Sabrina C. (Alumni-A)'s Journal

I came to Microcampus for its natural beauty, the culture of minority groups, to learn to be independent and test my abilities. This is what I said attracted me the most about going on the Microcampus trip the first time I head about it. But going on Microcampus turned out to be much more than that. I'm here not just to learn, but to learn the process of learning, hw to truly focus on the process and not just the outcome, how to enjoy every moment of learning at the Microcampus, not just for the sake of "getting it done".

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Today is the last day. I still can't believe it. Four weeks has flown by so fast, I feel as if I have been here for only a few days, not four weeks. In an hour or so, we will be leaving this place. The Linden Center, Xizhou Village and everyone here. I read back to my first entry on the first day at Microcampus. "For someone who just left a metropolitan city with its grey skies, massive buildings and crowded the streets, I felt I have arrived at a different world." Is what I wrote. Have I arrived at a different world?

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Today, we skyped in a second time to school at Microcampus! We are connecting with the parents principal coffee today. I was so excited about seeing my mom and other parents at the coffee. But sadly, we were connected to the LMC big screen and only they can see us but we can't  see them. Ms. Stagg brought her computer up to the terrace, and we gathered around it, answering questions in turn and moving around the computer so the parents can see us and the view behind us. I was asked several questions about my life at Microcampus.

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Food in Xizhou is something that I know I will definitely miss when I return to Shanghai. The breakfast fruit is absolutely delicious. I enjoy eating the most out of all. It is crispy, juicy and tasty. Trying out food in SiFang Jie is another experience that is another wonderful experience. I've found a vendor at SiFang Jie who sells the most delicious wonton soup and mixian (thin noodle) soup. It is neither oily or too salty. Her noodles are chewy and probably hand made. I can't believe I won't be able to eat her noodle soup again once I go back to Shanghai!

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Smores! Last night, I ate my first smore! Now I understand why everyone could not stop exclaiming how tasty a smore is! It was absolutely amazing. Best of all, we made it over a camp fire! At 7:30, we headed out to Erhai lake and stopped at a clearing next to the lake. The camping trip to the tea plantation had been fun, but the camp site did not allow us to burn a fire. We can here though! Around half of the group who is staying for night pitched their tents around the ring of trees surrounding the lake while the rest of the half scored the clearing for dried leaves and branches.

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The next morning was simply hustle, hustle, hustle. We had to pack our bags and assemble our tents early in the morning and began heading downhill to our bus. Maybe we are all use to hiking and with the memory of hiking up with our full camping bags still fresh in our minds, going downhill turned out to a be a little more then a slightly tiring walk. Li Ping was waiting for us on a bus down at the bottom of the mountain.

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We have finally returned from our two day camping trip! This is the first time I have ever done something like this, and I have to say, it had been a good experience. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from this trip on backpacking is to pack light. I cannot believe how heavy a backpack with just two days amount of supplies and tenting equipment can weigh! The hike up to our camp site beside the tea plantation in the Cang Shan Mountain was simply put - torture. Weighed down by our overloaded backpacks, heading up an uneven stone path in the heat of the day was strenuous.

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My parents have left! I feel so sad that parents weekend is over. I returned back to the Linden Center while they are staying an extra two days at Dali Old Town. I think that the best part of parents weekend is being able to talk and discuss with my parents. It felt wonderful just being able to spend time with my family, telling them about how my time at Microcampus so far. At first, I felt like I do not miss my parents very mcuh during Microcampus.

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Parents weekend had come and gone. It had been so fun though! I was so happy to see my parents again, after not being able to see my mom for two weeks and my dad for over a month! I felt so excited, being able to show them the place I have stayed for two weeks. My parents had never seen a place like the Linden Center before, and as I thought, they loved it all most immediately. I brought them up to the terrace. Despite the cloudy night, stars still hung in the night, and for people who had just left Shanghai, it was amazing. 

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Today was so exciting, Yanzi, the tea expert here brought me to watch a tea ceremony here at Xizhou. The Yen family is one of the wealthiest families in Xizhou. There grand courtyard house is now open for tourist attractions. The main point of the whole excursion is for me to be able to see what a tea ceremony especially designed for tourists looks like. When Audrey and I stepped through the front gates into the main courtyard of the house, a hoard of people were striding around, hurriedly snapping photos and admiring the potted plants placed around the corners.

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Today is Saturday! I managed to arrive at the Linden Center half an hour before breakfast and started on my inquiry project. By the way, I forgot to mention, but Mr. Latzke is here! He arrived yesterday and I saw him at the Center after returning from my bike trip. After lunch, Mr. T. brought me to meet Mr. Duan, I retired soldier and government worker. He loves drinking tea every morning, therefore I wanted to interview him for my Inquiry Project. We took our bikes and biked to the tongue of Er Hai lake. We arrived at a piece of cool, peaceful bamboo forest. Mr.

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Happy Easter! Its Easter Sunday! Today, we celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt around the Linden Center. Our Evening Programmers for tonight, Madeline C. and Katie arranged the hunt. To tell the truth, I have very limited experience with Easter egg hunting, and this hunt is certainly not easy! My team (Audrey, Vella and I) were assigned to search blue and orange plastic eggs. I contributed the chocolate inside the plastic eggs!

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A normal work day. Even though it is Saturday, we still arrived at the Linden Center early in the morning and spent the day working on our Inquiry Projects, Service Learning and school work. Despite feeling slightly upset that Saturday has to be spent hard at work, I did feel good after finishing so much work!

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The next morning after an early breakfast, my parents and I went on a tour around Xizhou village led by Mr. Brian Linden. My parents were really happy to be able to see the village that I told them about for so long. It turned out that I did not really know a lot about the people of Xizhou. Mr. LInden is friends with so many! He led us to one of the houses where a man named Mr. Dong and his wife lives. Mr. Dong is an intellectual, he loves drawing, writing and music. Mr. Linden told us a bit about his story. Apparently Mr. Dong had lived in this courtyard house for all his life.

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Today was more of a normal school day. I managed to finish quite a lot! At night, we had a "dance party". Mr. David Sutton, a professor from Stanford taught us so many new moves! Dancing is one of his favorite hobbies, and he taught us how to salsa, waltz and do the two-step. I now understand what my father meant when he said very intelligent people are not what I always consider as being one-sided but have many interesting hobbies!

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A busy day today. I took my math quiz, finally got that finished! It was pretty interesting, since we all had to separate for taking the quiz. I got sent to the terrace! What better then to enjoy the afternoon sun and the green fields when you have to take a quiz? Kate collected the quizzes and scanned it into the printer to send to Mr. Claassen. Wonder how I did? I guess it is an interesting way to take a quiz!

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Early in the morning we headed out to Shaping Market around a half hour drive away. The large open-air market comes to this area near Xizhou once  a week, for the people to sell their wares. When we got there, the site that greeted me is what I can plainly describe as chaotic. People with baskets filled with items filled the narrow pathways among the stalls. Cars and buses stopped at the road beside the market, with more people heading towards the market. Mr. Tafel allowed us around 30 minutes to walk around the market.

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Today is Sunday! It is nice to rest and catch up on your work for a whole day. I enjoyed the break and quietness. Alright, maybe not quietness. A group of high school boys from an international school came today. They are so noisy! Now I understand why Mr. Tafel constantly tells us to quiet down while at the Linden Center. I hope the guests do not find us too loud!

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It's the weekend! I cannot believe it, it has already been exactly one week at Microcampus. After a slightly later breakfast, I spent the morning working on my computer at Wellness Plan. Then follows a quick lunch at Si Fang Jie with Mirabel, Maddie and Meera, and then back at the Linden Center, Around 3 in the afternoon, Audrey and I decided to take a bike ride around Xizhou as one of our Wellness Plan activity. This is my second time on a bike at Xizhou, and I must say, I think I improved quite a bit!

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We went to a tea plantation! I'm so excited, since tea culture is my inquiry project topic here at Microcampus. The tea plantation turned out to be slightly smaller then I thought, but it is still huge! The tea plants covered a small part of the mountain, growing it neat rows of bright green. The lady working there showed us what parts of the plant should be picked and used for making tea. The ideal tea plant is one closed leaf and one open leaf. Then with a basket in hand, we separated into groups of two to had out to the plant fields.

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This morning of solitude and silence I saw yet another scene that is just so incredible. I was facing east this time, as the morning was cloudy and I can look out to the bean fields to my east without squinting from the sun. Everything was so quite and calm, and as I watched the sun and clouds slowly began to shift. Still party obscured, sunlight filtered from the clouds, the rays of light coming in shafts onto the fields, the mountains and the low buildings that surrounds us. The mountains looked like it was painting with a watercolor brush – a rising and falling sea of gray.

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We are slowly settling in our weekly schedule here at Microcampus. Yesterday, we had our first video chat with the students back in Shanghai in order to hear the lecture from Carl Wilkins. I just couldn't believe that though we are in a little village in Yunnan province, yet we're still able to take class with students in Shanghai! Not to mention our new classroom that is waiting for us right here at Xizhou village. Every morning after breakfast, we come to the Terrace for what I call the early morning silence.

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Here I am, my second day at Xizhou Village. Still a little tired from the bike ride yesterday! Most of the Microcampus group took the route to the lake or to the temple. Unfortunately, my bike riding skill turned out to be pretty limited and I had to take another easier route with Ms. Stagg. Even though I didn't get to see the lake or temple, but it was still fun cruising along the smooth pavement road through the fields. I love looking at the seemingly endless rows of bright green bean plants and at the farmers hard at work over their crops in the afternoon sun.

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After a three hour plane ride and a rather uncomfortable five hour bus ride, we have finally arrived at Xizhou. I barely payed attention to anything the first few steps from the bus, only too glad to be out in fresh air and on my legs again. It wasn't until a little while later until I first began to notice my surroundings. For someone who just left a metropolitan city with its grey skies, massive buildings and crowded the streets, I felt I have arrived at a different world. The first thing I noticed was the outer walls of the low houses that surrounded us.

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Hi, my name is Sabrina and I'm currently a Sophomore at Shanghai American School. I was in the Alpha Pilot Group of Microcampus two years ago studying Bai minority tea culture. At first, my project was focused on studying minority tea practices, but my focus slowly changed as I realized one of the most interesting aspect of tea culture is the effect tourism has on it today. Please feel free to look through my blog posts and project! The Friends of Xizhou club this year hopes to bring projects related to Microcampus to SAS High School. For the current and future Microcampus group, good luck! You have a short but amazing four weeks ahead of you and there could not be a better place then Xizhou for Microcampus.