Laura L. (Alumni-S)'s Journal

Regretfully today is the final day that we will be staying in Xizhou. As the write this seconds and minutes go by. Seconds and minutes in which I will never be able to get back. Before I came to Microcampus, I thought that I was coming to learn about a topic I chose. I thought that I was coming to step outside of the bubble and to learn about places that are not big cities. I thought that I was coming to focus on one topic. But as this experience is coming to an end and I am realizing that I learned the least about my topic compared to everything else I learned.

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Today was the final full day at Microcampus. There were some tears shed, some from of which were from me. Today was also the day of the Jammies. Once again this trip, Mr. T did not receive any awards. Today was when we finished all of our wrap up work. Everything that was not done earlier had to be done today. Coming to Microcampus was a truly spectacular decision. I have learned so much and I will take this knowledge with me for the rest of my life. I have gotten to know all of the people in this trip much better and I have made so many bonds with the locals here.

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We shared our service learning video with a large group of people. During the showing instead of sitting in the audience looking at all the flaws of film, we watched the audiences reaction. Before heading up to sit in the chairs front, the wave of anxiety hit and I could feel a tightness in my stomach. Once I sat down up front, my nervousness slowly faded away. The entire audience was looking at the screen not the students sitting beside it. It was about the same as I imagined. While watching, most people had the same expression throughout most of the video.
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Today we had our final check for our service learning project. The story board was due yesterday, and today we had service learning product check-ins three times throughout the day. One at ten am, one at two pm, and one at 5 pm for the final check before the show case. There were many things that needed to be changed and many problems that needed to be fixed. We had all the elements but the way it was ordered caused it to not make much sense.

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Today officially marks the start of the end of the trip. The past three weeks have been so memorable and precious. The phrase "the days go by quickly" has been seen time and time again, but only at the end of the trip do I realize how quickly the days go by. The first week did not feel as if the days would pass by quickly, but as the end of the trip whizzed to four days away, the revelation hit. It is no longer about getting through the day, it has become about cherishing the last few moments that we get to spend here.

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The "phase 5" that I speak of, in reality is the Final Product. Today our final products were due at ten in the morning. Many woke up early to finish breakfast and get a head start on the completion of their final products. As for me, I woke up at my usual time oblivious to fact that I would not be able to finish in time. I want to say it was a hectic morning, but it actuality it really was not. With everyone focused in and keen on finishing their final product, there was no time to waste panicking.

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Microcampus has been such an eye opening experience for me. I have learnt so many new things that I would never be able to see and encouter. I thought that I would be able to understand everything there is to know about my topic and about the village, but I have realized that some things are not always meant to be understood fully. Sometimes, things are just meant to be looked at and appreciated.

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This post is dedicated to a Social Studies assignment. In this I will be talking about how my social studies chapter reading relates to this Microcampus trip. 

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Today was our first official day to work on our final product. After our Phase 3 and Phase 4 work has been completed and approved, we got the okay to start working on our final product. All of us finished our introduction to our Final Products. The Final Product will be due next week. The upcoming week will most likely be another week of hard work and staying focused as usual. I realized many times during the day that it is only as stressful as I make it to be.

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Today we started and finished our Phase 4 work. Tomorrow we will be starting up on our Final Product and Service Learning. We all started working on our Phase 4 at one in the afternoon until 3, after that we all had the rest of our WIPPIS schedule. Today I went biking out to Er Hai. Many of us finished up our Phase 4 during what should have been our still time. All of us went out biking for our wellness today in groups of three. Now that both Phase 3 and Phase 4 are finished I feel like I have been relieved of a large responsibility.

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Today was the final day we had to work on Phase 3. Thankfully by the end of the day, all of the students had completed their work. Today was the last day we had to do field work, from now on, we will be working on our Phase 4 and then moving on to the final product. On Wednesday some of us will be taking a trip to the Dali Old Town. Compared to the past few days, todays work was slightly more stressful, but it helped us realize how important finishing our work on time, and having a steady pace was.

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Today was another regular WIPPIS schedule day. I was partners with Nolan again. Today we had to share an inquiry project session because Angela used up two sessions to go to a tea plantation. So Nolan got the chance to come out into the fields to talk to some farmers with me. We met a nice lady called Ms. Yan and she said that we could try. Ms. Mai, Nolan, and I all tried. at first it was a bit of a struggle and we could never get the garlic out in one whole. But after a few attempts I got the hang of it and got some garlic.

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Today was another relaxing weekend schedule. In the morning we did our wellness reflection. At around one o'clock Gabby had another art session, this time revolved around acrylic painting. After talking to us about color and temperature, she let us decide whether we want to create something or we could continue on with our days. I was the only one that decided to stay and paint something. Angela stayed and watched me paint. I drew a girl holding a bag and many other things randomly on the page. It was another relaxing day to recover.

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This morning we woke up in our tents ready to go home. Many of us barely got any sleep, and many of us were paranoid about the wind or other things. We packed our things and headed back to BaoChengFu. We took the shower that was much needed and got time to ourselves. My service learning group and I went out to make new connections. We went to a pagoda where some elders were hanging out. I got to witness multiple intense matches of Chinese chess.

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Today we did not have any WIPPIS time, instead we had a hike and a camp out. We pitched our own tents, carried our own bags. For dinner we ate XiZhou BaBa sandwiches. The hike was extremely tiring but once we got to the top, the view was amazing. The process was nonetheless enervating. After carrying our belongings to the top of the mountain, we carried it back down the same route. We took a car to the camp site and set up our tents. At night when we were sleeping the wind blew unforgivingly.

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Today was yet another sunny day. Tomorrow we have our hike, if the weather permits. Thankfully the rain has gone, and the sun has come out. Hopefully tomorrow there will be no rain, and the hike will be successful. Today we received the hangers and hooks talk about how we should continue on with our inquiry project. Soon we will be starting up on our service learning work. Last night for our evening activity Gabby, the visiting artist gave us an intro to charcoal. We drew a pair of scissors leaning up against each other. Many of my peers had great drawings.

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Today Annie and I went out for a bike ride during our wellness time. On the way to Er Hai, it was mostly down hill and it was relativley easy, but on our way back the wind blew extremely hard plus we were biking up hill. When we were down at the lake, we saw the water up close. After staring at the water for a while, I started to thin about swimming. It is the second week of Microcampus and I am already starting to miss swimming. Even though back in Shanghai, I never wanted to go to swimming training, I really wish that I could go swimming now.

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Today I was partners with Angela for WIPPIS time. It was yet another beautiful day in XiZhou, there was no rain, and the sun was shining the whole day. For wellness today we biked down to Er Hai, we biked into a small path leading into the lake. There were many bugs there. We were surrounded by trees, shrubs, and many other plants. When we had still time there we realized that many things had died and decayed, but these things were the things that supported the growth of other plants. When we were biking around the lake, I saw a few graves and mushrooms.

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Today was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and there was no rain. The sun was shining, but just enough so that it isn't too hot, yet it feels warm and comforting on our faces. Today was the first day of the second week where we got to choose our WIPPIS time partners for the week. Today I went to talk to horse cart drivers, but many of them were not willing to talk to me since I was not going to ride the cart, so I decided to go look for other people. I found a young lady who goes by the name of Ms. Pan. She made tie dye pieces which were extremely beautiful.
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It has officially been one week since we have been in XiZhou. We had our morning pitching in and Annie and I did our laundry. We also did our wellness reflection and posted it as a comment underneath our Wellness plan. In the wellness reflection it asked questions such as how we were feeling and next steps we were going to take. After that we did not have much planned for the day so we basically got free time. For lunch today we got fried banana in our menu.

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Today was the first weekend we spent in Microcampus. We got the chance to sleep in until nine thirty which was when breakfast ended. We had the 150 years in 150 minutes lecture where we learned about the history of China from the 1830 up to 1949. We also got an intro to our service learning project. Today was a really chill day and we got a lot of freedom. Today not much happened. We went out during our down time to talk to some locals and to get to know them some more. We played hacky sack for a while, and then stopped for a while because we got tired.

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Today we only had two hours of inquiry project time. Instead of having a normal WIPPIS time where we did wellness, pitching in, inquiry project, and still time, we only had our inquiry project time. When we woke up today, we played hacky sack again. I still am missing most of the kicks and not receiving them, thankfully I am slowly but surely improving. After we had our inquiry time we got to go to the wind farm. Four of us headed to the wind farm to see the wind turbines, and two of us went to ZhouCheng to learn about the history of tie dye and some of the processes.

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Today we were late for breakfast. So far each pair of roommate has been late. Our alarm went off, but we turned it off and dozed back to sleep. I fell asleep for around ten minutes then had an aggressive realization that we had over slept. Taking out my night lenses resulted in a later time of getting out. During the day, we were called to a meeting, where Mr. T told us about, our work. And about how things start to pile up, and how he is just trying to help us continue on. When he tells us things, he tells them to us because he has experience in these kind of situations.

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Today was the fifth day of Microcampus. Our alarm clock didn't go off in the morning, but thanks to Annie we woke up on time. Today Nolan led the daily meeting, it ran on a bit longer than expected, and our pitching in time was cut short. Because of this, my pitching in time was cut short, and I had a busier schedule than usual. Annie and I did our laundry today, we had a lot of clothing and the west winds were pretty strong. After pitching in and lunch, I headed out to the cheese factory with Ms. Mai to interview Mr. Yan about his cows and his cheese.

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Today I woke up at 5: 30 to go for a run with Nolan and Annie. But the moment we got up, we realized that the power was out. Thankfully Annie and I brought tent lights to light up the room. The entire villages power was down and it was very cold out. I used my headlamp to light the way, and avoid obstacles. The stars were everywhere and they were very bright. We were close but didn't make it to Er Hai, due to my slow running pace and need to pause every few hundred meters. I realized how unfit I am and my need for exercise. After our run, we had a full breakfast, and pitching in.

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Today was our first semi-official day working. We worked on our 3-5's interview. I interview Ms. Mai, Ms. Zhao, Ms. Song, and Ms. Qi. The last person I need to interview is Mr. T. I received a lot of useful information on who I can contact and learn from. We worked on writing poems for our ELA class during SAS essentials time. We had an hour and a half of pitching in, we talked to Mr. T about our committees and what our jobs are in more detail than before. We then had an amazing lunch in. At around three we took a bike ride down to Er Hai, then into one of the smaller villages.

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Today we started off the day with once again an amazing meal. We first took a tour of BaoChengFu, walking around learning a little bit about the history and culture. I found out a lot about the history, I learned that the buildings were built in 1928 after a large earthquake. The first court yard and the second court yard where built with the traditional architecture. While the third court yard was built with more a modern influence from southeast Asia. After we finished the tour of BaoChengFu, we had the tour of SiFangJie.

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Today we arrived in XiZhou at around mid-day. We took had an amazing first meal at the airport and proceeded to take a bus to BaoChengFu. My favorite part of the day was when we visited the antique collector Mr. Du. I realized that these everyday people actually know a lot about things they specialize on. I learned a lot about the history of certain pieces, a lot of the antiques were broken and damaged but still had a lot of beauty. Part of the reason why the I found the antiques interesting even though they were old and broken was because they held a lot of history and meaning.

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My name is Laura L. and I am a student at Shanghai American School. I was part of the Group Superior during the spring of 2017. It was a breathtaking experience consisting of extraordinary and wondrous events. It was one of hardest and best things I have ever decided to do. I've learned many valuable lessons and it was an honor to have been able to attend this program with my fellow peers. The 28 days I spent in Xizhou were life-changing and remarkable. I've gained so much knowledge, of which I will take everywhere I go for the rest of my life.