Alexis Y. (Alumni-P)'s Journal

There were many reasons why I chose to join the Microcampus program. When Mr. T first introduced the trip to me, I was intrigued by the place, XiZhou, and the activities that we would be doing. XiZhou is a small village in rural China, and I wanted to experience China "outside of the bubble." The other aspect of Microcampus that was particularly attractive to me was "expanding intercultural understanding". I wanted to develop critical independent learning skills that would help me communicate with different types of people.

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Our storyboard for the Service Learning video was due today. This morning, our group went through the stories that Mrs. Zhang told us, and we decided to start off with the most interesting story. Because she faced many hardships and challenges as the mother of 3 daughters, we decided to start off with the story of her neighbors abusing her. They made fun of her because she did not give birth to any sons. Our video starts off with all the challenges and difficulties in her life, but her life slowly gets better.

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Today at 3 P.M. in the afternoon, each Service Learning group brought over their partner to attend our small celebration. Sharing our Service Learning Video was definitely a different experience than all of the other things that we have done this trip. Watching the facial expressions of the other elders change as our story developed was quite fascinating. Even though we could not see our video, we could hear the words that were being said.

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Our Microcampus Group P celebrated the completion of our Inquiry Project Final Products and our Service Learning Videos with Mr. T's All-Star Wiz Bang Super-Duper Trivia Night. This took place during evening activities time, and all 15 Microcampus students, along with Mr. T, Ms. Mai, and Sophie were gathered in Classroom 2.

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“When you are leaving the party, it’s the worst time to fart.” During our daily meeting today, Mr. T told us a story. He was quite a naughty kid in high school, he said, and he was often sent to the principal’s office. At one point, the school principal had to call his grandpa over. Grandpa Lee asked him what had happened, and he explained the mistakes that he had made. The only thing his grandpa said was, “When you are leaving the party, it’s the worst time to fart.” What he really meant was: the worst and easiest time to drop the ball is when you are almost finished up with a project.

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Put simply, today was intense. Our Final Product is due tomorrow, and we are all putting in our best effort to complete our inquiry projects. We are also close to finishing up our Service Learning project. Today, during Service Learning time, my group and I went out to collect some more video footage of Mrs. Zhang, our partner. When we arrived at her store, she was still eating, so we decided not to barge in. After half an hour, we revisited, and she was engaged with a few customers that were intrigued by her artifacts.

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One week from now, we will be leaving XiZhou. The past three weeks passed by at a stunning rate, and I will forever cherish the memories and experiences that our Phenomena group share. There have been days where we have struggled, and days where we were able to make the most out of the experience. Don't count the days, but make the days count. Moving forward, we have several deadlines to meet, including our Final Product, which will be due on Sunday, May 22nd.

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Yesterday I completed Phase 4 of my inquiry project, where I created an outline for the things that I am going to include in my Final Product. Each student worked on their final product for at least 2 hours, and my final product is going to be in the form of a video.

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We completed all of Phase 4 in the afternoon today. This phase helped us create an outline for our final product. The outline includes our introduction, 3 body paragraphs(hangs and hooks), and conclusion. My thesis statement for my final product is "To be a successful entrepeneur in XiZhou, one must consider the capital, market analysis, and specific location where they are planning to start their business." My 3 hooks are capital, market analysis, and specific location.

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We saw a double rainbow after a small rain in the afternoon. We were all ready to grab our phones out to take a picture, but Mr. T told us to enjoy the moment. Our group simply stood on the second floor and gazed at the fascinating scene, appreciating the silent moment. Our generation has become very much addicted to the new technologies, and once we see something that fascinates us, we immediately pull out a camera or a phone to capture the moment. Then, we leave, and we never look back at the pictures we took for more than 5 seconds.

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Today I had a 10 minute conversation with the General Manager of the Linden Centre, Mo Yu Jiang. He has been at his post for about 2 years, and he is very familiar with the Microcampus process. I started off by introducing myself a bit, and then I went directly into my questions. I asked him questions about the things that he thought the Linden Centre did well, along with the things that required improvement. He mentioned that their staff maintain friendly attitudes towards their guests, so the people that stay at the Linden Centre feel at home. Mr.

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Today we had a lot of down time and service learning time. Nicole, Grace, and I went out to find Mrs. Zhang, the owner of an antique shop to ask her questions for our Service Learning project. She was extremely open to us, and we were able to capture 20min of raw footage with just us asking her questions and making conversations.

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As we get back from our camp-out, we had the afternoon for Pitching In, Service Learning, and some down time. Luckily, we met two very nice local residents that were willing to work with us in on the service learning project. Their names are Mr. Dong and Mrs. Zhang. Grace and Nicole met Mr. Dong when he was playing Ma Jong, and Mrs. Zhang is the owner of an antique shop.

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Today was our camp-out day, and we hiked up Cang Shan to our camping spot. The grass field that we settled down on was right outside of a small hotel on the mountain. We had the perfect view of the city and the village. After we settled down at around 15:00, we had some down time to play cards and volleyball. At 16:15, the people who wanted to hike even more went on another hike.

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Today was a day of recovery for me. I felt a lot better after a good night's sleep, and so in the afternoon I started working on my inquiry project Phase 3 work. I asked my Dad about the time period during the Cultural Revolution, and he gave me a lot of background information about the daily lives of a rural family. He also explained many terms that Mr. Zhao mentioned that I could not understand, so I was able to update my Phase 3 work with more precise terminology.

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Today was not an especially pleasant day for me. I was sick for the entire day, and so Mr. T put me to rest in the nurse's room. I started the day feeling awful before traveler's diarrhea visited me, and then I contacted Mr. T about it. He said to wait for a while, but if it ever visited again, that I should notify him immediately. It did, and so I was to stay inside of YangZhouRen for the rest of the day. There are many things that could have caused me to feel unwell, but it was important to not play the "amateur doctor".

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Today was another normal day with the WIPPIS schedule. Inquiry Project time was extremely interesting for me though, because I interviewed Mr. Zhao, a goldsmith. Mr.Zhao has been a goldsmith for 30 years now, picking up his father's work when he turned 18. He is now 48, and he owns a shop with his wife. His two daughters are already working, and he makes ear rings, silver and gold bracelets, and other pieces. I learned a lot about making a conversation comfortable with today's interaction.

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Today was a free day. We started the morning with our wellness reflection, where we reflected upon our wellness plan this week. Then we had lunch outside. This afternoon, we had down time, and Raine, James, Tiffany, and I played card games like Egyptian Rat Screw, 24, Poker, BS, and Signal. After we got bored of doing that, we went out on a bike ride in search of a basketball court, but we failed. James and I will definitely looking for the basketball courts over the next 2 weeks, so I am positive that we will find it.

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Today was a free day. We started the morning with our wellness reflection, where we reflected upon our wellness plan this week. Then we had lunch outside. This afternoon, we had down time, and Raine, James, Tiffany, and I played card games like Egyptian Rat Screw, 24, Poker, BS, and Signal. After we got bored of doing that, we went out on a bike ride in search of a basketball court, but we failed. James and I will definitely looking for the basketball courts over the next 2 weeks, so I am positive that we will find it.

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Our day today was quite relaxed. In the morning, we had the most "boring" history lesson from Mr. Tafel starting from the Qing Dynasty all the way to the present day government. In the afternoon we did our first service learning in our groups. I was with Nicole and Grace, and we made five solid connections with the local people.

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Today we had a half day trip in the afternoon, where we had the option to visit a traditional tie-dye store, or visit a wind farm. I chose to go see the wind turbines up on the mountains. From a distance, the turbines did not look so monumental, but as we made our way up the mountain, the turbines were massive. The scenery from on top of the mountain was eye-opening, and James, Michael, and I took several pictures with the rest of the group.

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Today was my first interview with one of my local contacts: Mrs. Wang. Mrs. Wang is currently the owner of the company A Da Xia, which sells rose and other food products. Her company name, A Da Xia stands for "come play and talk", and was inspired by the Bai Minority tradition in XiZhou of inviting neighbors and friends to come to their stores and just relax. Her company has two main sections: the rose petal factory and the rose petal shop. She works with her family members, along with other hired workers, to sustain this business.

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Today was a day of personal growth. I was reminded again to look at the big picture multiple times, think of the consequences before making a decision, and act not as an individual but as a part of the community. I committed several mistakes today, including running up the stairs loudly, speaking with a loud voice, and exercising within the facility. It is important that I have more self-discipline and self-control, since the boys on this trip have struggled with this problem that has led to serious consequences.

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May 3rd, Day 4 of the Phenomena Microcampus trip saw a huge amount of improvement. We, as a team, improved our group collaboration. Today was also the first normal day of Microcampus, where we started our first WIPPIS schedule, which stands for Wellness, Inquiry Project, Pitching In, and Still Time. Wellness was extremely fun because we were able to go outside of the village in groups of 2 to explore outside ouf YangZhouRen. Along the way, we jogged, and after our heart rate exceeded the limit, we stopped to rest, observe, and take a few pictures.

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Today was a tough day. Our microcampus group made many mistakes. Throughout the day, we struggled to follow the instructions given to us by Mr. T, and so we were not able to finish off with a successful day 3. Our day ended with a one talk with Mr. T, followed by a speech given by James to motivate the group. He mentioned that it is not about not making mistakes, but accepting the mistakes made and not repeating them. Our group promised to start developing better attitudes and behaviors in the new community we are living it.

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Today was our second day in XiZhou. We explored the village next to the Linden Centre, and visited many small shops in the busy village. The most memorable thing to me was Mr. T's speech about the local culture. Since tourism is the largest industry in XiZhou, foreign tourists expect local traditions to bring something new, something exotic to their experience. Just to mention traditional embroidery in XiZhou, many foreigners ask the shop owners to design pieces of clothing that are appealing to them, but these designs do not necessarily represent the culture in XiZhou.

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Today was our first day in XiZhou as the Phenoma group of Microcampus. The hardest part, surprisingly, was not waking up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning to get to the airport, but settling in as a group of 4 boys. This was especially hard because we had to negotiate terms for sharing desks and closet spaces. We also had to take turns using the restroom, where we had to adapt to a new method of using the toilet because of the sewage systems in XiZhou. The Linden Centre and our hosts were extremely hospitable, and the local food served at dinner was amazing.

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My name is Alexis Y., and I am 13 years old. I was born in Paris, France, and returned to China with my parents when I turned 6. My favorite sport is basketball, and I found a passion for debate since 6th grade when I joined MUN. Our Phenomena group has left XiZhou and is back in Shanghai. The Microcampus Experience has helped me explore "me" and find out more about the history of XiZhou and its people. Over the course of this trip, I have become friends with 40, 50, and 60 year-old adults. I have made bonds with the rest of my peers, some of which I had not even talked to before. I have grown so much in just one month, and I am sure that the good habits that I have adopted on this trip will stay with me forever.