Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 2 years 12 months ago

For around the past two weeks, I have been working on my inquiry project, which is something we do on Microcampus to help us get to know more about life in the village and Chinese culture. In Phase 0, we looked into different topic choices and I chose my final topic for the project which is how minority migration through Xizhou has changed peoples facial features. In Phase 1 we will be looking into our chosen topic, and finding 10 question we have about the topic.

I do not know much about my topic as of now because I created the topic my self and also because it is not something that most people know about. I do know that Xizhou is a Bai minority village, however because of new Chinese government laws, If a Bai minority person and a Han minority person get married and have children, their children are automatically Han. I also know that asking people about their minority is a sensitive topic,because it is not something that is discussed regularly. I will have to ask people what minority their parents are to know their actual minorities. I also can tell that there is a difference of facial features between minorities. For example, my ayi is from Hubei and she is the ethic minority there, and she does look very different than a Shanghaiese person. 

I learned some of these things from when I went to Xizhou 2 years ago. Although I was not a Microcampus student, I still got a sense of the village and I learned a little bit about it from Mr. Linden. I also am very fortunate to have a sister who went on Microcampus so she has been constantly talking to me about the village and everything she learned there. This helped me a lot because although she was doing a completely different topic than me, she learned about the Bai minority culture and is now sharing all that information with me. I can not look back at past students work because this is a topic I created so no one has before. 

I wanted and hoped to learn a lot of new things about my topic. Firstly, I wanted to get to know more about minorities in general. I did not understand where they came from, how they differ from a persons home province and how they relate to people in society. Minorities are a very big part of the Chinese culture, and once I understand that, I can understand more about the Chinese culture. For this topic to work successfully, I will also have to learn how to distinguish facial features, and what makes people look different. I think that looking different from someone else is not just about you skin tone or eye size,  there is so many things that could make you look different than someone else. Even if one small thing about your appearance is different than someone else, it could make you look like a totally different person. Thirdly, I hoped to learn more about Chinese history and migration. I want to learn how these minorities came to be and how they have traveled through generations and also learn how people migrate in china, and why. Finally, I hoped to learn more about photography. Since I will be talking photos of people almost daily, I think I should be able to get better at photography and experiment with what will make my photos look better. 

I have done some background research, to help me better prepare my self for the 28 days in Xizhou and to help me create some of the "Big Questions" of this phase. This research can be found in Phase 3

This is a list of my 10 big questions that are essential for my inquiry project. These questions guide my research in the village and help create my final thesis. These are all questions that i am hoping to find the answer to by asking individuals in the village and getting a group consensus.  I wrote possible answers based on the information that I already know under each question in italics. I have now written my final answers to these questions in Phase Three

Questions to ask individuals 

1) What is your government given minority (the one on your ID card)?
This answer will vary depending on each person I ask. However, I think that with China trying to establish a larger population of Han people by making a child with one Han parent full Han, most of the answers for this will be Han. I also think that since Xizhou has such a large Bai population, there will be allot of people with the answer of Bai. 

2) What is your biological minority?
Again, this answer will vary based on each person but I think that most of these answers will be half on ethnic group and half another because of the migration happening throughout the years in XiZhou.  

3) What minority do you most identify with?
I think that this answer will mostly be Bai just because of the culture and history in XiZhou, however it will vary depending on the ask.

4) What does being in a specific ethnic group mean to you? 
This will vary based on the person I ask but I think the majority of the answers will be they sense of community of the long term history.

5) How do you personally identify other peoples ethnic groups? The way they organize them selves, the way they look or their religion, culture, and language?, 
Again, this will vary depending on the person I ask. Most scholars would say that the ethnic groups should be identified based on their culture, religion, tradition,etc. However, the Chinese government in the 1950's organized the ethnic groups by the way the organize them selves and what government form they use which resulted in groups of people from across the country being put in the same big ethnic group. It all depends on the person perception. 

6) What facial features do you think the Han ethnic group has? What about Bai? Are these different from the ethnic group the ethnic group that you identify most with?
Again, this depends on the I ask but based on the "typical" Bai and Han faces, there could be slight variation. The Han face is longer, they have bigger eyes, less arched eyebrows then the Bai. The Bai have bigger lips, more defined cheekbones, and a shorter, rounder face then the Han. 

7) How can you/ can you tell what ethnic group a person is? By facial features, body language, clothing?
This will vary based on the person I ask but In Xizhou, I think that it will mostly be clothing. Having visited there before, I saw that most people wore the traditional clothing on their ethnic group, unlike in big cities. The Bai people usually wore their head dresses and skirts while the Hui wore their head scarves.

Questions to get a group consensus on

8) Are ethnic groups important to China? What would China be like with out them?
I think that most people will say that ethnic groups are very important because ethnic groups have been around such a long time and most people would not know where china would be without them. The creation of ethnic groups helped organize China more and led to China developing and advancing into the place it is today. 

9) How were ethnic groups made? Do people agree or disagree with that decison?
This answer I am very unsure about, because China hasn't really shared lots of that information over the internet. I think that lots of different peole will have very different views on the topic and how they were formed. 

10) Do peoples facial features really differ based on their minority?
This answer I will have to answer when I am there. I think that peoples minorities may have an effect on how they look if they are "pure" one minority, which we do not really come across anymore. Usually, there is at least one person in the family tree who married someone of a different minority.

Before I embarked to XiZhou I needed to understand a couple of things. First I wanted to learn more about the "Min Zu Shi Bie" or ethnic classification project that happened during the 1950's. Since I did not find anything on line, I will resort to asking experts about this. I also would like to understand more about the minorities in the village and how they interact with each other. Although this will be very easy to figure out on my first day, It would help to have some background information. 

I have now moved on to Phase Two. In this Phase, I found helpful resources to help continue my inquiry project. 



Hi everyone, my name is Claire. I am part of the Revival Microcampus group. I am originally from the United States, most recently Dallas,Texas, however this is my forth year living in China. My passions include soccer, volleyball, traveling and photography. Microcampus has been the experience of a lifetime. XiZhou is absolutely beautiful and the people are incredibly kind and welcoming. I loved all 28 days I spent in the village and wish there were so many more. Through my time in XiZhou, I learned so much about Chinese culture, my Inquiry Project topic, and myself. Microcampus was remarkable opportunity and I will cherish it forever.