Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 1 week 3 days ago

On this page, I will be discussing the things that I have learned about my topic both before and after the trip. I will also be building upon the things that I have done in Phases 0, 1 and 2 (click here, here or here to see them respectively). The things that I have done in Phases 0, 1, and 2 were choosing my project topic, creating real/big questions, and finding helpful resources to expand my knowledge on the topic.

Background Information:

I have done some background research on how businesses work, and how plants work. I learned that businesses should sell something unique in order to attract the attention of customers, and with that, make a reasonable profit. But I did not focus my Inquiry Project on businesses only, I also looked at plants which I could sell. However, I did not look at plants in general, I researched a little bit about cacti. Although I do not know what types of cacti are growing on the foothill west of the village, I have found some benefits that a specific genus of the Cactaceae group provides for people: Opuntia, or the more common term, "Prickly Pear". This genus of cacti has juices have a huge nutritional value that benefits people. Firstly, some evidence shows that Opuntia can reduce blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, and can also reduce the effects of a hangover [1,2].

Small Businesses

In my efforts for learning a bit more about small businesses, I stumbled across a website that talked about six key ways to start a successful business, be it small or large. When it comes to the gist of it, being successful requires many factors, but the two that mean the most to me are holding your head high and starting small. These two factors would significantly increase your chances of becoming successful, and that is because more often than not, people who are starting a business shrink back in fear, and for reasons that mostly revolve around cowardice. If potential founders just held their head high and stepped forward, they could become founders of huge companies. Some examples include Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg; you never know unless you try[5]. The second most important part to me is how you should start small. No matter how confident you are, always start your business small, and build up. That way, you will be playing it safe. These two factors will be the main things that I will be using to guide myself throughout this project. 
After doing a bit of reading on previous small business case study reflections, I have found some things that I should be aware of when doing this topic. For example, after reading the reflection written by alumnus Peyton F., a big takeaway that I got was to try and build relationships at the village. He stated, "It helped me become more comfortable and more confident when speaking and asking questions, even if someone else was translating for me." I decided to read another Inquiry Project that was written by alumnus Alex L. He explained that many of the people in the village of Xizhou are very friendly, and willing to become a part of the project. I think the main things that I got from reading the reflections written by these former Microcampus students are to try and build relationships with the villagers and to seek a better understanding of your topic before departing to Xizhou.

Plant Life

For the plant life portion of my project, I was unable to find any information from former Microcampus students that discussed the cacti living near the village. According to the trip instructor, the cacti near the village are plants that no one has studied yet, and that is why I chose to study them. However, I did find information about certain cactus species on other sites. For example, I did some research on a type of plant named Prickly Pear, which is a member of the genus Opuntia. This cactus supposedly has juices inside that can provide nourishment for humans. The food is used to help treat diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and much more [2], as I have stated above. I have also done a little bit of research on a cactus named Aloe Vera, from the genus Aloe. This plant harvested for medicinal uses[6]. However, there are some cacti out there that could be potentially harmful. For example, there is a succulent in the genus Euphorbias that is particularly dangerous to humans. When in contact, the white sap in their leaves can cause irritation to skin, and usually be the primary source for a rash[7].

Tips to Look Out for in General

After reading a bit of what a previous Microcampus student Gayatri B. wrote, I learned that I should try to learn a bit more Chinese in order to build a closer relationship with the people there and that sometimes, it is difficult for businesses to open up to you [3]. Another thing was from alumni James L. and that was to be sure to take photos when working [4]. This is because if you do not have the photos, you might have to spend time later in the project to do it. Now I know a few things that I should be mindful of in order to have a successful Inquiry Project.

Information From 3-to-5's:

Information from Local Contacts:

Answers to Previous Questions:




My name is Jason M., and I was born in Carmel, Indiana. I was raised there for about 8 years of my life before moving to Shanghai in 2011. Once I moved back, I attended school at SMIC. A year later, I transferred to SAS and I have been there for about five years. Considering that I have lived in Shanghai for almost half my life, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to see what local China was like, so I decided to attend the Microcampus trip. Based off of the feedback from previous participants, I think I will enjoy this trip and I can't wait for our departure to Xizhou.