After we finished reading the articles, we've came up with several questions that we thought the interviewers must have asked:
1. What is your name?
2. What is your job?
3. What do you think about people now?
These are the possible service learning partners we've considered:
1. Xiao Hong, a woman whom Nina met along the streets and sat down to talk with multiple times
2. Mr. Zhao, a DongJing musician
3. Mrs. Zhao, a woman whom Kelly went to for inquiry
4. Ah Long, a man who ate sweet Baba whom Nina met on Sifang Jie
The name of our Elder partner is 严则敏, he is 74, and has two sons who work in Xia Guan.
The following questions are appropriate for our first interview:
• What is your full name?
• Do you have any grandchildren?
• What were some of your favorite moments of your life?
• How was life like in the past?
• Do you have any regrets?
• What are you proud of in your life?
• What was your job?
• What are some of your hobbies?
We are 曹圆圆, 戚兆龙, and 王恺琳. We are from the Shanghai American School and we are here to stay for a month. Here we have two major projects. One of them requires us to go out to the village and interview an elder. [shows partner paper] We hope you can be the bridge to us understanding this place better. Thank you so much.
We will meet at his house at 1pm. We would need cameras.
After our first interview, we came up with more questions:
• Do you like life now?
• Are you proud of your son?
• What do you think is better for the child, to put a lot of pressure or to give the child freedom?
• What stories were you told when you were young?
• Do you remember (Liberation, Great leap foward, Cultural Revolution, Reform and Opening)?
After our second interview, we came up with more questions:
• What were some differences in XiZhou?
• How did you feel when you sent your child away?
• What do you think about the Microcampus program?
Yan Ze Min is a retired farmer who was born and raised in Xizhou, Yunnan, and is currently 74 years old. He has two sons who are both working in XiaGuan, and a grandson who is around fifteen years old.
Mr. Yan does not clearly remember when he married his wife, but believes that they were brought together by fate and destiny. He claims that no two people are brought together for just any reason, and why we met him was an act of fate as well. He met his wife at a family gathering as the two families knew each other very well.
His happiest times were when he was married, when his two kids were born, as well as his childhood. He attended school at the Dali Er Zhong, or Dali Second Middle School, and his days mostly consisted of going to school, playing, coming home to eat, and playing some more. His favorite class was language class, as he loved to read and write Chinese.
Making Chinese sugar paintings is a hobby of Mr Yan, and he has been making them for roughly twenty years. He takes a board with drawings of animals, spins a pointer, and whatever it lands on is the animal he makes with the caramelized sugar. Because little children love his creations, he sells it to them. He can make the animals of the Chinese zodiac, a pomegranate, a Hulu, and the character Fu. Mr. Yan learned this skill from a Sichuan man when he was young. Later, he taught one of his sons to do the same as he had.
Mr. Yan does not play Mah Jong or draw, but he decides to use his free time to read the books available at home. He also likes to watch the news and find out about the events happening worldwide, although events like the Kunming Train Shooting do not affect him personally.
He spends most of his day at home, with very little to do, but he remembers those days when he was too busy to even sit down. He loved his childhood, as he was a healthy young boy that grew up to be a strong man. “When I was a young man, I would be away from home. Despite that, I still went home to visit my family once every couple of months.”
Mr. Yan says that the key to a happy lifestyle is to make sure you eat well and stay healthy, but you must also do well in school and study hard. “To stay healthy I ate meat with rice. I did not have the chance to buy many fruits or vegetables back then, but I was still healthy and happy. I also did not run or exercise. I take walks to stay healthy.”
“Young people should not have any regrets.” Mr. Yan says he, himself, does not have any regrets, and that a healthy life will contributes to that.
When speaking about his children, Mr. Yan stated that even though he did not want his children to grow up and leave, he was glad to watch them develop their character. He also agreed that he, nor any other parent, could teach their children their mistakes and morals. Children have to have their own experiences and make their own mistakes to learn about life and the way it works. “God bless parents’ hearts. We all want one thing for our children, and that is for them to have a good life.”
Because Mr. Yan is getting older, sometimes he visits the hospital to make sure he is doing all right, or to diagnose a sickness. Despite his growing weakness, he manages stay happy.
Mr. Yan only had a middle school education. After he graduated, he left school to work and farm the land. Since then, he would go everyday to work. Now, he is too old to work. Although he did not have much of an education, Mr. Yan advised us to finish middle school, high school, and university. Then, he advised us to continue to learn and get a Master’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree.
Mr. Yan used to play basketball as well as hacky sack, and used to be able to maintain the hacky sack for about 45 kicks. He also explained how to do it, “you first throw it up in the air, and then you take the [right] foot and kick. One, two, three.”
“As a child, my main goal was to just do well in school and get good grades. That is what mattered to me.” When Mr. Yan was asked about the increase of pressure that some children feel from their parents, he replied, “I want my children to be both family oriented and successful.”
These days, Mr. Yan enjoys a quiet and sedentary life in his home. His cheerfulness welcomes anyone and everyone to his home, as the young children of Xizhou remind him of his grandchildren, and he treats them like so.
Our service learning partner was Mr. Yan, who is 74 years old and is a retired farmer.
From this experience, I learned that Mr. Yan is a very kind man. He loves living, and believes that to live itself is a source of happiness. He is very laid back, and though he still cares about what happens around the world he has very little opinion on it.
Mr. Yan was slightly reluctant to talk about XiZhou's history and his experiences. From his expression of opinions, however, I infer that before reform and opening, life in XiZhou was probably much harder. He informed us that baba used to not have meat in it. When he was a young child, he used to play the Jian Zi, basketball, and table tennis with his friends.
Today, as we shared our video with our service learning partner, he seemed very pleased and touched. It was interesting how everyone laughed as he praised the government. Afterwards, he seemed very glad and invited us to see him again. He said "You three are now my grandchildren. When you come here again, visit me." It was from the heart, and it rather touched me... Though maybe Mr. Yan does not have as "interesting" a story, but his emotions are human and real.
Mr. Yan did not seemed embarrassed. He accepted the video with joy, and when we asked him if he liked the video, he fervently nodded his head. It was really a source of happiness, knowing that he really enjoyed what we created together. When everyone laughed at his comment on "Socialism", I was quite mad and regretful. I did not consider the audience's reaction to this, and simply considered it interesting. Luckily, he didn't seem to mind, or at least hid any of his opinions from us.
I recommend future Microcampus students to take advantages of connections already made by chaperones or previous Microcampus students. For example, they can go to previous service learning partners and ask for their friends or relatives that are willing to help them. Another suggestion is to really make the experience personal, and share about yourself. It is also helpful to show your possible service learning partner previous service learning videos.