Vanessa P. (Alumni-F)'s Journal

Today is the last final day in XiZhou. The whole day was dedicated to packing and saying goodbyes. After tomorrow’s breakfast, Xizhou will be gone. The Linden Centre became a second home to me, and I don’t want to leave at all. I will never forget some of the things I experienced on Microcampus like the 3 day hike, camping, biking to another village….  This experience will stay with me for my entire life. 

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Before arriving to Xizhou, I thought that the main reason I came to Microcampus was to escape for my bubble. After this 28 days journey, I realized that escaping my bubble was only one part of many reasons. 

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Today is a very stressful day for everyone. Our Inquiry projects are due at the end of WIIPIT time, and our service learning is due tomorrow morning. Wednesday afternoon we have our service learning presentation, after all the interviewing, we might have forgot to invite her.Tomorrow morning, my group and I plan to invite Mrs. Duan to the celebration. Today is day 25, and tomorrow we get to go to Dali Old Town as a treat.

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Today was the first full day it rained here in Xizhou. Gould’s student had to take a math test right after breakfast, but luckily we had a math lesson yesterday night with Mr. T. After this, we went to meet our Service-learning partner today for the last time until the presentation day, which is on Wednesday. We are planning to go “hangout” with her tomorrow, if there’s no heavy rain. I spent all afternoon doing my inquiry project. I am almost done with everything, and if feels nice when I am not stressed out.  

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The guys refused to tell us what happened last night and most of the girls got really pissed. All the guys came to breakfast with bandits on their neck and started agreeing with everything we said. In Xizhou, the weather is normally amazing, but today it rained for about 30 minutes; the weather has definitely changed a lot this week. The night became windier and the sun isn’t as bright as usual. We continued our service learning film today and it is due the coming Tuesday. The highlight of the day was eating Ms. Mai’s Vietnam spring rolls, and it was super good.

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It is the weekend, so we got to sleep in today. After 5 days of work and work and work, it felt so nice to wake up later than usual. From the time we wake up till lunchtime, it was all free time. In the afternoon, my group and I spent most of the time generating questions instead of interviewing. You might think we slacked off, but our group spent it wisely.  Today is already day 22, we only have 8 days left till we go back to Shanghai. Xizhou will always be a part of me that I will never forget. 

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Today is Valentine’s Day, and we are holding SUPMAC night (SUPMAC is campus spelled backwards). In order to honor Valentine’s Day, the evening programmers (Taylor F., Grace, Henry, and I) organized a small dance at the main courtyard of the Linden Centre. It turned out that our speakers did not work so some of us hung out, while the others played hacky sack. After a while, most of the girls were jamming out to music played by Grace and Jing Rong. Most of the songs were by Taylor Swift. So at the end, we did have an indirect Valentine’s day dance. 

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Entry 3: At the end of the 3rd week respond to the UDHR article regarding family life.

Article 16: The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.

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Today was the last day of researching and interviewing locals. Phase 3 where all of the information is stored was due today. As a treat, we got to Dali Old Town for dinner and shopping. It felt good to go to Dali Old Town because we got to see another part of the town and eat American food for once. Between the choices of American food and Chinese food, my group and I decided to eat Chinese food because one of the main reasons we came to Microcampus was for personal growth and experiential learning. I am glad that I chose to eat Chinese food, cause the xiao long baos there were delicious.

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I spent most of my WIPPIT time at the Jiang Shang Village (江上村). Mrs. Li, the best bamboo weaver taught me how to make this gorgeous basket injust 4 hours.

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Today was our first normal day back from the hike. I woke up with blisters on my feet, scratches on my hand, and sore muscles. As I was eating breakfast I found out that I didn’t feel very well, so Ms. Mai excused me from SAS Essentials. For the whole day, I had to wear a mask and put a warm pack on my stomach. Other than that the day went smoothly, I finally figured out my hooks and hangers. I interviewed with a bamboo-weaving master and she doesn’t mind teaching me. I am going to spend about 2 hours with her tomorrow so she can teach me how to bamboo weave.

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Today we got to sleep in cause everyone was late for breakfast yesterday. Most of us went to the Lucky Moon restaurant at 8:45 and played hacky sack. It was a great way to start off the day. Everyone was starving and was fighting for noodles. We started the hike at around 12 and got back to Linden Centre at around four thirty. This was probably the easiest day cause it was all downhill. We were all energetic when we started, but as we got to the bottom everyone was tired and hungry.

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Today we woke up and had baba with peanut butter. It might be the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. As said, it was an easier hike cause we were told to bring our small daypack, which was ten times lighter. Today, I was chosen to be the radio handle person. It took me a while to figure it out, but it was very interesting. As we got closer to the top of the mountain, everyone’s smile came bursting out including the treat. The view was absolute amazing.

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Today was the first day of hiking and it was tiring. Most of us slipped cause we had our enormous hiking bags and had to go through a very steep path. But overall, it was all worth it because when we reached the campsite, the view was stunning. After we set up our tents and we had dinner that was provided by Mr. Yang. It was spicy and delicious at the same time. It took me a long time to fall asleep cause I wasn’t wearing enough layers. Tomorrow is going to be a shorter and easier hike. I can't wait! 

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Entry 2 – At the end of the 2nd week - How do you see this article reflected in the daily life of Xizhou?  Article 27: Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

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Finally, I found a family that makes and doesn’t mind teaching me how to bamboo weave. Vivian, Fay, and I were planning to go to Jing Gui Shi, cause Google said that it was a place of bamboo weaving. Though it turned out that it was a village that has bamboo, but doesn’t bamboo weave. As we were connecting with the locals, we found out that only He Yi Cheng makes it, and since that village was beside Jing Gui Shi, we went there.

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Today was almost exactly the same as any other days. It started off the same and ended the same way. But today, when I went out to interview the locals, a problem came in my way.  The bamboo weavers aren’t going to make any bamboo weaved basket until February 15 due to the Chinese New Year. This will require me to go through a very hard obstacle. Though the whole day changed when an old lady came up and asked us if we needed any help.

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The week began with us sleeping late. Sarah, Shirley, and I didn’t wake up until 5 minutes before breakfast. We screamed at each other and it was chaos. The highlight of the day was wellness time. Vivian, Brandon, and I were playing normal Ping-Pong until a guy came in and ask if he could join in. He taught us how to play “Around the world" which we call the "Extreme Ping-Pong Routine". We got so much TZ from playing this.

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We saw the sunrise today morning, and it was absolutely beautiful. The air was a little bit chilly and the sun was burning hot. I can’t wait to see that for 3 days straight. After seeing the sunrise, everyone packed their bags and hurried back to the Linden Centre without going on the puddle road. When we arrived, we all headed towards the dining room for breakfast. At around 12:30, we were all let out, to participate in the Baba festival and have lunch. Vivian, Sarah, and I did not make a Baba cause it was really crowded.

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We biked to the tongue of Erhai Lake with out huge hiking backpacks. We left the Linden Center at 7:15 and arrived there at 8:00. The ride there was horrible, we had to bike through this huge puddle of muddy water. As everyone was speeding through the puddle, my bike was jammed half way through and I couldn’t stay on the right side. Soon later, my feet were in the water trying to push my bike onto the road. Some of us touched the water and the bottom of the shoe was wet, but mine was both squishy and gross. When we arrived at the campsite, Mr. T and Ms.

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Happy Chinese New Year! I woke up earlier to see the I.S.S or the International Space Station pass overhead. Around 1:10, we went on a three-hour hike, which was called the Mosque to Temple hike. When we got to the top of the mountain, it was amazing; the view of Erhai was perfect. We also learned about tips to hiking: go sideways while climbing down a mountain, high knees, walk with a steady pace, etc. This hike was supposed to be a preparation for next week's three-day hike. I am going to work harder at my wellness, so I can survive the 3-day hike. 

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Today was the first day of the trip where we got to meet some of our possible research sources and interact with them. We had to sign up with a chaperone to go talk to a certain person or go somewhere. Andrew, Mr.Tafel and I went rode our bikes to the 河矣城 village, the village of bamboo weaving. There I saw an elder who made amazing bamboo weaved basket. I introduced myself to her and asked her some basic questions I had. She made a bamboo weaved basket in front of us, it looked really easy but it was really confusing.

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Today was our first normal Microcampus day. It was tiring but amazing at the same time. We got so much freedom and trust from Ms.Mai and Mr.Tafel; and we had to show our time management skills to them. The highlight of the day was the dinner, cause we got to interact with the locals, practice our speaking skills, shopping and EAT. Twelve of us ate at the Linden Centre for lunch so we got to go out for dinner. Brandon, Sarah, Shirley, and I ate veggies and Xizhou baba. It was amazing. After that we went to a textile shop, where I got a cushion cover for my mom.

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Today was day three of Microcampus. We were split into two groups to create a positive impact on the community. The two options were to help re-paint the walls in the village or to pick up trash at the Erhai Lake. I chose to paint the walls cause I thought it would be fun to try something new. We had to use lime to paint over the yellowing walls. Most of us “accidently” smeared paint over other peoples face and raincoats.

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I went out onto the Terrace for the first time and it was amazing. It was so quiet and peaceful, and nothing like Shanghai. I've never taken time to just sit down anywhere in the beautiful village of Xizhou and relax, which I will do more often. Right now, I am at the terrace writing this journal while looking at the stars. I look up and see nothing but endless sky and an unlimited amount of stars.

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I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to finish my last minute packing and then we drove to the Hongqiao Airport. From there, we said goodbye to our parents and boarded the plane, after having breakfast. With a three hour plane ride and a seven hour bus ride, we finally arrived at Xizhou. We met the Linden Centre staff, took a small tour around our new home and had dinner. The dinner was so yummy! Afterwards, we got our roommates and started unpacking our items.

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Hi, my name is Vanessa. Xizhou has changed me completely, from personality to the way of thinking. I created loads of amazing memories with the FEARLESS family in this magnificent, life-changing, month long trip. I will never forget the memories I made at Xi Zhou as a member of the Fearless group.