Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
In Phase 1, I explained what I already knew about legends and myths based on my previous knowledge. I also generated a list of ten "Big Questions" to guide me through the research process. Now, in Phase 2, I will be gathering useful resources to further deepen my understanding on my topic.
While conducting research, I found that it was helpful to use keywords. Some that I used include Xizhou, legends and myths, and Bai ethnic minority group. I selected these keywords based on its relevance to my topic. Even though these words covered a more general topic, I was able to find pretty detailed information. Most of them were divided into many sections, and each section talked about one specific topic. I would also use more detailed phrases such as "Bai minority legends and myths" to narrow down my sources.
To check the validity of my information, I would compare the same information with other sources to see if they matched. Also, I checked to see if the website was copyrighted or not because this strengthens the reliability of the site. One of my sources (recommended by Mr. Tafel) is a published book. Because of the fact that it has already been published, it is quite a reliable resource.
In addition to this, I made sure that the organization or individual who published the site was stated. The author would usually be stated somewhere on the page, often times either above or below the article. Sometimes I would have to go back to the home page to see who published the website.
After that, I went on Google Scholar to find possible experts to interview for more information on my topic. This was hard to do, since the author's information was usually hidden in the article, which cost money to open it. However, I found an expert named Li Shiwu and I searched up the name of the university he was in to contact him. I chose him because his article talks about the different legends of the Bai people and included the specific address of where the university he was at was located. In the end, I found a match on the China-Mekong Law Center website. I found their contact site and proceeded to write to ask if I could contact Mr. Li Shiwu:
To date I have not heard from the scholars.
Now that I have arrived in Xizhou, I have been able to complete my 3-5's with Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, Ms. Zhang, and Mr. Jake. A 3-5 is a 3 to 5 minute long interview with 3 to 5 people. The purpose of these interviews are to help me gather a list of people whom I can interview about my topic. I chose to interview Mr. Tafel because he has been leading Microcampus trips for a while now, and he is bound to now quite a few people in the region. Also, Ms. Mai has had the same experience as Mr. Tafel and knows quite a few locals in Xizhou, too. Ms. Zhang was another great person to interview because she has been here at Yang Zhuo Ran for a long time. I also interviewed Mr. Jake because he is quite familiar with the local people and places in Xizhou that I can visit to gather information. Here are some people that either Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, or Mr. Jake have suggested that I interview.
- Mr. Du (antique dealer)
- Mr. Duan (soldier)
- Mrs. Hong & Mrs. Wang
- Ms. Yang Jiu Mei (chef @ Linden Centre)
- Mr. Zhao & his wife (security guard)
- Temples (near Linden Centre, Er Hai, northwest of Si Fang Jie)
- Mosque (near Si Fang Jie)
- locals in general
- market place
- staff at the Linden Centre
- Mr. He and Mr. Zhao (security guards)
- old couple (his student's grandparents)
- chefs in kitchen
- Mr. Zhao (security guard)
- Mr. Zhao / other neighbors (courtyard next to Yang Zhuo Ran)
- Jiu Tang Sheng (temple)
After I have interviewed Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, and Mr. Jake, I have created a list of 8 specific contacts and 5 places that I can visit. I think this is enough for now, because each contact could probably tell me about more than one story. Also, they could probably refer me to other people, or I could interview other people in the same area (e.g. temple, kitchen). This would keep me busy for quite a while.
Finally, I can also take a look at the books in Linden Centre. In the Linden Centre library, I can probably look up books on folk songs, legends, and local stories. So far, I have checked out one book named Chinese Ethnic Minority Oral Traditions where it includes 82 Bai Folk Songs and its translations. To be honest, I do not find this book of much help, because they are mainly just translations of love poems and others of the same topic, and not so much about how it connects to the history of Xizhou.
I will try to interview all the contacts that have been suggested to me by the chaperones, and will post more information in Phase 3.