Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 4 years 3 months ago

Background Information:

Kids in China like to play Ping-Pong (table tennis), Badminton, Soccer, Chinese chess, and Mahjong (which is also played by adults) [1] Table tennis was first introduced to China in 1901. China entered the world champions in 1953. From around 1965 to 1971, China stopped competing in table tennis. It was still played but there was no competition because they were under the rule of Ma Tse-Tung. In 1971, China started competing in table tennis again, and the communication between the US and China opened back up again. [2] Mahjong has been popular since the 12th century. It was banned in China because it was seen as a gambling game in 1940. Twenty years later, in 1960, it was allowed. Over time, many other countries have adopted the game, sometimes slightly changing the rules. Now days it is played in clubs and online. [3]

Before the 1990's, people in China did not have a lot of recreational time. In 1995 China started the "two day weekend" system. May Day, Chinese National Day, and the Spring Festival, which are seven day long holidays, were added at the end of the last century. People in China now have 144 legal days off per year. Some activities they do during these days are visiting the Great Wall of China, and going upstream or downstream some of the major rivers in china [4]

There was research done in China about students participating in after school activities. This is what they found. 14% of the students did not participate in after school activities. 77% of the students participated in after school activities to improve physical, and mental health, and also because it was fun. The main reasons why some kids didn't participate in after school activities, was because they didn't have enough equipment, or there was too much homework. [5] Play is important because it improves a kids mental, physical and social well being. It gives parents the opportunity to interact with their children. Play increases a childs attention to academics. Children that are being raised in a rushed an pressured environment, don't have all the benefits of a child being raised with the opportunity to play. Play can also help a mind grow, and it helps kids interact with the world around them. It increases a childs confidence. Play can also benefit a childs learning behaviors, and problem solving skills. [6] Recess helps a kids physical, mental/emotional, and social well being. It builds a kids self esteem and it can improve test scores. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Recess helps lower kids blood sugar, and helps prevent obesity. Most importantly, it helps students practice being good people. [8]

Local children swim in Erhai lake in Xizhou. [7] Eleders like to walk around Erhai lake, and children who live near the lake, will play in it. [9]









[9] Mr. T

[10] Mrs. Zhao

[11] Mrs. Duan

[12] Mrs. Wan

[13] Mrs. Yang

[14] Mr. Dong

Information from Local Contacts:

Today I went to talk to a lady called Mrs. Zhao, with Ms. Mai, and Gayatri. Mrs. Zhao is 68 years old. Everyday she goes and buys groceries, makes food for her family, and then starts her job. Mrs. Zhao's job is to make little baby shoes. She has done this for fifty years, and was taught by her mother. Her, and two other ladies, work together to make one pair of shoes. Mrs. Zhao makes the top part of a shoe, the second lady makes the top, and the third lady sews the two parts together. No younger generation, has had time to learn how to make these shoes. Mrs. Zhao loves her job, because it gives her time to socialize. From across the yard, the three woman will talk to each other about their day, or about their family. They make three different colored shoes. Green, red and purple. The elders, and young children's favorite color tends to be the green. A long time ago, she used to make a mini version of the shoes, used for decoration. She stopped making them, because they require lots more work. Because she is constantly bent over a work table, she says that she has gotten used to the stressed eyes, and the bent back. Her son helps her, by selling her shoes in his store. When Mrs. Zhao was a fourth grader, she quite school, because they needed help at home. Back then, the living conditions were tough, so Mrs. Zhao was twelve years old when she started working for money. It was the same way with her friends, and everyone else in the village. When Mrs. Zhao was in school, they only had a few break times. During that time, she would dance, sing, or chat, with her friends. Now days she like to chat with her friends, or watch TV. She also dances with other woman every day. Every night, she and the other two woman she works with, go walking, as exercise. Her and her friends, think that it is very important for their health, to exercise daily. Mrs. Zhao, can take a vacation whenever she wants. The two main reasons that she would ever take a break, would be, for a festival, or for family matters. Other than that she does not take a vacation. This moon festival, she plans to get together with her family, to eat dinner. They are also planning on making a moon cake, instead of buying one, because it is more fun for the children, and it brings the family together.

Mrs. Duan is a sixty year old lady who was born in Xizhou. She sells clothes that she nits for a living, but as her hobbies and passion, she dances and plays instruments. She loves her job. In all her years of working, she does not regret what she has done. Instead she is content with what she has. She counts her dancing as her daily exercise, and knows how important it is for her health. She also knows that exercise is important for younger generations. At school, Mrs. Duan played jump rope, hula-hoop, and danced. When she was in fourth grade, she stopped going to school, just like Mrs Zhao, along with her other friends. This is because she needed to help take care of her brother at home, while her parents worked. She also stopped going to school, because it was too hard for her. Now she thinks that school now days is a lot more harder for her grandchildren then it was for her. If she could go back, she would finish school. When she was twelve, there were Japanese soldiers and people everywhere, which meant that there was no time to play with any of her friends. At fourteen years old, she started taking dancing seriously. Two years ago, she hurt her foot while dancing for a birthday party for a 64 year old man. Now days she works with her husband and a group of musicians and dancers. On evenings that they do not have concerts, they practice at the Dali High school gym. When I asked her where people her age go for exercise, she said that they go to the local exercise place/playground. I also asked her about who takes care of the children. She said that if the parents have work far away from home, the grandparents will step in and help out. In her family, she did not bother her parents, and took care of her own children. This year she is looking forward to the Chinese New Year, because it will be cold, so many people will have to buy her sweaters to keep warm. They are also nice Chinese New Year gifts. Some words of wisdom that she has for the younger generations are "Do what you love, and follow your passion".

Mrs. Wan is fifty seven years old. She was not born in Xizhou, instead she was born in Lijiang, and married a man who is from Xizhou, forcing her to move. She is a farmer, and grows corn. After dinner she dances with Mrs. Duan. When she was in 9th grade, Mrs. Wan stopped going to school. If she could go and change one thing in her past, she would finish her education. Other than that though, she would not change anything, because she is content with how her life has turned out. Because she is so happy, she does not regret many decisions that she has made in life. One thing that Mrs. Wan is most proud of, is the health of her family. This includes herself, her children, and her grandsons. Some things that she has accomplished, are good harvests, and educated grandsons. Some words of wisdom that she has for the future generation is, "rich people slack off, they just sit around playing mahjong and wait for fortunes to come to them". Looking forward into her life, Mrs. Wan is getting ready to retire, and watch her grandsons grow up and get good grade.

Mrs. Yang is fifty two years old, and sells lottery tickets as a living. When she was going to school, she failed the exam to move from middle school onto high school. If she could go back and change one thing in her life, she would go back and finish her education. She has two sons, one works as a driver, and the other is a police man. In China, the custom is for the groom/groom's family to pay for the wedding, and pay for most of their new house. Mrs. Yang is constantly worrying about how she will be able to afford to marry her sons when the time comes. The two things that she cares about the most, are her business, and her, and her sons's health. On Friday September 26, she entered the lottery in the morning herself, once, winning 78 RMB, and another time, not winning anything at all. On time is won around 2000 RMB. These are just examples of what goes on in her shop every day. Mrs. Yang says that the chance of someone winning are 50/50. If there is one thing that Mrs. Yang wants the world to know, its "How long your feet are, you choose your proper shoe size". Which means: follow your dreams and talents, not someone else. Make sure what you do in life is based on your capability. If you know you cannot do something, do not do it.

Mr. Dong is a 84 year old man, who used to be a musician. His passions include; music of course, and history. A while ago, he wrote a book about history in Xizhou and how things have changed here over time. When Mr. Dong was a young man, he became a solder. While he worked for the army, another man named Cui, taught him how to play a few songs on a guitar like instrument. Just like many of the other elders in the village, Mr. Dong did not finish school. Instead he stopped going to school until the end of elementary school, and then taught himself at home. Some words of wisdom that Mr. Dong has for the younger generations are, "Remember things and study things deeply. This way you always have stories to share. Keep things in mind." When I asked him, how has music changed his life, he wrote down four characters in Chinese, which means "when you do a certain thing, you feel like you are in heaven".

Information from 3-5's:

After talking to Mr T, I found out that local children in Xizhou, play at Erhai lake, and elders walk up and down the lake. [9] This will help me because I needed to know where the elders go for recreation, and it seems like the go to Erhai lake. This also gives me an opportunity to go and actually watch the elderly, exercising, and having a good time. So far this information confirms what I learnt from one of the websites, about how people play at Erhai lake.

Answers to previous questions:

- Where do adults/elders go to exercise? Adults and elders in Xizhou go walking and dancing. Elders like to walk around Erhai lake.
- Do people in Xizhou have the same number of days off as people do in Shanghai? It depends on where they work, and who they work for. Most people only take a day off when their is either a family matter, or a festival going on. People do not typically make as much in Xizhou as they do in Shanghai, which means they have to work harder, and longer. This results in more time spent working, than vacation days.
- Is it more important to have friends to an adult/elder in Xizhou, compared to when they were kids?  A long time ago, the living standards were tough, so not many people had a chance to have friendships, because they were always working at home. The importance of having friends has not changed, but now days elders have MORE friends, and better relationships with people.
- What regrets do local elders have from their childhood? Most elders in Xizhou regret not finishing school.
- Words are some words of wisdom for the younger generation? "Remember things and study things deeply. This way you always have stories to share. Keep things in mind", "How long your feet are, you choose your proper shoe size", "rich people slack off, they just sit around playing mahjong and wait for fortunes to come to them", and "Do what you love, and follow your passion".
- What are some risks that locals have taken that they do not regret, and ones that they do regret? Other than not finishing school, most elders are content with their lives. They also tend to not take many risks, other than gambling in mahjong, or another game.
- What are some accomplishments that a local has succeeded in, and how did they accomplish them? What are you proud of in life, and why? Elders in Xizhou are very proud of their health, and their good business. They have had to work hard, with little time off, to succeed such things.
- Is there anything in your life that younger generations could learn from, if so, what? When I asked a local this question, they did not answer.

Questions that I have discarded:

I got rid of the question "Do kids in rural China have recess?", because it was no longer relevant to my topic. I switched from studding about kids, to adults, so I did not think that I would need that question. What are some of the students favorite games to play, and why? I got rid of that question too, because I did not need it, due to me already knowing a lot of information about that question, so I already basically knew the answers. How important is it to have friends to a typical Xizhou student? I got rid of that question, and changed it to "how important is it to have friends for an adult/elder, compared to when they were little kids?", because it seemed more relevant to my topic. The last question i got rid of was "What do children in Xizhou do to stay healthy?", because it seemed like too simple of a question, and it also did not seem relevant to my topic. What are the differences between how Chinese children in rural China play currently, and how their parents played when they were children? I got rid of this question, because I did not need that question anymore, due to me slightly altering my topic. Do parents and elders think play and stress free time is important for their children or grandchildren? I got rid of this question, because I altered my topic, so the question was no longer relevant. I also got ride of "What kinds of games do adults and elders play with others?", because it was not important to my topic. Because I had slightly altered my topic, I also got rid of the following questions: Where do elders go after work, compared to where they went when they were young? Do adults and elders find their job fun? Who takes care of the children, and has it changed roles over time? What do adults and elders do in Xizhou to stay healthy? And, why do elders think it is important to stay healthy?

I am ready to move onto phase four now. I have done enough research to know what I am going to do for my final project, and to report my findings.


Local Contacts

Hi Christina,

I read through your section "Information from Local Contacts" - and wow, what great narractives. It is amazing that you are able, through direct contact, to get to know people with lives different and yet - not so different- from our own. I totally love some of the quotes you included,

"How long your feet are, you choose your proper shoe size", and "when you do a certain thing you feel like you are in heaven". Those are frame-able!

I also like how there seem to be opinions tucked away within what you are being told..."in her falmily, she did not bother her parents and took care of her own children". 

This is great work you are doing! Keep it up! Mom



Hi, my name is Christina Manning and I'm 15 years old. Born in Canada with a dual German citizenship, I have lived in countless countries throughout my school years, including Korea, Dubai, and Australia. I am currently in my sophomore year at Shanghai American School. Microcampus was an amazing experience - one I will never forget. It provided me with a new perspective on China, and it's people, which is something that I will always cherish.