Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
Starting on March 9th, I will embark on a 28 days journey to a village named Xizhou in the Yunan province to find out about a topic that greatly interests me.
There was a long list of projects to choose from, like the craft of a product carrying centuries of rich culture, the variety of Chinese minorities, the historical religions and local business studies. They all seemed very interesting to me, however, after feedbacks from Mr. Tafel and thinking about it myself, I chose the topic of Local History, because I believe Microcampus is an opportunity to explore parts of China in its purest forms, so learning about the culture and history of Xizhou will be more beneficial for me. Furthermore, one of my current limitations in fiction and non-fiction writing is that I do not have enough knowledge about a specific culture to write about, so I think learning more about the specific culture and history of Xizhou can help me with that too. I am looking forward to spending 28 days in a great village like Xizhou to investigate the topic of Local History.
Though many events like the Cultural Revolution have passed, it still left a thin mist of its trace in the air across China's cities and towns and villages through forms like literary works, movies, and memories. Yet in a place like Shanghai, it is difficult to hear about such things because the busy footsteps of people are caught up in chasing the turbulent current of the ever-changing present: trade wars, politics, technology, environment... but in Xizhou, I believe I can explore the history of China in a purer, calmer vision. I want to find out about how the history of a nation can affect a small place like Xizhou, and to do that, I will have to learn much more about Chinese history and politics and specifically, the history and politics about Xizhou. From reviews of previous alumni, I learnt that this topic can be sensitive to some people, and also needs plenty pre-work for the interviews to be successful, yet nevertheless it is just for this kind of challenge that I decided to go on Microcampus in the first place.
The main takeaway I got from the reflections from alumni such as Ashley T. (K) or Katie S. (C) or Bill L. (Q), was that I should have a wide range of preparation before the project (e.g. more contacts, more information, more questions prepared) because, in the actual interviews, it can be hard to actually accomplish the tasks due to shyness or bad timing for the people being interviewed, and in the actual interviews, it can also be hard to follow up with the conversation.
In Phase 0, I have set a general direction for where I will go from now, and in Phase 1, I will begin digging into the actual details of my project.