I came to Xizhou with an Inquiry Project to study a topic of high personal interest, which is the Flying Tigers, or the First American Volunteer Group. I chose this topic because I love to study history, especially during the World War II era. I believe that history should be preserved so we can learn from the mistakes and successes of the past. In general, my most helpful sources are Mr. Zhao, Mrs. Zhao, and Mr. Linden because Mr. Zhao and Mrs. Zhao gave me insight on what living with the Flying Tigers in this community was like, while Mr. Linden showed me a Flying Tigers manual and made me think about preserving history differently. I chose these sources based on their knowledge and expertise on this topic. The type of question I have been trying to answer is how did the Flying Tigers interact with their community and is this history something that should be preserved. My thesis statement is: In order to investigate the preservation of the Flying Tigers history in Xizhou, one must consider the thoughts of someone who remembers the Flying Tigers, someone has heard about or read about the Flying Tigers, and someone who actively preserves history.
The final product that I have created is an iMovie presenting three perspectives of preserving the Flying Tigers history. Click here to see my final product.
1. What did you take away from the Inquiry Project experience?
Microcampus is certainly an experience that has been monumental. Out of the many things I learned doing my Inquiry Project, such as being aware other people's plans, if I could only pick one thing, I would say it is to have an infinite amount of back-up plans. A baseball team carries two or three back-up catchers and four bench players in case of injury to a starter, I'll need AT LEAST 10 back-up plans. And that is on the low end. Other than that, I have learned to plan ahead, not just by one day or two, but to plan a week before it started. I have also learned that everything is a blessing in disguise. Everything is a window to a new possibility.
2. Did your topic change during the course of your study? Why?
I did narrow my topic down. At first, I planned to present the Flying Tigers story from the perspective of Mr. and Mrs. Zhao, as well as Mr. Linden. That would require knowing Mr. and Mrs. Zhao well. However, only being able to visit each of them once does not constitute for this. This is a blessing in disguise for me because this allowed for me to connect with people such as Mr. Kang, Mr. Yang and Mr. Su. These are people I might have not known otherwise. I was inspired by the current events in the world, the sabotage of antiques by the Islamic State and other extremists, President Trump's denial of a free press, and China's cover-up of many inglorious history historical events, to focus my project around the preservation of history. I was also inspired by my favorite Hamilton song, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story, to tell Mr. and Mrs. Zhao's story, as well as the Flying Tigers story. Is there a greater agony there bearing an untold story?
3. What was the most difficult part of your research?
The most difficult part of my research was to reach Mr. Zhao, but not in a bad way. It took many phone calls and one wasted Teacher support session in which I did nothing because I couldn't do anything. When I did reach him and had a true and authentic talk with him, I was the happiest kid in the whole world.
4. Did you have any "a-ha" moments when you made a major discovery? Describe what you discovered and what it was like.
My biggest a-ha moment was when Mr. Linden informed me about all the implications of preserving history in China. He told me about the political barries in preserving the Flying Tigers' history and it was very eye-opening to see all the steps in the middle that potentially complicate the process.
5. How did this project help you to understand the topic better?
The biggest new understanding I made was to include the human factor into the Flying Tigers' history. What does this mean? It means I knew how the people felt about the Flying Tigers, instead of just reading an account written by some historian. It is definitely a more interesting story to learn that actual people existed in any part of history.
6. How did this project help you interact with the community in and around Xizhou?
Through this project, I got to know many people, for example, Mr. Kang, that I would not have met otherwise. I also learned to appreciate the charts and propaganda messages from the past to a much greater degree because that is something that could fade away everyday without us noticing or making any effort to resuscitate it.
7. How did this project (or, the inquiry process in general) help you understand yourself as a learner?
I learned to take more responsibility because this is something I have gotten to do more now that we are outside the bubble. In other words, in Shanghai, Newton's Third Law is not active, but here in Xizhou, each action DOES have an equal and opposite reaction. Back home, there is someone to bail you out, but here, the only difference makers here are ourselves.
8. If you could go back in time to the beginning of this project, what kind of advice would have helped you to make it a better experience?
I would definitely make more than one back-up plans, being two is none and three is one. Other than that, I hope I could be even more open and make more authentic connections here. As Bill Nye said, "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't." Every single one in this community has a unique set of wisdom and something we should learn from.
9. If you (or someone else) were to continue this research project, what new directions might it take? How could other Microcampus students build on the work you have done?
I think my project was simply a start to something great. There is certain If this person is very ambitious, it would be great if they could work with the local government and people to launch an effort to take action. It would also be great if they decide to write Mr. Zhao's and Mrs. Zhao's story. I wish anyone wish to pursue the topic of the Flying Tigers best of luck!
Acknowledgements: First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents for putting trust in me and supporting this project. Thank you for always being my biggest fans. Of course, they can ask for a better kid, but there is absolutely no way I can ask for a better family. I love you. Secondly, I would like to thank Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, Ms. Song, Ms. Zhao, and Mrs. Qi for putting together such a memorable experience for all six of us. My project would be in shambles if it was not for your guidance and patient instructions. A big thank you to all my Inquiry Project contacts for giving me the information and being so kind. Nextly, I would like to thank all the teachers and administrators back home for making this possible. I would also like to thank all my friends in New York City and Shanghai. Thanks to you guys for being such great fans of me and loyal friends. I never take our friendship for granted because it is something I will cherish for all my life. You guys put so much faith in me and I hope I am not letting you guys down either. I love you guys so much! Nextly, I would like to thank the Lindens and Xizhou for being such hospitable hosts. Overall, thanks to all of you for making this such an awesome 28-days.
Microcampus has been different than what I expected and certainly a great experience. I acquired many useful life skills and met many interesting people. While also gathering information about my topic, I have had the chance to connect with the community during the process. I learned to trust the process and give 100% on every step. Every goal is a goal worth fighting for.