Aria F. (Alumni-V)'s Journal

If this Microcampus journey was written as a book, this would be the very ending.

I can imagine the beginning of the story as an introduction to all 16 of us; all unsure and unfamiliar with our surroundings, missing home and our family and friends. Chapter after chapter, after all the wisdom Mr. T and Ms. Mai have shared, we all learn more about ourselves and about our community. 

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Mrs. Li, unfortunately, could not attend the video showcase, so I am planning to show her the video before our departure. However, during the showcase, I noticed that people were quite heartfelt hearing her cheerful laugh and watching her smiles throughout the video. They especially enjoyed the part where she was describing Chairman Mao and gave out laughs when she was talking about his height and the mole on his chin. I am yet to find out how Mrs. Li will react to our Service Learning video. 

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It was a nice, peaceful day to complete my Service Learning video with my group. 

Though my groupmates often think that they have served no use to the group, I believe otherwise.

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One of my favorites snacks here in Xizhou are the pineberries, or white strawberries if you must. I especially enjoy munching on the larger ones because of their slight crunchiness and the more apparent hint of the taste of pineapple. 

I think I may prefer pineberries more than normal strawberries now; the color, the taste, and the texture is just so much more enjoyable and delicious.

Enough about fruit now.

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It has been 23 days since our arrival in Xizhou. Our arrival day was March 10th and today is now April 1st. Another month closer to the end of school in June, which is when we will be graduating middle school and moving on to high school. Microcampus has just shown how fast time flies by. In a blink of an eye, we turned from SAS 8th graders unfamiliar with one another into more mature and disciplined SAS Microcampus students. 

Today is also April Fools day, so knowing what Mr. T's personality is like, one would expect him to have prepared something. And he indeed did.

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I do not think I have ever spent this much time typing on a computer. I have spent most of inquiry project time writing and writing endless streams of information on my website for my tour guide, and still have quite a way to go before it becomes finished. The amount of work and thinking I have done makes SAS work seem so easy to finish. I made sure to take some breaks, and when I was out for Wellness, I took great pictures of Xizhou (thinking about adding them to my website).

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Mrs. Li is an absolute angel. I am so lucky to call her my Service Learning partner, and although sometimes it is hard to understand everything she says, she always smiles and laughs and it makes me feel so happy. She has been a farmer for over 50 years in Xizhou now, and always makes sure to give me and my Service Learning group a few carrots each time we visit. The carrots are absolutely the best; crunchy, the perfect texture, and a hint of sweetness in each of them packed in a vibrant orange color. 

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After crossfitting all the way to Pessoa Cafe, Sam B., Lily H., and I decided to split a special secret drink made by the owner, Peter. We watched the dogs pass by us and counted them as we saw them run after one another. The secret drink tasted great and reminded me so much of red velvet cakes with a hint of chocolate. 

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Today is one of those quiet, restful, and rainy days at Microcampus where all of us are more tranquil than usual. 
I spent my afternoon doing fieldwork with Ms. B as my teacher support and finishing Phase 3, and then moved on to do some Wellness by promenading around and observing everything around me. 

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Let me tell you about an ancient phantom that has haunted us Microcampus students for years and years... His presence still lingers here...and he has paid us a visit already.

His name is...

The Phantom of Roooooom Inspections. He used to perform opera in theatres in the famed city of Paris... but...

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Today is the last day of rest recovery before Week 3 starts. It is a typical Sunday at Microcampus, with the sun basking all the residents in its golden light as they get on with their days. My legs surprisingly do not feel sore at all, and I especially thought that they would since the hike uphill was so steep and exhausting. I am extremely grateful for the design of hiking backpacks and how they allow all the weight to go to my hips, but that means that my hips receive all the pain that my shoulders would have gotten if it was not for the design.

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It was exhausting; we were hiking meters uphill, each of us dragging our sore legs up over the rough stones and patches of soft dirt. The view was beautiful nonetheless, but it was slightly hard to enjoy with the endless beads of sweat that dripped down my forehead and my aching hips from my hiking backpack. We were 600 meters up from our original spot, which was already 2000 meters above sea level. 

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I am really looking forward to our hike and camping trip on Friday. I have not been camping outdoors for quite a while and just thinking about our trip on Friday makes me reminisce about the camping trips I went on before when I was younger and still lived in Canada. 

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It was another refreshing day at Microcampus. 

I listened to the waves lap onto the soft beds of short grass as Clark W. and Shirley X. stood next to me. We had biked to the Lake from Yangzhuoran today at about 3:10 pm or so and decided to sit by the quiet shimmering waters for our still time before getting back to work.

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We sat quietly on the wooden bench as we each took small sips out of our colorful and striped teacups. The 酥油 tea was delicious; buttery, sweet, and crunchy with the walnut pieces. 

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It was 3:00 in the afternoon when I was sitting on the Star Terrace at Yangzhuoran, watching the clouds shapeshift as the gentle wind caressed my face. I listened to the birds chirp excitedly as they soared through the air and through the swaying trees. I wanted to be out here again at night to see the stars, but it would be hard to find a time especially since I know I would become tired as soon as the sun will set behind the mountains. I was feeling at peace, but at the same time, something else was nagging me at the back of my head.

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Weekends are just the best at Microcampus.

The sky was slightly grey from the giant storm clouds when I stepped out from my room this morning. The air was slightly scented like fresh rain (even though there was no rain yet) and the excited chatter from the 15 Microcampus students in the dining room could be clearly heard from where I was standing. I made my way towards the dining room, and the closer I got, the stronger the scent of freshly cooked bacon became. It was another beautiful morning here at Microcampus, and we were all ready for the day coming ahead.

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It is hard to believe that one week has already passed at Microcampus. We are about 1/4 of the way through with our trip and it is amazing what has already happened and what we have already learned in just 7 days. By the end of this week, we have each individually improved our social skills, and this was the result of connecting with each other in our group and with the residents of Xizhou as well. We are done with all our required SAS work and will get this whole weekend to relax and wind down a little. 

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Intricate paintings lined the wooden walls as we stepped carefully into the gallery. But as we made our way closer, we realized that these, in fact, were not paintings.

Just kidding, already knew this from the start when we entered Happy Embroidery. For today's still time, Lily H. and I decided to spend some time at the nearby silk handicraft store that we were recommended during our tour around the village. 

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I am honestly so happy that I was chosen to participate in Microcampus. For those of you who are not in 8th grade yet and want a life-changing experience at SAS during that year, please please please consider joining Microcampus. I understand that some of you will feel uncomfortable leaving your home for 28 days and not seeing your family or friends, but I guarantee you that Microcampus is an amazing learning experience that will strengthen your social skills, work skills, and everyday habits.

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My legs pedaled swiftly as we made our way towards the ficus tree for our biking journey to officially begin. Ahead of us and past the ficus tree were fields of canola flowers, identical to the ones we had looked upon yesterday during our time at the terrace. Their petals were a striking shade of yellow, and none of us could help but stare at them each time we saw them. Along our way to our unknown destination we passed more and more fields of the bright flowers that stretched on sides of the road.

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The weather in Xizhou is wonderful. It reminds me of sunny California; breezy and cool in the morning while warm and sunny during midday. After a night of restful sleep, we started the day with a filling breakfast before moving on with our day. We had a nice tour around our home and the village as well, and our afternoons were filled with endless streams of information to remember about inquiry projects, SAS essentials, and more. Before dinner, we were privileged to meet the owners of the three Linden properties found across Xizhou; Jeanee and Brian Linden.

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Today was our departure day for Xizhou. I cannot believe that today is the day I will be disappearing from Shanghai for 28 days. It seems like such a long time being gone from my family, friends, and school, but the more I think about it, the more I know that 28 days will simply feel like 3 days when Microcampus is over.

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Ever since last year I always heard my friends talking about Microcampus. At that time, I was still pretty new to SAS compared to them, as most of them had been at SAS for quite a while, so I had no clue of what Microcampus was. When I found out, I immediately thought; this is definitely something I'd like to experience. 

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I was born in Canada and my family is from China. In my free time, I enjoy playing soccer, playing with my dog, talking with my friends, and learning new things. I have been to two previous schools prior to coming to SAS in cold Canada and sunny California. The month that I spent at Microcampus has been really memorable and an experience that I will never forget in my life. I am yet to return to Xizhou to see the community, scenery, and taste the food again!