Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
Microcampus is a journey that will take me outside the minuscule bubble of Shanghai -- our expedition is to travel to a rural village and create amazing connections and experiences with the locals and Xizhou's culture. Each student is required to pursue a topic of personal interest from the Inquiry Project list -- to enhance our knowledge by producing real-world connections; to construct new ideas and perspectives. I was overwhelmed by the different projects I could engage in, however, after the extensive feedback from Mr. Tafel, I decided the project I would be undertaking is: wall propaganda messages.
Before making my final decision, the other two topics I was intrigued by was Ethnic Minority Issues and Photography. I chose not to do the topic Ethnic Minority issues because it needs strong political opinions in some areas; and I would not have been able to show sincere devotion to a topic I would be half-way understanding. Furthermore, the topic Photography did not suit me best because it is restricting in some aspects. I wanted a project that I could scrutinize; a project that would challenge me. Photography is something that I do every day since it is a passion. But being able to comprehend the significance of the propaganda in Xizhou, is something I don't have the opportunity to do every day.
The topic I have chosen to investigate on Microcampus is wall propaganda messages because I've learned about the repercussions that propaganda played in World War I. I have also had a unit in art where we familiarized ourselves with different varieties of propaganda: styles of text, messages, symbols, images, formatting etc. I can apply my knowledge about observing propaganda from previous years. This topic is important to me because propaganda is everywhere - it is active in our lives every day, whether it is a negative or a positive message. For this topic, I plan to decipher the large-character phrases plastered on the walls of the village, each with a government approved message for the citizens, and I believe the research process I will be experiencing is gathering information and uncovering how people in the village view the messages.
A summary of frequent suggestions from previous Microcampus students was to focus on outlining ideas and perspectives, especially concepts of propaganda that should be acknowledged more in our world. For example, Grace W. of Alumni-P focused on the perspectives of wall propaganda -- which allowed her to interact with the locals of Xizhou and its community. She wrote about how listening to the vivid memories of the locals rewarded her with a new outlook on propaganda.
Overall, in Phase 0 I explored each topic by reading the descriptions Mr. Tafel provided for us. I also unraveled the different possibilities each topic offered, then I made my final choice. Phase 1 will be the producing of questions I am eager to answer in Xizhou.