Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
I was going through my normal day in Shanghai. I was covered up with assignments and assessments, until the group from the previous Microcampus trip group came back. I was instantly impressed by the work that they were able to accomplish, and I decided to join the trip for Microcampus. Microcampus is a trip led by Mr. Tafel, which leads to Shanghai. It is 28 days, and our main objective is to have experience outside the bubble of Shanghai, and experience Xizhou while carrying on a project individually. As my first big step, I had to decide upon tremendous amounts of projects to investigate within Xizhou. Eventually, I decided upon those projects using feedback and some of the questions below.
Throughout my process of generating interest in topics, I came up with several questions. One question is the fluency of the language. If for instance we need to interview local people however we lack Chinese skills, may we get support from others? Also, I also wondered if we can use outside sources. If our local information is insufficient, I have wondered if we can use outside resources (books, internet) to gain more information for our project. As I browsed through the list of many topics, I came up with a way in deciding how to narrow my choice. First of all, I looked at how much language was required. Although I currently take Intermediate High in my Chinese Course, I realised that it still lack from the locals. This caused me to think narrower as some topics such as minority issues may take longer, as we need to interview locals more than others. Secondly, I looked at if I would actually have fun while doing this project. I think that if we have fun while we do it, we will get more interested which leads to a better output.
Using these steps, I decided to learn about Local Foods and Cuisine as my first interest. Out of all the other topics, I chose this for several reasons. First of all, I think that language has less of an impact compared to others. Since food is mainly hand-done, I think that I can catch up and understand their ideas fairly well. Secondly, I personally enjoy food. Not only I like to consume food, but I also enjoy on learning how to cook. Finally, I think that I can enjoy it even during the process. While I can stay on task and still enjoy it, I personally do not think I my self can not be bored for the whole time in other projects. This topic is also important to me for many reasons. First, I think that food is one of the best way to show ones culture. Not only it shows what is available within the regions such as crops, but it also shows the heritage. For example, some food last back up to thousands of years! Secondly, although I enjoy eating, I do not know how to cook very well. I think that this can be an opportunity to learn about the Xizhou culture, but also cook to help my family try out foods from different regions. Finally, I think that food connects with history. I am most interested in learning about learning about food within Xizhou, as it can connect with many other academic topics within Normal School life also.
Using these steps again, I was secondly interested to learn about Propaganda Messages on the Walls. However, I discarded this topic for several reasons. First of all, I think that the language is bigger of a factor compared to the food, which makes it difficult to investigate more. Secondly, I was not sure if I could actually find out information with the locals as it is a rather sensitive topic.
After considering between these two projects, I have finally decided to learn about the Local Food and Snacks within Xizhou. While I believe that Propaganda in Xizhou is also interesting, the difficulties of language caused me to decide upon food. Also, I think that my experience with the local food will be more interesting compared to the propaganda, which I may get bored. This topic is important to me. As talking to locals about their life it self is valuable, learning about food in a different environment will be a huge learning opportunity to me. Interacting with them will get me to know about their culture, and also their thoughts around what they eat. While I am in Xizhou, I am thinking to find out about how the snack/food originates, the benefits of the food if available, and the recipe and ingredients. During my research process, being honest and being loyal would be the key to meaningful interactions. Being honest with my skill with cooking, and being loyal with the times given by the restaurant owners would be the key to making accurate and meaningful relationships with the locals.
As alumnis are the experienced ones that already had a "taste" of Xizhou, I decided to look at some of their advices and tips for having a successful time in Xizhou. While the alumnis did not neccessarily feel the same about their easiest or their favorite part, most of them agreed that talking to the people were the hardest. For example, Cameron's Project (click here) and Luca's Project both explained how talking to the Locals are different since we are tend to become nervous when we see people that we do not know. Also, Kevin stated that finding information was difficult, as Xizhou is less known, which causes it to have less resources available. However, all of the experienced ones all said that the process of finding out about the food and history of Xizhou is quite enjoyable, therefore I am highly looking forward to my time in Xizhou!
In Phase 0 of Microcampus, I generated questions upon how to decide my Inquiry project in Xizhou, and finally decided that my topic will be food in Xizhou. In my next step, Phase 1 will be a phase of generating questions about my prompt.