15 students and I departed from Shanghai HongQiao Airport to Xizhou for our one month journey. During our stay in the Linden Centre, we are all required to choose a topic that were most interested in learning outside of our bubble before our departure. While exploring Xizhou, we would need to go with a process of interviewing, finding background information and sharing our learning. My topic is on Bai minority architecture but then quickly got narrowed down into the screen wall in Bai minority architecture. Because of all the information I got, I found that the screen wall definitely symbolizes the Bai minority architecture and plays a very important role in it. I chose Bai minority architecture as my final project because comparing and exploring different structures in different parts of the world has always been something I naturally do.
People who had introduced me to my sources are my chaperones and the Linden Centre staffs. My sources were mostly people who I find reliable and is kind of an expertise at this kind of topic. Such as, Mr. T, Ms. Mai, Fay, Frank, Mr. Craig Evans, Isabel and ect. Some big questions that I am hopefully am trying to find are: How is architecture important to Bai people? Are the screen wall only made in Xizhou? What does the four words carved or painted on the screen wall means? How does the screen wall represent Xizhou? ect. In order to fully understand the significance of the screen wall in Bai minority architecture, one must observe and consider: the different designs for different purposes, the origin of the four words carved or painted on the screen wall, and the usage of the screen wall for people in Bai minority architecture.
Sharing My Learning:
My journey and what I learned would be shared and demonstrated on a video above my introduction. There, I will be explaining what I have learned and my final product.
I have taken way too much during this inquiry project experience. Like how to communicate with locals and how to connect with them during this learning process. I have also gained so much information on bai minority architecture, but especially the screen wall which I never even paid attention to. I have faced through a lot of challenges and problems while doing this whole process. From all the difficulties I have experienced, I now know how to handle with them properly and how to solve them by myself. I also learned that learning is just something that you do over here, you could go everywhere and you could learn anything, there are just no boundaries. Coming to microcampus is such an honor, getting to experience everything over here and then solving them by yourself just makes you feel victorious in a way that you could never explain.
My focus topic did change, but mostly from the general topic to a very specific one. After gathering so much information on Bai minority architecture, I seem to always get information on screen walls which is really unexpected because I never seem to notice those informations. I then found the screen walls really interesting because I haven't seen them before in any architectures in China, so since no one worked on the topic yet, I decided to investigate on it based on the information I already have.
The most difficult part of my research would be the part where I could actually find reliable sources for my inquiry topic. The same information is so repetetive that I somehow want to give up in the middle of my project. Also, finding something in the general topic of Bai minority architecture to a really specific topic. After all the same information over and over again, I didn't even leave time for me to just look at the information that I have already gained and begin to find something I actually found interesting. That wasted a lot of time for me which caused me to have a little amount of time to actually begin deep researching.
My "a-ha" moment was when I finally found the specific topic that I have been finding all the time, and it was just right in front of me. Though, I wasn't too late because I already gained a ton of information on screen walls without even noticing it. That moment was just amazing and indescribable to me because my life went from helpless and exhaustion to hopeful and superior! Definitely took all that stress off my shoulders.
This project made me look at Bai minority architecture or any other architecture in a completely new perspective. I learned how the smallest things in architecture were just so essential that it could even symbolize this whole strucutre. This project definitely made me gain yet leave knowledge because my mind is once shaped again into a brand new level.
During the process of this project, I have talked and interacted with people more than I have expected. This project gave me stronger communicating skills with the people around me and the people here in Xizhou. Over here, the people simply just give yet no ask for a return which I discovered during my time investigating on my project. Their open windows and open doors, their smiling faces and gentle souls just couldn't help you to give a little piece of courage and go for it.
Before this project, I thought I couldn't figure anything out by myself and would just simply give up if I can't do it, but over here in Microcampus, I found out that it is not an option. Like Mr. T always says "We don't make excuses, we make commitements." I figured that I could just sove any problem if I just give it a try. I also found that I could get everything done in time, I just procrastinate or get distracted to easily during my work time that caused me to stress out one in a while. In Microcampus, we have the time to do everything if we just allow ourselves to breath and just sit still for another minute, you could then make your own choices.
If I were to go back at the very beginning of this project, I would have definitely worked out a specific topic that I want to research out of Bai minority architecture. I would also take my time and walk around and take pictures, experience it other than just reading through a wikipedia article. Also, spending my time wisely and instead of making appointments, walk around and ask any locals if they know about architecture or screen walls, if not, they could have introduced me to someone that is an expertise at my topic.
If I was someone else and was eager to continue to learn more about this topic, there would definitely be new directions to take. I would had explored more on the four words carved or painted on the screen wall. Also, if I had time, I would look around more and take pictures of every screen wall I have researched and compare them using the information I have gathered if I found the facts true. I would learn about one particular screen wall and see if it changed over time and how it connected with the other ones. If all of these directions were taken, this project would then be rather more meaningful.
Throughout this whole incredible and amazing experience, I would like to thank:
My chaperones (Mr. Tafel & Ms. Mai) for coming up with this program that have changed my way of learning and thinking. Also, for encouraging me, supporting me, and motivating me throughout this whole process of difficulties and unknowned obstacles.
The Linden family for letting us occupy in the Linden Centre that provided us a fascinating home and some amazing food.
All the Linden Centre staffs for being so nice and open that made me love them altogether like a family.
Annaliese & Fay for dropping out their time and accompany us all around Xizhou. Also, providing us some really helpful sources that helped made my life somehow easier.
Frank for giving me some really great information and contacts near the last minute to allow me to buy time for more information.
All of my sources and contacts for being so paitent during our interviews and letting me so much about Xizhou.
My parents for supporting me everyday through this tough process being apart from them and letting me take the responsibility of being an independent.
My friends back in SAS for keeping in touch, supporting me and being the best people in the world.
The Fearless group for cooperating so well together and being an awesome family duing the best month of my life.
To wrap up everything from the very top to the very bottom, this experience has changed my thinking and me as a person in a whole. All I could say is, I have survived Microcampus and all the unimaginable challenges, now, my world has unraveled and I am ready to fight anything from anywhere.