Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 4 years 2 days ago

For a month in 2016, 12 students have traveled to the beautiful Xizhou. The goal of this trip was to get out of our comfort zone and out of our 'bubble' life in Shanghai. In Xizhou, I worked on an Inquiry Project where I had researched on a topic that interest me. While I was looking at the list of all the possible projects there were a few that caught my eye. I needed a project that would keep my attention for all the 28 days that I was on the trip. That is why I carefully looked through all of the possible topics before choosing my top three. Below are some of my ideas that I have changed through out time based on teacher revisions that I have received. 

After looking through all the descriptions of the Inquiry Projects, I had a few questions. Something that I noticed in the Local Education System category was that we would have to use contacts outside of school. Based on this information, my question was what relation do the contacts have to the school? Looking at the next topic that interested me, Photography, I was wondering if we would be allowed to take photos of the local people. My last interest is in Farming. In this category I was questioning whether we could experiment with different crops or we would need to focus on one.

Seeing all the list of topics I decided on three different Inquiry Projects. They are Local Education System, Photography, and Farming. To decide on these three I looked through the list to see if anything captured my attention. If the title seemed interesting to me, I would read the description to see if it was something that I would have enough information on for 28 days. Later I asked myself if the topic would still be captivating everyday in Xizhou. Originally I had many more project ideas, but after asking these questions I went through a process of elimination and was left with these three.

One of the topics I was interested in was Local Education System. I crossed this one out as Mr.Tafel said that I would not be able to communicate a lot with local students as they are usually not available during our Inquiry Project scheduled work time. Since I wanted to focus on an area of this topic that needed interactions with locals, this project was not for me.

A topic that caught my eye was the Photography category. I would like to do this topic as I would like to keep the memory of Xizhou not only in my mind but also through photos. Taking photos of nature, scenery and people has always been a hobby of mine. Since Xizhou is such a beautiful place I loved being able to bring my camera to capture the moments and memories I have made there. Another reason that this topic is in my top three is because a lot of my family loves photography. Usually when we go out as a family to take pictures it is of the city of Shanghai. When we go on vacations we have some photos of nature, but Xizhou has a beautiful scenery that I could not miss out on.

The last topic I chose is Farming. I have farmed in different parts of the world, for example Indonesia and Malaysia. Based on my knowledge, I know that Xizhou would be a completely different experience. Another great aspect about this topic is that I will be able to work and interact with the locals. Even while creating bonds with these people I would also be learning.

I have a preference order for my Inquiry Projects.

1. Local Education System
2. Photography
3. Farming

I decided to do a combination of photography and farming. These topics are important to me as everyone else in my family does photography and it was a passion that I wanted to pursue too. In this topic I will also be able to be outdoors which is where I work best. Another trait that I have is I loved to do hands-on work. While doing this Inquiry Project I feel it was a great way to do everything mentioned before. In my new topic, I am planning on learning about their farming techniques, farming schedule...etc. As I get a closer bond with the locals, I am happy to be able to take photos of them for the photography part of my project. When I was doing all these activities with the locals I was able to create a strong bond with them and we have had meaningful and memorable interactions together. 

Looking through the previous works of alumni there were some parts that interested me. According to Shannon A. (Alumni-M), I can notice that each farmer will have a different story to tell as they did not all live at the same time, did not all have the same resources, and they did not have the same land formation. Based on the final product that Chu Chuan W. (Alumni-K) wrote, I now know that some farmers may not want to share all of their stories or problems they have lived through. Jillian K. (Alumni-C) focused on the growing of garlic. In one part of her final reflection, she mentioned that the farm lands change every day and through different weather situations but the farmers still manage to work through them. For my project, I would like to focus on the weather conditions in Xizhou and how they effect different crops. In addition, I would like to learn about how the people dealt with harsh weather conditions in the past compared to the future. The last part of my project would be focusing on what tools they use to help different types of crops after different types of bad weather conditions. 

Overall in Phase 0 I have been discovering and looking over topics to find the right one for me in the 28 days I have spent in Xizhou. I have eliminated the ones that were not interesting to me and narrowed down big ideas into specific plans. In Phase 1 I will start researching about my final Inquiry Project.

Hello, my name is Alba and my time in Xizhou has now ended. I am 13 years old and I attend Shanghai American School. I have lived in Shanghai for 8 years now. Before that I lived in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan. I wanted to join the Microcampus program to experience living out of the "bubble" life. I was a part of the O.R.E.O spring Microcampus trip of 2016. I am so happy I got to come here and learn about my inquiry project, bond with locals, have personal growth and develop more intercultural understanding!