Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 1 year 1 month ago

In the spring, I will be embarking on a journey that I have never experienced before - Microcampus. During my stay, I will be investigating Local Spirits/Legends/Stories (more specifically the ficus tree and how people interact with them) and using photography to document my knowledge and my journey. I started off with a lot of topics, but then I slowly narrowed it down to one final topic with the help from Mr. T. 

Before making my final decision on what my topic was, I had three topics in total. My first choice was food, then photography, and mythology / legends in third.  At first, I wanted to investigate food because of my love for cooking. But I soon realized that investigating in photography and mythology / legends in Xizhou is something that I can only experience once. After that, I merged the two topics and discarded my first one to create a brand new one: Local Spirits/Legends/Stories while using photography to document my work. 

My topic choosing process was pretty simple - I quickly scanned the topics and marked the ones that caught my eye. After that, I carefully read the descriptions on the list and inquiry projects done by the alumni. With the information in hand, I chose my three topics. However, these three topics were not just chosen purely because of interest. I thought about how in depth I could go with each topic, and also which one would best fit my strengths. In the end, I narrowed it down to Local Food Products / Cuisine (1), Photography (2), and Local Spirits/Legends/Stories (3).

After Mr. T's critiques, I have decided to combine my second and third topics (Photography and Local Spirits/Legends/Stories) into one. During our lunch meeting, Mr. T and I were talking about the sacred ficus trees in Xizhou. I would like to study the interactions the people have with the trees and how they affect their society. I have always found mythology / legends interesting, so I am really excited to be able to study this particular topic. Investigating in the local legends allows me to communicate with the locals using Chinese, which is something I would like to work on during my stay in Xizhou. I will be using photography as a way to display my knowledge in the end, and to keep track of all the things I have learned. I really hope I can learn more about photography and how to manipulate more advanced cameras. 

The topic I have chosen has never been done before. I looked at the reflections of students who did Local Spirits/Legends/Stories and photography in the past, and it was extremely helpful. One of the inquiry projects I looked at was Hillary C's, from the Revival trip. Her reflection was really helpful and realistic. I learned that communication with the elderly will be difficult, since they spoke heavily accented Bai Minority Chinese, and my Chinese is not that good. However, Hillary said that the stories they tell are extremely interesting, so I am really looking forward to that. One of the biggest lessons Hillary learned was to keep an open mind, and try everything. Here is a link to her page: . Another inquiry project I looked at was Yuval K. From her experience, I learned to make sure my topic was specific enough so I can do relatively more in-depth research. 

In Phase 0, I chose my topic. I will be moving onto Phase 1 next, where I will be posing real questions. Click on "Phase 1" to follow my journey!




Hello! My name is Debbie S. and I am 13 years old. I am Taiwanese and I love swimming and roller coasters. Applying for Microcampus was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Even though the experience only lasted for four weeks, the memories will stay with me forever.