Our service learning partner was named Mr. Zhang. He is a 74 year old barber, and has been cutting hair for 50 years. Prior to that, Mr. Zhang was in the army, which he joined after graduating from middle school. He has two kids, and eight siblings. Mr. Zhang did not really like talking about the history of Xizhou, and the historical events in his life, and he often said that there were not any historical events. However, he did talk a lot about reform and opening, so we focused our video on that. Mr. Zhang thought of the reforms as a good thing, he said that it made life and business better in Xizhou.
From Mr. Zhang, I learned about his opinions, and about life during important events in Chinese history. Mr. Zhang is a man who loves his trade and his business. His father and grandfather were both barbers, and cutting hair is his hobby and profession. We learned that during the reform and opening period, Mr. Zhang was very happy with the way business was improving, and he kept talking about how the reforms helped business whenever we asked him about the changes during reform and opening. Mr. Zhang is, as I said before, and avid businessman, and said once that the best times in life are when he has a greater income. I also learned a lot about history from Mr. Zhang. Mr. Zhang said that the Cultural Revolution did not really affect Xizhou, however, he taught us that other historical events influencing 20th century China did. He taught us that during the Great Leap Forward, people in Xizhou were starving, the economy was wrecked, and the fields were destroyed. He taught us that the reform and opening period made life improve dramatically in Xizhou, and the economy bloomed. He also said that after reform and opening, there were more job opportunities and more ways to make money. About 20th century China, I learned about the economy, and about historical events. Having stayed in Xizhou for most of the 20th century, Mr. Zhang just knew about events in Xizhou. He would talk about the Great Leap Forward and talk about how bad life was back then, and how good it was during and after reform. He would not talk about the cultural revolution, so all I learned about 20th century China was about the Great Leap Forward and Reform and Opening.
Mr. Zhang did not come to the presentation of the service learning videos, because he did not want to. However, we visited him on May 14th 2015, Day 27 of our trip, one day after the presentation. Just before lunch, we walked up to his shop, but he was cutting someone's hair, so we left. We went back to the shop at 12:40 or so and it was in the middle of the day so the heat was intense. He said to come in, finished cutting someone's hair, and sat down. We put turned on the video, and as the video started he asked what were the words were on the intro slides of the videos. I explained, and then we watched the video.
Before we started, William B. gave him a disk with our video and explained if his kids had computers, they could view it on this disk. Mr. Zhang, during our video, went through a lot of emotions. He was interested for the whole video, sitting forward in his seat and watching the screen. However, at the start, he was laughing. When we reached the part where we talked about the Great Leap Forward and the 100 Flowers Movement, his eyes were watery and his mouth quivering, and then at the end, he appeared happy. When we finished, we said thank you a lot, and so did he. We gave him a basket of fruits, said thank you again, and we left.
For future Microcampus students, I have three recommendations that will make your service learning amazing. First, storyboard. Write out what story you want to tell, write out what you want to learn, and what you want to share. This will help your video become exponentially better than if you just share facts about him Second, give your elder time. When interviewing your elder, ask a question, wait for his answer, but do not ask another question straight away. Let him/her think for a couple of seconds and the elder will elaborate and give more information. Three, find an elder and confirm he/she has not been done early so you have more time for editing and for interviewing, as well as translations. Overall, Service Learning is a fun, enlightening project, but if you do not stay on top of your work, it will become extremely stressful.