Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 6 months 2 weeks ago
Hello! I will be spending 28 days in a village called Xizhou, Yunnan, a province in China. I am currently still in Shanghai, and just selected a topic I would want to investigate more about. I was only interested in these three topics: love and marriage, religious studies, and local spirits/stories/legends. I did not struggle in trying to narrow my selections to 3-5 choices, but instead, I struggled on narrowing these three topics to one. At first, I had the same amount of interest in all of them, and it took a while to figure out the rankings of each project. Then, I received Mr. Tafel's feedback and he mentioned that previous alumni who did this topic did not have strong Chinese skills, so if I chose this I might be able to see in another way that the previous students were not able to. This sounded like a pretty big advantage to me. Mr. Tafel also stated that they have excellent relations with the people in the temples if I chose religion or local spirits as my topic. I decided to settle down on the topic, love and marriage, because I want to use my advantage of speaking Chinese to see what others might not be able to see. Hear what they might not be able to hear. Mostly, go through a unique experience that nobody else would possibly feel the same way as me.  

I did not use much strategy when I was choosing my top three most interested topics. I begun by reading the bolded headers that sums up the smaller topics. I know I am not interested in economics, so I did not go through the topics in there as thorough as the way I went through the topics under the header art/culture/history. My mindset was clear and kept the same as I went through the list of project ideas. It was to choose something I am 100% interested in. Something that I would remember and be able to share it with my family and friends back in Shanghai. Something that could impact me, help me grow and become a better person. 

         1. Love and Marriage

To be honest, the last line from the topic descriptor really got my attention, " ...the interesting challenges that are a part of that change." It mentioned about how people revise the way they think about love as they get older. This is important to me, because as a teenager born in Taiwan and grew up in an international background, I wonder how the teens there might think about when the word "love" was mentioned. Do they find it gross? Do they find it beautiful? I wonder if our distinct beliefs and environment would be a significant variable to how we define love.

Discarded topics: I was interested in religious studies, because I am personally a religious person, and I feel like one of the best ways to connect with people is knowing what they believe. That was the base I felt like I needed to touch, or know at least a bit about, to fully know the town. I ended up not choosing this topic, because I felt like this could be something I can talk with the citizens of Xizhou about during my free time, instead of studying about it. The other topic was local spirits/stories/legends, because I believe that listening about a legend or a story from the town could really help me understand the actions of the people there. It would also help me connect with the younger kids from Xizhou. I did not choose this topic, because I realized that I did not have as much interest in this one as much as the other two. Of course, I would love to research about them during my free time. 

After reading the experiences and reflections of different alumni, I am definitely more excited for this trip. The two girls, Charissa C and Risa Y, who did the same topic I chose had written some great suggestions. Both of them mentioned better ways of approaching a stranger and asking them about a personal topic, love. They also stated how their conversations with the citizens of Xizhou were short and they only answered what the girls asked. Nothing else much, because that lack of trust is floating in the air. It is reasonable to not want to talk about a sensitive topic with someone unfamiliar. This is definitely a big heads-up for me, so I would more likely be able to avoid those type of obstacles. The two alumni chose different aspects of love and marriage they wanted to know more about, so it is probably a good idea to begin thinking in Shanghai about where I want to start. Going to the other towns near Xizhou was also recommended, and Risa Y said that if she could go back in time, she would have listened to Mr. T and taken lots of photos. Reading the advice and reflections of previous students who had been to Microcampus really helped me form a starting line of my own. 
 

In Phase 0, I chose a topic that I would like to investigate in the village, Xizhou. For Phase 1, I believe that we would start coming up with questions and research about our projects. 

Hello there! My name is Dora and my roots are in Taiwan, although, I have been in Shanghai for more than 10 years now. I have heard of the Microcampus program last year, and I absolutely wanted to join. I was in Xizhou with the 23rd group, Wildfires, and made connections with the welcoming residents, studied their culture, and learned about ourselves. I completed both my inquiry and service learning projects which I am extremely proud of. Microcampus had been an extraordinary trip, and the main source for all my life changing moments and experiences that I have in my pockets.