Audrey C. (Alumni-A)'s Journal

Our last day here was bittersweet; sad that we had to leave, yet happy that I had a good experience here and could take the memories back home with me. I think that this trip helped me realize a lot about myself, such as that I don't like change at first, but will get used to it and even enjoy it after a while. I also realized that I love a diverse city like Shanghai, but enjoy the peacefulness and view of XiZhou too. I think I will want to come back to this place again. It's remarkable how such a tiny village changed us.

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Thursday, two days before we leave. Today, I thought about the things here in XiZhou that I'll miss. People. I'll miss all the people at the Linden Center for being so friendly, welcoming, and helpful thoughout the while microcampus. As well, I'll miss the friendly attitude of the workers on the farm, and how they say 'hi' back when we say hi. Weather and skies. The skies are blue and the clouds are white. It's sunny with the occasional cool breezes.

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I went to ZhouCheng today to answer a question in my phase 3 and take pictures of Bai clothes. We visited numerous shops, and I was kinda disappointed to find out that most of the embroidery on the clothes is machine made. I guess machines are more efficient. I saw headdresses, blouses, skirts, trousers, and belts. The embroidery was mostly done in red or pink, but there was also some blue and multicolored ones. And though Bai clothing in general isn't my inquiry project, I learned what the headress the women wear symbolize.

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Interesting day today. I went to Sha Chun today to see traditional Bai embroidery, but they didn't have much. The tailors told me to go to Zhou Cheng instead, where they have more garments. I plan to go there tomorrow. But today was the first day that I rode a tuk-tuk here. After that, I went with Sabrina to see a tea ceremony performed, but the ceremony was altered for tourism. The tea wasn't the main aspect of it, the performances while we were drinking the tea was.

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We went to a part of Lake Erhai to pick up trash yesterday. It's a shame that such a beautiful place contains so much plastic wrappers and used tissues. We worked with some local kids from XiZhou middle school, and we got a XiZhou Volunteer hat to commemorate the event. However, the horse cart that we took there and back made me a little dizzy, as part of the road wasn't made of smooth concrete but of dry mud and rocks. We had gloves and trash bags, and I managed to fill two bags before we had to leave. I also found a ripped up burlap bag, but grass was growing on top of it!

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Happy Easter! I was relieved that I got to wake up later today, and I rested and took a break from work. Egg hunt today. Organized by Katie and Madeline C, we had to look for plastic eggs that were color coded with chocolate inside supplied by Sabrina. My team (Me, Madeleine V, and Sabrina) had to look for orange and blue eggs, and we finished first, before the other teams. It was an exciting event, as we don't really have scavenger hunts planned in the evenings. I'm glad I have chocolate to eat now. Some of it was hidden in plain sight, while others were in more discreet places.

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We were recovering from our tiredness during the camping trip. I thought now was a great time to catch up on my work, and I discovered an amaxing book about the Miao/Hmong embroidery on clothing in the Yunnan area. It was useful, and I want to scan some of the pictures. The patterns are so cool! I liked the geometric ones. I also reviewed my interview with a Miao lady selling embroidery, and I've posted pictures here (though it might be blurry due to camera settings). Please check out my inquiry project pages!

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There's not much to write about today. I packed for the upcoming camping trip, and tried to stuff everything in my 50L bag without it getting overly heavy (I had to bring a tent too!) or full. I had to re-pack about three times so I could compress and squish everything together. Also, when I went to learn to embroider, I asked questions relevant to my inquiry project, and though they're not a video recording, you'll see it soon if you keep on checking my inquiry project pages. I answered some of the questions in phase 1 (info will be on phase 3).

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DAY SEVENTEEN: Camping and hiking! We left after lunch on Tuesday, first took a bus into Dali old town. We went to a supermarket and bought our 'groceries', food to eat for dinner and lunch tomorrow. Sabrina and I bought two packs of dried beef (turned out useless because it was immensely spicy), apples, dried yams (very, very hard to chew), almonds, coconut bread, and water. The hike was tiring, but not overly exhausting; I think using my hiking stick helped. However, going uphill with a 50L backpack made me feel weighed down.

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I woke up in a tent to a sunrise (I was camping yesterday night). Bryce discovered embers that hadn't completely burned out from yesterday's fire, and we worked to bring the fire back. I looked for dry driftwood, and after we succeeded in re-making the fire, we packed up our tents, sleeping bags, and returned to the Linden Center for breakfast. I didn't exactly sleep well last night, so I was super tired, but exceptionally hungry too. I ate a fried egg, a pancake, three mini slices of whole wheat bread, a banana, a small piece of bacon, and a cup of green tea for breakfast.

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This is going to be a super long blog post. This afternoon, I went back to Happy Embroidery, and I asked some questions regarding my inquiry project. Ms. Li taught me how to do a basic embroidery stitch, and I worked on a red flower for a two hours and thirty minutes, only to accomplish a small fraction of the flower. Embroidering takes a really long time. As well, I learned how to get silk threads ready. First, you make sure they're smooth. Then, you loop part of it around your finger and start braiding it so it's easy to remove one single tread for embroidery.

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I have decided to change my inquiry project. My previous project wasn't working for me; I wasn't interested as I thought I was in the original topic. I changed it to the embroidery, and I'm considering whether to choose the process/creation of it or the economic aspect. Though it's already almost 2 weeks into Microcampus, I plan to work super hard on it, and I think I can get the project done properly with support from all of you. Please comment with ideas and any form of help you can offer! Thank you, I really appreciate it.

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We took a trip to ZhouCheng yesterday, and visited a textile place and practiced out sewing. We were supposed to stitch a butterfly based on the lines that were mrked for us, and once we finished, we were supposed to get it ready for the tie-dye process. The women who helped and taught us were of Bai minority, and wore traditional clothing. Though we didn't dye the cloth ourselves, I saw part of the process- they were soaked in a cauldron of blue dye. We took our cloths back home, but I have yet to see the finished product, as it's still drying.

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I went to visit a traditional Chinese herbalist doctor today afternoon. His clinic is a small room, with a shelf of drawers filled with cao yao, or herbal medicine. He explained to me about the 'five elements', or earth (tu), fire (huo), wood (mu), water (shui), and metal or gold (jin), and how they each relate to different parts of your body. Thave to work in harmony; this is the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. Anyways, there will be a more detailed description of what I fould out in my phase 2 part of my inquiry project.

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There isn't much to write about today; it was a 'normal' (... well as normal as it gets here) day. We did work, went to Si Fang Jie for lunch (I ate rice noodles and shared XiShou Ba Ba with Sabrina), took a math test, and took down our laundry. We watched a magic show and had dinner, while it rained indoors. We discussed smores and mints. Yeah, this is considered a 'normal', chill day. But I will explain about yesterday afternoon's trip to an ECE school in ZhouCheng, and the painful process of laundry with an old machine.

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Trip to ShaPing! We went shopping in ShaPing (pronounced somewhat similarly by the way). I walked around surveying the goods of the vendors in this weekly market. There was fresh produce, fruits, meat being butchered on the spot, local embroidery and jewelry, household items, plastic stuff like Crocs (fake?), buckets, et cetera, and sweet treats. After sampling several local biscuits and a wafer, I bought some crackers with sesame and sugar, as well as a sunflower seed biscuit. According to Madeline C.

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I slept in again, and then played pool. I'm getting better at it; the cue ball doesn't fall in the hole all the time anymore. I also practiced my calligraphy (yes, the horizontal line I learned last time). Sabrina and I went to Si Fang Jie (the square) for lunch, and ate wontons with clear soup. We tried a new food special to the Bai minority. It was a soup-pudding dessert, made with rice, rose sugar, and papaya. I enjoyed everything except for when I ate too much papaya, because I don't exactly enjoy the friut. But it was tasty overall and a new experience.

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 We finally got to wake up late... and do whatever we wanted the whole entire day. Mah-jong is actually pretty addicting, and I won a total of six games that day! I enjoyed that day because I didn't feel like I had to pay attention to the time. Sabrina and I went on a bike ride that afternoon, and I kept stopping to take photos of farmers and the lake. The road was smooth, so it wasn't that strenuous. I said 'ni hao' to about ten people, and they waved and said hi back.

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3/24/2011

We traveled to a slightly higher altitude to see the tea plantation and pick tea. The best tea leaves are the ones with one sharp (unfurled) and one normal leaf. We then 'cooked' the leaves to dry them in an open pit/wok thing. We had to wear gloves so our hands wouldn't get scorched, and we picked up leaves, dropped them back in, and repeated the process until we burned them. Yes, we burned tea leaves. Before they became burnt however, a lovely smell wafted out the pit/wok from the tea leaves.

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Today on the terrace, the view was amazing. The sun's rays filtered through the clouds in yellow, then orange-pink, illuminating the sky and casting a gentle glow on parts of the mountains. Clouds drifted across the sky leaving small gaps of blue. I think this was the warmest morning so far. I'll upload pictures as soon as I get a camera connector, I promise. After 'terrace time', Sabrina and I went on a photo hunt; we went from place to place within the Linden Center taking pictures. I was satisfied with almost all the pictures I took, that is, the pictures I took that I didn't delete.

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We went to Dali old town! There was restaurants, shops, and street vendors, as well as old buildings, willow tress, and a school. I took a ton of pictures. I know I keep mentioning pictures; be patient- they will come eventually! We visited the alleged home of Dali's best chocolate chip cookie, which I didn't try. But Sabrina did, and she said it was truly delicious. Katie, Sabrina, Madeleine V, Madeline C, Bryce, and I ate dinner at Stella's, a restaurant with asian pasta. Three bolognaise, one vegetable, and one mushroom saude was ordered, but the order was messed up.

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3/20/2011

Yesterday, while we ate at the Golden Flower Restaurant, we had an extremely interesting dinner conversation. At night, I played mah-jong with Katie, Madeline, and Sabrina. That's basically it. Oh yeah, I played table tennis. And I finally went to sleep earlier than 11:30.

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3/18/2011

We just had a delicious breakfast, some of the options being organic eggs, freshly made pancakes, banana bread, and fruits (it might be the high altitude, or the fact they they're naturally grown, but the banana peel has a slight, slight tinge of orange and the part next to the seeds are orangish instead of brown). The fruits here are great, I wish Shanghai's were organic too. It might seem like a weird question, but does the altitude affect the taste?

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Hi! My name is Audrey... I'm really excited about Microcampus. I've never been to an area like that, and I'm looking forward to the fresh air and nice weather. I hope to learn how the people there live, as well as exploring the area and comparing it to Shanghai. Hopefully, I'll gain a great experience out of this trip.