Our Service Learning partner is Mr. Yang. He is a 72 year old retired homebuilder.
Because of talking to Mr. Yang, I managed to learn that he deeply cared for his family and was very proud of the successes that he had. I learned how he suffered through disease for so much of his life, worsened by political events. I learned that he was very passionate about his electronics-fixing hobby as well as his homebuilding job. I learned how he was still very capable of helping his family, even with his heart disease and age. I learned how he even was a dedicated gardener, with pumpkin growing on his third floor.
Because of talking to Mr. Yang, I learned much about Xizhou's history. I learned how important the Cultural Revolution was to all who lived through it here, especially since it changed their lives so much. I learned how China suffered from much more hardship back then. I learned how you simply could not escape it, even if you followed and obeyed the government, because of the diseases that were linked with the famine then.
Because of talking to Mr. Yang, I learned how chaotic Mao's rule was, even though it was not during wartime. I learned how people would turn against each other, driven by propaganda of that time period.
When I shared my video with the audience today, I was not nervous at all. I knew that it took all of 3 frantic days to complete, from the filming to the trimming to the subtitling and other little edits. I knew that we experienced a lot of problems and still managed to make it pretty high quality. I was sure that it was the best we could make it. I think Debbie and Mia felt the same way.
I looked closely at the audience during the presentation. Though for some people it was the second or even third time of viewing, there were quite a few people who were not used to this format. I expect them to be surprised that 13 and 14 year olds did this - I know Yang Yeye was definitely surprised and please. I am proud of how focused the audience was on the video, and how they followed along with the Chinese subtitles. The subtitles were pretty difficult to make, considering our not-yet fluency in Mandarin and our difficulties listening in, but I feel our mistakes were near undetectable.
For future Microcampus students, I recommend a lot. First, get the phone number(s) of those that you want to talk to, during the third or even second week. Having stable communication will mean that you can still be able to find those people in the future when you need to record. Second, thoroughly plan who will ask which questions, and have everyone listen actively when your contact is about to go into more detail. Third, continue to talk with your partner after filming when you have the time to do so. Odds are that your partner's already a friendly person, and it will be pretty fun to continue building a relationship with him/her.