Microcampus is a school trip where students are selected to go on a 28 day trip to study one specific topic in Xizhou, China. I first vaguely learned about this trip in 6th grade because one of my sisters was in 8th grade at the time. When 8th grade for me arrived I decided to apply and got in. Microcampus is a trip that reveals your character and tests several skills that will be useful in the future. Microcampus also allows you to embrace the culture, which is why it is such an experiential trip.
The reason I was fascinated with this topic and decided to explore this topic was because I knew little about this topic and I have seen a various amount of fishing techniques. I have seen fishing with nets in Shanghai, fishing with fishing rods in America and I was curious to know how they fished in Xizhou. Also when I was doing a little research on fishing in Xizhou I discovered the technique of cormorant fishing, which really got my attention.
I interviewed fishers mostly for obvious reasons but I also interviewed people who sold fishing nets. I got one of my contacts by going to the morning market and setting an appointment up with a local who sold fish. That interview lead me to a two people who sell fishing nets. Ms.Mai also helped me find some more contacts. We also did 3-to-5's, which is where you interview 3 to 5 people for about 3 to 5 minutes to find some people to interview for your topic. Most of my 3-to-5's gave me areas to go to instead of specific people, which is still fine because I still got a lot of information in the end.
I chose to interview these different people because they were willing to answer my questions and I wanted to get different perspectives. The people I interviewed included a cormorant fisher, net fishers and people who sell nets. During a time I felt that I did not have enough interviews or information so I just interviewed anyone that knew about fishing. Fortunately, all of the people I interviewed had a decent amount of information.
For my interviews I did not use my ten big questions. Instead, I came up with more direct questions that would give me the information that I felt I needed. Before the interview I would come up with a few foundation questions and then throughout the interviews more specific questions would pop up.
Here are a few foundation questions that I came up with:
Where did you learn to fish?
What is the step by step process of fishing?
What does your schedule look like?
What are the best times of the year to be fishing?
Are there any regulations for fishing?
One example of when a question came up during the interview was after I asked Mr. Li if there were any fishing regulations. His answer was yes, there is a time during the year where it is illegal to fish. That prompted me to ask what he did during that time to make money.
In order to investigate fishing in Xizhou, one must consider the habits of a fisher, the finance and the techniques/equipment.
Sharing My Learning
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I took many different things from investigating fishing in Xizhou. First off, I learned lots and lots of new information that I did not know of before. I got all of the information I expected to get. I also created friendships with several fishers, especially Mr. Yang. I hope I will get to say a final goodbye and hope that I have created an opening for future Microcampus students who will be studying fishing in Xizhou. Another thing that I will cherish are the various experiences of seeing how people fish. Being out on Lake Erhai is something I will never forget.
Before coming to Xizhou I did not really know what I wanted to study specifically about fishing. But as I began to interview people I became fascinated the most with fishing with nets and cormorants. I think I also decided to investigate those two specific topics because they were the most used. There was also fishing farms and fishing with rods. I decided to focus on those two topics near the end of my Phase 3.
At first the most difficult part of my research was at the beginning when we first started to interview people. The reason was because my 3-to-5's gave me places to go to for my interviews. Looking for people to interview was hard because fishers usually fish early in the morning so I could never reach them. But when I went to the morning market during pitching in I got some interviews, which led to more different people.
An a-ha moment during my research was when one of the people I interviewed lived in a house along Lake Erhai that I was hesitating to go in previously when I visited Lake Erhai with Noam. Mr. Li, the person living in the house along Lake Erhai, was one of the people I interviewed that led me to many other fisherman that I talked with. From Mr. Li I got different schedules of fishers and got to go on Lake Erhai to watch a fisher retrieve his net.
The feeling about not knowing things about fishing has changed. Prior to our trip I knew nothing about fishing in general. But as I have interviewed many people and witnessed fishing myself I gathered information that was specific to Xizhou and that I would not be able to learn in any other place.
In order, for me to find interviews I had to look for people and ask them if they were available or not. One morning I also went out to the morning market to take pictures of the different fish and get the names of them so I could use them in my final product.
Something I learned about myself is that if I manage my work and limit the amount of stress I get I will be able to make the most of what I am doing. I also learned that breaks really help me when I do get stressed like when I felt like I did not have enough information or interviews.
This inquiry project has shown me that visuals make my learning experience much better. For example, it was much more easier when Mr. Yang, the cormorant fisher, showed me how he ordered his birds back instead of just explaining how he did it. Mr. Yang also gave Ms. Mai and I a free ride out to Lake Erhai to see the cormorants fish, which helped me better understand the process.
Something I would like to go back in time and change is learning more words in Chinese for my project. If I had learned or asked my Chinese teacher some vocabulary about fishing I maybe could have asked a few of my questions myself rather then having Ms. Mai or a teacher ask and translate for me.
If we had more time for field research I might have included another fishing technique like fish farms or fishing rods. I also think that if I stayed out here longer and built my relationship with fishers I could go out and actually try fishing with nets or maybe a cormorant. A person continuing my project could also focus a little more on the various nets. I was only able to get general ideas of how the different nets work.
-Mr. T for giving helpful advice
-Ms. Mai for going on a lot of interviews with me and arranging interviews
-YeLing for translating some interviews
-Mr. Yang for giving lots of information on cormorant fishing
-Mr. Li and Ms. Yang for giving lots of information on fishing with nets
-Mr. Li for giving me lots of information and introducing me to other fishers
-Classmates for supporting me when I needed it
Microcampus has been a once in a life time experience that was worth it. I will miss the culture and weather here. I have learned so much that I would not be able to learn or experience in Shanghai. Xizhou has truly taken my breath away and I am so glad I came on this trip.