Updated 6 months 1 week ago
The video that is above is a product of Microcampus. For four weeks I lived in a small village named Xizhou. This village is in the Yunnan prove in the south of China. This program is called Microcampus, it is an extraordinary experience, and I have learned a great deal from it. During this trip, we take time and interact with the locals as well as learn about our Inquiry Topic. For this inquiry project, I choose to focus on Small Business here in xizhou, this was a topic of high personal interest, and I choose this topic before the trip. A great deal more information is in my Phase 0, where I considered my options and choose the topic I studied in Xizhou.
I have chosen this topic for many reasons, here are a few. I choose this topic because I was interested in how the business owners live works and how they decided to start a business. I was also very interested in the way they handled customers, but I was also interested in the money aspect. I choose this topic because I felt like I had the most to learn from it and I would have the most fulfilling experience learning about Small Business in Xizhou. Also, I felt like learning about how a business was run, and the effects it would have on the owner is a critical skill to have. This and more information is in my Phase 1.
I have used a substantial amount of sources throughout this journey. I have talked with plenty of business owners from many different industries to gather my information. Some notable people I have talked to would be Mr.Yang the casket maker here in Xizhou and Ms.She the owner of a Small Natural Products Store that opened very recently. I have chosen very different people to talk to, and this helped me obtain a great deal of information from a wide variety of sources. This information I obtained from these sources and more is in my Phase 3.
I have chosen these sources for many reasons. For example, during my 3-5s, which is a term we use for conventions we have with teachers about sources that we should contact, many contacts were named, and this helped me to find and talk to good people that could tell me information. Also, Mr.Yang especially was very welcoming and kind, so I went there twice to talk to him a great deal about the past, present, and future of his business. This information about my 3-5 and sources can be found in my Phase 2.
I was trying to obtain a substantial pile information about my topic. During my conversations with the business owners, I was trying to mainly receive information about there Economics, some about Costumers, and some personal life and beliefs about business. I developed a list of 10 questions to ask and record the answers; these question helped with the conversations I had with the business owners. The information and the process I took to obtain these questions can be found in my Phase 1.
In the end, it was a hard process, and I went through many of ups and downs, and because I felt like telling my story would be a better final product, I have decided to make a Final Product talking about my personal journey. Twenty years from now I will reflect on Microcampus experience, and I hope to remember how I overcame my early reluctance, my difficulty of speaking the language, and the way I realized it was not awkward.
Sharing My Learning
This is the thing I have worked very hard on; my Final Product. You can see it once I upload it, or you can click the link here to take you to the Youtube video.
I took away a great deal of information from my inquiry project. Once thing that I leaned was how to make connections better. I leaned this through all the field work I conducted and the hours we spent talking with the people here in Xizhou. I also leaned how to have work done in a better manner. I leaned this through all the advice that Mr.T gave about mono tasking and also how there are specific times that we should be doing something. I took ways skills like planning ahead for big projects and taking a great deal of photos. The experience was overall a big learning process and i leaned a great deal of infomation about the outside world and myself.
Towards the end of the long process of the inquiry project, I found that I should do my final project about my Personal Journey instead of one of the information I received from fieldwork. This was because the information I obtained from all 15 of my local contacts were repetitive and did not work well for a final product. I also found that talking about my penal journey was more interesting than a Wikipedia article about Small Business in Xizhou because of the difficulties I had and the boundary that I had to circumvent. I think that the dissection that I made (with a little advice from Mr.T) was an educated decision and was the more fulfilling option.
I had many problems that I had to face, and one of them was my inability to speak Chinese. In my Final Product, there is more detail, but the challenge of the language barrier is a big one and one that I had some trouble traveling around. Before coming to Xizhou, I was in the Foundation high class (2nd year of Chinese), and I knew even before signing up for Microcampus it was going to be a problem. This ended up being a giant holdback for me in many situations, and I had to rely on others through the whole experience.
Thought out the process I did not have a big "a-ah" moment. I believe this was mainly due to the fact that the information I received was very dull and repetitive and there was no mystery or story that I was trying to uncover. I was mostly going around and asking business owners the same questions and acquiring their opinion on topics and issues. I think this was a big reason I did not have any “a-ah” but also how I did not stick with one person for very long and learn about there business. Expect for Mr.Yang the casket maker in which I went to his workshop for a total of maybe one and a half hours and watched him make caskets and ask questions occasionally.
This project about Small Businesses in Xizhou taught me a great deal of information. For example, it taught me about how life was like for the businesses owners that had plenty of customers and for those without many customers. It also helped me understand the topic itself little better. I always thought that running a business was a confusing mess of numbers on excel sheets and analyses of supply and demand, but for many of the business owners here, they make (or buy) their product and sell them at what they think is fair, and it all works out in the end. It turns out that running a business in Xizhou was not as complicated but freer and less demanding then I had previously thought.
I found that this project helped me connect with Xizhou in many different ways. The field work really helped me travel out in the community and make connections with a good deal of different interesting people. I spoke to many different people all around Xizhou, and they all had a chance to know me a little better then they would have otherwise. Now because I have talked with so many people, I could walk up and down the roads and say hi to business owners, and they would know me from the conventions we would have during fieldwork. I also learned a great deal of information about the community like how the local economy was not as good has it use to be because of the new regulations keeping tourist away.
I have learned a good deal of information about myself over this process. I have learned that if I give myself enough time and the right place I can do things better. I learned that I might need a little extra time when doing work, but when I use the time efficiently, I can come to be all caught up. I learned that when approaching new people I can become shy and timid and this is something I need to work hard on to overcome. I also learned that I have to actively try and make sure that people around me do not do the Chinese for me as many have done. I need to pay attention and when the time is right, make sure I attempt at speaking Chinese. I hope to take this new information I have gathered about myself and take it back to Shanghai.
I also learned a great deal of information about myself as a leaner. I feel like I have learned how to handle myself in a learning environment better. I think I have also learned to have a better feel of how long it will take me to do something and I have new ways of making sure that I have that time to do the work. I have learned that I have strength in my work ethic and can stay dialed in very well for a long amount of time. This will hopefully help me in Shanghai and high school with my learning experience.
If I could go back in time and tell my self-advice for this project, I would tell myself a great deal of information. I would go all the way back when we were doing Phase 0 and tell myself that I should choose Local Myths and Legends for my topic because I feel like I would come by better information and have a more fulfilling experience with that topic. I would also tell me what was on the horizon and what the final project would look like so that I could be better prepared and focus on information that would help me in my final project. I would also tell myself to acquire more pictures of anything that might help or anything that might not, also some more videos to put in my final product.
If someone were going to continue my work I would highly advise them to do a Case Study on Mr.Yangs casket-making business. This is because he has a fantastic business that has a fantastic story attached along with it. I know if I had more time I would, without hesitation, learn as much as I can about the past, present and future of his business because of the astonishing pieces of information attached along with it. It would also be exceptional information that will last a long time because of how there will be no more casket making after this year so I would advise others that would want to build on my research to quickly and effectually listen to the stories that Mr.Yang can tell.
I would like to acknowledge many of people. I would like to acknowledge all the teacher support, especially Ms.B and Mr.Chen because they had the patience of sitting with me and helping me through the Chinese and translating everything so I could take notes. I would like to thank Ms.Mai for helping through the wellness and giving advice that would later help me revile stress. I would like to thank all the people that were willing to talk to me even though that might have had a business to run. Finally, I would like to thank Mr.T for giving excellent advice through the whole process, Phase 0 to Final Product, and inspiring me to do a final product about my Personal Journey.
This Microcampus has been a fantastic journey. I have solved real problems, expanded my cultural understanding, really grown as a person, and have learned to be aware of my impact. I think I have learned a great deal of infomation about myself and how I do things and I have learned more about the real world outside of the Shanghai “bubble.” This experience will stick with me forever, and I hope never to forget it.