Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
On March 9th, 2019, I will be flying across China to a city called Xizhou for 28 days. This is not an ordinary trip, rather it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a world beyond our modern world to learn in the city independently. For those 28 days, I will be studying a project on top of the regular schoolwork that I am doing. One of the significant choices I will be making in the preparation for our interactive learning in Xizhou will be choosing what to study, or known as the inquiry project. From a long and detailed list of projects that I can study in, I must choose 3 as my top choices to consider for my inquiry project.
The basis or criteria that I used to narrow down the long list of topics was whether the topic headings seemed to be of my interest. The large topic headings were of less concern to me rather than the individual topic itself. This is simply because a topic heading can be misinterpreted by anyone. I know that I seem to have to have a large interest in the economy, whether global or local for a reason I have not figured out. Since I already have an interest in the wide range of topics, other than any topics that stood out to me, I chose topics regarding businesses or that have to do with interacting with people.
At first, I considered either "Tourism/Development (Ecotourism)", "Project Management/Business", or "Case Study (Ethics, What if I was from here?) for my inquiry project. I considered the topic of project management/business as my second topic mainly because of the haziness and vagueness of how a business becomes a business, especially in a local area without lots of consumers coming in daily. I have also considered a case study or ethics (what if I was from here?) as my third choice because of I want to understand more about the types of things sold and valued in various areas like Xizhou.
Out of these three topics though, I believe that I would like to focus on ecotourism as my topic for the inquiry project because of the vagueness of the idea itself, especially in a rural place like Xizhou. I have considered the topic of ecotourism as one of my three selections because of the effect and significance that tourism has on a city’s economy, depending on where it is. I plan to find out about the topic by asking and interviewing the people in Xizhou, such as the consumers of the various products, local business and shop owners, and the tourists themselves. I believe that to make this research process more significant and relevant, I would ask mainly about how ecotourism affects their daily life, what they think about it in terms of their business and lifestyle (whether it is more beneficial or harmful), and ultimately, what role does ecotourism have in a small city like Xizhou. If possible, I could also ask the interviewees of how ecotourism’s role in Xizhou differs from another nearby city like Dali.
To help make this project the best that it could be, I have looked at previous projects that have focused on tourism too. I looked at five reflections by previous people who have visited Microcampus. I learned from Taylor F from Alumni F that it is better to interview and focus on domestic tourism rather than international tourism, to prepare open-ended follow-up questions, and to ask the questions in their point of view. I learned from Joyce K from Alumni G to talk to lots of individuals throughout the entire journey in Microcampus to collect various points of view. I learned from Austin Y from Alumni G to start off the project with a larger topic rather than keeping the topic too narrow, to start collecting interviews earlier or as early as possible, and to focus on certain people rather than too many vague ones. I learned from Rena J from Alumni I that I should keep the interviews short, prepare questions beforehand, and do it casually when I am able to meet someone. I learned from Alice C from Alumni L. to interview a diverse group of people to help develop their perspectives as objectively as possible. Overall, from all these reflections, I know that I should prepare questions, look from diverse people or people with different opinions to interview and to keep the interview short and sweet.
At the end of Phase 0, I have achieved in finding an inquiry project to focus on throughout my time in Microcampus and also found strategies to help in research on my topic. Next, I will be starting Phase 1, where my real journey as an open-minded learner begins.