Updated 1 year 3 weeks ago
My name is Jason M., and I am an eighth grader who spent most of my years in SAS Pudong. After hearing about this thing known as Microcampus, I decided to apply for it. Microcampus is a trip organized by the someone named Mr. T, and he usually takes sixteen students, my group only had five, and we own the name "Tactical." I have a couple of friends who attended the Winter Microcampus trip, the Revival group, and many of them strongly recommended that I go. I am very pleased that they recommended that I go, and that is because Microcampus is an experience that I never really got to have. I experienced things like solving real life situations instead of having an adult care for them, and I also expand my intercultural understanding. I could not wait to start my journey as a member of the 20th Microcampus group, the Tactical group.
Before our departure, we had to choose a topic of interest for a project known as the "Inquiry Project." The topic that I chose was about Plants/Insect Life (because I am fascinated by plants) and Case Study-Small Business (because I find the business world incredibly attractive). I could not decide which one to do, so I asked Mr. T if I could do both, and he said yes. In the end, I decided to focus my Inquiry Project on plant businesses, but more specifically, herbal markets. This project would be an effective way for me to learn about something that I had little knowledge of. Throughout my stay here, I learned about several different kinds of herbs as well as how purveyors run their businesses. For me to do this, I had to interact with several different store owners, and I had to get out of my comfort zone doing so. However, interacting with the locals was not the first thing that we did. I do not sail a ship if I do not understand what I am are messing with. Before interacting with locals, we had this thing called 3-5's.
The goal for 3-5's is to help us get started on our project. The way 3-5's work is, we have to have a three to five-minute conversation with three to five different instructors. I decided to talk to Mr. T, Ms. Mai, Ms. Zhao, and Ms. Linden at the Linden Center. Each of these experts gave me multiple contacts whom I could converse with for information on my topic. After I had got my contacts, I began to sign up for teacher support to ask them. In that process, I was thinking about different types of questions that I could ask. The main types of questions that I wanted to get an answer for were mainly about what kinds of herbs did they own, how they dealt with competition, and how they are going to deal with the future of their business.
After conversing with my contacts, I developed a thesis statement for my project. I wanted to base it around whether or not I could survive as a plant purveyor. My thesis statement is: in order for me to survive as a herb entrepreneur, I must understand how to establish a business, operate the business, and ensure the future of my business.
Sharing My Learning
I decided to share my learning through a video, and you can see it at the very top, or by clicking here to see it.
This Inquiry Project experience has taught me several lessons, and the main one for life. Throughout my Inquiry Project work time, I learned that I have to plan ahead and not procrastinate. Obviously, I could have acquired that knowledge from anywhere, but the Inquiry Project was the one project that demonstrated the importance of it. This lesson showed itself when I modified my topic. Halfway through the trip, I started to realize that focusing solely on cacti would be too specific, and focusing on plants as a whole would be too broad. Because of this observation, I brought myself to the solution of focusing on herbs. Another reason for why I changed topics was because when I was creating my questions for my interviews, it dawned on me that I had been asking questions about whether or not my contacts knew any plants that could benefit the health and wellbeing of the human body. 
As I was doing my field research, I have experienced many ups and downs. I have also stumbled upon multiple speed bumps. The bump that I had the most difficulty with was trying to build up the courage and overcome the awkwardness to talk to the locals. The cause of my being introverted came from growing up in Shanghai. When growing up in Shanghai, it is abnormal to go up to a stranger on the street and strike a conversation with them. If anyone did this, it was usually awkward. When here in Xizhou, however, I had to do the complete opposite. I had to get over my awkwardness and get the guts to go up and talk to them. Throughout my work, because there were several difficult situations, I also had several a-ha moments. These moments are when I am struggling with something, and I find a way to overcome it. For example, when I was trying to get the guts to talk to the locals, I often thought to myself, what do I have to lose? There is nothing wrong with me striking a conversation with them, and if they said no, then I will just leave. That was my a-ha moment, and that is because once I thought of that idea, I had a much easier time talking to strangers. After having that a-ha moment, I felt much more confident in myself and interacting with locals.
I learned that the business world is much more complicated than I thought it was. At first, I initially thought that starting a small business would be incredibly easy; however, it is not the way that I expected. Also, I learned a significant amount of information regarding herbs. Not only did this project teach me about my topic, but it also helped me get out of my shell. Before I came to Xizhou, I was a rather introverted person, and I could not build up the guts to talk to strangers. However, in the process of this project, talking to strangers was a must, and that helped me on so many levels. I got to build friendships with locals in and around Xizhou. I think as I did this project, I became a much friendlier person. I also got to work on my social skills. This project showed me that everyone has a story and I am not the constant center of attention. It demonstrated the hero syndrome that I had in me, and I am grateful it pointed it out to me. As a learner, this process showed the vast amount of information out there, and originally, I did not think that there would be that much information on my topic, but boy I was wrong. 
If I were to go back in time and give advice to people just starting their Inquiry Project, I would tell them to take plenty of photos. The next bit of advice that I would give is: Get out of your comfort zone early. The reasoning behind this is, if they get out of their comfort zones early, then they will not have to worry about when the time to interview locals comes. If the new Microcampus students repeat the same mistake as me, then they will have one difficult time getting information. I think that if someone were to continue my work, I would hope that they expand from just herbs. I believe that if they were to expand on my task, they could try and see what it is like to run a business that grows vegetables and how it contributes to the culinary arts.
I would like to give big thanks to everyone who contributed to this project. I would like to thank Mr. Zhao, the herb owner because he supplied me with all the main information that I needed. I would like to give big thanks to Ms. Mai and Ms. Song for helping me as teacher support. Each of them provided me with multiple contacts and their takes on my topic, and they helped me with translation. I would also like to thank all of the store owners that I interviewed for the information they gave me (The information they gave me can found here). I would like to thank my parents and friends back in Shanghai. My parents brought the idea of attending Microcampus up to me, and my friends all kept supporting me throughout my trip. I would like to thank the other Tactical group members for making this experience a memorable one; and finally, I would like to give big thanks to Mr. T. He has taught me several different life lessons as well as patiently reminding me to keep my head above the water. He has shot out several different puns each day and has made this Microcampus journey a memory that I will not forget. If none of these people were here to help me, I would not have had as much enjoyment as I did. 
My name is Jason M. and I am from Carmel, Indiana. I am currently attending SAS Pudong and I am almost at the end of eighth grade. The experience that I got from the journey to Xizohu was probably one of the best that I have had. I am really proud that I attended Microcampus, and that is because I learned a lot of not only myself but Xizhou as well. The trip to Xizhou yielded several different small experiences that added up to one huge journey. Hopefully, I can pay another visit to Xizhou sometime.