Phase 0: Getting Started: Topic Exploration and Selection
Microcampus is a great program that allows 16 students from both SAS campuses to have many memorable experiences in just 28 days. In the month long adventure at the cultured town of XiZhou, students will investigate their personal Inquiry Project that is usually chosen before the trip. To choose the topic of their own Inquiry Project, the students were given an extremely long word document that had an overwhelming number of project ideas, each completely different from another. The processes that I used to finalise my remaining topics were mainly questions about my personal interests and the difficulty of the topic. Eventually after reading many paragraphs, I finally decided on two topics, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Local Recreation/Hobbies. However, in the end I realised that the information about TCM in XiZhou was quite minimal so my final topic became Local Recreation/Hobbies.
To properly filter out my final topic, I devised a process that would help me decide if I was interested in that particular topic. Firstly, it has to be somewhat exciting, interesting, and fun to learn about. That was my biggest deciding factor since if I did not like that topic, then learning about it would be a big waste of my time. Another topic filter that I used was that the topic would have to be a subject that had many different ways to approach it. This was important because if it didn't, then deciding on the final Inquiry Project would be very hard. Thirdly, the topic has to be special in its own way. I used this as the last deciding factor because it would be kind of bland if this topic didn't strike me as something special.
After finally deciding my final topic, I had some questions about Local Recreation/Hobbies, such as for this topic, will we have to observe a lot of people? If so, would we only focus on one specific group or would we try to communicate with as many people as we can? I also had some other questions such as are there any specific groups of people that we are advised to communicate with? After a review, Mr. Tafel helped me answer some of these questions and I was able to understand and narrow down my topic even more.
The final topic I decided on was Local Recreation/Hobbies. I decided to investigate further into this particular topic mainly because it looked interesting, but also because I can learn a lot more about people that are not my immediate friends or family. Since I have been to many different places and have met many different types of people, I thought that it would be a good decision to do the same thing in Xizhou, except for the fact that in Xizhou, it would obviously be a lot deeper and more meaningful than my previous interactions. I plan to find out the most common activities that local people do when they have spare time. I am most likely going to do something similar to following and communicating with the same person/group for days/weeks so that I can gather a lot of information and have meaningful interactions with them.
Afterwards, I had to slightly narrow down the topics by deciding what age group my target interviewees will be. I came to a conclusion that either the children or the elderly would be the best to be observed and interviewed. The main reason why I chose those two age groups is because they probably have a lot more spare time to do more time and energy consuming recreational activities. My project will probably revolve around questions that I have for the local community about their hobbies.
Another topic I considered was Tradition Chinese Medicine. I wanted to do this topic because it can allow me to learn about how TCM is used and practised. I can also learn about how TCM works and why it does. The main reason why I did not choose TCM as my final topic is because I learnt that the number of TCM practitioners in XiZhou is quite scarce and it would be really hard for me to find much information.
Here are some possible questions I can use to narrow my final topic. As I go forward, here are some questions to guide me so I can decide what my final Inquiry Project is going to be about.
-What type of activities do local XiZhou people do? (maybe a basic overview of all ages or just the focused age group)
-Are the activities of the focused age group similar or different to those of different age groups? (only if first question is used)
-Are the activities of the focused age group similar or different to those of the same age group but from an older generation?
-Are the activities of the focused age group similar or different to those of the same age group but from another town/city?
-If the activities of the focused age group are similar or different to the other groups, how are they similar/different and explain why? (only if the third and fourth questions are used)
Overall in Phase 0, I wrote about what Microcampus is. I have also worked on finding the final topic for my Inquiry project and brainstorming ideas for what specific thing my final topic could be about. In Phase 1 I will start posing more questions an go deeper into my topic.