Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 7 months 2 weeks ago
This Phase 0 is a starting point for me to start narrowing down my thoughts to choose a topic that I will be investigating for 28 days in Xizhou. I was provided with a tremendous amount of choices related to the village we were going to. These potential topics varied from local history to business running and crafting. Some of the topics that caught my eyes were local arts, tea, legends, Bai language, farming, transportation, architecture, religious studies, local cooking, and End-of-Life rituals. I came up with several strategies to narrow down the topics and finally decided to focus on religious studies.
Since I will spend a month, which is a long time, in Xizhou and will spend most of the time working on my topic, I wanted to choose my project wisely. When I was choosing my possible topics, I made sure that these subjects are what I have already been interested in, or wanted to take more time to learn about. I also thought about how each topic could help me grow as a learner and a strong individual. How much I could enjoy learning about a certain topic was also a big part because I did not want to spend this rare chance to explore a variety of issues feeling bored and uninterested. First, I picked a dozen of topics that I was interested in. Then, I eliminated some based on how passionate I was regarding some of the topics and reflected again on how long I could focus on these topics. Additionally, I considered how much I could relate to some subjects on a personal level and whether or not that aspect of myself would help me. 
Religious Studies is one of the topics that interest me the most, and it is what I have finally chosen to continue on as my final project in Xizhou. Religion could connect a lot to the culture, thoughts, daily lives, and local history all at the same time, and it also brings different people in together that forms communities. I wish to learn about the different religions in Xizhou, how it affects civilian lives; I believe I will be focusing on how the two major religions, Benzhu and Islam, differentiate the people who believe in these branches. When I get to researching, I could visit common religious buildings such as mosques or temples and interview believers there, and also take a look at civilians lives of different believers to compare. 
I was also interested in local cooking and Bai minority issues, but due to my great passion towards religion and others' feedback, I chose not to investigate in these. I also believed these two topics will not keep me motivated for such a long time. 
I have looked over a few previous Microcampus participants' reflections to gain suggestions for my own project.I learned that I should always be open-minded to slightly change or shift my topic a little bit if necessary from Ben S. and Norman H. Many students including the people I mentioned above reflected that always staying on task and using time effectively would help. Based on the reflections, I believe communication with the locals will improve my future project and learn detailed information related to my topic. 
Phase 0 was a chance for me to really think about what I want to learn about during Micocampus and start to get myself into the topic. As I move on to Phase 1, I will pose questions that will guide me through my project researching about my topic to get myself started.
Hello. I am 14 years old. I was in Xizhou with fifteen other students. I am from Korea, and I lived in Shanghai for more than half of my life. I wanted to get to know the neighbors and learn the culture in Xizhou. My time here has truly changed my life forever. It helped me discover who I am and who I want to be. I will never forget this experience.