Our service learning partner's name is Mr. Yang and he is 72 years old. His son owns a rose business, and his father is a renowned watchmaker. He loves building things and has lots of experience with houses and woodworking.
I learned a lot of interesting things about Mr. Yang and about the history of Xizhou/China. Mr. Yang has lived through the Cultural Revolution and described to us how hard it was back then. He was extremely kind and welcoming and even gave us some rose buns. Before meeting Mr. Yang, I did not know much about the Cultural Revolution and big events such as the Great Leap Forward. It was interesting to see his perspective on the events during the Mao years. We had a lecture on 20th century Chinese history with Mr. T, which helped me understand and have a bit of background knowledge on the topic. I learned a lot more about the history of Xizhou and how it has changed, along with some information on the four big families [Yin, Yang, Dong, Yan]. Mr. Yang also told us how the roads in Xizhou had changed dramatically. Before, the roads were mainly made out of dirt and other materials, but now it has become more modern, using asphalt and concrete.
When the day finally arrived, I was nervous for multiple reasons. We were not sure if Mr. Yang would be able to come, because according to his family members he was not feeling too great. We later learned that he was battling a very serious disease and has low blood pressure. In the morning, my service learning group and I went to Mr. Yang's house to give him a gift, a box of tea. However, he was not there and we tried to give it to his wife, but she also refused. We ended up heading back to Yangzhuoran and prepping for the showing. In the afternoon, we went back to his house with some fruits and the tea (again), but he refused and even said that he would not come if we gave him the fruits. We ended up carrying the fruits back to Yangzhuoran and successfully brought Mr. Yang there.
We had a lot of fun showing Mr. Yang around our home and meeting Audrey and Jason's partner. At first, I was really nervous that Mr. Yang might not like our video, but as I watched his facial expressions and body language, I wasn't as nervous. He seemed to really enjoy the part where we were talking about his family and grandchildren, which I was very happy about. I was really nervous about the Cultural Revolution segment because he mentioned to us that he did not like saying things about the government while being recorded. However, but he was smiling in the end. It was interesting to compare how I thought Mr. Yang would react to a certain scene and how Mr. Yang actually reacted. I am very happy that Mr. Yang enjoyed it and I think we met the goal of telling a person's story.
Some recommendations for future Microcampus students:
-Division of Labor. One of the biggest problems we had was that some people did not do as much work as others, and did not support their other groupmates. Making sure that the work from other projects (such as inquiry projects) is completed is also important because working on other projects while doing service learning will seriously slow down the group. Doing little things such as offering to help or just simply getting everything done on time will keep the stress low and the atmosphere lighthearted. Your groupmates will appreciate your efforts.
-Making connections early. A big mistake we had was waiting until the last minute to find our service learning partners. We were all very stressed over finding a service learning partner, because many of our plans failed. Making connections early will come a long way.
-Supporting your groupmates. If one or two people are doing most of the work, find ways to help support them. Doing their dishes/pitching in work will come a long way.