Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 10 months 1 week ago

Microcampus is a great learning opportunity and journey for students to learn about life outside of the city.  I will be staying in a local village in Xizhou for 28 days with two teachers and 9 classmates. I will be investigating a topic of interest for the trip. I was given a long list of topics and I narrowed them down based on feedback. I am excited to explore food and cuisine during my stay.  Lots of work will be put into preparing myself for this trip. I look forward to this opportunity and the freedom and responsibilities that come along with it.

It was not very hard to narrow down my top three choices for a possible inquiry project. I looked through all of the choices and wrote down those that interested me most. Once I had my list, I narrowed it down even further. I also looked at some of the alumni's past inquiry projects to make sure my top three were interesting.  

Wall propaganda:

Wall propaganda are walls of government-approved messages with hidden meaning behind them. I decided not to choose this topic because of my level of Chinese speaking. I was informed that I would need to speak fluent Chinese in order to be able to have this topic.

Local spirits, legends, and stories:

This is talking about the Local spirits, legends, and stories that have occurred in Xizhou. I also did not pick this topic because I do not speak fluent Chinese. To be able to do this topic I would need a full grasp of the Chinese language.

Local food cuisine:

I chose local food and cuisine because I enjoy cooking and trying new things.  I am excited to learn more about cooking and how to make new dishes that I can bring home.  My sister did local food and cuisine two years ago and loved it, which makes me even more excited to explore this topic.  My goals are to learn about the types of food served, how to prepare it, and how the food is provided. 

Topic Ranking:

1. Local spirits, legends, and stories:
2. Wall propaganda
3. Local food cuisine

Student Advice 

As I look forward to beginning my journey in Xizhou, I took some time to review a few alumni's past works. I noticed that all of them took away many great experiences from their topic. I picked up that several students learned beyond their topic. Many became more efficient in their writing and discovered how to know what to say to get their point across. Specifically, to local food and cuisine, I learned that there is one restaurant called The Golden Flower that most Microcampus students enjoyed.  I look forward to visiting The Golden Flower and giving my reviews as well.  Luca, an alumni food, and cuisine student, cautioned that my topic is very broad and needs to be concise and narrowed down. Luca also said to be mindful of ethnic groups because of their unique foods specific to them. Finally, Ivy, another past student under the topic of food said that there were no menus at many restaurants. My sister, Mallory, also shared the same observation during her trip. I think that it would be exciting to walk up and pick food from a shelf. I also learned from Mallory’s entry that the most difficult part was reaching out to experts about her topic because there were so many people that she didn’t know where to start.  I found it helpful after reading that she recommended beginning with snacks because they were small and easy rather than a whole meal. Overall, I found all of the advice very meaningful and will definitely keep it in mind for my trip.

In Phase 0 I spent time looking over a list of topics that I could be living with during my 28-day trip. I had read about past students’ work to narrow down the choices.  After some time researching, I narrowed it down further based on my interests. I looked at advice from alumni who had my same topic and made note of their guidance. In Phase1 I will be doing some in-depth research on my topic of interest to learn more about it.


Advice and Goodluck

Hey Mike,

I'm so happy you are getting the opportunity to enjoy this experience that both Mallory and I got to experience as well. Knowing you, I am sure you will absolutely love it. Learning about the local foods will be so fun, and although I agree with Mallory on starting with snack items to begin your project I definitely have some other advice. I have found that the biggest part of the trip is making strong connections with the people of the village. I think it would be really great if you could find a family restaurant and spend your time invested in their business and not only learn about their food and the local cuisine but also learn about their life. This makes for an even more interesting final project, as you incorporate two aspects, the local cuisine and the connections with the people.

Excited to learn more

I am excited to watch you progress over your chosen topic. I am curious to see how you approach narrowing your topic and how you're going to go about being more concise. I am also interested in learning about the cuisine and hope to hear of some favorite dishes. I look forward to following your journey and proud of you for taking risks and reaching outside your comfort zone to make the most of your time in China.

Looking forward to the next phase,


I had been lucky enough to be able to join the Ultimate group with eight others to go down to the village of Xizhou. I had been able to grow through this experience and learn about my inquiry project and even about myself. I have made bonds and friends with the students on my trip and also the community of Xizhou.