Updated 9 months 3 weeks ago
Our Service Learning partner is named Mr. Yang. This year, he is 77 years old and has retired. Mr. Yang was born in Chengdong and lived there his whole life. He has three older brothers, and Mr. Yang is still residing in Chengdong.
After conversing with Mr. Yang, we learned several different things about his family and him. He says that he has three older brothers and two of them were in the Hundred Flowers campaign. Mr. Yang says that his oldest brother was a part of the Fragrant Flower Movement and his eldest brother could not handle the pressure; because of that, he committed suicide. After explaining this very unfortunate event, Mr. Yang talks about his second brother and how his second brother was labeled a rightist. Then Mr. Yang explains his third brother's history: being a teacher. Mr. Yang also gave us lots of information about himself. He says that when he was a child, he never focused in class. Also, considering the fact that he was immature and his father kept changing jobs on Da Jie Street, Mr. Yang kept sauntering around and playing all day, instead of attending school.
After talking with Mr. Yang, we learned a bountiful amount of information about Xizhou's past. We learned about the schooling, and we also learned that Xizhou's history is tied very closely with the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. There are still some effects from both of those cataclysmic events that can be seen lingering around in Xizhou today. Mr. Yang also told us a bit of the Fragrant Flower movement, which was a part of the Hundred Flowers campaign and how his brothers took part in it.
Mr. Yang says that when he was younger (the age of a young adult), his life was incredibly challenging and tiring. He says that during that time of the Great Leap Forward, the whole village had to share one pot of food. He also stated that the village ate small disgusting black buns created from cornmeal, bean noodles, and wheat. Mr. Yang also told us about his brothers and how some of them were in the campaigns/movements hosted by Mao Zedong. Mr. Yang shared us his viewpoints of these major events, and although he lived a harsh lifestyle as a child and adult, he is currently enjoying life as an elder.
After the completion of our Service Learning video, it was time for it to be shown to our audience as well as our partner: Yang Ye Ye. Luckily he was in good shape when we asked him if he would come. This is because when Mr. Yang's children are with him, it typically means that he is suffering health issues (Cerebral Insufficiency). Needless to say, his children were with him. Audrey and I were incredibly frightened when we saw his children, both for the sake of the showing and the sake of his health. Fortunately, Mr. Yang was feeling better on the day of the showing. Firstly, we brought Mr. Yang over to Yangzhuoran and briefed him about what the experience might be like. After that, it was time to show him, as well as others our videos. The first video we watched was Mia, Marco, and Debbie's Service Learning video; then we moved onto ours. When it was our turn, Audrey and I stepped up to the "stage" and formally introduced ourselves (the "stage" is basically the front of the room). When we went up, our job was to sit on a bench and observe our Service Learning partner watching our video. The goal of this was to try and understand what our Service Learning partner was thinking while watching our video.
When the video started, I noticed that Mr. Yang was possessing a passive look on his face. After a minute, he started mouthing something. In my perspective, it looked like he was talking along with the video, but I was not sure. I still do not know if he was mumbling with the video or not. After that, the video went on to talk about his life and his family. From there on out, he kept a passive face and watched (not with disdain or intent). Based off of his facial expressions, I could not get a grasp on how he was feeling about our video. Every few minutes, he would start to fidget. At the time, I thought this was a natural behavior. However, once I got time to think about it a little bit, I started to think that what we were saying might have made him uncomfortable. I think that when we were making the video, we put in too many details about him and politics. When Audrey and I were talking with him, he told us that he hated talking about politics and he hated lashing out at the government. However, after our video played, Mr. Yang had a slight grin on his face, and from that, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
If I were to give advice to future Microcampus students on how to make their Service Learning project easier, I would say three things: make contacts, take photos, and make a story. Firstly, when it comes to finding a Service Learning partner, you must make contacts right when you get to Xizhou. This piece of advice may sound strange and out of your comfort zone; however, it is something that I thought too, and I still did it. One of the main things about Microcampus is to get out of your comfort zone, and this is an incredibly good way to start getting out of it. If you start making contacts and friends early, then you can have several different potential Service Learning partners (from Plan A all the way to Plan Z). The next piece of advice is taking photos. Taking lots of photos applies to every single thing that you do here at Microcampus. Once you have multiple photos, you can spice up your videos. The reasoning for this is, despite having an interesting video, people will start to lose interest if the camera is focused on the subject the entire time. Sometimes, you will need to integrate photos into your videos. If you do this, the audience will not be as bored. I did not have very many photos when I first made my video, and I did not want my audience to be staring at the same thing for six minutes straight. However, if you are going to integrate photos, make sure that they tie in with the concept of the story you are telling; which brings my to my third point, telling a story. When you are making your Service Learning video, no one is going to want to see a Wikipedia article. You must try and find out what your Service Learning Partner deems relevant and have the video revolve around that. Our Service Learning video is mainly about Mr. Yang's family, and this is because despite him not knowing his parents very well, he still held this topic very close to him.