Maggie C. (Alumni-H)'s Journal

When I first heared about Microcampus, I though it was just a cool opportunity to get out of school and do some different kind of work for a while. Nonetheless, it sounded interesting, and I applied for it. Previous Alumni had also recommended it to me, so I thought I had nothing to lose. I was not really looking to experience different cultures and I definitely was not prepared for all the things I learned during my time here. 

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I would list everything that I had done today, but that would take too long. Instead I'm going to focus on saying goodbye. Today, my Service Learning group and I went back to Mr. Yang's shop with Mr. T, Ms. Mai, and Andrew (big Andrew). Yesterday, we tried to give him two bags of fruit, but he refused them and told us to eat them ourselves. So today, we took along the fruit, as well as a CD with the video on it, and went to look for Mr. Yang. We found him, as usual, in his shop. After talking for a while and presenting our gifts, we had to say goodbye.

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The experience of showing our Service Learning partner the video that we created was kind of nerve racking. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking the whole time, so I don’t know whether or not he was pleased, embarrassed, or regretful. I know that when i see a video of myself, I am often times embarrassed. However, he wasn’t really showing much expression during the video, which almost made me think he was bored.
 
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Not much went on today. I hardly did anything on my Inquiry Project at all, since we were all so busy with Service Learning. Other than meeting the due dates, there wasn't really anything new going on today. One thing I do remember is that during dinner, I heard something that I haven't heard for a very long time: I heard the honk of a car horn. Being in Xizhou for 25 days now, I've almost forgotten the sound of cars. The sound of Shanghai traffic had almost faded from my memory. At first I thought it was normal, then I realized where we were and how rare cars were here.

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After completing my Service Learning filming and Inquiry work, I felt extremely accomplished. To be honest, I was in a really good mood today. The sky was exceptionally blue, and I feel like I’ve been very productive. At the same time, having plenty of opportunities to have fun and play around. For Wellness, I went jump roping with Nina C. Though it was tiring, I got enough Time in Zone. I feel as if right now is an extremely peaceful time of Microcampus, and I look forward to the next few days in Xizhou.

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Chocolate Spoons!

Since tomorrow is the due date for both Inquiry work and Service Learning filming, I think everyone had an extremely productive day.  In the afternoon, Kyra and I took a trip to the Supermarket. We bought some snacks and fruit, then headed back to the Linden Center. I feel like after filming almost all of my Inquiry work, I’m pretty much on track. All that is left to do is put it in iMovie and do a voiceover!

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I wish I could say that we get a long relaxing weekend, but that would be inaccurate. Instead, we were all busy running between our Final Projects and our Service Learning. After starting my Final Project, I began to realize how much work I had to do. Sometimes, it seems a bit overwhelming. However, I know that if I stay focused I'll be able to get it done.

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Today, we started our Final Projects! I think now is when we all start to get an idea of what we want to do and how we want to do it. On top of that, my Service Learning group and I filmed Mr. Yan, our partner, during Pitching In time. For some reason, with SAS Essentials also being off my shoulders, I feel a lot more on track than before. Hopefully, my Inquiry work goes as I invision. Honestly, I'm feeling pretty anxious for the days ahead.

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Currently, we are nearing the final phases of our Inquiry work. I started today with a lot of mixed feelings. I felt anxious, because I wasn’t sure whether or not I had done enough or chosen the right things to do. At the same time, I also felt excited for our adventures to come and my chance to share what I’ve learned. Then I felt relieved, because no matter what, today we were moving on. After lunch, we started with our Phase 4s and finished them within two hours. After my Inquiry block, it was pretty much a normal day.

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Mr. Yang

To be honest, these last couple of days were not my most productive. I felt like I had been a bit lazy and was slacking off on my work. Journal entries, Inquiry work, and SAS Essentials were all things that I needed to get on top of. Not to mention that for Service Learning we still needed to film someone! So this morning, our group talked with each other on what we’re behind on and what we needed to fix. Schedules were made, lists were checked off, and people were busy. During the morning Pitching In time, I got my Humanities SAS Essentials and my journal posts finished.

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Today was pretty much a normal day. Since tomorrow is the due date for both Phase 3 and our first Service Learning Video, people are in a bit of a rush (even though we are not supposed to). My Service Learning Group (Jessica, Hugh, and Niko) and I went during Pitching in time to make connections with locals and hopefully talk to a man at the temple. Unfortunately, when we got to the temple he wasn't there. We talked to some other people too, but one woman couldn't hear us and the other didn't want to be video-taped.
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Yesterday, I thought I would change my focus point to Rushan. However, later that day, I found out that Catherine W. (Alumni E) had also done Rushan. Therefore, in the morning, Kyra and I set of to the morning market in search for a new focus. The market was extremely busy and full of stalls that sold foriegn things. We spent half an hour talking to locals and asking them about their foods. At one point, I had a conversation with a man making bean curd.

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"Roooooooom In-SPECTION!" is what we heard at the end of our daily meeting. Everyone, dropping various objects, rushed out of the TV Room and into their rooms. Quickly shoving everything loose into the drawer, we held our breath and awaited our turn. As for the score... let's just say there was a wide range of results. By wide range, I meant that Room 3's room was so horrendous that they broke the International Room Inspection Federation's five star scale. Anyhow, during my Inquiry time, I signed up for chaperone support with Ye Ling.

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We woke up to the sun rising over the mountains, covered by thick rain clouds. With the threat of rain, we left quickly into the mountains. Today's trail very different from the past two days. Since this trail was going downhill, the challenge was to keep balance rather than to keep moving. Thankfully, I picked up a nice, sturdy walking stick that kept me from falling everywhere. During the times that I could look up without tripping, I saw a beautiful view of mountains, sky, water, and city. After the hours passed by, I watched the buildings get closer and closer.

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Day 14! Halfway point! Honestly, I think the past two week have gone by way too fast. The fact that we already reached halfway of our trip made me think about how short 28 days was and how much you can learn is such a short period of time. And trust me, we had a lot of time to think. Today, we hiked up to the 3232 point, in other words, we hiked up 3,232 meters. Sitting on the mountain gave me, and I sure a lot of other people too, a great sense of a accomplishment. Everything that happened for the past two days was totally worth it.

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Today, May 1st, would traditionally be a holiday for most people. A holiday which we, Microcampus students, get to spend sweating on a hill. The hike there seemed endless. The road before us stretched out as far as I could see. The funny thing is that in the moment, the hike seems dreadful and tiring, but as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will get there. After around six hours of hiking, we reached the farmhouse for a short rest. The hike to our tents was surprisingly steep and tiring.

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Today we had a room inspection! Of course, that went well. (Not!) While room four had a score of 5.0, we got a smashing score of 3.4! Jess and I have to work on that... Anyway, during Inquiry Time, I completely forgot to sign up for chaperone support. That left me with nothing to do for Inquiry. Eventually, I decided to go with Kyra to the Erkuai Factory. We spent around half an hour helping the woman make round Erkuai and run her shop with her.

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Today is the first day we get to plan our own WIPPIT schedule! Kyra and I aligned our Wellness schedules so we could go biking to Erhai together. As always, it was beautiful. I made it a personal goal to get at least 10 people to wave back to me everytime I go biking. So far, it has been extraordinarily easy to achieve! Anyway, today was pretty mundane... except for the fact that Mr. T came out and starting singing The Phantom of the Room Inspection, then announced that the International Ferderation of the Room Inspection Association was very close.

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To say the least, the sunrise at Erhai was extremely beautiful. Kyra and I woke up at 6:00 to explore the camp and watch the sky. After the shimmering water turned from orange to white, we started to pack our tents up. It was kind of sad to see how easily the stakes were pulled out compared to how hard it was to hammer them in. Before we left, Mr. T decided to tell us a story! It went something like this: 

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Shaping's Weekly Market

This morning, after breakfast, we packed our bags and set off for Shaping's weekly market. In around 20 minutes, we arrived at the small and modest village of Shaping. Up the street, we saw a bustling road full of tents and people, all looking around and buying things. There was everything from embroidery cloths to noodles to teeth. I walked around the market with Kyra and Will, looking around to see if there was anything new. After an hour, we had our bags full of cloths, candies, and tea! After a lunch at Sifang Jie, we all went to our various WIPPIT schedules.

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Sunset at the Lake

Even though you may have noticed the title, camping is not what I am going to talk about right now. Right now, I'm going to talk about my morning. Today, Kyra, Nina, and I woke up at the crack of dawn and strapped in to our HRM's for a morning run. After jogging to the Morning Market, we ran around Sifang Jie a couple times. If I was to take away one thing from our run, it was my discovery of a new breakfast place. A woman on the side of the morning market sells absolutely delicious buns for one yuan (note to self: buy buns tomorrow).

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I think I may have underestimated our practice hike a bit. I mean, who would have though that walking across a mountain would be so hard? Of course, there's the added 3,500 meters of altitude, the ten pound backpack, and the fuzz-lined hiking pants in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather. Other than that, everything was easy! In order to keep a pace that everyone could follow Mr. T switched people who lead the group. Some people walk very fast... not to name any names. In all seriousness, it was really tiring.

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This morning, I woke up at 5:30 A.M. and went running to Erhai lake. Just kidding. That's what I would like to say… Unfortunately, I slept right through my alarm and woke up at 6:30. This left me a problem: The people who shared the same schedule as me went off running, therefore I had nobody to buddy with during Wellness. What was my solution? Thankfully, I found out that Kyra's Inquiry time and my Wellness time overlapped, so we went out to Sifang Jie together to get some work done.

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Coincidentally, the day that Xizhou's power is cut is also the day where I get to do my laundry. Yay. To say the least, it was pretty tiring. During our morning Pitching In time, Lena and I walked over to the laundry room with all our dirty clothes in big plastic bags in our arms. After many sloshes and splashes of water, we had basket fulls of dripping wet soapy clothes to take up to the roof and hang. Around five hours later, we came back to pick our clothes up and found them nice, dry, and the slightest bit stiff.

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Today, we had our first normal Microcampus day! We started off like usual: breakfast at 7:30. Then, we had our first SAS Essentials. At WIPPIT, we seperated our schedules based on our count-off numbers. Since my count-off number is 4, I was grouped with Jessica, Hugh, and Nina. During Inquiry Topic time, we did some 3-5's for our Phase 2. As for Wellness... let's just say that when doing cardio with Nina, difficult is an understatement. Anyway, tonight, we will be having our first committee planned evening activity! I can't wait to see what it is!

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Honestly, before I arrived in Xizhou, I never thought I would have the motivation to go running at 5:30 A.M. After getting up, I tip-toed quietly out my door in an attempt to not wake my roommate. I met my friends, Nina and Kyra, out in the second courtyard before setting off downhill. The sky was still black and through my head lamp, I could barely keep myself from tripping on the rough and rocky trail. After around 20 minutes of jogging, we arrived at Erhai.

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The first thing I thought when I woke up was "why did my alarm clock go off at 4:00 A.M.?" I was surprised at how much later the sun rose than Shanghai. By 6:30, the sky was still dark. After we ate breakfast, the sun had barely peeked over the mountains. After we filled our stomachs, we took tours around the Linden Center and the village of Xizhou. I think it's going to take a while before I can navigate through the village without getting lost. Our day was filled with getting to know the people, places, and responsibities of Microcampus.

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With tired eyes, I could barely stumble to the car, but once I was there, I was full of nervous energy and excitement.  At 4:00 A.M., the road is hardly crowded, and the street was empty as we rode to the airport. During the airplane ride, we sat next to people that we weren't nessacarily familiar with. I think this was a really valuable time to bond with the people that we were going to spend 28 days with. After the plane ride, we rode a bus for 7 hours. At times, it felt like the bus ride was days long. However, once we arrived at the village, the bus ride felt all too short.

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Hello!

Though my trip is in April and my adventures are still waiting, I wanted to write this first journal post to help you get to know me better, not just as a person, but as a writer. I also wanted to wish the upcoming Microcampus group, Fearless, a safe and awesome trip! I'll be sure to follow you on your journey through your videos and journal entries while sitting back home and feeling jealous. :) Just kidding! But really, have an awesome trip!

We'll miss you!

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Hey! My name Maggie and I am part of Group H, Hailstorm. Microcampus is an experience I will keep with me throughout my life, and bear in mind when I make choices. My time I'm Microcampus seems almost surreal to me now. The chain of future Microcampus students help me remember how real my memories are. I hope future students had just as much fun as I did.