Changing Unforgettable Times

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
I’ve decided to engage in service learning to learn more about myself as an individual through serving Minneapolis.

Moments like these are worthwhile to capture through pictures. I’ll provide my best efforts of capturing the transforming experience.

From school to the main Twin Cities of Minnesota. The opportunities that are given are exceptional for any students striving to make a positive difference within the city of 10,000 lakes.

The wonders of the impact may be unknown now, but soon enough with exceptional effort and kindness; I hope to give a positive contributions to the community that I serve.

Will they accept me for who I am as an individual as clearly shown that I’m not a native in Minnesota or the Americas?

Will they question my background as I blind myself of their background, or would we accept each other as we open up to both our cultures?

Soon to give my work. Soon to tell the story.

—郑楚连


I’m sad as this snow leopard.

Week 2

Lost

I’m having difficulty of when I should’ve started the service learning as I didn’t know that this program was self initiated and self search. Now, I’m lost as to what to do next. Am I too late to start now as I missed my chance of finding an organization?

I’m new to this, and I unfortunately failed to find an organization or where to find one. Perhaps, I should’ve requested an adviser to help me on my next steps of finding the organization.

Week 6 & 7

New Start with New Identity

Spring of 2016 signifying the beginning.

I am from disciplined serious household of Zheng. A soothing member of Jiang as river flows and craters to prosper.

I find nobility in kindness and generosity. Chaos in injustice and the over privileged cliques.

I’m from the dreams of a quiet family friendly homes of Minneapolis. Tainted in name, but not in body.

Birthplace: Manhattan, New York
My piano room of my family’s home in the suburbs.

My roots are from the heat half across the Pacific in a land of celestial history.

I am from seas and water that engulfs the city. Cities surrounded by either river or ocean.

I am from a world of conflicting cultures, yet may strive to hone them both.

Yet it is out of my hands…or is it?

I am from legacy of hard work, tears, and hardships. That giving up means to forfeit.

I am who I am, Cholan Peter Zheng.

Questions-

As I wrote my “I am from” poem, I wrote about my lineage, where I grew up, and my experience in general in life. Another feather that I focused on was the birthplace of my parent’s and mine, and where I grew up which would be Minneapolis near a lake and the Mississippi River just a drive away that doesn’t even add up to an hour.

Both of my parent’s are from Fuzhou, China. However, my dad grew up in Hong Kong. Both of these are coastal cities with deep history. Fuzhou was explored by Marco Polo under the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty where the ship-yard that launched Zheng He’s fleet, and a city of tropical heat and tea that is supposedly said to be unmatched in taste of greater China.

Hong Kong is a city with great significance in the 19th century as that island was lost by Qing Imperial Dynasty to the British after the Opium Wars. As a port city that connects to Canton (Guanzhou) then to the mainland, it played a heavy conflict between the West and East. However, it wasn’t completely negative. Both spheres of the globe prospered through economic trade through Hong Kong.

My parent’s contribute to Chinese history as to American history. They forfeited their Chinese citizenship to receive the United States citizenship. I was born here in Manhattan, New York. I was raised in a very traditional Chinese household where my grandmother from my father side took care of me. Her surname was Chan or Chen in the mainland.

I also talk about my individuality and what I valued in life. I really do respect an individual merit to lead, change lives of others positively, and know their own purpose in life. I see kindness and generosity as strength. That some people are willing to sacrifice their needs and wants for the benefit of others. However, I despised the word ‘privilege’ as I see it as unfair within a society that should support inclusiveness for all citizens whether if they’re a minority or majority.

My identity of who I am and what I contribute to my family name will definitely have a different contribution if my parent’s didn’t decide to emigrate from China. First time in my family, I speak a foreign language as my primary language. I read in a foreign language. I study and understand in a foreign language. I am as foreign can one Chinese get to be if they grow up in a Western World where English is the primary language.

My identity of who I am drastically changed prior to college and after the start of my college. I was very nationalistic pro-American. My dream college was West Point Military Academy in New York where the state I was born, yet I decided to forfeit that dream. One may ask why?

My identity changed. I was once pro-American, and now I’m neutral. Analysis of history with the thought of my identity changed who I am completely in the end of 10th grade. I started to learn more about the world then I got interested in my own lineage and origin.

I studied on my own outside of high school as their curriculum never covers Chinese history in depth. I was hungry and thirsty as my curiosity drove me. I wanted to know about my history.

After researching and reading throughout high school on my personal time, I came to the realization of broader views of the world. I understood conflicts of why they started, how they start, how they end, and etc. I learned of why revolutions occur in a spectrum of human society. The unfairness of the world. The beauty of the world, and the not-so-complicated relationships of each power whether politically or culturally.

This will aid my digital story as I share my experience at the University of Minnesota with Chinese international students. The culture that they experience and what they contribute or don’t contribute in Minneapolis society. The identity of who am lingers that I am one of them, yet not one of them because I never experienced growing up in the People’s Republic of China. That I’m a oversea Chinese with American identity as they view me. My broken Mandarin as I try to communicate with them, and being able to learn new Chinese dialects coming from Chengdu. Plus, many more lessons from my friends of my origin country.

Digital Story: My Time and Life at the U

One of many picnic events for Chinese International Students at the U prior to the start of Fall semester.
My digital story will focus on the topics of personal experiences at the U while befriending and learning from friends from international students specifically the People’s Republic of China.

The overview of the story will be focused on my friendships with my origin kinship, their relations between Americans, and contributions to Minneapolis economy at local businesses. These are my observation as I join them as our experiences intertwined together.


Moved into the U on August 15 to Yudof Hall.

Past Country with New Friends

Making new friends started out using the popular social app called Wechat. This app is extremely popular in the People’s Republic of China. I started using this app in 2015 when my parents, aunts and uncles, and other older adults in my family have been using it for years. I used the app mainly to communicate with my parents, grandmother, and aunt instead of using text messages.

Then I joined the U of M 2016 CSSA and other 2020 incoming freshmen Wechat groups through Weibo.

I downloaded the app changing my life entirely. From getting zero likes and comments on American social media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to getting likes and comments ranging more than three to twenty for each posts on my Wechat.


I will mainly focus interviewing my closest friends as they share their experiences with Americans and living in Minneapolis.

One close friend that I’ll interview is Xuanyi Li. He’s from Xi’an. The capital of Ancient China and hometown of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di. It’s also home of Qin’s army tomb, Terracotta Army.

Xuanyi has definitely contributed to Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota as he pays full tuition of around 18,000 each semester without much financial aid. He also bought a car for his personal mode of transportation for his experience at the U.

He’s one of many international students who have purchased cars to be able to drive for their leisure and work times at the U.

Xuanyi is a member of the CSU, Chinese Student Union while playing basketball with a formed team with other students from China.

CSU hosts lots of collaboration with NBA Timber-wolves games.


Favorite Places in Minneapolis

Local cultural businesses have flourished as more international students arrive from the People’s Republic of China.

Some of the popular places are Karaoke places known as KTV. The main two are Encore and Sushi X. These two KTV/Sushi local restaurants benefit from students from China where KTV are abundant and popular.

In this picture, I had my first experience at KTV. My first time was with my new friends that heighten my experience with KTV, and I really enjoyed it.

Another sector of businesses flourished are Chinese restaurants that serves food close to the cuisines that are served in their country. One that captures the essence is Tea House near the U of M. Other restaurants like Little Sichuan have also flourished due to the increase of Chinese students. These are just two examples.

Another is called Hot Pot. Minneapolis may not have the most Hot Pot restaurants, but it’s one of the most favorite method of dinner for Chinese students.

These contributions to local restaurants are a positive economic source for Minneapolis, Minnesota. They’re also my favorite places to go too especially having hot pot.


The flow of the digital story will have an introduction of myself, how I befriended Chinese international students, and their contribution to the U and Minneapolis. They also have affected my life where I learned many new facts about my country where I didn’t have the same chance of growing up in.

Different topics on the Chinese international students will be focused on throughout the video, yet it will always cycle itself back to my experience and comments. Overall, I’m very excited to share my digital story. My first video of the first semester of my freshmen year.


Academic Works for Digital Story

Works Cited

Lubrano, Alfred. “The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts.” American Paradox (n.d.): 420–27. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Nathan, Rebekah. My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005. Print.

Takaki, Ronald. “A Different Mirror.” (n.d.): 69–73. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Valdez, Gabriela. “U.S. Higher Education Classroom Experiences of Undergraduate Chinese International Students.” Journal of International Students (n.d.): 188–200. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.


Sources Relates and Enhancing Digital Story

In the first citation, “The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts” reveals a few stories of how college students’ life has changed since starting their new life at college. One story is about a first-generation student with Italian heritage. How he overcame racism and was able to attain a new life at Columbia. I’m able to use this source as it relates to me because I’m also a first generation college student in my family.

The second citation is one of the novel in the curriculum called “My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student” written by an author using an alias name. She investigates college life in the 21st century experiencing new ideas, thoughts, and cultures of college life just like me in my first year.

The third citation is called “A Different Mirror” by Takaki. This is about the idea of what it means to be American. The growing diversity and multiculturalism in the United States as more non-European immigrate to the United States of America. This source helps me identify my identity as an American. As a first generation American in my family.

The last source is called “U.S. Higher Education Classroom Experiences of Undergraduate Chinese International Students” written by Gabriela Valdez as she explains the college experiences of students from the People’s Republic of China. This source will enhance my understanding as I take an academic approach on how I befriend and relate to students from my original home country.

Digital Story Process

Here’s my rough cut of my video. I still have to complete the rest of my voice-over.

Final Digital Story

https://youtu.be/kLG0-JvfPnE

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