16 Students, 2 Teachers. 28 Days. Living in a Village called XiZhou. The Ignite Group came from the two SAS campuses, Puxi and Pudong. These 16 students came to XiZhou in a program called Microcampus. 15 students and I traveled away from our families to the Yunnan Province. Our goal? To create a project on a topic that each of us have picked. My topic is Relationships Between Ethnic Minority Groups in XiZhou. I chose this topic because I wanted to know the relationship between people of different cultures, of different customs and how they act towards each other, their relationship. My sources were the people of XiZhou. I especially was interested in interviewing people that had married different minorities such as Mrs. Zhao but I mainly interviewed Bai people and some Hui People. My sources were Mr. Yan; Zhang, Tien He; A Ling; Mr. Duan; Mr. Xu; Zhao, Li Min; Yang, Jing Jiang; Ye Ling; Tafel, Craig; Mai, Hai Sam; Ms. Ma; Mu, Candy; Zhao Wei Xia; Mr. Zhang and Zhao, Elmer. It was kind of difficult finding Hui People who had time, or were willing to speak to me. Most of my contacts at first were Bai people but after some searching and some asking, there was a list of Hui people that I wanted to talk to. The main question that I was trying to answer was, "what is their relationship". This started out as my base question and every interviewee said the same thing: "Our relationship is great". Moreover, I was trying to answer questions that involved their relationship with each other in their daily lives. In order to investigate the relationship between different minorities, one must consider the events shared, the events separate, and the events where they start out separate but become integrated.
Sharing My Learning:
For my final project, I have created an iMovie. To see my final product, please look above my Introduction. Please click here for the video as well.
I came to Microcampus for one of the most main reasons. Everyone said it was fun. It is fun, I agree but it is also hard work. I wanted to meet new people, and I did. I met the people from the Puxi campus. We started out as 2 different bubbles. The Puxi bubble and the Pudong bubble. Now we are all one big bubble, the Ignite Group. Another reason why I came to XiZhou was interact with locals. You do not get this chance in Shanghai. You cannot go up to a stranger and say hi and try to interview them, and expect them to say hi back or even let you interview them. Here in XiZhou, people are happy, people are friendly and that is why I came here. There are also blue skies, you can see the clouds. Its so different from our Shanghai life and that is what it means to get out of the bubble. Being in Microcampus has made me more responsible. I had to manage how everyday I would do committee work, talk to teachers about committees, organize the time for my Inquiry Project and Wellness. If I did not have this experience, I would be way more unorganized. Before i came to XiZhou, I did everything in any sort of order. I understand now, that I have to have an order or I will never complete what I have to do. At the start, I was kind of behind on my Inquiry Project but now I am ahead. I also learned that there are consequences to not being ahead. For example, I was glad when I came and I was on top of my work because I was one of the few that were allowed to go biking. I also learned about being more responsible. A few days ago there was an incident where I was talking to Mr. Tafel and I realized that I did not have my phone. This is a safety incident because if something had happened, I would not be able to be in contact. It taught me that there were also consequences to that because i did not being my phone, I would not be able to go to Dali Old Town.
I took away a lot of knowledge from my inquiry experience. I learned about the relationship between the minorities and how their culture does not define the person, it just defines their customs. My topic did not change much during the course of the study. My topic title changed from "Ethnic Minority Issues" to "Relationships Between Ethnic Minority Groups in XiZhou" because the first topic title implies that there are issues. If I continued using that topic title, then I would have been implying that there are issues between ethnic minorities in XiZhou but there are not. The most difficult part of my research was getting people to talk more. To them, ethnic minority relationships did not mean anything. It was just another part of their daily lives. Once I said my topic and introduced myself, they would just say "our relationship is good". Asking my 10 Big Questions helped but I needed to ask them to elaborate on some of their answers. My first "aha" moments were during my first interview with Mr. Yan. After that, I had a lot of repeated information which did not make my topic seem as interesting but Mr. Tafel explained to me on how if I had contradicting information, it would be a more difficult process.
This project taught me a lot about the ethnic minorities in Yunnan. In other provinces or areas in China, there is a lot of conflict between Ethnic Minorities and I thought that it would be that way as well here. It was not actually. It is totally different and they treat each other as well as they treat any other person. Without this project, I would not have talked to locals as much. I get kind of shy when I have to talk to strangers, especially when I am not speaking in my native language. I speak Chinese to my parents only once in a while and I have Chinese lessons but going out of the "English bubble" of Shanghai, I had to speak to locals or I could not complete my research process.
If I could go back to the start of this process, I would have been more focused. At the start when I was always getting the same information, I got kind of tired of it and I was not looking forward to interviewing people. After a while though, the topic started to become more interesting to me as I interviewed more people. Some advice I would have given myself would be to: "always be focused". If future Microcampus students were to do this topic, I would advise them to not get tired of the repeating information. Maybe they might all of the sudden find a very interesting fact or some contradicting information. I would advise them to spend all the time to research that they have to research because in the end, they will be very glad with all the information that they have.
I would like to thank Yang, Jie; Mr. Yan; Zhang, Tien He; A Ling; Mr. Duan; Mr. Xu; Zhao, Li Min; Yang, Jing Jiang; Ye Ling; Mr. Tafel; Ms. Mai; Ms. Ma; Mu, Candy; Zhao, Wei Xia, Mr. Zhang and Zhao, Elmer for providing me with all the information that I have used to assemble my final product. I would also like to thank Cecilyn, Ye Ling, Mr. Tafel and Ms. Mai for going around XiZhou with me to interview people and to assist me with translation questions.
Microcampus was a month of my life that was definitely worth. It has taught me to be more responsible and to plan my time accordingly and that there will always be consequences whether good or bad. In this month that I have assembled this inquiry project, I have learned a lot more information than I expected to learn and I am grateful for this once in a lifetime chance.
"You never know what you have until its gone" - Anonymous