Niko G. (Alumni-H)'s Journal

Today we wrapped up our work and thank you's. We made sure our work was complete and worth looking at. I thanked all the Linden staff and our chaperones, personally or without anyone else around. Finally my service learning group saw and thanked Mr. Yan. We walked to his house and also gave him bananas and apples. I packed my bag and made sure I had everything. I do not want to forget anything in XiZhou. I sat on the terrace one more time, and enjoyed the view I will mostly miss. It has changed greatly in the amount of time I was here.

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Today is our traveling day. We leave today and I wanted to talk about why I came to Microcampus. I came here for three reasons, to challenge myself, to see the view, and get out of the bubble. I think that challenging myself will help me learn more about myself as a person. I wanted to see the views also. I saw many pictures online and I wanted to see them in person. It is one thing to see it online, but in person is a whole other story. Finally I wanted to get out of the bubble. I was always surrounded by technology in Shanghai.

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Sharing my video with my service learning partner made me very nervous. My group and I walked Mr. Yang from his house to the Linden Centre. We sat and talked to him while we waited for the videos to start. We were the third group up. I watched Mr. Yang watch our video. He seemed very interested. We offered to walk him back, but he had a friend and walked back with him. He told us he was in a hurry for something. A person who works at the Linden Centre named Andrew asked us questions because he wanted to talk to him later on, because our story "inspired" him.

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Today we work hard on our service learning videos. My group spent hours trying to translate the video and then we still had to edit it. I since I was not able to translate most of the video I wrote the biography of our service learning partner, Mr. Yang, and edited the video after my group translated it. Tomorrow is a big day for us. We will be presenting them and nobody really knows how much time we spent on it. But I think that it will be a rewarding day.

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Today we finished our final products and we are working on our service learning projects. Our video is about an hour long and we need to shorten it. We also need to translate it and answer the essential questions. But I went out to get time in zone to ErHai. I think that this is a view that I will miss the most when I leave XiZhou soon. Also I played ping pong. It was intense and I was sweating a lot after.

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Today I finished my final product. It is a 5 minute video. I put so much time and gave it my 100%, but I still think it is a bit boring because most of the information is numbers. I started and am half way through my final product reflection. I also went out today and talked to my service learning partner, Mr. Yeng. We asked him about his proudest moment in life so far, and his happiest. But all in all today was a very productive day towards finishing my final product.

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Today was the only weekend that I am working harder than I do on the weekdays. I started to make my final product. I developed ideas on what to do for my presentation and started on it. I had to find a way to share my information with it getting boring. This is the hard part because most of my information is numbers. So I decided to do a video instead of a slideshow. Now the hard part starts finding a quiet place that I could record my voice without anything in the background.

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Today I got to meet my group's service learning partner. They found a partner when I was sick. His name is Mr. Yeng and his family used to be one of the four richest family in XiZhou. This, until the Cultural Revolution. He shared many interest stories with us when we interviewed him. But we went through three different cameras because they all ran out of data. So our video will not look nice unless we do not add those parts. But we still have the entire story in our memories.

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Today is my first day out of the nursery. I had a lot of work to do involving inquiry. My school work is all finished in the nursery execpt my science observations. For inquiry the entire group finished their Phase 4 work. It was not too much work. Mr. T gave us enough time to work on that. Just enough. I stayed focus the whole time and was one of the first to finish with quality. I think. On top of that I started to think what I was going to do for a final project.

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Today in the room I found a box. I opened it to see what was inside. Nothing. I took it down from the rest of the 10+ boxes. I do not know why I took this one from the others. It was special. I started to tap it and then for about an hour I was throwing the box around and trying to fix numerous things into it, including myself. I found it at about 10 a.m. it took me through lunch and next time I saw on my phone was 3 p.m. Now that I am writing this I feel as if I am going crazy in the nursery. 

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I was late to breakfast today because of my sickness. Ms. Mai moved me to the nusery. It isn't big but the bed is huge and there is a small bathroom for me.  I am really enjoying the bed. Today I need to rest and stay hydrated. 

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I am still sick today. Although I did go out and interview Ms. Ma, a bakery owner. I learned today that she makes a lot of money from her shop. She makes over a 50% on each sale. But I am sick and had to cut the interview short because I needed to use the bathroom. 

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Today I dropped to many bombs. Three trips to the bathroom. I have no idea why I had the craps. It was hard to focus on my work knowing that sometime soon I would need to go after I ate. The thing I did to help was stay hydrated. My chaperones helped me out, they gave me more than seven pills that day. 

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We hike back down today. It was a couple hours down. Too many people slipped on the rocks that were in the streams that we passed. When we were down from the mountain, we saw a green bus I was filled with excitement. I threw my walking stick and ran towards the bus. It turns out it was not our bus. It sped away as soon as we got close. We walked down more and more down a dirt road and the same green bus was there. That is when Mr. T told us to get on.

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Today is our half way marker of our trip. At this time we made it to the most beautiful sight that the hours of hiking made it all worth. We were exactly 3,232 meters above sea level. I found it crazy being able to look back and see how much we have traveled. We made camp and had the rest of the time to ourselves. I went to sleep from 2 to 5 or 6. I was awakened by the sound of my noisy classmates playing cards. But the sight made it all worth the travel.

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Today we started our three day hike. We hiked hundreds of meters up. That is when I started to feel uneasy about everything. I have no idea what it was, but I had a headache and an upset stomach. A couple of hours into the hike I felt like I was going to throw up. I did. About five more times after the first. I took about four pills and they made me feel better at first, but then I threw up my breakfast and lunch. I still continued to hike of course, but my unknown sickness made the many, many hours of hiking the worst thing to happen so far on my trip.

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Tomorrow we leave for our three day hike. I went out and bought a 1500ml water bottle for the hike. It started to rain on the way back though. There are too many things to pack. My stuff for the camp out barely fit. This is going to be difficult for me. But I figured out that there is a place for my sleeping bag to hang off the bag. I cannot only pack for the three day hike, I need to prepare myself mentally. 

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Hugh and I went to do laundry. The first time we went people were working on the pipes. They told us they would be done in 30 minutes. We decided to come back after dinner. We left them to dry, and when we came back and collected our laundry, it smelled like cigarettes. We saw smoke rising from the neighbors house to the laundry house. Now we have to do the laundry again.

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Today Hugh B. and I went out to find a restaurant to help investigate our topics. We interview the shop owner Ms. Ma. The most interesting thing about her products are that they are muslim based foods. She told us that she invested all her savings into her bakery, and she is happy because of it. Her house was originally about 10 steps away. The shop is not as big as she imagined, but it is profiting her and she is happy.

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Today was the most relaxing day Microcampus so far. There was barely any work today. I played basketball with seven other people. Nothing but relaxing happened today. I got to eat out at SiFang Jie. Nothing special happened today but relaxing and no work. The only work I did was clean the TV room, but no one has touched it  for days. 

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After our hike, we tried out the tents. We camped at the peninsula of Lake ErHai. I shared a tent with Hugh B. and William X. It was a small tent to fit three hiking bags and three people. There were to many gnats. I did not know what they were and I ran into a swarm of them, I thought I was dying or they were eating me. But the worst part for me was going to sleep. In the tent, we were more than shoulder to shoulder. 

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Today we went on a 2 and a half hour hike. But I went again to the Golden Flower. The owner, Mr. Yeng, spoon fed me. He did this because I was holding the spoon incorrectly. Instead of using the thumb, I used my entire hand. After that I saw him giving Mr. T a massage. Soon after returning to the Linden Centre, I did the daily shout out. We had about 31 different takes. Only one was successful.

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Today I went to the Golden Flower restaurant to inteview him. I did not just ask him straight away the questions from my work. I got to know him a little better and built a relationship with him. I told him my name but he calls me "The Filipino Kid". I asked him how the restaurant has been working out for him, he told me that it was tiring him out and that the government has been trying to take the land from him because it was a privately owned restaurant. Today I got to know Mr. Yeng a little bit better.

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Today I went biking again. The view was even better the second time around. The only thing was is that the visibilty was low. I went again with Yuval and a new addition to the group Banner. We did not go as far as last time, but we went about 2 km less. It was easier on the way back because the wind was with us. The power also went out today. But there are backup generators in house. I had to take a cold shower with no lights. The power only powered the internet.

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Today was tiring. I biking to Lake ErHai at full speed. I biked with my classmate Yuval. The hardest part was being on the first gear the entire time. I was trying to get as much time in zone as possible. But it was worth the sweat. The sight of the lake and farmlands were astonishing. We were going fast but still maintaining control. Going back was very difficult because the wind was against us. But we did end up wit time in zone. On the way back was even better. I got to see the same sights again.

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I want to go to Microcampus because I want to just get out of the bubble. Most things today depend of technology. I'm trying to get out and just learn to balance it. I am most looking forward to seeing the view in XiZhou. It was nice to see them online and on social media, but to see them in person is something else. I am really worried about falling behind on my work. Mr T. told us that it is better to keep up than to catch up. I can help others in my group by bringing a positive attitude and motivation others to pull their own weight. I am very excited to be in XiZhou!

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Everything we learned today took up about 60% of my brain. We learn too much about our inquiry project, how to laundry, and pitching in. We also took a walk around XiZhou. On top of learning so much it was very warm today. We learned how, when, and where to get change for our 100 RMB we get every week. But eating in village was weird for me. The food was very different. The fried rice was just rice stir fried with vegetables. But I still enjoyed it. Today was a very difficult day mentally, and the heat was very annoying especially when walking around.

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Today was about 14 hours of traveling. I had to wake up at 3 a.m to shower, eat and double check my bags. The airport went smoother than I expected, getting everyones bags in order was easy. It was a bumpy flight. I tried to go to sleep, but I could not. It was about a 4 hour flight from Shanghai to Hongqiao. Our flight was delayed on top of that..The hardest part of the day was carrying my "purse" as Mr. Tafel calls it, and my hiking bag from the plane to KFC then finally to the bus. The bus was felt like I was packaged in a can of spam. There was barely anyroom to move.

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Hello, I am Niko. I was born in San Francisco, California. I lived there for about 12 years. Then I moved to Shanghai. At home I have 3 people in my family, including my mom, dad and myself. I can speak English, and only understand Tagalog. I am currently learning Chinese and I am in Chinese Foreign Language Level 2. I am thankful have been on this "life changing" trip