and those bricks had Buddhism carving that was pieces of a door.

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Hi! My name is Nicole and I am in the Superior Group. I am from Hong Kong and I came to SAS in second grade. I am so glad that I have attended Microcampus and living in Xizhou is a bliss to experience. The beauty of the Xizhou will never dissolve away in my mind where there are mountain peaks of ice and green garlic fields flowing through the grass land. I miss this experience so much and I hope the future microcampers will feel this experience as special as I did.