For 28 days, 8 other students and I traveled to Yunnan, China and stayed in a village called Xizhou. During this time, we chose a topic of high personal interest to study. I was interested in the tourism and development of our host village, so it became my inquiry topic.
Before we arrived, I was given a long list of possible topics to choose from. Using the process of elimination, I cut down many topics and was left with only two topics of high interest. They included Small Business Case Study and Tourism and Development. Because I wanted to study something special to Xizhou, I picked tourism and development. (See Phase 0 for more information)
Also, before coming to Xizhou, I did some background research relating to my topic. Using this information from websites and books, I researched information relating to my topic. (Phase 3) I generated a list of 10 Big Questions to assist me during my time in Xizhou. These questions were my guide to asking my first interviewees about my topic. (Phase 1)
After arriving in Xizhou, I began to dig deeper into my topic, tourism and development, to answer my 10 Big Questions. I completed my 3-to-5 interviews, interviews that last 3-5 minutes long and are with 3-5 adults in the Linden Centre. (Phase 2) After these interviews, I gathered more information from books and for two weeks, interviewed locals and tourists on the point of view of tourism and development. I also answered my Big 10 Questions. (Phase 3)
From the interviews in Phase 3, I created a large pile of useful and diverse information. To create my final product, I organized my information into "hangers" and "hooks" to understand tourism and development. The "hanger" would be my overall question that I wished to answer in Xizhou while my "hooks" were from 3 different perspectives to answer my final question. Using this format, I created my thesis: During my many conversations with people about the impact of tourism on the future of Xizhou, I learned about local peoples perceptions, tourists and visitors' perceptions and ultimately my own perceptions about the future of Xizhou. (Phase 4)
Sharing My Learning
I have created a video that can be viewed above. If it does not work, go to this link: https://youtu.be/S2Q3v6_1a2w
At first it was hard to find a solid answer because everyone had different views on Xizhou's development. Many people told me it was impossible to predict how Xizhou will be in the future because of course, anything can happen. However, I managed to ask follow-up questions and my interviewees would create a pattern using history to predict the future. It was also quite challenging to interview locals first because of a language barrier. Sometimes, older people would slip into their Bai minority dialect and I would get confused. Thankfully, my chaperones were there to help me.
My "a-ha" moment during my journey was when I asked one of my first interviewees my questions. Her name was Ms. Gao. From her answers, I knew which path I wanted to take and began to focus my questions on that point. Because of this "a-ha" moment, I knew I was interested in studying the impact tourism has on the development of Xizhou. So, after I interviewed her I wrote down some new questions to ask other people.
This project made me realize just how complex the tourism and development industries are, especially here in Xizhou where it has recently begun to develop. Talking to people about this was challenging at first because many people are not experts at my topic. However, as time progressed I realized I should ask them from their point of view and how development and tourism has impacted their business. This made the people open up more and talk about the change in their lives.
To complete this project of course, I learned much about the importance of communication with the village of Xizhou. I understand now that to communicate as a learner and person, I must put all my effort in and break out of my comfort zone. This project made me open my eyes and look at the world around me. I realized how so many places in China could have been like Xizhou but decided to develop into a busy city like Shanghai.
If I could go back to the beginning of this project, I would like to have interviewed a more diverse group of people. It would have interesting to go outside of Xizhou and visit neighboring villages how their development was going and how tourism was affecting them. I also should have picked a more narrow topic first before arriving so I would begin my interviews with that topic.
If a future Microcampus student were to continue this project, I would recommend interviewing more tourists. Also, they should choose a specific aspect of tourism and development they would want to study first. Also, because future Microcampus students will be looking at a different Xizhou than I did, they could compare how it has changed in the past few years with alumni photos.
I would like to thank all my interviewees for making this project possible. I would also like to thank my chaperones, Mr. T, Ms. Mai, Cecily and Evy for being wonderful supporters of our project. Also, I want to thank the Linden Centre staff, Mr. and Mrs. Linden deserve a huge thanks for keeping us safe and happy inside the Centre. Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful village of Xizhou for hosting us and letting us learn and spend time in.
The amazing 28 days I have spent in Xizhou were well worth my time and these experiences could never happen in a normal classroom. I have learned so much from this wonderful experience and still cannot believe I was able to participate in this wonderful program.