I came to the village of Xizhou for four weeks to investigate on a topic that I chose: The Local Viewpoints on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I chose this topic because my grandma is a big TCM follower. She tells me a lot of TCM advice, such as what foods I should eat more, or how I should do this, etc. I already knew a bit about TCM from her. Then, Mr. T gave me an article, that was an argument on the validity of TCM against the more scientific based Western Medicine (WM). It was quite interesting, so I was interested in knowing how the locals felt about that. My sources were local people that were a bit older, and used more medicine daily. They would probably have a preference for one of the medicines, because they have been using medicines for so long.
When we finally arrived here, I had some Three-to-Five interviews in Phase 2, where I had gotten a lot of local sources from the Linden Center staff, and also from the chaperones, Mr. T and Ms. Mai. I used those sources because they seemed very reliable, and were older. Also, one of my sources was a TCM doctor, so I felt that person would have some good viewpoints. I was trying to answer some questions on how their habits are influenced by TCM, how much herbal knowledge they know, and what they think about TCM in general. At the end of all the research, I realized that all my information concluded into three points. This makes up my thesis statement: through the local interactions on my topic of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I have discovered how TCM knowledge is passed down, how TCM and WM (Western Medicine) has mixed over time, and how the locals view the survival of TCM.
Sharing My Learning
I made a video on my interactions with the local people in Xizhou, and the three main ideas I learned about from those interactions. It is at the very top of this page. Or, go here to watch the video online.
From the inquiry project experience, I learned how to research in a new way. It is very hard to research through interviews, because the right information might not have been found as quickly. Also, there are many sources you can go to, who might give out really reliable information, or not so reliable information. Depending on the interview, the information might go on a totally new path. It is not similar to school, where the teacher gives students a specific link to find information, and you use that person's research to include as your info. In Xizhou, the student is the researcher, not the person who researches on research. This is what it is like in the real world. This experience taught me to persevere, and keep going.
My inquiry topic did not change very much. I think my path was relatively straight, but some questions I asked at interviews did not have to do a lot with TCM; they were more about the lifestyle habits of people. So, in a way, I stayed on my topic of TCM, but yet in a way, I did not. At the very end, when I talked to Mr. Yang, the Golden Flower Restaurant owner, he told me an interesting story about acupuncture. I think that if I had that conversation earlier, my project might have veered off into the direction of acupuncture, instead of the viewpoints of TCM.
The most difficult part of my research was more at the end, than at the beginning. At the beginning, I learned a lot about TCM books, and TCM herbal recipes, and the mixing of TCM. It was super interesting, especially when I learned how much people knew about TCM. Then, after a while, the information got kind of repetitive. At one point, I was learning more about other topics, than my own. I got a bit of project envy, and was kind of down about my project during the end. But, I realized it was not about the information, but the experiences. I grew a lot during the experiences, so I was okay again.
My a-ha moments were in the beginning. I was walking with Ms. Mai to the local garden, to talk to some elders, but nobody was there. So, she just picked this random woman that was in one of the shops nearby. When we asked her a bit about TCM, she made us talk to her husband, Mr. Yan, instead. First, he told us a bit about his family history. Then, he talked about how he grew his own herbs, and how his family had their own herbal concoction that was passed down. I was very surprised to learn that, because he did not seem like a person who knew herbs that well. After, he told us that he has his own TCM books that he studies, too. It was very surprising. Also, it seemed even more wonderful, because he was just a random person we picked. I think surprises similar those are the best.
This project helped me understand how many people prefer TCM, mostly from influence by their parents and grandparents. But, it also showed me how TCM is starting to mix in with WM. This project helps me remember the information I learned from interviews, because I actually experienced it myself. I learned a bit more about some herbal medicines, and heard some terms I heard before, such as making Ginger tea, and such. Also, I learned that TCM doctors learn from not only teachers and books, but also from experience. So, I am not really sure if TCM doctors are really that knowledgeable, or not.
This project helped me talk with the local people more easily. That is because this is a fixed topic I can talk about, and I do not need to come up with other conversation topics and such. Every time I went out, I prepared some questions that I could ask the local people, so I would be prepared. Also, it felt easier to talk with people as I went on, because I got a bit more used to it. I was also super glad that my Chinese skills were pretty good, because I could communicate with the people better.
This project helped me understand myself a bit better. I learned that my Chinese is actually okay, and that I can actually talk to people. But, I realized that I am not that good at keeping up a conversation. I can start it, but it is hard to keep it going. Also, I learned that I get jealous of other projects easily, and that I need to not be jealous, and just be glad that I experienced this wonderful trip. I feel that I also get my attention diverted really really quickly, and that if I do not focus, I will get behind on the project very easily. I also feel that time just passes by so fast, that in the end, I thought I had a lot of time, but I really did not, so I have to rush in the end.
If I could do this over again, some advice such as "Make sure to finish everything the day before it is due", and "You will have project envy at one point, but it will be okay", will make my experience better. Also, if only somebody forced me to take lots of pictures, or took lots of photos for me, that would have been good. That is because we need a lot of photos at the end, for the presentation, so it would have been better if I had some more photos. Also, I did not feel very great, because of project envy. If someone told me that earlier, I think I would have gotten over it more easily.
I think if a Microcampus student continued this project, that person could either look more on the lifestyle habits of a person here, influenced by TCM. Also, they could go and find out the validity of acupuncture. In some articles, it says that one woman did acupuncture on her leg, and later found out that she had at least 100 metal pins still stuck in it. Yet, Mr. Yang the Golden Flower restaurant owner had an interesting story about how great acupuncture was. I personally was interested how the doctors know where to stick the needles in. Also, from a conversation with Fay, I learned that most of the elderly here had kidney stones before, because of the bad water treatment in Yun Nan. At that time, I was wondering to myself, "Why is the water so bad?"
I would = like to thank Mr. T and Ms. Mai for giving me support along the whole way. When my thoughts were all confused, Mr. T would help me sort them out. Also, every morning Ms. Mai and I have a daily hug, which really helps boost up my day. I am really glad for Fay, for going with me to different locals, and also for helping me translate some of the words I did not understand. Seb also helped me translate some words for my inquiry project. I would also like to thank Xizhou, and the people here in Xizhou, because Xizhou is a spectacular place, with extremely open people. If they were not open, my research would not have gone as smoothly as it was. Lastly, I would like to thank my friends and family in Shanghai, because they listened to all my complaining when I was really stressed. Thank you to every else who was unmentioned, for helping me on this trip.
Overall, I am really glad that I went to this trip. I feel bad for the people who are not going to experience this trip, because I learned a lot of great life lessons, such as keep climbing the stairs, even if I really do not want to. Also, this feels more real than anything else that we have done in school, because we actually have to connect with people, and ask them questions. I have some good habits picked up here, too, such as the Microcampus Look Back (looking back to make sure you have not forgot anything), and also sleeping earlier. I sleep so much earlier here, than back in Shanghai. There is no curfew, but there is a mutual rule that tells everyone that they need to sleep early. I really love this place, and I hope I will be able to come back again some time. Hopefully, the people I interviewed will remember me, too.