Microcampus is normally where 16 students live in Xizhou for 1 month, though our trip only had 14 students. Xizhou is in the Yunnan province in China. These 16 students completely of 8th grades who all decided to go on this trip for a reason. During this trip, each student individually creates an Inquiry Project. All students choose a topic that interested them personally. The topic they choose is the base of this project.
For my project, I choose to do Bai Minority Architecture. I choose this topic because architecture had interested me once when learning about Ancient Greece. I was fascinated with the Greeks’ architecture, and I wanted to expand my knowledge of architecture. This Inquiry Project seemed to be the perfect time to do so.
Some sources I found where I was able to obtain useful information varied. Some sources were people I interviewed from the village, and other sources were websites that I used for background information. The some people I interviewed included construction workers, locals, guards, and museum staff. By interviewing a variety of people, I was able to gather a lot of information. My background information was just general information about architecture. All the sources for background research were found online.
Here in the village, I picked specific people who were recommended to me in my 3-5’s. These people were people who have had some sort of relationship to architecture. When I interviewed them, I learn about the symbolism of the roofs. This caused me to ask about why the roof was curved, and what the meanings of the pictures on the wa dan were. Though I also asked about the construction of the roof. My thesis that will guide me when making my finale product is; in order to investigate Bai Minority roofs, one must consider the construction of the roof, and the decorations on the roof.
Sharing my Learning:
For my Final Product, I created a video. You can see my Final Product above.
I think that I grew as a student during this project. I do not remember ever being so focused in my life. I learned how to dial in and give all my attention to the one project. This whole trip, I was focused and did not let distractions get to me, as they may have back in Shanghai. I also learned a lot about my topic and my learning style.
My topic had originally been Bai Minority architecture in general, but I focused in on more specific things. Mr. T had suggested that I should be more specific, so I choose to study the roofs. I decided what I wanted to do pretty quickly; the roofs had caught my attention rather fast. When people look at a Chinese roof, there are certain things that pop out and scream Chinese. I wanted to study these traits and understand what exactly made them Chinese. Why do the Chinese have some unique traits? Was it because they believed in a certain religion? These were some questions I wanted to know. When doing this project, I learned a lot about my topic. Because it was required to have gathered information, I was able to learn a lot. The format of this project was built to allow us to learn as much as possible.
The most difficult part of my research was the background research. I fell behind in the pre-trip work before we came to Xizhou, and the background research was where I tripped. Even during school, I hated doing research, was always boring and tiring. I had begun to procrastinate the research, as every time I tried to sit down and do work, my mind would fall asleep. I never liked being hunched over a computer screen for hours at a time just for some school project. And even though I knew this Inquiry Project was not just going to be another “school project,” I could not motivate myself to go through the mind numbing process. I did get through this barrier in the end though.
I do not think I had a major “a-ha” moment. But I did have a change of perspective. When we were about to start interviews, I was really scared about going out to talk to locals. I was afraid I would not ask the right questions, or something bad would happen. I was freaking out about it up until the interview started. But when I did my first interview, I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot and the man I interviewed was very nice and knowledgeable. He also told me additional things that we helpful. It was great, I learned a lot, and I learned it without having to be bent over a computer screen for hours. After my first interview, I began looking forward to learning new things from my local contacts.
When interviewing people, I feel that I was also making connections with them. They were the wise teachers who were happy to share their knowledge, and I was the curious mind trying to soak everything up like a sponge. People like seeing the way students learn, and I fell that some people took me under their wing. An example of this was Zhang lao shi. He gave me a lot of information and always seemed happy to share. He was enthusiastic when teaching me, and I could see how he loved teaching others about his passion.
One thing I learned is that I actually really like to learn. Before, I never really felt excited to go into classes and learn. But I here, I started getting a giddy feeling when ever I was about to uncover new information. I was also always very happy when sharing what I had learned. I also learned that I am a hands on learner. I need to be there in person taking notes and gathering information. I realized that I had fun when interviewing people and detested having to have to look up facts on the computer. I have more fun when I get to interact with people and learn, as to searching the web. When I have fun, my mind is more open and active; this also allows me to learn more.
Some major advice I have is to always keep up with your work. I fell behind in the pre-trip work, and it started to really stress me out. I had thought that the pre-trip work was not a big deal, and I decided that I did not need to commit to it as much. But I did not realize that I was making a bad choice. Not only was I stressed out later, but I also think that it damaged my view of Microcampus. My own faults made me think that Microcampus was going to be very stressful and tough. My mood towards it darkened, and I may have not gotten the most out if it the whole time I have been here.
If another person were to continue my project, they start to focus on the how the roofs changed over time. I just briefly explained some of the changes in the wa dans’ meanings, but besides that, I did not touch base with it much. Another student could investigate the older roofs and gather information on that. They could them compare it to my findings that were relevant to them.
During this project, I had a lot of help. I would first like to thank all of my sources that provided me with the information that made my project possible. I give thanks to: Zhang lao shi, Mr. He, Mr. Yang, A-Biao, Mr. Zhao, Mr. Du, Ms. Liu, Mr. Yang, Mr. Shi and Mr. Bai. All of these people supplied me with lots of helpful information. I also give thanks to Ye Ling and Evy for being wonderful teacher support and translators. The Lindens gave us a place to stay for a month, and they also provided us with support, for that, I am grateful. Mr. T and Ms. Mai were also big supporters during this trip. They brought us all the way out here and had to be our parents and teachers. They both deserve a huge thank you. And finally, I would like to thank Group Jailbreak. We have all been in this together, and I thank them for being there to support me.
Coming to Microcampus proved to be great in several ways. I got to learn a lot of interesting things, as well as grow as a person. I also learned about myself. I am definitely glad I decided to come to Microcampus, and I hope I can return to Xizhou in the future.