Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 4 years 1 week ago

Twelve 8th grade students from Shanghai American School have boarded the plane on March 5th to Xi Zhou. Xi Zhou is a location consisting of beautiful nature and history that most of us were limited to experiencing. In the amount of 28 days, we have connected to a completely diverse side of China, where traffic and polluted air is not to be found, and a community where the population reaches only to two thousand. While being immersed in the daily life of a small village, we had the opportunity to choose a specific topic that we felt passionate about, which we then researched about for the next 28 days by communicating and starting conversations with locals. 

Through communicating with the locals and learning more in depth about their culture, I wondered if it was possible to make an Imovie. This Imovie would document how our predictions of our topic has significantly changed over time, while not only consisting of facts and information but emotional connection of what we have learnt about each local as an individual. 

The topic that became my first choice was farming. However, through the process of making this decision, I went through a step of eliminating other choices that I was interested as well. Love and Marriage, Healthcare/Wellness, Local Spirits/Legends, and the Local Education System were topics that intrigued me as well. Nevertheless, most of them had been eliminated mainly because my goal was to be more interactive. This meant while having the opportunity and experience of being in Xi Zhou, I would also prefer to be more physically active, to encounter as much of the nature and rural location I would be surrounded by. Another reason that I had eliminated the local education system was due to the time schedule. In order to learn more about the school's curriculum, my work time would not align as my other classmates. Which meant that I would have difficulties managing my time. In conclusion, I chose farming as my final decision because not only did it require one to be actively outside immersed in pure nature, it would immensely move me out of my comfort zone. Since I have never once farmed in my life, this would be a challenge and a great learning experience as well, knowing that growing the food we eat on a daily basis is not easy, and it requires a lot of dedication and persistency. 

Information that I have learnt by looking at alumni with similar topics as mine: 

By looking at the reflections of three students that did similar topic as mine, I gained information of what I should be aware of in the future. The first point I learnt is that it will not be a surprise if the topic I wanted to learn more in depth about changes right before my eyes. According to Chu Chuan (Alumini K), he stated that while he dug more into his topic, he at the same time changed his interest and moved into a different aspect of farming. This is going to tell me that I shouldn't be worried just because what I expected to accomplish did not turn my way, and it is okay to change your interests along the way. The second point I have learnt through the final products of these students is that not only will I be learning just facts and information, there will also be information that will touch me emotionally. According to almost all of the 3 student's projects that I have looked at, they stated that by interviewing the locals, they not only learnt various techniques of farming but emotional and difficult times when the government had taken over their farms, and how it has been a grueling situation for many. Finally, the last point that I have been well informed was that not all locals will spare their time to talk to me. I should be aware that this is not all going to be about me, that others have jobs and tasks to do as well. So it is my task to find an appropriate time that the locals will talk to me, and that I should not be discouraged just because few locals do not have the time to let me interview them. 


Overall, Phase 0 incorporated a lot of brainstorming and thinking. It is similar to a first draft because we were constantly editing our top choices, constricting it down to our final topic. As for the upcoming Phase 1, it will include myself posing real questions. Phase 1 will be the place where I will be doing a lot of researching on my topic, farming.

My name is Angelesia, and I was lucky enough to become part of the O.R.E.O. Microcampus group. Being immersed in this beautiful village has taught me more about myself than I could have ever learned in Shanghai. This spectacular learning experience has shaped myself in every aspect, and it has encouraged me to constantly strive and aim for a higher benchmark. I will never forget my adventure here in Xizhou, and I hope to visit again in the future.