By Austin, Lily, Shiny, and Brandt
Mr. Du is an 74 year old elder within the village that currently resides in a hotel under construction next to YangZhouRuan. He was a wood carpenter ever since he was 16 and often had to work hours and hours per day. Although Xizhou wasn't under any direct military conflict, he remembers images from the Flying Tigers and the planes that would fly over Xizhou. He currently just lives a peaceful life and often spends his time doing water pipe smoking or playing Chinese chess. (He also eats his meals really early!)
We learned a number of things from Mr. Du, especially what it was like to live throughout the changes China faced in the 20th century. Especially the economic situations that were common throughout China and how it was like to survive under such harsh conditions.
I learned about Xizhou's role during many different important events during the history of China. The impact Xizhou faced during the Cultural Revolution, World War 2, and the Great Leap Foward. For example, during the Great Leap Foward, the lake was drained away to create more farming land.
We learned about the seriousness and effects of the different 20th century Chinese history events. Especially the life changes it had on the different citizens within Xizhou. I wish we could have learned more about other cities other than Xizhou and what they had to face.
On the day of the Service Learning, it felt like the intensity had been cranked up a few notches. For once, it wasn't just some sort of random celebration where everyone is there for fun, instead it was more about having gratitude for the history of Xizhou. Of course, in during the production process, many of us came down with bad cases of temper, but in the end, when we reached our goal, the tension would dissipate.
When Mr. Du first arrived to YangZhouRuan, to our surprise (although we shouldn't have been since he has lived so close for so long) he told us that he had been here when YangZhouRuan was only a few years old (YangZhouRuan is now 77 years old). He had nostalgic memories about the places where he used to play was now covered by other houses. We invited him into Classroom 1 after a while where the celebration was going to take place.
During the presentation, it felt a lot more intense then it should have been. While probably no one was actually paying attention to us, it still felt like we were in a court trial and that every movement would be recorded and analyzed. It interesting to watch Mr. Du's reaction throughout the video, he was nodding along throughout the video as if agreeing with everything his past self had stated. Especially when we reached the part about his hopes to the future, he smiled as if he finally could see his dreams come true in our young selves. The audience also seemed to be more quiet than usual because the overall theme of the video was rather on the sad side. Some of them been half-covering their mouths with their hands as if in shock about some of the stories Mr. Du had shared... The overall presentation was definitely a success!
In the future, I would advise other students to not be completely passive when asking questions as sometimes we started to recieve repeated answers because we sometimes didn't to push for more answers. Also, as much as it was understood to have more than one potential service learning partner, we sometimes spent a too much time on one person who ended up rejecting to become our service partner, so I would recommend to remember to visit at least x number of people per day and to have cohesion so you have more than one STRONG service learning partner. Finally, remember the B roll is best if it is still and not moving around, else your B roll might all be too blurry to use properly.