by Audrey, Cathleen, Jake, and Joanne
Our service-learning partner was Ms. Qin, a resident in Xizhou. She is 59 years old and is the owner of a small stand next to the highway, where she has been selling little items such as books and antiques for 30 years. She has endured many events in history, including the Cultural Revolution. Currently, she lives in Shaping, a place near Lake Erhai, and has 2 children.
As a result of the service-learning project, I learned many things and personal experiences from the past. Ms. Qin mentioned most of the hardships from both of when she was growing up and currently. I used to think of the past experiences of elders to be similar to mine, though now, I believe that I have gotten to know the life that Ms. Qin had to live. She had to have many jobs, including fishing and doing lots of physical labor; she also had to be away from home and family when she was 18 so that she could work at a commune elsewhere.
Furthermore, I learned much about the history of Xizhou as a result of conversing with Ms. Qin. Ms. Qin mentioned some things that happened specifically to Xizhou due to the effects of government decisions and the ripple effects that came with it.
By having a history lesson and talking with Ms. Qin, I learned much about the overall 20th Century Chinese history. Prior to the start of filming and talking with an active elder of the community, I had received a 150-minute long lecture on the 150 years of Chinese history. Specifically, I was taught on an objective view of much in the 20th Century, which already taught me much about the actual fact of what happened, though through Ms. Qin, I got to learn her perspective on such events like the Cultural Revolution.
Final Video Experience
It was a long day after preparing final and last-minute preparations in the morning, from burning DVDs to visiting our service-learning partner, Ms. Qin. Furthermore, the venue had changed, further complicating the already busy day. We arrived at Bao Chen Fu (the third site of the Linden Centre) and we helped our service-learning partner sit down. We watched one groups' video before standing up and arising to the stage. I was quite nervous before the event, though when I was currently there, there seemed to be no reason to be nervous. I sat down on one of the four chairs located in the front of the stage, watching the audience who were watching my service-learning video.
I stood up and introduced myself, both in English and my unfluent Chinese. I sat down and looked at the crowd. I could hear the introduction playing in the background and through the sounds and audio in the video, I could follow along with the video that I knew so well. I could predict the parts of which people would laugh, the parts where people would stare in awe, and the parts where people took the story to their hearts. Ms. Qin was looking at the video, muttering to herself that her vocabulary was not good, even though she did have a wide vocabulary range. She whispered a bit to another service-learning partner, Ms. Zhang, seated next to her, who was apparently her relative. I could see the glimpse of smiles in her eyes, the wrinkles that covered her face but not her young soul.
In my perspective, I thought she smiled because of the story she told and the effort we have put in to share that story. I sat on the chair, trying to present myself to seem less nervous or awkward as I was, folding my hands on my lap. Honestly, I did not know where to look in the crowd. There were so many people from so many places, including Microcampus students and their service-learning partners, guests from the Linden Centre, guests from the community, and even a previous Microcampus student with her family. It was a handful to look at, but while sitting there on the black, steel chair, I could see the light from our projecting video in their eyes and I could sense their minds taking those 4 minutes of Ms. Qing's story in.
Recommendations to future Microcampus Students
To future Microcampus students, I recommend looking at instructions and finding clarifications whenever possible. My group and I did not originally choose to converse with Ms. Qin, though our original service-learning partner had already been conversed and filmed with before. Furthermore, there was a miscommunication on how old Ms. Qin was since when we asked her the first time, she said she was 60, but later on, she said she was 59. If my group and I had clarified some issues previous to when the issue arose later on, then it could have been worked out in a simple manner.
Also, I recommend Microcampus students to keep in regards to their options. Rather than focusing inward towards the Microcampus group, always keep in mind of the community outwards. My group did not have many deep connections. While doing the work, we thought that we could just talk to someone who was open to questions and such. To increase the chances and availability of people, it is important to create more connections, and especially deep ones.
Lastly, even though this project is better suited for people who know Chinese fluently, it is important to remember that everyone has a different and unique skill set. Even though one may not be good at Chinese, they can be good at editing. It builds on the sense of cooperation and to act as a team member rather than individuals working together. When working, don't divide up the work or separately do things but do it together so that each step of the way is not done 4 times better in speed, but 4 times better in quality.