Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources

Updated 7 months 2 weeks ago

In Phase 2, I will be looking for more sources of information that can push my inquiry project even further. I finished Phase 0 earlier where I chose my inquiry project's topic while in Phase 1 I have come up with the questions that would guide my project throughout Microcampus.

The main keywords I used to find all of my background information needed to be include a variety of information from TCM basics to the criticism. Therefore, to find websites that included more general information I used the terms Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. Sometimes I included the words safety, efficiency, and news with those terms to find the different viewpoints of the medicines. As a result, I ended up with tons of basic information about both sides of medicine and quite a thorough understanding of the Western medicine standpoint (all of this can be found in Phase 3 in Background Information).

I mainly avoided sites that were commercial (.com) and instead stuck to websites created by organizations (.org). However, even then, I still had to check for the reliability of the sources just in case. I mainly focused on recency. This is because, with the world of ever developing technology, medicine also changes along with it. Another part I had to check for was bias. Bias was tricky to deal with since to find different standpoints I had to look through biased websites, however, I needed to make sure the biased websites were not so overly biased to a point of information manipulation. I compared lots of different articles to check for the accuracy of information, mainly comparing their descriptions and explanation of procedures. Another way was to check the author and what they had studied in to determine which side they may be biased in. I checked their About Us pages and often found out the site was written by groups of people who had similar fields of medicine. 

I found two medical experts that had experience in the Traditional Chinese medicine to help my expansion of knowledge on TCM and its views. The first expert I reached out to is called Timothy Regan, he teaches Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University of Bridgeport since 2006 and has taught for almost 10 years since then. I chose him because, with his experience, he would have full knowledge about Traditional Chinese Medicine from the beliefs to the procedures and uses (questions 4-7). The second expert I found was called Jennifer Brett who is instead more focused on the different types of TCM (acupuncture, herbalism, etc.). I hope that she will be able to provide more insight especially about my questions on growth and future. Down below is the email I sent to both experts. 

Dear Mr. Regan,

I am Austin, an 8th grader currently studying at Shanghai American School (SAS), I was chosen to be part of an experience called Microcampus where I will spend a month in a Yunan, Xizhou observing the beliefs and perspective about medicine found there. 

However, before I go on my trip to Xizhou, I have done some research about my topic and come up with some questions that would take me to Xizhou. I found out that you are very knowledgeable about the history and philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I am hoping that you could provide some feedback and insight about some of my questions and research. To be clear, I am not looking for the answers to my questions, instead, I am looking for advice on how to improve my questions and research. For example, if the questions are either too broad, impossible to answer, etc. Here's a link if you would like to review my project so far (http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/content/project-details-197), but below are the questions I have come up with. 

1. Which type of medicine is more advertised and promoted?
2. What does the public education teach about healthcare and medicine?
3. Is there any "active" opposition against either type of medicine anywhere in Xizhou?
4. What are the views about medicine (Western and Chinese) of the professionals (Pharmacy owners, doctors, etc.)
5. What type of awareness between Western medicine and Chinese medicine is found within different generations of citizens?
6. When are either type of medicines used?
7. What type of diseases does Xizhou have to deal with the most?
8. How do the citizens obtain the medicine? Do they need a prescription or is it "off the shelf"?
9. Are more TCM methods still being introduced today?
10. Is Western medicine influencing and changing some of the TCM methods?

Thank you so much for reading this email. I look forward to your reply if you have the time to. Please do not stress yourself over this!

Sincerely,
Austin Z.

I have not yet heard back from either expert, but I do hope they reply soon!

At Xizhou, I asked Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, Mr. Chen, and Ms. B to suggest me a list of contacts that I could connect to for further information about my topic. Mr. Chen was able to provide me some insight on the transmission of information around the village (mainly through passing down of parents and friends) and some main medical/health sellers around the village because his life has been based in Xizhou. Ms. Mai explained a bit more about how most of the "health" supporters were mainly used in food and not actually taken by itself as medicine due to the amount of experience she has about the village. Mr. Tafel also was incredibly helpful on how I should approach the topic during the conversations (there had been other Microcampus students who had similar topic structures) while Ms. B was helpful in referring me to some of her friends. Down below are some of the contacts I was suggested to interview. 

Mr. Chen:  

  • Pharmacy (on the corner of Walking Street)
  • Pharmacy (across from the first pharmacy)
  • Chinese medicine store (next to the first pharmacy)
  • Peter (Mr. Chen) (pessoa coffee, a coffee shop near the linden center)

Mr. Tafel

  • Mr. Du 
  • General public (ask about their health habits)

Ms. Mai:

  • Medical Care Centers/Pharmacies (Alleyway to Bao Cheng Fu)
  • Herbal cooking ingredient stands (Wet market weekends)
  • Ms. Linden

Ms. B

  • Hospital (South of Xizhou, towards Dali old town)
  • Herbal shop (sishangjie) 

After the conversations, I have gathered a good number of places I can visit (most of them probably contain more than one person I could talk to) and at least 3 contacts. This will be more than sufficient for the gathering of the information I will do later on since the places could also refer me to other contacts. I will be incredibly busy with all these sources for the next few weeks!

I have also looked through the Linden Center library, there was a shelf section for books about medicine and health foods which seemed helpful. I picked a book called Complete Illustrated Guide To Chinese Medicine, it has been helpful with extra and deeper background information on Chinese medicine, however, the book lacks perspectives and influences of Chinese medicine and the main ideas such as diagnosis, treatment, etc. are still similar can be found in my background research. Also, the book's format is similar to a dictionary of Chinese Medicine creating difficulty when finding main ideas.

Now I can connect with the list of contacts that were suggested for me; the information I learn will be located in Phase 3.  

After Microcampus, my life has been greatly affected by the new and different experiences that were offered during Microcampus. From being able to work efficiently and effectively to having meaningful conversations with (at first) strangers around me. I know understand the difference between "giving" and "trading" and the awareness of impact. How that perhaps people in need aren't necessarily always wanting gifts, but instead a trade, a bond, an understanding between two drastically different people. I also realized how much could be gained from just viewing the world around us and not just our smartphones and computers. For once, I noticed how the buildings were set up in a certain way or how some certain art was covered, I feel this type of education has been more effective than any other program I have ever tried out.