Our service learning partner is Mr Yan (Yan Ze Min 严则敏). He is 74 years old and a retired farmer. Parts one and two are posted in Brandon Q's workspace.
Mr Yan was not a connection that we had made since the beginning of the trip, but someone who was recommended to us by the other Mr Yan. Because of this, I was able to learn a lot about him and his life through our interviews. He told us that the key to a happy life is to stay healthy. Mr Yan believes that fate and destiny are what brings people together, such as him and his wife as well as him adn the three of us. He also said he himself does not have any regrets, and that young people should not have regrets either.
At one point we discussed the changes in Xizhou, and one of the topics was Xizhou Baba. We learned that they used to have no meat, most likely due to the lack of meat. He also said that he likes the Xizhou Baba better now as compared to before. For overall changes in Xizhou's history, Mr yan did not really expand upon the topic.
As for 20th century history, Mr Yan told us that times were difficult. He had to work as a farmer at home after completing middle school, and plow the fields. He did not really say much abut the Cultural Revolution, but said that Reform and Opening, along with communism and socialism, were all god things that happened after Deng Xiaoping took charge.
For the sharing of our final video, I was quite nervous because I did not know how Mr Yan was going to react. Our video had been polished and the final touches had been added, but I was less concerned about the video and instead eager to see everyone's reactions. Nina, Brandon, and I went to go pick up Mr Yan and walked back with Hugh and Maggie's group, along with their service learning partner. That was the point when I got more excited about showing our final videos.
I really wanted to make Mr Yan happy with our video, as he says he sees us as his grandchildren, so I felt somewhat obligated to make him proud, as well as Mr T and Ms Mai. The dining room conained the SAS Puxi China Alive group from their high school, their chaperones, and some of the Linden Centre staff. There were quite a few people there. I was actually glad that the seating was planned so that the group whose video was being presented was facing the audience in the front. This allowed us to sort of analyse or examine the audience, especially our service learning partners and the SAS Puxi students, and tell from their facial expressions what they thought of our video, or if they were paying attention at all.
This service learning project has taught me to be proud of what I do. The effort and time that was put into the whole process of interviewing, filming, and making the video may not have been evident to the audience, but the Microcampus students as well as the chaperones certainly knew and that was enough for me to be proud of what I helped to create.
Recommendations for future Microcampus students definitely include making connections early! Sometimes people do make connections, but not necessarily with elders. That is okay as well, but remember that you can use your existing connections to develop new ones, such as asking if they have parents, other family members, or friends who might be willing to be a service learning partner. Also, before interviewing your service learning partner, make sure the preparation has been done and that you and your group are ready. The first interview should still be establishing and building on the connection so that the partner will be more comfortable and open in the next interviews. Do not rush straight to the personal questions regarding sensitive topics, as that might cause your service learning partner to be a little unsettled. Lastly, be proud of what you are creating and remember that you are learning not only about Xizhou's people, but that particular person's life. Stay on top of your work and enjoy it!