Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
In Phase 1, I came up with a set of 10 big questions, and now in Phase 2, I will be doing more research to help me understand my topic better.
I started my research in Phase 3, mostly using the internet and some databases. I have learned from experience and teachers that specific keywords are extremely important. Since my topic was Local Legends/Myths/Stories, and I focused mainly on ficus trees, I had many options for keywords. In the beginning, I started with "xizhou legends and myths", but that proved to be ineffective. I took a step back and looked through the inquiry projects done by students in the past, and I remembered that most of the people in Xizhou were from the Bai Minority. Realizing this, I used "bai minority legends and myths" and it proved to be extremely helpful and effective. I then did some more basic research on ficus trees using "ficus trees bai minority". The words I used the most was bai minority, xizhou, legends and myths, and ficus trees.
In order to check the reliability/validity of my sources, I did what most people did-- use multiple sources and compare the results. This proved to be extremely helpful and I will continue to use this technique later on. Many of my resources had their sources down below, so I also checked them to see if it was valid.
In order to deepen my understanding, I decided to search on the internet for possible "experts". After digging around and not having much luck, I decided to go to my sources in Phase 3 and search for the authors/contributors. After looking through my sources, I finally found an expert. His name is Sam Mitchell, and he is a big contributor to the website http://www.ethnic-china.com/, and the website has helped me a lot in my research. He received a PhD in Asian History at the University of Hawaii, worked with the East-West Center, and published many books. However, I could nott find his direct contact information anywhere on the internet. Instead, I sent an email to his website: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Sam Mitchell,
My name is Debbie S. and I am an 8th grade student studying at Shanghai American School. I am currently in a program called Microcampus, where a group of 8th grade students embarks on a trip to Xizhou, Yunnan Province for a month to experience life outside the city. During our stay, we have to choose a topic to specialize in and eventually create a final project. I chose to do the local myths/stories/legends, and I had to research about it. I came across your website, ethic-china.com, and it really helped me. In order to go deeper, we are required to search for an expert. I was wondering if you could take a quick look at my project that I will be continuing in Xizhou, and hopefully give me some tips. Here is the link to my Microcampus project: http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/projects/blogs/8604/students
Thank you so much for your time!
*update: According to Mr. T, Sam Mitchell passed away.
After my arrival in Xizhou, we had to complete our 3-to-5s. The meaning of "3-to-5" is basically having 3-5 conversations about possible local contacts with 3-5 adults. I asked Ms. Mai, Ms. Zhao, and Ms. Song. I chose Ms. Mai because she has been in Xizhou for a very long time and made many connections, and has a lot of knowledge about the local culture. I decided to ask Ms. Zhao and Ms. Song because they have lived here for a long time. I decided to pull up a map of Xizhou from the learning resources, so I know where the location is of the local contacts.
-Mr. and Mrs. Linden, owners of the Linden Center
-Mr. Yang, owns a store north of SiFangJie
-Mr. Zhao, lives next door
-The old ladies of the Golden Flower in SiFangJie
-Staff of the Old Town Snacks in SiFangJie
-Mr. Yang, a musician
-Ba Mu She Temple
-Yang Xiao Yun, works at the Linden Center
-Jiu Tan Sheng Temple, directly behind the Yang Zuo Ran
-Zi Yun Temple, next to the ZhengYi Gate
-Mr. Yang, a musician
-Mr. Yang Wen Dong, a teacher and owns a restaurant.
-Mr. Zhao and Mr. He, security guards
-Mr. Zhao, near lottery shop on the walking street
-Mr. Zhang, creates poster type things
-Yang Biao Chi, horsecart driver
-Horsecart drivers in general
-The Ba Mu She Temple
- Mr. Du, the antique dealer
-The big ficus tree directly across the ZiYun Temple
-Mr. He, the security guard
-Pair of ficus trees near the drop off point
After having many conversations, I have collected a lot off local contacts and places I can go to. I believe that this is more than enough to keep me busy because each person will probably tell me a lot of information. After talking to Ms. Linden at the Linden Centre's big library, I asked her for some recommendations for books. She suggested a book about the history of Dali, and also The Tower of 5 Glories by C.P Fitzgerald.
In Phase 2, I found many helpful resources through 3-5 conversations with 3-5 adults, as well as quickly summarizing what I did in Phase 3. Continue to follow my journey in Phase 3!