My service-learning partner was Mr. Ma. He is currently 82 years old and owns undergarment store. I have learned much about his childhood, as well as the struggles that many individuals have faced during the hard times during China’s revolutions. His education was something that surprised me, as he was sent to a teaching training school right after he graduated from middle school. It was also shocking when learning about a period in his life where food was scarce and clothes were hard to find. Although, I have not learned that much about Xizhou’s history as a result of this process, as our service learning partner lived most of his adult life in Kunming. We did understand that even though he lived in a large city, food was still scarce and barely anyone had a full stomach.
On the day that we shared our project with our service-learning partner, Mr. Ma, his daughter in law, and his granddaughter all came to visit. Mr. Ma was very interested in the history of BaoChengFu, and talked quite a lot about the architecture. He talked about how this place used to be a museum and a place for intellects and how he knew the owners son. Before it all started, he was very content with the situation and was quite outgoing. He seemed very happy and looked forward to the presentation.
When we showed his film, he looked at the screen with great interest, and we saw him wording what he said. He was probably shocked that his face was on the screen, but that made him more interested in the film. The topic that we discussed in the video was one that is very sensitive to a lot of the elders in this village, and it has been a great experience, with Mr. Ma willing to share his experience and his views of the past. Now that we have been provided the chance to know his story, we are grateful for him to come and view the final product.
For future Microcampus students, I would recommend them to make many connections from the beginning of their trip up until the end. This helps the experience to go by with multiple moments of wonder and knowledge. Additionally, I would remind future students to explore the village thoroughly, which would definitely enrich their month long experience. Finally, I would recommend them to think in ways that they haven’t thought of before in order to find a service learning partner. Building a relationship takes time, and sometimes, service-learning partners are closer than one would think. One just needs to think of the connections he or she has and simply reach out.