Updated 2 months 4 days ago


Why I chose my topic:

I chose this topic because I have always been interested in what people do for leisure activities in different cultures. Games are such a common thing that people do everyday, they don't really think about it. You can learn a great deal about a country from the games and activities they play. Also, I enjoy learning from the elders of the community. They are wise and have great stories to tell. Through playing games, I can learn about their life stories and about their culture.


My Sources:


Amy (Linden Centre), Mr. Yang (retired lawyer), Mrs. Yang-Ou (Mahjong player), Mr. Yang (coffee maker), Mrs.Yang (community center), Mr.Zhang (antique dealer), Mrs. Yang (toy store),     Mr. Yang (retired military official), Linden Centre staff, and Mahjong players on the street.


Why I chose my sources:


I chose these sources because most of them were knowledgeable of the topic. By walking down the street to the main square, I saw plenty of people playing Mahjong. Their I found lots of helpful sources that were knowledgeable about Mahjong. Another reason why I chose my sources is because they were available and open to talk with. I need people who are willing to give me all the details and are able to speak to. 


My 10 Major Questions I am trying to answer:


  1. What is the popular game among elders in Xizhou? 
  2. Will ancient games be continued to be taught and played to the new generation of kids?
  3. How have games changed from the elders time to now due to the advances in technology?
  4. What is the difference of the view on playtime for children compared to the elders view on playtime (older generations)?
  5. How have historical events (such as the Chinese civil war and the cultural revolution) changed games?
  6. Why do the people enjoy play time?
  7. How does the climate and geography of the land affect the type of games played?
  8. Are there still ancient games that people play or do now from hundreds to even thousands of years ago?
  9. How much time is devoted to games/recreation?
  10. How have games/recreation influenced everyday life?

What is the role Mahjong plays in the community of Xizhou?


Sharing My Learning

See the movie made to show my learning (above).


I took away from this experience the importance of learning and what it means to have a passion for learning. I learned about Mahjong, but I took away the learning that went along with it. When If first began my inquiry project, I did not know anything about Mahjong or Chinese games. Now, I know how to play, why people enjoy, when they play, who plays, and everything thing else their is to know and ask. My learning process showed me that I will never stop asking questions and being curious. I discovered that Anthroplogy could be a future study for me. In addition, I learned about the importance of play. Even when you are 90 years old you still want and need to play.


When I chose my inquiry topic, I wanted to focus on recreation and leisure activities in Xizhou. Once I arrived in Xizhou and walked around, I noticed that the common game to play was Mahjong. I focused in on this part of games because I was interested to see the role it played in Xizhou. In particular, I was interested if traditional games like Mahjong will continue to be played and taught. 


The most challenging part of my research was trying to communicate with the people. I can not speak Chinese, but this was not the main problem as their were many other people that could. The real issue was trying to get the people to give me the details about Mahjong. I think this is because they think it is odd I was studying Mahjong because it is such a normal part of their days they don't realize how much it influences lives. It was difficult for me to get all the dark secrets and specifics when people sometimes didn't want me around. Asking my questions disrupted their fun time.


Their numerous occasions when I had an "a-ha" moment. The first one was when I discovered that Xizhou had adopted SIchuan rules. I had heard it from the people playing Mahjong, but it never hit until I was discussing it with the lady at the corner store. Second, was when I met a man Mr.Yang who was also Mahjong player. He told me that during the cultural revolution, if you were caught playing Mahjong, the punishment would be jail time. I felt excited to know something completely new, which eventually lead to new questions. Every new piece of information formed a puzzle in mind. With each new bit of information I was receiving, I could start to see the puzzle more clearly. 


My main questions are what is the role of Mahjong in Xizhou and will it continue to be taught to younger generations. By learning about general leisure activities in Xizhou, it helped me understand my topic of Mahjong better. This is because learning about leisure activities helped me give basic background information that helped me narrow in on my topic of Mahjong. I would have never have known about Mahjong if I didn't know about the popular games/leisure activities in Xizhou.


For my project, Mahjong, there was no expert. The only people I talked to were the players that I found on the streets who played everyday. I felt close with the community when I did this because it was just a random stranger doing their everyday thing, yet I was asking about that. I felt I was apart of their everyday thing. Now, I can recognize and know those people who play Mahjong by their names, stories, and journeys they have had with Mahjong. I know how some of the player's got to where they are today from their tales they have told me. Learning about Mahjong has helped me become closer with the community because I also get to understand Xizhou better in general. By learning about the role that Mahjong plays in Xizhou I can understand the people that play it. 


This project has helped me realized what I might want to do or be when I grow up. I want to continue what I am doing here, but in a different subject/subjects. I want to be an anthropologist. Living here in Xizhou has helped me realize that I want to continue to ask questions and learn about other cultures. I want to go to a completely new country and learn about their thoughts on the world. The idea of traveling and experiencing something completely new excites me. Also, my inquiry project has taught me that their is an abundance of things to learn even in such a specific topic. 


I would tell myself to do more background research to better understand what I am about to do here in Xizhou. Learning more would have helped me become even more specific on my topic. I could learn even more about what I have already learned over the last 4 weeks. Doing the background research in Shanghai, I would get the boring stuff over with before I arrived here. Although I did do research before I came, doing just that little more would give me more time to be out and about to learn about Mahjong in Xizhou.


I think their is more to learn about Mahjong before the cultural revolution. People told me that it was invented some time during the late 1800's and about the time during the cultural revolution, but I do not know what happened in between those two events. Was it a common game to play during that time? Who played it? WHy did they play it back then? Also, I am finding multiple different answers as to when the game was invented. Some say around Confucius times, when their is only evidence that it was played in the 1880-1890's. I was also curious in the comparison with other traditional Chinese games. Why did Mahjong continue on and others not? Their are mutiple areas that one could explore. I have done my part of the research and now it is time for me to give it up to others to explore more on the topic, although I will continue to learn about this.


Thank you to all the people Mahjong players on the street. Even if I did not talk to all of them, I was able to watch and study their games. Mr. T was always their to talk to if I was stuck and needed a little push. He helped me decide what I wanted to narrow in on, so thank you Mr.T. And, a special thanks to Amy from the Linden Centre. She would take me out on walks to talk to whoever we saw playing Mahjong. She would explain to me how to play and what they were saying. She could have been making it up, but I highly doubt it. She was also patient with me when I was first learning how to play Mahjong. Thank you everyone!


Hey guys, I'm Alex! I lived in Washington D.C, US for 11 years and have lived in Shanghai for almost 3 years now. I love to travel, eat, and learn about new things! I am here at Xizhou and loving it. The highlights are the kind people, the blue skies and starry nights, delicious food, and the outdoors. So far, thumbs up! It feels like it is going by too fast