Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
We were off to a 28-day trip in Xizhou for Microcampus. To use that time fully, we must first set down our goals and choose the question/topic that we will be investing. We had a wide variety of choices including history, economy, local education etc.
The Technique/Strategy I used to narrow down such a huge list was mostly to follow my hobbies, and what I believe is interesting and challenging at the same time. I really like interacting with nature and understanding the culture of China more. Going to these more undeveloped areas of China. These places show a true ancient part of china, reflecting agriculture, average wealth, etc.
Following up with those guidelines, I have come up with 3 inquiry projects that I am interested in such as the following: Local Food Products/Cuisine, Local Recreation/Hobbies, Local Education System.
The reason I choose "Food" as my final inquiry project, is because I am what others would consider a foodie. I could spend hours in a kitchen to get one dish perfect, and later on finishing it in seconds. I could travel 2 hours to the other end of Shanghai and wait in line for another 3, just for a special dish or restaurant. I extremely enjoy gourmet food, to the point where now I want to create food to share to others. Which is the main reason that I choose this? Although considering what I originally intended to find out about Xizhou on this Microcampus trip. I believe that I should also put a good amount of time, on not just the dish itself, but also take some time understanding things about the dish. A few questions that I believe would be helpful and interesting to find out things about the history, where did they learn these dishes, was it passed down from countless generations? Was it just a dish they saw on TV and decided to try it out, later on finding that it was great, now deciding to show me as a visitor, this dish? I believe that understanding local dishes can tell me so much about the culture of locals, furthermore, China.
The two other choices that I ended up giving up on were: Local Recreation/Hobbies and Local Education. They all seemed to be quite interesting but I still ended up choosing food. Reasons being that food is an interesting and fun topic in general and was also suggested by Mr. T.
I have read from Alumni reflections and suggestions, Cameron W. (L), Riko T.(N), SeYoung K. (O), Mallory B. (P) whom all worked on the inquiry project of food. Most of the topics or questions had a slight shift over the 28-day trip. The suggestions that I am constantly staying flexible; adapting to the environment and situations that might occur. Cameron W. (L) suggested me to decide on what dishes to work on before hand. Other suggestions may be not getting too caught up on hands-on stuff and actually work on some paper work or doing the extreme opposite. The third suggestion was to follow alumni's or Mr. T's advice as they are experienced. They have been through this, and have more experience.
In phase 0, I have decided on the topic I will soon explore in Xizhou. My final topic will be food. I will continue to this process in phase 1.