Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection

Updated 1 year 1 month ago

Microcampus. This 28-day spring trip is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. During this trip, we must complete an inquiry project of our choice, in which we decide on before we reach Yunnan. When I first downloaded the list of possible inquiry projects, it was intriguing to me the amount of topics avaliable, as there seemed to be countless. Furthermore, all of them seemed to be subjects I would have an interest in and enjoy would studying throughout the process. In order to decide which topic would fit me best, I decided to set some goals that I would aim for my topic to have. It had to be something challenging, educational, and of my interest, as this topic is evidently going to take up a reasonable amount of the time I spend at XiZhou. I chose those specific standards because I wanted to study a subject that would allow me to look at daily life in a new light. Throughout the document, there were three topics that seemed to stand out to me.

Originally, my top three choices were body language/people watching as my first, education as my second, and food as my third. 

In the end, I decided to choose body language/people watching as my topic, and discarded the idea of education and food.

I was looking into food and education at first because they are both subjects I have lots of interest in, and they are both topics I have looked into on my personal time. I imagine that with food as my topic, I can look towards local resturant owners and ask about their cuisine. As with education, I can sit in on classes and listen to the style of teaching compared to other places. Either way, I would have meaningful interactions with both the teachers and the students, allowing me to see the point of view from two different age groups. However, these are also both topics that I have also already had experience examining multiple times throughout school, and I would like to try something different.

After lots of consideration, I feel as though having my topic surround body language will be the best fit. Although I have more passion about my other two choices, Microcampus is a rare chance for me to develop a new passion about this topic. In other words, food and education are both subjects I have already experienced studying. Choosing this topic willl allow me to not only broaden my knowledge as a student, but as a person as well, as I would be exploring something that I have never been familiar with. I think that it will be a topic I will enjoy studying, and will provide me with opportunities to bond with the Yunnan community. Being able to understand the people's actions/emotions will let me better understand their culture as well.

Obviously, taking up this project would allow me to take in the true culture of Yunnan, as I would be spending loads of time with the people. I plan to find/research into how much they personally know about body language/people watching and their opinions on the subject. I would approach them and listen carefully to their thoughts. Specifically, I would try to talk to people who spend a lot of time watching others, such as a desk clerk at a hotel, a student in a school, a police officer, etc. I would definetely do research into what people get happy/angry about, and relate it back to our culture in Shanghai, and see the difference.

I do realize that although body language/people watching may be a very specific topic, looking at Marie W. (Alumni-P) and Sydney F. (Alumni-N)'s relections showed me that it is okay to change my inquiry project slightly when arriving at XiZhou. This is because doing background research and experiencing the real thing may end up being different. In her project, Marie discussed how this was a topic where I will not really know what my final destination is, which I think would work for me, because I want to be able to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I also read through their reflections and noticed that it is okay to not always be perfect, and it is better to stay on top of your work rather than catching up. 

Throughout Phase 0, I have explained my decisions leading towards the Inquiry Project, and how I chose my topic. Now that I have made my choice, I will be moving on to Phase 1, where I discuss my process in brainstorming questions for my project.

My name is Mia C., and I am Taiwanese. Although born in Taiwan, I am also American and Canadian. This year marks my 11th year of living in Shanghai, and my 6th year attending SAS. I enjoy trying new things and understanding the world around me, so Microcampus seemed like the perfect opportunity. The experience was more than I could have ever imagined and I hope to return to Xizhou soon.