Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 3 weeks 1 day ago

In Phase 0, I begun by working on narrowing my choices of inquiry project topics. Then, in Phase 1, I answered a few questions about what I know about my topic and how I knew it. Now, in Phase 3, I would start filling this page up with information and research of my topic to assist me in my Microcampus journey.

Background Information (from Phase 1):

Marriage tradition of Tunnan ethnic minority are fairly free. Teenage people of Dai nationality enjoys free romantic relationships. When they are around thirteen, young men would be well dressed and go to the girls' home in the evening, trying to attract their attention by performing all kinds of sound or music. The main ceremony of Dai people's wedding is Tying Up Thread which symbolizes getting the couple's heart tight together[1]

When it comes to marriage, the Chuang people says that folksongs are the first matchmaker. Their singing party every year is always on the third day of the third lunar month. All the young people get together to the Flower Street to sing to each other, looking for a date. Another matchmaking method is the Red Rope as Token for love. The first thing the groom do at his own wedding is to tie hie red rope up to the bride's red rope, which is attatched to the table leg. This ritual symbolizes forever love.[1]

In a culture where the perpetuation of family ancestral lineage and the family as a social institution are central, marriage is an important institution and has many intricate customs associated with it. In the Chinese family system the wife lives with the husband's family and is deemed as no longer part of her own family, but the 'property' of the husband's family. Arranged marriages by the parents or relatives of the bride and groom were once common in Chinese society, but are now rare and viewed as old fashioned. Marriage is usually now based on the two people involved's own choices. However, once the couple have chosen each other, the arrangements are usually taken over by the parents (or older relatives). Chinese men tend to marry fairly late in life, as they need to save up for the expense of the wedding: a Chinese wedding can be very expensive, especially where the involved families are of high social status. [2]

Two important components of Chinese culture:

The need to avoid embarrassment ('saving face') [2]

Conspicuously display wealth and prosperity [2]

Failure to provide a lavish wedding is likely to lower the status of the family, bring shame and criticism from relatives upon them. There are several stages to a Chinese wedding, usually under the overseeing of the groom's parents (or older relatives). Weddings are micro-planned and planning is highly time consuming. The process begins when the parents are informed of their son/daughter's intentions and, if they are in agreement, a meeting between the two families is arranged. In Chinese culture, a marriage is not simply a love match between two people, but an establish of a relatoionship between two families as well. If the parents are not happy with the lineage and status of the other family, a wedding will not occur. [2]

Engagements are made if preparations for the wedding can not be made within the specified time period or the couple do not wish to 'rush into' marriage. An engagement is usually a simple affair, with an exchange of rings (worn on the third finger of the left hand), and the engagement is of an unspecified time period. Chinese engagements are not a binding commitment to marriage, but an indication that the couple intends to marry. Engaged couples may sometimes live together as man and wife (if their parents consent), but formal marriage is walsy preferred because of its (relative) permanency. 

Brides of the Bai ethnic group would often be carried on bridal chairs, unaccompanied, to their future homes. It sometimes would happen that when they got up to go, the bearers, unable to distinguish between one chair and the other, often took up the wrong ones, and the unconscious brides were carried to the wrong husbands. Even on arrival, the mistake would not be known at the moment, for neither the bride, nor groom, nor parent-in-law had ever seen each other, and the descriptions given by the marriage brokers are notoriously inaccurate. The marriage would be consummated and the mistake pass undiscovered until the customary visit to the bride's parents three days after the marriage. Then indeed, the amazed parents would find not their daughter, but some other girl. These fantasic and embarrassing complications had induced many families to send relatives with the bridal chair until it reaches the right destination. [3]

Once the bride is out of her chair and led at once to the guest room where her husband and his parents await her, the pair immediately begin a process called, "Heaven and Earth." This reverence is performed facing outwards towards a courtyard, and after that is done, they turn and repeat the prostration before the altar of the ancestors, on which the tablets are displayed. After this process, the bride becomes a member of the groom's family, and she is then introduced in turn ot all her new relations. [3]

The bride and groom then sit and at table apart, to a light ceremonial meal of a bowl of mien (a type of noodle), and the act of eating this from the same bowl is the clinching rite of the marriage ceremony. [3]

Minchia (or Bai) marriages is on another page. A newly married bride has little independence in her husband's home, for the house is controlled by her mother-in-law, or if she is dead, by a sister-in-law or some other female relative of her husband's family. Her happiness would depend on the character of these women for her husband has little to say in the house, and if she is disliked by his mother, he can do nothing to alleviate her lot. The best and more certain way of obtaining condieration is to give birth to a son, and if the child lives, her position in the home is assured. Unfortunately, the infant mortality in a country where medical knowledge is slight and services of a skilled doctor is unobtainable, is naturally high. So much is this the case that no Min Chia wi celebrate the birth of a child unless it has lived at least a month. Then indeed the family begin to feel that they really got a new member, and the important question of the name is decided. [3]

A name is definitely something personal and individual, and in former times at least, it was believed that the character of the name influences the character of the child. The moment of birth is carefully recorded for the purpose of drawing the horoscope, which in turn decides such questions as the sustainability of the character of the name, and the eligibility of the boy's bride in future years. [3]

Information from 3-to-5's:

Ms. Mai

Ms. Mai advised me on checking with people that have been advocates for Microcampus for a while, or anyone who knows our program. She suggested me to consider families that have at least 2-3 generations, so I could get information from different point of views of the same family (Shi Fang Jie). Ms. Mai also mentioned that there are few local families that run Xizhou Baba stores near Shi Fang Jie that I could go meet. She recommended me to talk with some of the people that may not be from Xizhou, but they had lived there for a while, and they are definitely some people that I could use as reference. The courtyard in Shi Fang Jie is a place where mostly elderly people hang out, Ms. Mai said that they would go during the evening or on weekends for a walk, and they would be able to help me if I want some perspectives from the previous generations. There are also differences between the Bai and Hui minority, due to their possible contrast in beliefs and opinions, which could lead to a dissimilar answer when it comes to the idea of love and marriage. 

  • Shi Fang Jie
  • Resturants (Hui minorities) 
  • Tie-dye shop
  • Hui people would pray in a corner at Shi Fang Jie (monks) 

Ms. B

Ms. B focused on the people that are closer to my current Xizhou bubble (I would consider going to them first). She said there are many couples taking their wedding photos around, and I could ask them too. Ms. B also mentioned that she knew a lot of marriages that was taken into action, because the woman was pregnant. It might be a little sensitive to talk about, but it could be a direction I could turn to when I am familiar with the specific person. She also stated that the culture of the weddings are pretty unique, because the wedding she attended before, the groom was told to do many embarrassing things. 

  • Linden Centre
  • Younger spectrum: Marton and his girlfriend (early 20s and both locals)
  • MIddle spectrum: Mr. Yang
  • Older spectrum: Linden Centre staffs, kitchen staffs

Mr. Yang&Ms. Wang

Mr. Yang said that not many weddings are held at this time, because normally they would be held before or after spring break. He said that he would ask for me if there are any weddings at this time, and I could try to attend one. Shi Fang Jie is a recommendation to start my interview, because I can go to the resturants/stores to ask people whether they think of love and marriage separately, or the same thing. Ms. Wang really likes my idea and the way I started this project. She recommends me to even go more in detail about the people I want to interview. Whether they are local people, people who aren't local, but lived here for a long time, or the ages. Ms. Wang said that ithese people are very easy to find, and if I needed help, she could lead me around. 

  • Shi Fang Jie
  • Weddings are split into 3 days 
  • Day 1: 搭彩盆--decorate the outer area of the house and let everyone know you are getting married
  • Day 2: Groom&Bride--the most important day; from morning to noon. (most important day, at least one day needed)
  • Day 3: Fish Soup--eat that during the day, and help clean up the houses of the bride and groom

Mr. Tafel

Mr. Tafel mainly focused on being confident and be prepared with what I want to ask the Xizhou citizens. Like Ms. B, he also recommended me to start in-house with the people I am a bit more familiar with (kitchen ayis, guards) so I can have a bit more practice, and then move on to the community. Mr. T also mentioned to go to the people that are familiar with the Microcampus program, for they might be more used to being ask questions and having a converstaion with foreign kids like us. He also gave me a strategy when it comes to asking questions. With some of my sensitive questions, I can ask what is the general feeling of the Xizhou citizens about this issue, compared to just straightforwardly asking what he/she thinks. 

  • people who had been through historical events
  • finding a partner: priorities, values, freedom, norms, restrictions 
  • time/age difference

Information from local contacts: 

Mrs. Zhao 3/13/19 [4]

She is the propritress of the restaurant near Shi Fang Jie, where they sell Tafel Fried Rice

-In her mid forties

-Two sons and ten years of marriage

-Believes that boys should be responsible to girls

-There is no reason for her husband to cheat on her if she does her job at home

-Thinks that teenagers do not know love (only interest)

-Not a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community

-People should only marry when they are 100% and knows that they would be dedicated to this relationship. 

-If boys have no money, then no girls would go with you 

-The older generation always prefer boys over girls, but time is changing 

-Women needs to be disciplined in order to find men

-She is ok living with her husband's mother. "His mother is mine, we are in the same family now." 

-Trust and respect are the most important factors in a relationship

-Encourages her sons to work hard and earn money in the future

-She believes that if her son's wife dislikes her and her son ends up acting the same, then she had failed to educate him. 

YangYuan 3/13/19 [5]

YangYuan works at the front desk of the Linden Centre 

-In his late 20s

-Has a girlfriend and wants to get married, but his girlfriend is hesitant. 

-Would accept the LGBTQ+ community on the surface, but personally finds it a bti strange. 

-Believes that the definition of love is responsibility and understanding. 

-A divorce happens when the couple can no longer communicate with each other, and loses patience all the time. 

-Yes, grandparents are biased towards male, but he is personally biased towards female. 

-Children would normally be expected after marriage, but he thinks that in his family it is pretty neutral. 

-Teenagers admire and appreciate each other, but it is not love. 

Mr. Yang 3/14/19 [6]

-In his late 60s

-Married at age 24

-Youngest in the family (2 brothers, 2 sisters)

-Met his wife by a friend introducing her to him

-Has 2 daughters, the older one got married at age 23 and the younger one passed away before she is married. 

-Grandson age 16 

-Back in his days no more than 2 kids were allowed

-Always wanted a son

-Enjoys creating caskets or wood products

Jiu Mei 3/17/19 [7]

Jiu Mei owns a small clothing/jewelry store at Shi Fang Jie. 

-41 years old

-Got married at age 25 (divorced) 

-Daughter is 15 years old 

-Owns a clothing shop at Shi Fang Jie 

-Believes that the definition of love is not just one sided, and it should be comfortable. 

-Thinks that teenagers think of love as parents, family, or idols

-Nobody really forced him to marry soon

-He values communication and things in common in a relationship

-Chinese people only care about themselves. As long as their son or daughter is not a part of the lGBTQ+ community, they would be fine with it. 

-Quote for himself: Just be happy, be yourself. Set a goal and try to accomplish it. 

Ms. Huang 3/17/19 [8]

Ms. Huang owns a small clothing/jewelry shop at Shi Fang Jie

-From GuangDong

-Age 26

-Been in xizhou for 4 years

-Came to xizhou because she likes this place

-Thinks that there is no judgement for the LGBTQ+ community, and that xizhou is really open about it. 

Mr. Luo 3/17/19 [9]

Mr. Luo is the owner of a tea shop at Shi Fang Jie. 

-Age 27

-Son is 1 year old 

-Married at age 25

-Has a younger sister 

-Met his wife when they were both students

-Believes that love means responsibility

-People in xizhou get married when they feel like they are ready. It is something that happens naturally. 

-Everything is important in a marriage and a relationship

-The older generations are definitely biased towards male, but he is personally not biased. 

-Can not accept gay marriage, and nobody in his friend group is gay

-Teenagers mix up the difference between like and love

-A divorce happens when there is no love anymore

-He was not forced by his parents to marry 

YangYan 3/18/19 [10]

YangYan works at the front desk of the Linden Centre, and she met her boyfriend there. 

-From dali 

-24 years old

-Has a boyfriend

-It was her first time dating 

-Thinks that teenagers only know the love from parents

-She was not forced or rushed to get married

-The most important factor in a relationship is connection and hobbies in common

-Personally not biased towards boys

-Believes that all genders are equa

-Boys are known as naughty

-She is unclear about the current status of the LGBTQ+ community in Xizhou, though, she is not a supporter

Mr. Chen 3/18/19 [11]

Mr. Chen is one of the guards at the Linden Centre.  

-Age 40

-Married at age 23

-His family rushed him to get married 

-He has one daughter in high school

-Yes, the older generations are more biased towards male, but in his family not really

-People back in the days should not marry on their ben-ming-nian (the year of their zodiac)

-Love for a teenager is normally unclear, or simply interest

-Love means opposite sex, family, friends, dedication, and responsibility

-Personally not a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community 

-Believes that nobody at his work place is a part of the LGBTQ+ community

-Children was not expected right after marriage

-Everything related to love is important in a relationship 

Mr. Zhang 3/19/19 [12]

Mr. Zhang is the owner of an old antique shop at the end of Shi Fang Jie. 

-Age 63

-Married at age 30

-His family did not rush him to get married

-His daughter is 27 years old and son is 30 years old

-He thinks that love is towards a lover or your own kids

-Love means comfort and taking care of each other

-Teenagers define love as interest and friendship

-In a relationship, he values good health

-The older generation is not biased towards a specific gender

Ms. Zhong 3/19/19 [13]

Ms. Zhong owns a noodle restaurant with her two other sister at Shi Fang Jie. 

-Age 42

-Married at 22

-Was not rushed to get married

-Son is 16 years old

-The most important factor in a relationship is communication

-Teenagers define love as respect or they receive love from family

-She believes that love means staying with the person you love

-There is no such thing as the LGBTQ+ community in Xizhou

-She has no expectations for her son if he gets a girlfriend/wife in the future

-She allows her son to leave Xizhou in the future for marriage

-Grandmas and grandpas used to be biased towards male, but not anymore

Mr. Wen 3/20/19 [14]

Mr. Wen is the owner of a small tie-dye store near Shi Fang Jie

-Age 28

-From Hunan

-Met his girlfriend, because she was his customer

-He is not rushed to get married

-Teenagers' love is a bit dumb, innocent, and secretive

-To him, love is a feeling, or a vibe, it takes no shape nor color

-Grandparents are biased towards male, but he is personally not

-The most important factor in a relationship is understading

-Believes that Xizhou is really open and welcoming with the LGBTQ+ community

-Personally has friends that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community

Mr. Yang 3/20/19 [15]

Mr. Yang has an antique shop at the other street of Shi Fang Jie

-Age 50

-Married at age 25

-He was not rushed to get married

-Met his wife by his mother 

-Has 2 older sisters and 1 older brother

-Love is warm. it represents parents, children, friends, and siblings

-Teenagers define love as care for each other

-He values the skills of his wife for educating their children

-Yes, parents would rush him to have kids soon after he got married

-People in Xizhou get married, because it is about time (the age), maybe they are rushed by their family

-He is not a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community

-Reasons for a divorce would be no empathy, communication, or understanding.

-Believes that violence cannot form a happy family

Mr. Du 3/20/19 [16]

Mr. Du owns a restaurant and a Xizhou Baba stand at Shi Fang Jie. 

-Age 39

-Married at age 25

-Met his wife by his dad

-Daughter 6 years old and son is 12 years old

-Teenagers' love are not deep, but just simply interested

-Most important values in a relationship are care and trust

-Bai people are not biased towards a specific gender

-Believes that Xizhou people get married at age 25

-Love to him means soft, warm, fatherly love, kids, and family

-A marriage would fail if there is a lack of communcation and trust

-Lack of trust=small problems become big problems

-He has only on expectation for the love life of his children: it has to be true love

-Bai people are very understanding and would not judge the LGBTQ+ community

Mr. Zhong 3/21/19 [17]

-Age 51

-Married at age 21

-Was not rushed to get married

-One son age 28

-Son married at age 22

-Grand daughter is 5 years old

-He had no requirements for his son getting a wife.

-Love means to form a family.

-He met his wife because they were from the same village.

-The older generation tend to be more biased towards the male sex, but not anymore now.

-There are barely any members of the LGBTQ+ community from Xizhou, but if there is, he disapproves.

-The most valuable factor between the relationship of him and his wife is their family.

木木 3/21/19 [18]

-26 years old

-From Dalian 

-Not rushed to get married

-Met her boyfriend by traveling

-Love is a type of feeling towards family or a lover.

-Love is described for two or more people, and it is the glue to any type of relationship

-Love can be humans to humans, humans to animals, or humans to things (as in hobbies)

-The definition of love from teenagers are leaning more towards love from family, hobbies, or desire for the future. 

-In more educated cities, the older generations are not as biased towards the male sex

-In a relationship the main factor is to stabilize it and use time to express your feelings towards this person.

-She is welcome towards the LGBTQ+ community since some of her friends are a part of it

Answers to previous questions (from Phase 1): 

What is the definition of love?

Love was often defined as being dedicated and responsible. It was also described as a soft and warm feeling that does not specifically take a shape, since it is a type of chemistry that connects two or more people together. Compared to my own answer, I feel like the people I had a conversation with were more focused on the seriousness of love. It makes me wonder if they just thought of marriage immediately right after I mentioned the word love. 

What is the Xizhou perspective on LGBTQ?

The majority of the younger generations tend be more acceptable with the LGBTQ+ community, for some of their friends are a part of it. Their answers were very much similar to mine. On the other hand, the middle-aged and older generations completely disapprove of the idea and many believe that there is no such thing like that in Xizhou. I was pretty shocked to hear that the older people would believe that Xizhou does not face the issue of LGBTQ+. 

How would children my age think about love and marriage?

This question was accidentally twisted before I realized what I had done. Instead of having a conversation with teenagers from Xizhou, I asked what the adults would THINK what teenagers think about love. The adults believe that teenagers get their feelings of love from their parents or family. At most it is simply admiration or love for an idol, but it is not true love towards the opposite sex. I did not have the chance to talk to teenagers, therefore I did not really get the answers I have been hoping for. 

What are some reasons of why a marriage would be cancelled?

A marriage could be cancelled when there is a lack of trust, communication, dedication, and responsibility. Cheating could also lead to an unsuccessful marriage. In my own answer to thisquestion, I also mentioned cheating, but I did not include everything before that. My response was more simple-minded and things that would be easily seen on the surface, but the answers I had received from the people I talked to were deep, reasonable, and something I felt like I might have been able to state, but did not know how to phrase it. In comparison, their answers were much more detailed.

What is the process of a divorce and how do parents see about it?

This question was not asked as often compared to the other questions, because it was harder to put this into a conversation. The only person I asked this question to mentioned that parents normally do not interrupt a divorce or the relationship of a child. This information was new to me, because I did not think that parents would not intercept in a relationship of their child(ren). Although, I did ask some parents if they have any expectations for their son/daughter's future spouse, and they mentioned that as long as the kids like each other, then they would be fine. One of the moms I had a conversation with even said that she is okay with her son leaving Xizhou due to marriage. I do admire the amount of freedom the parents are giving their child(ren), but I personally think that it is probably not the smartest choice to let your kids do whatever they want in a relationship. 

Are children expected right after marriage?

Many people said that yes, children are expected right after marriage, because the grandparents would want to hug their grandchildren at least once before they leave to heaven. This was similar to my own answer, because grandparents do want to become grandparents the sooner the better. Others might say that the parents are not really strict when it comes to kids or the amount of kids, it just happens naturally. If it was me, I would totally prefer the second choice, where I can decide on my own whether I feel ready for the responsibility of a child or not. 

Why do people in Xizhou decide to get married?

People get married when they feel like they are prepared and knows the amount of responsibility that has to be placed into this relationship. One of the people I had a conversation with mentioned that Xizhou citizens get married at age 25. I am inferencing that age 25 is probably the maximum age of not getting married, and after that, you might start to get rushed by parents or family members. Many people I talked with were married before 25, very few went above that number. 

What do husbands/wives value in their relationship of each other?

Many mentioned that they value communication, trust, and communication. I personally agree with all of the above, but I noticed that nobody really mentioned about learning the limits or showing empathy. I wonder if this was because many of the marriages were arranged (sensitive topic so I did not ask), therefore there was not much freedom in deciding who you want to spend the rest of your life with. On the other hand, the younger generations focused on having hobbies in common, stabilizing the relationship, and expressing your love to the other half. This sort of tells me that the younger people tend to be more dialed in on interest (they have more freedom in who they want to love) and whether this person cares for me or not.

Would the older generations (grandma/grandpa) be more biased towards their grandchildren based on their sex?

I would say that 95% of all the people I talked to said that yes, grandparents would be more biased towards boys. At the same time, many people now are personally more biased towards girls, but in less aducated cities, the mindset would be harder to change. My answer and the answers of the people I met were completely on the same page, which leads to a confirmation that most grandparents are biased towards the male sex. 

Would parents feel awkward or uncomfortable living with their child and his/her spouse?

Like the other question, this one was also difficult to fit into a conversation. It was not asked as often compared to the other questions, but to the people that I did ask, they said that it is totally fine, or it depends on the attitude of the child. Someone also mentioned that if their own child would not let them live in his/her house, then she had failed to educate her son. If her son was THAT easily influenced to give up his primary family and go for his wife, she would be disappointed, but she claims that she does not need him. It sounds pretty dark, but at the same time it is reasonable. I would say that our answers were somewhat similar, but the awkwardness between the wife of the child and the mother of the child does not seem to exist here. 

I am coming to the end of my project, and I know that I am ready to move on to Phase 4, because I already have enough information about my topic. I also have many primary sources from local contacts and my previous researches completed in Shanghai. 

Sources:

1. "Marriage Tradition of Yunnan Ethnic Minority." China Tours, Online China Tour Operator, www.visitourchina.com/kunming/guide/marriage-tradition-of-yunnan-ethnic-...
2. Chinese Customs, Superstitions and Traditions, cz2.mofcom.gov.cn/article/aboutchina/custom/201202/20120207946941.shtml. 
3. www.sasmicrocampus.org/content/tower-five-glories-c-p-fitzgerald-bai-his...
4. Mrs. Zhao. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 13 March 2019
5. YangYuan. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 13 March 2019 
6. Mr. Yang. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 14 March 2019
7. Jiu Mei. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 17 March 2019
8. Ms. Huang. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 17 March 2019
9. Mr. Luo. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 17 March 2019
10. YangYan. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 18 March 2019
11. Mr. Chen. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 18 March 2019 
12. Mr. Zhang. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 19 March 2019
13. Ms. Zhong. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 19 March 2019
14. Mr. Wen. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 20 March 2019
15. Mr. Yang. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 20 March 2019 
16. Mr. Du. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 20 March 2019
17. Mr. Zhong. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 21 March 2019
18. 木木. Personal interview conducted by Dora H., 21 March 2019

Comments

Marriage in Xizhou

Your research is very interesting. I was struck by the range of attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people. Could you speculate about the reasons for that? I was also interested in the similarities between the different cultural weddings. Too bad most weddings are held after spring break!

Hello there! My name is Dora and my roots are in Taiwan, although, I have been in Shanghai for more than 10 years now. I have heard of the Microcampus program last year, and I absolutely wanted to join. I was in Xizhou with the 23rd group, Wildfires, and made connections with the welcoming residents, studied their culture, and learned about ourselves. I completed both my inquiry and service learning projects which I am extremely proud of. Microcampus had been an extraordinary trip, and the main source for all my life changing moments and experiences that I have in my pockets.