Holly D. (Alumni-U)'s Journal

Today was a day of inquiry, a day of exploration, and a day filled with wonder... Ms. Mai and I had decided to explore the path beyond the Linde Centre, not knowing exactly what we might find. What had awaited us was something I couldn't image, as we both turned the corner to find the unexpected. To our surprise, we had found a couple of textile shops displaying their own handmade, beautiful pieces of art. I knew I was in for a treat, for what I was about to find did infact, push my project forward for the better.
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I could ramble on and on about the great things here in Xizhou - the weather, the people, the environment - but one aspect of Xizhou's culture stands out: the food. From the rice noodles to then Ma La Tang, almost every dish I've encountered has made my mouth water. Today, however, I had experienced something even greater. Ana M. and I were searching for a place to eat lunch, and we stumbled upon a small restaurant of Hui cuisine. Restaurants owned by people of the Hui minority group can usually be spotted by the Arabic writing on their signs.
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Over the course of my 3 to 5 interviews,  every person I had talked to had recommended that I visit the local embroidery workshop, Happy Embroidery. This workshop was a two-minute walk from the Yangzhuoran, and being so close, I decided to set up a time for a class today. The class I took part in was affordable, fun, educational, and lasted for about two and a half hours. Henin C. joined me as well, for here entire project is focused on the technique and production of embroidery.
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It started with a rumbling vibrato, and the tables trembled in fear. A strange silhouette emerged from the shadows, half of his face masked with dark fabric. "Behold: the music of the night!" It did not matter that we were about to have dinner. We all knew: the half-faced Phantom had returned.
 
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The tourism industry has become a huge part of Xizhou's economy, especially in the past 4 years. Xizhou has witnessed rapid growth with a constant flow of people entering and leaving. As a part of my inquiry work, I investigated the positive and negative impacts of tourism in Xizhou on the environment and textile industry. The following of what I have written doesn't exactly relate to my topic, but ever since I heard the concept of tourism, I couldn't help wanting to find out more...
 
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It's an amazing experience to learn of someone's life story, to walk in their shoes, to live their life. You can never fully comprehend the nuances and complexities of another human's mind. Nevertheless, it's still a very valuable experience. Today I spoke to my first local contact, Mr. Duan, a textile artist that sells embroidery and fabric within the local market. My meeting with her was extremely helpful, as I learned many new things and made many new discoveries. As a part of my work in Phase 3, I interviewed Ms. Duan with the guidance of Ms. Mai, Mr. Chen, and Ms. Braverman.
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It's interesting how your surroundings can affect your mood. Today, Xizhou boasted clear skies, dangerously fluffy clouds, and air so fresh, Shanghai would be put to shame. Trees gently sway with the flow of the wind as songbirds dive through. It almost sounds too good to be true. Today was a perfect day, everyone was doing what was expected and we are slowly treating mistakes as opportunities for learning. Collectively, we're accustoming to the dynamic of the Microcampus schedule, and this is helping me feel right at home.
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Today, we had our first WIPPIS (Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, Still time) session. These five components are vital to the success we must earn here at Microcampus. I started out the afternoon with Inquiry project work, where I started to conduct the 3 to 5's we had planned throughout Phase 1 of the process. A 3 to 5 is an interview conducted with the range of 3 to 5 five people for about 3 to 5 minutes. These interviews took place for the purpose gaining familiarity within our local village and to find contacts that would help us through the research process.
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Although yesterday had been our first full day in Xizhou, today was when we finally started to get comfortable. I am slowly adapting the ways of Microcampus, and it has been a very interesting process. Day 3 was supposed to be our training bike ride, where we were to learn how to be safe and thus get our biking license. Unfortunately, that's not what happened: my group did not get our license. Only half the group had finished their inquiry project work that resulted in all of us having to stay home.
 
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Today was our first full day in Xizhou! Every one of my peers has considered this to be such an eventful day, with many new historical discoveries along the way. The main purpose of today was to get to know Xizhou, as we would soon be able to get around without a teacher guiding our way. Today was a day of exploration, and the first tour served the purpose of getting to know and understand our surroundings. Once we had reached the local market, our group stopped by a spice shop, and talked to the vendor about her products.

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Today marked the first day of our journey in Xizhou! It seems like just yesterday we started preparing for this very trip, and as quick as a lightning strike, the has passed right before very eyes. After spending half a day scrambling to the airport gates, stumbling through an active construction site, and finally settling into our rooms, we could finally say our journey was complete. Leaving Shanghai, I was filled with a mix of emotions: sad for leaving my friends and family, nervous for the journey that awaits, and excited to be able to go to the village of Xizhou.

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Hi Everyone! My name is Holly and I am so grateful to say that I am part of the "Ultimate" Microcampus Group. I am learning so much and am so lucky to experience life outside the Shanghai bubble. Not only am I focusing on a topic that I greatly enjoy, but I am able to make connections with the many locals I will soon get to know. This trip I am part of is an unforgettable experience and will "ultimately" be an amazing trip. See you guys in a month!