Clark W. (Alumni-V)'s Journal

Microcampus begins and ends today. This is the end of our journey together as 16 students for 28 days, but also the beginning of our own individual adventures. I look to this as a memory of the past, as the present, and as my distant future.
 
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On the star terrace, we stared at the sky.

The night sky, so distant, so beautiful, so clear, so bright.

Tomorrow we leave, to go on our new adventures. I still remember our second day, when we finished our tour around Xizhou and all sat on the terrace. Leaving Xizhou is hard, but I will not miss Xizhou. I know that I will come back, after saying goodbye to all who supported me and helped me along the way. They are all so welcoming and hospitable, the best host one could ever have for Microcampus.

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There was a ghost.

I was playing cards with Lily H. and Aria F. in the dark, undisturbed. Only light source was Lily's computer.

We did this in order to not get noticed by others, so then we can have some quiet time and space.

Before this happened, we opened the lights to check the room. The side door in Classroom 2 was closed. Windows all closed.

Yet when we were about to leave the room at 8:24 and opened up the lights to clean up, we found the side door open. One of the windows slid open as well.

The wind was never strong tonight.

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This week is about gratitude, thanking the community. One big part of this is to create a Service Learning project, where we preserve the history and the interesting stories of the elders in the village of Xizhou. As we slowly approach the ending of the Microcampus experience, everyone is more likely to become emotional and collapse. We know that most of us just want all of us to be successful, but most often we take different approaches, and that creates a lot of argument. 

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Three quarters. Already. 6 days left.
 
I am beginning to become afraid of going back to Shanghai. And the first reason is because Xizhou food is unexpectedly great (my parents and grandparents kept on exaggerating on how spicy Yunnan food can be in order to make me miss food back home…).
 
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Yesterday, we visited Yang NaiNai again. This time, we brought two cameras: one for the interview and chat, the other for B-rolling. My job was to capture some scenery footage, some street footage, some tie-dyeing footage, and some pedestrain footage.

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Yesterday night, the whole voyagers crew received the golden ticket to Dali Old Town. We travelled by bus to this, by name, exotic and mysterious town. As most of us had expected, Dali Old Town had been highly commercialized for tourism purposes. The Old Town was not so much of an "Old" Town even though it is called Dali Old Town. After our arrival, we were given the opportunity to explore on our own. My group and I decided to walk around first, because none of us were hungry for dinner.

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Yesterday, I completed my last field research and finished all requirements for my Phase 3 work. I submitted the document (and prayed for the Wifi to work), then went for a walk with Alex K. and Anders L.. After we passed Ranyixiang and turned a left, rain started pouring down on us. Although all three of us had our rain gear, we decided to let the rain drain down on us, and wash off all the leftover sore, all the stress, as well as wake us up from the constant working environment. Unfortunately, we were all freezing when we got back.

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Yesterday was a fabulous day, where we were able to make a lot of progress with our service learning partner. Despite the complications and hardships, I managed to coordinate all four members and three of us successfully left Yangzhuoran at 12:35, meeting with the fourth member, who ate out, at Sifangjie at 12:42. By 12:50, we arrived at Yang NaiNai's place and set up our camera shooting. At the time, only Yang NaiNai's daughter was at the stall, sewing the tie-dye. At 1:00 exactly, Yang NaiNai came and was super excited about our first shooting.

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Wifi is still important at Microcampus, even when we do not have smart phones.

Saving inquiry project progress. Needs Wifi. Writing my journal. Needs Wifi. Uploading videos. Needs Wifi. Doing SAS Essentials. Needs Wifi.

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I am going to talk about our amazing hike (6 hours 40 minutes) yesterday. Our hike from Zhong He Si to Gan Tong Si via the Jade Belt can be split into three phases.

The first phase: physical endurance.

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Tomorrow is the hike!

Yesterday night, for evening activity, we practiced setting up tents in the Microcampus official way. Sophie was really excited about her own tent and often helped around, helping us flatten when it was time to clean up the courtyard and get ready for parent contact time. Today in the evening, we will be packing for our 4 hour 30 minutes hike. My second waterbottle will finally be useful at the time! Unfortunately, both of my waterbottles are huge and cumbersome, a possible burden during the march tomorrow.

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What is intermediate syndrome? It is where slightly grown amateurs become over-confident and careless in just as dangerous or risky situations. At Microcampus, the intermediate syndrome usually occurs between weeks 2 to 3. I am a real-life example of the Microcampus intermediate syndrome patient, and soon you will see why. By the way, I think I also shed the "first blood" in the voyagers crew.

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Life at Microcampus is like decoding binary numbers. Binary numbers seem simple and straightforward, yet they are actually abstract and complex. Yes, they have patterns but occassionally more random than ever. They have ups and downs: sometimes increasing dramatically, other times only adding up by one-digit numbers. As we approach the second binary number day in Microcampus, this marks a new week with new adventures, new experiences, and new connections.

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Yesterday, we had a lot of downtime. I spent most of the time with Sunny Q. and Austin Z. to play cards, then went out and chatted with some of the members in the Xizhou community near the temple. Later, I spent still time on the terrace and looked at this one frail plant surviving on the roof. It seemed lost and lonely, as its leaves flushed in the wind. For evening activity, we finished Kungfu panda 3 and a few of us became addicted to the song "Kungfu fighting".

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The first weekend finally arrived! In the morning, I woke up 30 minutes later than usual and then did some wake-up reading. As we slowly settled down into our new home, Yangzhuoran, we were introduced to more and more impending projects (and with it, stress). Today, Mr. T gave his so-called boring "150 years in 150 minutes" lecture about modern Chinese history in order to establish a foundation for our service learning project, where we will have to connect with an elder in the Xizhou community and create a small video together.

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Looking back to yesterday, my visit to the Yan Family museum led me to a completely new direction: antique furnitures. Now I'm being pulled to porcelain and furniture at the same time. I hate this feeling of indecision because it makes me feel unproductive. After my visit to the museum, I went on a jog-walk with my friedns. We got side-tracked after a few minutes but we got to see a lot of farmers working in the canola fields, spraying the pesticides. Unfortunately, this will create nitrogen pollution and devastate Erhai in a gradual process.

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And yes, we are officially stepping into Day 5 of Microcampus. Today is when all the excitement and anxiety crashes through; with field work (Phase 3) starting in Xizhou and a second attempt at a perfect WIPPIS. Since the last daily meeting, we drastically improved at the "verbal virus" situation. (For your information, verbal viruses are random phrases that people are used to saying before starting a sentence. For example: so, ummm, uhh, well, then, etc.) Clearly, we had brushed our teeth more often and gotten rid of those disgusting little germs.

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Today I woke up to my little pink smiley alarm clock at 6:45 and opened up my lazy eyes then got up for breakfast. In the past few days, I always ate Er Si, a traditional Yunnan dish, so I decided to change my eating habits and try a few more western foods today. The highlight of the day is probably my committee work. Even though there were lots for us to complete, I got through most of the challenges and never procrastinated.

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Today we had our first WIPPIS cycle, but it has been rather unstructured. For wellness, we had our bicycle ride to Erhai, which was an opportunity for us to all practice our riding skills and win the "Microcampus international bike riding association certification". After some sharp turns and a long ride along the fields, we arrived at a corner of the Erhai lake. When we travelled back, the route was a lot more complicated and some of us doubted whether or not we could come to Erhai lake and successfully get back by ourselves.

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Today is the first full day at Xizhou. In the morning, I had my first dish duty and learned about some of the basics we have to do in the kitchen. As my teammates and I weren't very experienced with washing dishes, we spent 10 minutes extra in the kitchen, so we missed part of our unpacking time. Later, we started exploring our new home, Yangzhuoran, and the Xizhou village. The tour covered many landmarks: the ficus tree, the wet market, the agricultural bank, sifangjie and so on.

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Today I arrived in Xizhou! The plane ride was better off than I expected; I thought my ears would have this painful reaction. Fortunately, it did not. After we, the Voyagers crew, went out of the airport, we encountered our first challenge. Mr. Tafel told us to load our 18 suitcases onto the bus without the help of the bus driver, with Anders L. as the director of this "operation". At first, we thought it would be an extremely easy task.

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This is my first journal on the Microcampus site!

So excited.

I am a Microcampus student from the V group called Clark, and I am extremely excited about my Microcampus experience.  After my fellow V group students and I were assembled into a Skype chat, I began feeling like all of us are a community ready for challenges ahead of us.  Apparently, what I am writing now is a part of this challenge, to record my feelings before, during and after the trip.  

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Hey I am Clark! Microcampus has been a spectacular experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. This experience transformed me and taught me many life lessons. Now that I am in Shanghai, I miss the clear skies, the amazing food, and all the loving memories the Voyagers crew had together. To future Microcampus students: cherish your time in Xizhou and always listen to Mr. T and Ms. Mai, as they are trying to stop a problem before it becomes one.