Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
Early on in 2017, September, we were first introduced to a twenty-eight day learning experience that took place in the village of Xizhou, called Microcampus, in which a select 16 will be chosen to attend. In time, I found myself to be one of those 16, and things were set in motion quickly. A long list of topic descriptors were available, with over 30 ideas which did not even limit your own personal proposals. Out of the thirty we had to reduce the the topics down to just a few, from the comments I was given by Mr. T, as well as my peers. This proved to be a difficult task in itself, and was only the very beginning of an unbelievable learning experience.
As I was first introduced to the long list of topics and scanned through them, I took an interest in many of the given, especially: Local Spirits and Legends, People Watching, Life Rituals, Clothing, Wood Carving and Local Businesses. The descriptor had such a variety of subjects that it was difficult to even narrow it down to these, but eventually I chose three out of the thirty given. Through reading countless numbers of Alumni reflections, the three that I finally chose were Clothing, Life Rituals, and Local Businesses.
To choose these topics I first had to make some objectives that each would pass. One, they had to be a unique opportunity that was hard to come by any other time. Two, this would be the topic that I would be spending a whole month on. Three, they definitely had to be interesting and something that I had some sort of enjoyment doing.
Looking into a local business was the final topic that I had decided to pursue due to reading and looking through more reflections and pictures from the Microcampus Alumni. Although, I was definitely the most hesitant about this topic because of the lack of knowledge I had of it, I chose it because I looked up to people who were able to make a successful living from what they built up. Because of my family history, I, without a doubt, developed an interest and found an importance in running my own business or at least being a part of one. Given this unique opportunity for a whole month, I would definitely enjoy being able to shadow someone that runs their own business and conversing with them about their product and financial activities.
Before I had decided to pursue twenty-eight days worth of learning about a small business, I had also strongly considered the thought of engaging in a study of clothing and a series of life rituals. This eventually was crossed off my list after I had learned a bit more about what I was and was not able to do with these topics. One of the questions that ultimately lead to me relinquishing the idea of clothing and life rituals was the inability to compare and contrast the culture of the Xizhou village to Shanghai, although I may still want to incorporate the ideas of these into researching about a business.
As mentioned before, I had also read many reflections of Microcampus Alumni. These helped me be able to decide on a final topic to work towards. I can not even count the number of reflections I reviewed but there were a select few that did stand out to me from the rest: *Gayatri B. (D), *Lauren R. (K), and Margaret M. (N). What was so distinct about their inquiry project was how they studied a very local and small business, this allowed them to not only have a strong understanding about the business itself, but also who the shopkeeper was as a person. Their topics helped me realize again what I wanted to gain from the experience when I had first signed up, make one strong interpersonal connection, as well as follow a unique path that I am unable to gain anywhere else.
Throughout Phase 0, I described my experience of deciding on one topic, studying a small local business, and in Phase 1, I will be proposing several questions catered towards a business.