Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources

Updated 5 years 1 month ago

Thanks for following my inquiry project to Phase 2. Previously in phase 1 we were Posing Real Questions, which means that we were supposed to do some background research about our project and come up with a list of ten questions. For further information, you can get to phase on by clicking here. The purpose of Phase 2 is Finding Helpful Resources that will lead us to find the answers to our questions, or give us some ideas for generating new questions. When in Xizhou, we will go to the local village and ask several experts about our topics and asked them what they know.

While finding online resources to conduct my background research about my topic, I realized that certain keywords typed into my search engine was easier to find relevant information. Some keywords that I used were:

-Xizhou Cuisine ----- My topic is Local Food Products/Cuisine of Xizhou, so Xizhou cuisine was definitely a major keyword. Also, Xizhou was important because I was studying cuisine of Xizhou, not cuisine of China so I had make it more specific.

-Yunnan Cuisine -----  Yunnan cuisine was also as important as Xizhou cuisine because sometimes I would not get a lot of information by only searching Xizhou, so I widened my search to Yunnan.

-Popular Foods in Xizhou ----- I thought that knowing some popular foods in Xizhou was going to benefit me in the future because a popular dish could possibly be my study topic.

-Traditional Xizhou Foods ----- I used traditional Xizhou foods as a keyword because it would show me what foods were eaten during special occasions rather than just popular foods eaten all year long.

I would know if my information was valid because if I found the same piece of information in many websites, then the information is most likely true. I know that my background research in Phase 3 of my inquiry project is valid because I verified the facts and  with many websites in order to put a piece of information on. Another way of having credible information on my background research page was to avoid websites like,,, etc. To find out who is producing/publishing information on a website, I would click a tab called "Contact Us", "About Us", or "Learn More". Then I would find a summary of who published/produced the information and when the information was published.

The expert I have found is Sara Naumann (, I chose her because she has been exploring China and writing about cuisine styles of provinces/cities of the places she visited. A place that Ms. Naumann had visited was Dali, the location of where we are headed for Microcampus. 

Here is a sample of a letter I sent:

Hi Ms. Naumann,


My name is Michael C., and I am currently an eight grader in Shanghai American School. I’ve noticed that you enjoy exploring China and its culture, and I’ve read your blog posts about Dali and found them incredibly interesting.

In three days I will be leaving Shanghai and heading to Xizhou, Yunnan to participate in Microcampus. Microcampus is a month long trip to Xizhou, Yunnan where we leave our city life and experience cultures firsthand instead of through a screen. When we are there, we will be working on an assignment called an Inquiry Project. If you’re interested in reading more, you can visit


The topic that I’ve chosen to study is Local Food Products/Cuisine of Xizhou. If possible, please answer a few of the following questions:

In Yunnan/Xizhou cuisine, what are the signature dish or dishes? Why? How is it made? 

What are some foods eaten during festivals and holidays? Why?

What are some foods that most vendors sell on the street in Xizhou?

In Yunnan/Xizhou cuisine, what role do yaks play? What are some yak food products? 

What are some foods that are made from rice? How is it made? What dishes include this type of rice product? 

How has the Xizhou/Yunnan cuisine changed over the last ten years? 

How do neighboring provinces and cities influence the cuisine of Yunnan/Xizhou?

How do different ethnic groups affect the cuisine of Xizhou?

What spices are mainly used in Yunnan/Xizhou cuisine? Why?

How have Muslim groups influence Xizhou/Yunnan cuisine?

Comments are always welcome (even if it’s constructive criticism).

Thank you for your time,
Michael C.
Shanghai American School


A three-to-five is a process when we interview 3-5 people that know some local people that are experts at our topic, in this case my topic is Popular Foods of Xizhou. Then we would make a recording of our conversation and record our results in our inquiry project workspace. The purpose of doing 3-5s is to interview someone and find out what experts they know, finding helpful resources.

I decided to interview three people, and the three that I chose were Fay, Annaliese, and Ms. Mai. I chose Ms. Mai because when she was giving us a tour of the village, she seemed to speak a lot about food so guessed that she has an interest in my topic. I chose Fay and Annaliese because they live in Xizhou and probably know plenty about popular foods. I interviewd Ms. Mai first and asked her some questions like: Do you know anyone that has expertise in Popular Foods of Xizhou? Do you know some popular foods? Have you ever been to a resteraunt that served some popular foods? Then I decided to interview Fay, I asked her similar questions and to my surprise she hardly repeated anything Ms. Mai said and gave me more information. Although Annaliese only gave me a few experts, her indepth description of popular foods was very helpful.

Some experts that I can talk to after the interviews are: the Yang Zhuo Ran's kitchen staff, Mr. Yang, Mrs. Yang, as well as other food vendors and resteraunt owners. Mr. and Mrs. Yang own a resteraunt called Golden Flower, which is pretty high class in Xizhou. Golden Flower serves whatever you want as long as they have it (usually seasonal). Mrs. Yang knows plenty about popular foods, which is relevant to my topic. Some topics of books in the Linden Centre Library can include Yunnan Food, Xizhou Food, Agriculture, Popular Foods, Traditional Foods, and such. 

Now that I have found some resources and contacts relevant to my topic, I am ready to go out to the village and start talking to the locals, collecting information, and working towards my final product. The research I collect will be stored in Phase 3 of my inquiry project, which is Interpreting Information. In phase 3, information that I collect from contacts within the village, online resources, and books will be recorded and pictures will also be showed as well. Please feel free to look around Phase 3 of my inquiry project.

Hi, I am Michael and I am 13 years old. I am from Los Angeles, USA and so far I have lived in two different places (L.A. and Shanghai). I found out about Microcampus when Mr. Tafel introduced it in 6th grade. When my older sibling came back and told me how amazing the trip was, I decided that I wanted to go in 8th grade. Now that I am back in Shanghai, I miss the clean, fresh air of Xizhou as well as all the lovely people in the village.