Updated 5 months 3 weeks ago
 
00:00

Introduction

I am part of the Microcampus Voyagers Group. I came to a place in Xizhou to learn about their culture. I chose my topic that I am very interested in, which is The Local Plants and People's Connection. I spend four weeks out in Xizhou learning about the plants and their connection with the residence. 

Back in Shanghai, I chose to focus on Local Plants and Insect Life. I chose this topic because I am very interested in learning things about nature and plants. Also, Yunnan is known for having a diverse species of plants and animals. However, when I arrived in Xizhou, there was not a lot of animals, and most insects are ignored and not taken into consideration. They focus more on the plants, and this is why I shifted my topic slightly into the Local Plants and the People's Connection. For more information about selecting the Local Plants and Insect Life, please look at my Phase 0 work.

When I arrived at Xizhou, I hit the ground running. I find as many sources to gather information about my topic. Back in Shanghai, my main sources were the internet. For more information on my research back in Shanghai, please look at my Phase 2 work. When I am in Xizhou, I spent my four weeks asking local experts. However, the local experts were not one would imagine. They were not botanists and biologists. Instead, they were mainly farmers. Later on, I found different people that have different occupations that somehow relates to plant life. I asked bamboo weavers about their bamboo. I asked tie-dye makers about their dye ingredients. I also asked tea-brewers about their tea. I tried to find as many sources as I could to make what my thesis is right now. These were my sources.

From the sources I asked, most of my questions were similar. The kinds of questions I had asked depended on the expert's occupation. Since I asked many people that somehow relates to plants, I mainly focus on where their materials and ingredients come from. Are they from the mountains? Are they from different farming fields? Are they foreign plants? All of these questions are the questions I most often ask experts that do not directly major in plants. As for the farmers, I asked about plants that are currently in season. I also asked about how human activity affects these plants and Lake Erhai. Overall, my questions depend on the people. The answer that I tried to find will then be sorted out into my three topics in my thesis statement. For more information about creating my questions, please go to my Phase 1 work. 

From doing all of these research here in Xizhou, I learned that in order to understand the relationship between the vegetation and the people of Xizhou, one must consider the plant's role of handicraft, the plants' role as a source of food, and the impact from the people on the environment.

Sharing my Learning

I had made a video about the Local Plants and People' Connection. Please click here to watch the video.

Reflection

What I took away from the inquiry project experience is that most people are open about information, especially when their occupation is in the field of my topic, which is the Local Plants and People's Connection. I never expected people to be this open to conversations. Because of this, I learned a lot about my topic than if I was on the internet. I feel that learning it from face-to-face people can bring more information. They people in Xizhou are so kind about everything, so when you asked them questions and questions, they would respond. What is also nice about them is that my Chinese is not particularly the best, however, most people tried to listen. I would expect them to walk away from this awkwardness, however, they really tried to understand what I am asking them. This is what took me away from my inquiry project experience.

My topic did not particularly change during the course of my study. I chose to focus on plants, and my topic still stayed in plants. However, it did minorly shift a little. It was supposed to be Local Plants and Insect Life. However, I founded out that Local Plants and Insect Life did not relate to Xizhou's culture. Also, there were not a lot of pests in Xizhou that the farmers would pay attention to. This made me change my topic to Local Plants and People's Connection so that I can get both plants and people as my information. I also wanted to change my topic so that I can also focus on the tie-dye, woodcarving, bamboo basket weaving, and Lake Erhai.

The most difficult part of my research was that I was planning to get as much information as I could. The problem is that now that I pointed my topic to Xizhou's culture, I had to ask more people that have different knowledge and occupation to get the information I was aiming for. The other challenge was to speak Chinese fluently. My Chinese is decent for communicating, however, my tone is pretty off. I never asked people about plants in Chinese, so I do not know these words such as 'environment' and 'crops.' I had to learn them and memorize them during my Microcampus trip.

I did have some "a-ha" moments when I made a major discovery. One of these moments was that I found that traditional tye-dye needed traditional ingredients, which is plants. This made an entirely new pathway on what ingredients are important, and it gave me the idea to use the cultural handicraft as one of my hangers in my thesis. My other "a-ha" moment was at the beginning of the trip when I first set eye on the canola plants. I knew that these bright yellow flowers will be an important role in my topic. 

This project helps me understand the topic better because the internet can only give you a certain amount of information. When I was in Shanghai researching, I thought I knew everything. However, in real life when you are with an expert in Xizhou, the entire learning process is different. You are not reading and deciding whether to believe this information, you are already with an expert you know doing hands-on activities in real life. I feel that learning this way is a big contributor to the knowledge I now have with the plants in Xizhou. 

This project had helped me interact with the community in and around Xizhou. This is because I already had enough experience to ask experts about their work so that I am not afraid to meet new people. This helped me find my group's service learning partner and other potential service learning partners that we still kept in touch. 

This project helped me understand myself better as a person because I interacted with a lot of people in order to gather my information from experts. However, I found out that I am naturally shy. What I did to go through this is that I told myself that no one would judge me as much as other 8th graders. I added as social as I could because they do not know how I am in the middle school hallway. From this, I became more social with a lot of people. I also learned that being social and outgoing is actually easier than I thought. This definitely changes myself on how I approach people from now on. 

This project helped me understand myself as a learner because it showed how much I am curious about learning. I noticed that unlike other students, I am not afraid to approach people. I learned that I am very curious, and I will from now on take the advantage on this to learn more and more instead of just pondering about it.

If I could go back in time to the beginning of this project, the one advice I would give myself to help me to make it a better experience is to make connections, really. In other words, when you make a connection, make a deep connection. Other students had such deep connections that they get to do hands-on activities. However, I did not do that, so I did not have a chance to do hands-on activities such as cooking, tie-dying, or making baskets.

If I was to continue this research project, the new directions I might take is to come back to some of the connections I made so that I can help do hands-on activities. I could have help with the planting for farmers. Also, I found other people such as the tea-brewers, basket-weavers, and the tie-dyers. I could have helped do these activities so that I could experience more on the culture in Xizhou.

Overall, I would like to thank Mr. Chen and Ms. Braverman for helping me find contacts and help with translation. I would also like to thank Ms. Lei, a farmer, Mr. Jake, a tie-dyer, Mr. Liu, a wood-carver, Mr. and Ms. Yang, both retired farmers, Aunt Xu, a fruit-seller, Ms. Dong, another fruit-seller, Big Mike, one of the staffs at the Linden Centre, Ms. He, a tea-brewer, and Mr. and Ms. Wong, both wood-carvers for the major information I gathered from them. I would also thank other experts for their information that they told me and how open they were. I also would thank other Microcampus students for helping me make deeper connections with these experts. Finally, I would give big thanks to Ms. Mai and Mr. Tafel for making this project and this trip happen. 

Microcampus is an amazing experience, and I would never forget these 28 days. I learned greatly from the amount I researched for Local Plants and People's Connections. I met many many people and shared many connections with them. This is the types of projects where I would never forget, even the minor information I gathered. This is because the entire research is a journey worth remembering.

I am part of the Microcampus Voyagers Group. I came to a place in Xizhou to learn about their culture. I chose my topic that I am very interested in, which is The Local Plants and People's Connection. I spend four weeks out in Xizhou learning about the plants and their connection with the residence. 

Back in Shanghai, I chose to focus on Local Plants and Insect Life. I chose this topic because I am very interested in learning things about nature and plants. Also, Yunnan is known for having a diverse species of plants and animals. However, when I arrived in Xizhou, there was not a lot of animals, and most insects are ignored and not taken into consideration. They focus more on the plants, and this is why I shifted my topic slightly into the Local Plants and the People's Connection. For more information about selecting the Local Plants and Insect Life, please look at my Phase 0 work.

When I arrived at Xizhou, I hit the ground running. I find as many sources to gather information about my topic. Back in Shanghai, my main sources were the internet. For more information on my research back in Shanghai, please look at my Phase 2 work. When I am in Xizhou, I spent my four weeks asking local experts. However, the local experts were not one would imagine. They were not botanists and biologists. Instead, they were mainly farmers. Later on, I found different people that have different occupations that somehow relates to plant life. I asked bamboo weavers about their bamboo. I asked tie-dye makers about their dye ingredients. I also asked tea-brewers about their tea. I tried to find as many sources as I could to make what my thesis is right now. These were my sources.

From the sources I asked, most of my questions were similar. The kinds of questions I asked depended on the expert's occupation. Since I asked many people that somehow relates to plants, I mainly focus on where their materials and ingredients come from. Are they from the mountains? Are they from different farming fields? Are they foreign plants? All of these questions are the questions I most often ask experts that do not directly major in plants. As for the farmers, I asked about plants that are currently in season. I also asked about how human activity affects these plants and Lake Erhai. Overall, my questions depend on the people. The answer that I tried to find will then be sorted out into my three topics in my thesis statement. For more information about creating my questions, please go to my Phase 1 work. 

From doing all of these research here in Xizhou, I learned that in order to understand the relationship between the vegetation and the people of Xizhou, one must consider the plant's role of handicraft, the plants' role as a source of food, and the impact from the people on the environment.

Sharing my Learning

I made a video about the Local Plants and People' Connection. Please click here to watch the video.

Reflection

What I took away from the inquiry project experience is that most people are open about information, especially when their occupation is in the field of my topic, which is the Local Plants and People's Connection. I never expected people to be this open to conversations. Because of this, I learned a lot about my topic than if I was on the internet. I feel that learning it from face-to-face people can bring more information. They people in Xizhou are so kind about everything, so when you asked them questions and questions, they would respond. What is also nice about them is that my Chinese is not particularly the best, however, most people tried to listen. I would expect them to walk away from this awkwardness, however, they really tried to understand what I am asking them. This is what took me away from my inquiry project experience.

My topic did not particularly change during the course of my study. I chose to focus on plants, and my topic still stayed in plants. However, it did minorly shift a little. It was supposed to be Local Plants and Insect Life. However, I founded out that Local Plants and Insect Life did not relate to Xizhou's culture. Also, there were not a lot of pests in Xizhou that the farmers would pay attention to. This made me change my topic to Local Plants and People's Connection so that I can get both plants and people as my information. I also wanted to change my topic so that I can also focus on the tie-dye, woodcarving, bamboo basket weaving, and Lake Erhai.

The most difficult part of my research was that I was planning to get as much information as I could. The problem is that now that I pointed my topic to Xizhou's culture, I had to ask more people that have different knowledge and occupation to get the information I was aiming for. The other challenge was to speak Chinese fluently. My Chinese is decent for communicating, however, my tone is pretty off. I had never asked people about plants in Chinese, so I do not know these words such as 'environment' and 'crops.' I had to learn them and memorize them during my Microcampus trip.

I did have some "a-ha" moments when I made a major discovery. One of these moments was that I found that traditional tye-dye needed traditional ingredients, which is plants. This made an entirely new pathway on what ingredients are important, and it gave me the idea to use the cultural handicraft as one of my hangers in my thesis. My other "a-ha" moment was at the beginning of the trip when I first set eye on the canola plants. I knew that these bright yellow flowers will be an important role in my topic. 

This project helps me understand the topic better because the internet can only give you a certain amount of information. When I was in Shanghai researching, I thought I knew everything. However, in real life when you are with an expert in Xizhou, the entire learning process is different. You are not reading and deciding whether to believe this information, you are already with an expert you know doing hands-on activities in real life. I feel that learning this way is a big contributor to the knowledge I now have with the plants in Xizhou. 

This project had helped me interact with the community in and around Xizhou. This is because I already had enough experience to ask experts about their work so that I am not afraid to meet new people. This helped me find my group's service learning partner and other potential service learning partners that we still kept in touch. 

This project helped me understand myself better as a person because I had to interact with a lot of people in order to gather my information from experts. However, I found out that I am natural shy. What I did to go through this is that I told myself that no one would judge me as much as other 8th graders. I added as social as I could because they do not know how I am in the middle school hallway. From this, I became more social with a lot of people. I also learned that being social and outgoing is actually easier than I thought. This definitely changes myself on how I approach people from now on. 

This project helped me understand myself as a learner because it showed how much I am curious about learning. I noticed that unlike other students, I am not afraid to approach people. I learned that I am very curious, and I will from now on take the advantage on this to learn more and more instead of just pondering about it.

If I could go back in time to the beginning of this project, the one advice I would give to myself to help me to make it a better experience is to make connections, really. In other words, when you make a connection, make a deep connection. Other students had such deep connections that they get to do hands-on activities. However, I did not do that, so I did not have a chance to do hands-on activities such as cooking, tie-dying, or making baskets.

If I was to continue this research project, the new directions I might take is to come back to some of the connections I made so that I can help do hands-on activities. I could have help with the planting for farmers. Also, I had found other people such as the tea-brewers, basket-weavers, and the tie-dyers. I could have helped do these activities so that I could experience more on the culture in Xizhou.

Overall, I would like to thank Mr. Chen and Ms. Braverman for helping me find contacts and help with translation. I would also like to thank Ms. Lei, a farmer, Mr. Jake, a tie-dyer, Mr. Liu, a wood-carver, Mr. and Ms. Yang, both retired farmers, Aunt Xu, a fruit-seller, Ms. Dong, another fruit-seller, Big Mike, one of the staffs at the Linden Centre, Ms. He, a tea-brewer, and Mr. and Ms. Wong, both wood-carvers for the major information I gathered from them. I would also thank other experts for their information that they told me and how open they were. I also would thank other Microcampus students for helping me make deeper connections with these experts. Finally, I would give big thanks to Ms. Mai and Mr. Tafel for making this project and this trip happen. 

Microcampus is an amazing experience, and I would never forget these 28 days. I learned greatly from the amount I researched for Local Plants and People's Connections. I met many many people and shared many connections with them. This is the types of projects where I would never forget, even the minor information I gathered. This is because the entire research is a journey worth remembering.

Hello! I am Josie and I enjoy learning new things and spending time outside, alone and with friends. I am a big fan of animals and nature and that is why my inquiry project topic is about local plants and insect life. Currently, I am in Xizhou completing my inquiry project.