Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
Hi! This is the first phase of my inquiry project, which is an opportunity for all Microcampus students to discover more about Xizhou from different aspects within the 28 days of our travel. We had a wide variety of topic choices to choose from: from business case studies to silversmithing, and even designing our own tourist guide. I eventually focused on some specific topics using the method mentioned below:
The way I used to narrow down my choice for my inquiry project was by reading the inquiry project sheet several times, looking at the big categories first. I am especially interested in history and art, so I immediately focused on these topics. Next, I went to the Microcampus homepage and discovered some completed projects and looked at the blogs written by alumni in previous groups, which helped me discover some potential research directions for my inquiry project. Finally, I asked my family members whether or not they would support my ideas. I have been wavering about which to choose, here are my possible choices: Photography, Wall Propaganda, and Local Antique Trade. I eventually made up my mind. I gave up on photography because I felt like it would be hard to connect with the local people in Xizhou and understand their cultures through the use of a western technology. I chose not to do the other topic, wall propaganda because I thought propaganda might lead to invasive questions about political viewpoints, and that will not facilitate my bonding with the locals.
The topic that I will be focused on during my Microcampus trip is Local Trade- Tea Horse Trail. After some research, I found out that the tea and antique trade present in Xizhou greatly impacted the people living there and this made me extra curious about the origins and development of the trail. From the opportunities given by this trip, I would like to discover more about the local antique trade because I feel like each small, fragile, decorative antique has their own significance and cultural relevance behind it, which meant I could explore the cultures and traditions of Xizhou and bond with the people by having insightful conversations about the antiques and their stories.
Next are some suggestions from Microcampus alumni. Max S. said to dedicate 10 to 15 minutes of time to Microcampus each day so that there will be less pressure in Xizhou. Aniketh S. advised future students to avoid researching too much and struggle to contain it. Yifei C. emphasized the importance of being independent and focused, or else "you will have a miserable time".
In Phase 0 I chose my topic and listed some ideas that came along the way. Next, I will be stepping into Phase 1, where I will be asking purposeful questions and eventually complete the inquiry project.