Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
In Phase 1, I had posed the 10 Big Questions that will be the basis of my research in Xizhou, as I will try and answer them upon arrival. Now in Phase 2, I will be finding helpful resources that will further my understanding on my topic of Body Language, both in Shanghai and Xizhou. I will also be learning to look at the validity of the websites I have and will use throughout my inquiry work.
As I accessed and used digital resources for my background research in Phase 3, I searched with key phrases such as: Body Language Examples, Personal Space, Read Body Language, Emotions through Body Language, Observe People. I chose to use these specific words and phrases because they all related closely back to my topic. Adding on, I wanted to learn how to make observations about body language accurately whilst remaining respectful. This is why in my research, I spent a lot of time reading through what gestures/movement signaled what emotions, so when I make observations in Xizhou, I will be able to read their reactions towards one another and to other objects. To understand how to reach this goal, I looked into how professionals such as therapists or counselors read into one's general body language and the concept of personal space, so that I will be able to do this without making them uncomfortable.
I know my research is valid because one of my main sources, for example, was Thoughtco.com. I believe this site is extremely credible, as all the information on it has been backed up by pervious students who have done similiar projects, my parents, and some teachers. Furthermore, the specific person who wrote the article I used for research, Richard Nordquist, is a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Armstrong State University. He has also written two books used for college freshmen in language studies, and wrote and researched for the body language article as it is a language. Adding on, the websites reads when the articles were last updated, and all of them have been edited within this past year. I know that he authored the article and who he is because on the website, I was able to click on his name and read into the details of his experience and education. I plan to reach out to him soon, so that he can offer me some advice on my Inquiry Project.
Another person I plan to reach out to is Allan Pease. He is an Australian body language expert who has written over 18 top 10 best selling books and sold over 26 million copies in 54 different languages. He has authored books such as "The Definitive Book of Body Language" , and has spoken in seminars in 70 countries. Him and his wife own a company called Pease International, but remain credible sources as their company teaches communication skills and body language to their clients instead of selling products.
Now, I have begun drafting out an email for the experts I plan to reach out to. Both of these contacts seem to be open to communication, and are both very qualified in terms of experience and education. With their knowledge, I believe they will be great resources for my Inquiry Project, as my topic is about body language. The email read:
Dear Mr. Nordquist and Mr. Pease,
My name is Mia, and I am an eighth grade student in Shanghai American School in China. From April 29th to May 26th, I will be living with 4 other students in a village of the Yunnan Province, XiZhou. During my time there, I will be researching and analyze information around the topic of Body Language there. Whilst I was doing background research on how to distinguish the relations between specific emotions with specific gestures and how different cultures use body language, I found articles and books to which both of you authored. Your article/book(s) were easy to follow and full of information that was helpful for my project. Because of this, I decided to reach out to you both, as I would really appreciate it if you were able to carve out some time for your busy schedules and give me some advice on how to observe and approach them, as well as tips on how to read their posture/gestures/movements accurately.
You can find my project on this link:
A big part of my project surrounds answering 10 big questions that I have drafted out. To clarify, I am not asking you to answer each specific question, as that would be time-consuming and difficult. Instead, I hope that you can give some advice and tips that will point my in the right direction for this project. Below, I have listed out all my questions:
1. Are they aware of what body language is?
2. What are their personal opinions on the use of body language? Do they think it is important?
3. What type of body gestures/movements are the most commonly used to communicate specific emotions? This could include eye movements, hand gestures, etc.
4. How many people do the villagers communicate with through body language on a daily basis, and how?
5. Do they show the meaning of body language through anything besides day to day life? This could include special dances, prayers, etc.
6. How do villagers communicate with other villagers compared to with the tourists? How much space do they put in between themselves and the people around them, based off who the other person is?
7. How do tourists communicate with other tourists compared to with the villagers? How much space do they put in between themselves and the people around them, based off who the other person is?
8. How do the tourists react (body language wise) to the Xizhou lifestyle? This could include reactions to lines, services, etc.
9. How do the traditions in their area affect their natural body language when communicating with others?
10. Besides the current culture, how does their personal history affect their use of body language?
Thank you so much for your time, and I would truly appreciate if you were willing to reply and share some of your knowledge.
I have not heard back from my contacts at this time.
3-5's is a term to reference the 3-5 minute long conversations we have with 3-5 different people. These contacts are people who we see on a daily basis, and are already familiar with, such as Ms. Zhao, Ms. Mai, and Mr. T.
Ms. Zhao is one of the support teachers for us in Microcampus. I explained to her what my project was about, but she was confused at first on how to answer the question of "who might help". However, after I explained to her that I also needed places for me to go people watching, she had immediate answers. She suggested to start at Sifangjie, as it was a place that is populated by both locals and tourists. Another place she recommended was a pavillion by the West gate of the village, explaining that there were a lot of old folks there that liked to chat daily. Finally, she gave me the idea to go to the Linden Centre, as it was a place where I could watch the local staff work with each other, as well as with tourists.
• Pavillion by the West gate
• Linden Centre
Ms. Mai is one of the main coordinators of our Microcampus trip. I briefed her on the same things as I did with Ms. Zhao, but I mentioned this time that it would be helpful if she had ideas for specific contacts that I could talk to. As with Ms. Zhao, her first answer was Sifangjie, for the same reason. She added on that the market would be a good place to look as well, as some tourists stop by to get a snack. As for contacts, she thought it would be a good idea for me to reach out to the owners and staff of the Golden Flower Resturant and Old Town Snacks, so that I could ask questions such as what differed between their contact with each other and with customers. This is because she believes that it will be a good idea for me to explore the topic from different perspectives, not only by my own observations. To add on, she strongly recommended me talking to Mr. Yang, who runs an antique shop, as a lot of tourists are attracted to what he sells. Furthermore, he has lots of knowledge about history, strong connections, and is also very kind. This is the same case with Mr. Mao, who is also an antique dealer. Finally, she gave me the idea to make contact with people from the Linden Centre. More specifically, she thinks that I should interact with the security guards and Bryan Linden. I would interact with the security guards and ask questions to how they make contact with guests who are friends/family and how that is different from when they are making contact with guests who are strangers. As for Bryan, Ms. Mai described him as a "Western boy living in a small village", and explained that he would be a good resource as he knew how to interact with both tourists and locals.
• Owners and staff of Golden Flower Resturant/Old Town Snacks (Sifangjie)
• Mr. Yang (near Sifangjie)
• Mr. Mao (near Sifangjie)
• Security guards (Linden Centre)
• Bryan Linden (Linden Centre)
Mr. T is the other main coordinator of our Microcampus trip. When answering my questions, he gave me vast and varied advice on which direction I could go in with my topic. He gave me the idea that instead of basing this research off specific contacts, I could ask locals, in general, the question of "how can you tell if somebody is from here?". He mentioned that they would typically answer with an answer regarding a person's accent, and that I could follow up with another question that pointed more specifically towards body language. Other people he suggested that I make contact with include business owners, as it is in their financial interest to know the difference between a local and a tourist, in which includes resturant owners in Sifangjie as well as antique owners near the area. He also suggested that it would be interesting to talk to tourists as well, as it would give me a new perspective on the topic. It would also show me how they saw the difference between locals and tourists, and how they read body language. Finally, he suggested that I not only talk to the Linden Centre staff, but communicate with those who were not locals. This is because they interact with both local and tourists, which would make their perspective a very interesting one.
• Locals in General (all of Xizhou)
• Resturant Owners (Sifangjie)
• Antique Dealers (Sifangjie)
• Tourists in General (all of Xizhou)
• Linden Centre Staff (Linden Centre)
Although I already had more than enough contacts/places recommended to me, I went to the Linden Centre and completed one more 3-5 with Mrs. Linden. This is because I believe that she has a lot of valuable insight about resources, as she has many strong connections with people all around Xizhou. Below, I have listed the possible resources she recommended.
• Locals in General (walking on Ranyixiang/Main street near Linden Centre)
• Old folks in general (all of Xizhou)
• Convinience Store Owners (near Sifangjie)
At this rate, I am sure that I have enough 3-5's. I know this because of the number of contacts/places I was recommended to interact with, as well as the variation within those contacts. Not only that, but each contact would probably be able to lead me to another source, which would allow me to collect plenty of information.
Lastly, I can take a look at the library in Yangzhuoran. As for right now, I have checked out a book called Displacing Desire by Beth E. Notar, that speaks to the idea of capturing authentic culture, especially in the introduction section.
Now that I have found lots of helpful resources, I will be moving on to Phase 3, where I will record all the information I find from the resources suggested to me.