Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 1 year 2 days ago

In XiZhou, I will have 28 days to study a topic of personal interest. At first, I was presented with a grand list of topics to study. Through a lot of consideration and feedback, I have finally boiled it down to the following projects.


When I first encountered the Inquiry Project list, I wished I could do as many topics as possible; they all seemed intriguing and exciting. Thus in order to narrow down my preferences, I gave myself three goals. My topic had to be something I am passionate of, challenges me, and something educational. This was so I could have the persistence to carry out a project that helps me grow both as a person and as a learner. I first picked out a few topics that fit my interests. I then proceed to examine each question closely through the former works of the Microcampus alumni. After gaining familiarity with each project and XiZhou, I was able to narrow down my preferences to three topics. 


From Mr. T's suggestion, I decided to go forward with the topic of embroidery (textile). One of my greatest interests is anything related to visual arts. I see this as an opportunity to learn from local artists. To personalize this project, I decide to combine embroidery with photography. I realize I am more interested in the history and stories behind this form of art than creating it myself. Which is why I plan to photograph embroidery from the village to connect them to their history and culture. I plan to learn about the XiZhou embroidery's history through interviewing local artists. 


The other topic I was interested was the food and cuisine of XiZhou. Like many others, food is one of my greatest passions; especially when food is combined with travel. This topic is my second choice because it is such a popular topic and it may be difficult for me to narrow down. 


Finally, I am interested in architecture. This topic has always been an interest I had but was never able to study. This is my third choice because this topic is completely unfamiliar to me and I might not have the persistence to study this. I plan to study the design and history of the village's architecture through inquiring local elders.


Ryane (Alumni G), alumni who studied embroidery during her stay explains research as the most difficult part of the project. She claims her research were mainly from one source, and the rest were irrelevant or uninteresting. She learns that communicating with the locals were not solely for research. She was learning the skills for conversation and the local's passions towards them. Another girl, Sabrine (Alumni N), thought her topic: "Embroidery in XiZhou" was too vague. She claimed it was difficult to interview locals with such a vast topic, and she did not know where to start. She learned to research embroidery one piece at a time. Finally, I looked into Miranda (Alumni M), who offered some insight into communication. She claimed purchasing works from local artists can be a form of payback for quality answers. 


In Phase 0, I have narrowed down my inquiry project. In Phase 1, I will solidify my final topic and begin the research process. 

I am Audrey T, an 8th grader from Shanghai American School. I have returned from a 28 day trip to Xizhou, and it was a wonderful experience! I will never forget the friendly locals and the stunning view. Special thanks to Mr. T and Ms. Mai for making this wonderful trip happen!