Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources

Updated 4 years 2 months ago

As I searched for experts and expertise on this topic on the internet through a search engine (Google), I used these keywords in the search so that I can find adequate results. This is the list of keywords

Village, Governance, Government, China, Yunnan, Bai

As I combed through source after source on the internet.  I needed to determine whether the source is credible and trustworthy.  These are some of the ways of how I decided whether the source is reliable or not.

I will know the information is valid by checking if the info is recently published or updated. Another way to know if the information is legitimate is by looking for how many times this source has been reviewed and cited by others.  

Additionally, I needed to find out who published the information.  This is how I determined who is responsible for producing the information.

I can find out who is responsible for producing/publishing that information by searching the site for an "about" page and find out the staff and the people behind the information provided.

I needed to find three experts in this field village governance.  I used Google Scholar to find the three experts on the topic.  Here are their descriptions and I will also send them an email asking for feedback.  

1. Linda Jakobson 

Contact Info: ljakobson@lowyinstitute.org

I choose Linda Jakobson as one of my experts because she is from a institution on international policy and has 20 years of experience of working in China.  She also wrote six books on China and Asian Society and worked at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  She covers a wide range of topics and I think she can help me with my topic village governance by explaining how leaders are elected and how the village is run.

2. Jean C. Oi

Contact Info: joi@stanford.edu

I choose Jean C. Oi as one of my experts because she is a professor in Chinese Politics in the Stanford University. She has published many works on rural China's economy and government and founded the Stanford China Program.  I think she can assist me with my topic by explaining what roles the village government has.

3. Daniel Kelliher

Contact Info: kelliher@umn.edu
 
I choose Daniel Kelliher because he specializes in political science in the University of Minnesota.  He has won numerous teaching awards and has many publications regarding Chinese rural politics.  I think he can help me with my topic by giving points of view on how well the village government system is working.
 
Sample Message:
Dear Professor _____,
My name is Jason and I attend the Shanghai American School 8th grade.  I'm currently attending a month long program called Microcampus in Xizhou, Yunnan.  You can visit this program at http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/projects/blogs/204/students.  I'm interested in studying ethnic Bai minority village government.  I would appreciate your feedback on this project? 
 
Here are my 10 major questions regarding the topic.
1. Who are the leaders of the village?
2. How are the leaders decided??
3. What opinion do you have on the leaders and how well they're doing their job?
4. How is the leadership passed on from one generation to the next?
5. What type of government system does this village use?
6. Are there separate departments/areas for different roles?
7. How are the leaders and positions of government elected/decided?
8. Is there an amount of corruption within the village governance?
9. What is an indication that the governance is doing a good (or bad) job governing the village?
10. How much control over the village does the governance have?
 
Sincerely,
Jason
 

A few days have passed, and I will record my efforts and the results of reaching out to them.

I've emailed all 3 experts on the topic and so far, I have not received a reply in the past few days.

 

 

 

Soon after I arrived in Xizhou, I made a 3-5 minute recording with 3-5 adults at the Linden Centre who can share their thoughts about village governance.  These are my results.

Brandon and I did our 3-5s together and amassed 6 different recordings from people all over the village.  The interviewed people ranged from shopkeepers to hotel staff.  We were surprised by the lack of knowledge about the government and also their opinion on the government had a huge range.  

One interviewee was an elderly woman who worked at the hair salon.  A first look into her shop said it all.  Huge pictures of Mao Zedong adorned the walls.  We asked if she knew someone in the government. She gave us directions to the local government building.  We chose her because she was an elder and she could provide insight and opinion on the government and how it compares to Mao's Communist governance.  Her opinion is important to our inquiry project.

Another person we interviewed was two young hotel staff.  We needed their knowledge because I want to know how informed the younger generation is about the governance and whether they have a strong opinion on the government. These two young hotel staff did not know too much about the governance but pointed us to people who were more knowledgeable on this topic.

We also interviewed a few shopkeepers near SifangJie.  We chose these people because some of them are migrants, coming from other provinces to do business here and we need to know how much they knew and whether the government influenced their business.  These shopkeepers were not very knowledgable about the government but gave us directions.  They told us that the government did not influence or have too much control over their business.

A Linden Center staff was one who we interviewed.  He was elderly and from my perspective, worked in Xizhou for a long time.  We chose him because I wanted to know about the history of local governance and how much it's changed.  He was very insightful and gave us directions and how much the local governance has evolved over the years.  

Another person we interviewed was Zhao Lao Ba, the coffin maker who lives just down the street.  We needed his insight because we wanted to know if he knew anyone related to the government.  He told us directions to a local government office and Xizhou's central government building.  

The last person we interviewed was the Linden Center receptionist.  She told us that she did not know anyone related to the governance but also gave us directions to the Xizhou Zhen Fu She Hui, which was the government office that all the others were pointing us to.  She also told us about the village chief's availability and we were told that the chief is extremely busy and we might not get the chance to talk to him.

I'm always looking for new information so, I'm going to look at what kind of topics for books will be helpful to me.  All of these books I find will be at the Linden Center Library.

Some topics for books from the Linden Center Library that might be helpful are books on government, village history, cultural revolution and the Communist Reforms.  I found my first book "Local Government in China".

 

 

 

Comments

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Next time, conclude your request letter with a nice "thank you."  These professors are very busy teaching classes and taking care of their regular students.  They don't have a lot of time to put together a detailed response.  A sincere note of thanks at the end of your letter will go a long way toward getting a prompt response.  And when they write back, be sure to reply back with another 'thank you' note. 

Hey I'm Jason and I'm in Xizhou! I am studying village governance by interacting and communicating with the local people and the local officials. I also enjoy playing basketball and listening to music. Currently, I am enjoying the Microcampus experience and having fun! Feel free to check out my blog posts and inquiry project.