I was in a Service Learning group with Yannick, Sydney, and Sabrine, and our Service Learning partner was Mr. Yang (Yang ShaoWen). He is 69 years old and is an advocate for the preservation of Bai culture in the Yunnan area.
From the stories Mr. Yang told the insights he provided my group with, I have learned a lot about his life and the difficulties he has faced as a result of having fallen sick with meningitis when he was younger. However, I have also learned about how he pulled through and fell in love with music and culture, and how he ended up turning these passions into a career for himself. He deeply believes in one following their dreams.
He told us to aim high, study hard, and try our best. Mr. Yang also discussed the importance of authenticity. One must always be honest, as a good person is always an honest person and they will always go far in life.
I did not learn much about either Xizhou or 20th Century Chinese history, but I did learn a lot about the importance of the preservation of Bai culture in Yunnan, specifically in the preservation of Bai clothing. Young people nowadays tend not to want to wear the traditional Bai clothing, and so many shops nowadays tend not to sell it because the customer base is small. Mr. Yang has been featured on various news stations
It was absolutely incredible to get to share our video with Mr. Yang. We as a group poured our hearts into the making of it, and we spent hours and hours making rough cuts and writing out subtitles.
First, I think that it was really great to see the effort we put in pay off. I felt that our video was quite different, and it was nice to get to share that with the community.
Afterwards, it was also really great to hear from Mr. Yang about how much he liked the video we made and how impressed he was with it – he thought that Mr. T put it together. He was also very touched by the fact that we had included his song and both the cultural and personal aspects of his life and he said that he was very happy to have met us when he did. He even very graciously invited us to stay at his place if we ever returned to Xizhou.
I have a few recommendations for future Microcampus students who will be involved in a Service Learning project. First off, do not be afraid of talking to strangers on the street and taking that social risk, because all the locals are super friendly and they love meeting new students. Also, be sure to make lots and lots of connections before the workload becomes really heavy. Finally, in the actual making of the video, finalize the rough cut before transcribing and translating stuff, and be really supportive of the Chinese speaker in the group.