Sonia Z. (Alumni-V)'s Journal

It is time for me to reflect and reminisce back to the reasons why I wanted to embark on this journey.

I have lived China for ten years of my life and my exposure to “Chinese history” has been generally limited to large suburban areas, with travel experiences usually restricted to short-term revelations of my host country.

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The experience of sharing my group and I's final video with our Service Learning partner was relieving and remarkable. It made all of our diligence and hard work worthwhile. It made our connection to Mr. Li increase even higher. It made me recall the first moment I met Mr. Li. It made me remember how intent he was on carrying back his own drinking water even after my Service Learning group and I insisted to help him. It made me recollect all the memories and wise words Mr. Li had told me. 

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There are three more days left of Microcampus. Three. Equivalent to the sum of one and two; one more than three. With only three more days left of Microcampus, we have to make these concluding days count. We have to disregard the pressure and tension my groupmates and I experienced editing our Service Learning video this morning. We have to ensure the connections we made in Xizhou will not be forgotten -- my Service Learning group and I need to go and hug Mr. Li, a honorable gentleman who have given us unique insight into his memories during our time with him.

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The Microcampus Voyagers pivotal priority today was to finish editing and translating our Service Learning movie. My Service Learning group -- Sunny, Josie, Anders, and I had two hours of film and we had to synopsize or condense the central points of Mr. Li's (our Service Learning partner) life as well as incorporating his values and principles all within a five-minute video.

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Today during lunch, Mr. T showed us two videos: The 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship Opening and Mr. T's Treat Your Mother Right. I learned today that Aerobics is a form of physical exercise that combines rhytmic and vigorious exercises with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness (flexibility, muscle fitness and cardio-vascular fitness). After witnessing intense aerobic dance moves and the amount of calories burned through aerobics, I want to do aerobics for Wellness Time! 

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My final product is to create a blog/website unveiling or un-ghosting the statement and meaning of the propaganda message ”人民公社万岁“ which in English, translates to "Long Live the People's Communes". My thesis is: In my efforts to decipher the existing wall propaganda messages in Xizhou, I considered the dynamic between contrasting generations time periods, the purpose of the propaganda statements, and the repercussions. I was looking for a blog that would have easy drag and drop methods and nice formatting for my information in order to maintain or prove my thesis.

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Yesterday night for evening activity the entire Voyagers Microcampus group traveled to Dali Old Town! We were permitted the gift of eating western food.

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Last night for Evening Activity my Service Learning group (Anders L., Sunny Q., Josie C.)and I competed against other groups in Mr. T's All-Star Wiz-Bang Super Duper Trivia Night! The teams were "8th Graders", Sweet Baba, Alaskan Billy Goats, and Connect Four (my team). Our "Connect Four" team costume was four jackets zipped together to create four conjoined quadruplets.

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This afternoon from 3:00-4:00 pm during Wellness time Sam B. and I went bike riding! We turned left when we arrived at the ficus tree and rode forward when we reached Xizhou's most dangerous intersection. Sam and I agreed to explore and wander through unfathomable alleys and streets to branch out of our comfort zones for personal growth. The two of us cycled through sludge, dust, and soot.

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One aspect you must know about Xizhou is that there are animals everywhere - on the streets of Sifangjie, by the Linden Centre, along Erhai lake, beside the Canola fields, and even more. During our camping trip on March 23rd the Microcampus Voyagers saw a flightless swift-running African bird with a long neck, long legs, and two toes on each foot. We saw an ostrich. On Microcampus, I have built a resistance to petting animals because we aren't allowed to touch any animals due to safety related issues.

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Yesterday we hiked up Cangshan mountain, which is called Jicaosei in Bai language, it consists of 19 peaks with 18 streams with entrancing waterfalls and magnificent cliffs. The mountain produces great marble as well as lots of botanical species like traditional herbs and wild flowers. We first hiked 600 meters vertically up to the Zhonghe temple and then we walked the Jade Belt. The Jade Belt is a walking path paved the distance of 12 to 20 km.

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Last night for evening activity we had an inTENse session about setting up tents. Our lives were at STAKE because we might have gotten deTENTion if we weren't able to complete the task. We were all nervous to make miSTAKES. We met in the Yangzhuoran courtyard at 7:05 and picked our tent partner - my tent roommate is Shirley and we will be sleeping in tent #4. After we chose our roommate and got our tents, Mr. T demonstrated the slip knot, which will come in handy for the rest of our lives.

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Today Josie C., Sunny Q., Anders L., and I went to Sifangjie to print out and laminate the photo we took with Mr. Li. While the photo was being processed from the computer to the printer, the four of us sat down on a bench and started to draft a message to put on the back of the photo. We agreed with writing our names in both English and Chinese, however, the message would be in Chinese.

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Tonight the Evening Activity committee have planned for us to have a trivia night! Our groups are our Service Learning partners. My teammates are Josie, Sunny, and Anders. All the different groups must have a distinct "style" or theme that symbolizes or emphasizes our personalities and group dynamic.

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The sky in Xizhou is an endless canvas tossed upon with colors. Some days it is pure, uninterrupted blue that stretches seamlessly. Dashes of white. Fire frenzies. Myriads of colors. Some nights it is a rich blue black, a furry blanket of lavish cobalt -- dotted with clouds. Stormy grey. Clear. Sprinkled with stars, ethereal blue. Scudding clouds. The pellucid azure dome is mesmerizing. This blue vault, locked every one of our thoughts, our dreams, our secrets. And ignorant people say "it's only the sky". It's not only the sky in Xizhou. 

 

 
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Today Josie, Anders, Sunny, and I enjoyed afternoon tea with Mr. Li at his house. Not only did we drink the tea, but we were taught how to make the tea. The first step was to use a hammer and crack open the walnuts. Then, we would use a cheese-like shredder to grate the walnuts in order to create walnut flakes. While we were doing this, Mr.

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Today all 16 Microcampus students have been given the opportunity to visit two places: the tie-dye village in Zhoucheng or the wind farm. I chose to explore the wind farm because there are enormous windmills with sails or vanes that whirl in the wind and generate power to grind grain into flour. Machinery at its finest. I can not wait to stand over the towering hills and see the windmills and acres and acres of glaucous grass below. This afternoon will definitely be a memorable adventure! 

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Today was our first day of legitimate field work at Microcampus! Mr. Chen was my teacher support for my topic: Government Graffiti and Wall Propaganda Messages in Xizhou. Mr. Chen and I walked down to the Ficus tree and entered Dong An Men, which led us to a small tie-dye textile shop next to a cheese workshop. It was there that I met Mr. Yin, the blithe owner of exquisite textiles. Mr. Yin is the husband of Zhang Jie, who is an employee at the cheese workshop. Mr. Yin is the fourth generation of the Yin family and has been living in Xizhou all his life.

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Today I had lunch out with Austin, Sunny, and Anders. We walked through Si Fang Jie with an anchored concentration on establishing new connections with the locals in Xizhou. We walked through artistic intricate tie-dye textiles on the south-east street of Si Fang Jie. When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted by Shun 爷爷 who asked us enthusiastically to come and enjoy a meal.

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Today all 16 Voyagers received our official biking certification in order to ride around Xizhou! We were split into two groups, girls and boys, for our cycling practice and test. We learned about the acronym S.A.F.E which stands for space (between the road, sidewalk, and people around you), avoidance (from obstacles), focus (on biking), and effective communication (between the other Voyagers). To ensure well-being we used many phrases and signals while navigating the Xizhou village.

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I never understood what complete silence actually meant until I stared at the sun setting on the terrace. Mr. T brought all of us to the back courtyard of the Linden Centre and showed us a stone over thousands of years old sitting on the grass of a section of the courtyard. After that, he guided us up on the stairs of the rooftop, known as the Terrace, and we all pulled out chairs and sat down. It took my eyes about a whole minute to adjust to the absolutely breathtaking view. The field of the bright yellow canola plants stretched for miles and miles.

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Today the 2018 Microcampus Puxi Voyagers group arrived in Dali. After we picked up our luggage we walked towards the bus station and were greeted by our bus driver Mr. Du. We were given a challenge by Mr. T to load 18 suitcases onto the bus without the help of adults. We went through many trial and error phases, where we kept rotating the largest suitcases or trying to squish the smaller suitcases inside. After we finally accomplished the task, we all went on the bus. During our ride from Dali to Xizhou, we had a surprise visitor Max (aka Mr.

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Microcampus is a journey I've been looking forward to since sixth grade. Previous eighth graders have told me how Microcampus altered their perspectives and modified themselves as active members of the future generation. I looked up to them with admiration -- desperately hoping that when I transition to an eighth grader, I'll be able to undergo the Mircrocampus experience. Now here I am, an SAS Puxi representative of the 2018 Microcampus trip! 

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My name is Sonia, and I am 14 years old. I was born in Canada, however, I was raised in Shanghai. My hobbies include basketball, touch rugby, volleyball, writing, and reading. I acquire a thirst for learning and new opportunities. I was in Xizhou immersing myself in a new culture and remarkable, powerful, stoical, generous community. A community of people with wisdom, erudition, and philosophy to share, and lives with stories worth listening.