Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 5 years 9 months ago

In Phase 0, I had decided my topic of interest, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for this Microcampus trip, after ruling out other possible topic choices. Now, in Phase 1, I will have to start gathering knowledge and research questions about this topic, to help me prepare for my stay at Xizhou. We have not yet traveled to Xizhou yet, but will go very soon!

What do I already know / Think I know about TCM / How have I learned this: 

Most of the knowledge I know about TCM is from the small advice from my grandma, who is a big fan of TCM. I know that TCM uses many mountain herbs to either be grind or boiled in water; it is helped to cure many human diseases. Also, TCM says that the human body has many invisible "tubes" that flow throughout the body. Another type of TCM is using these jars and heat to suck the poisonous fluids out through our body. This knowledge comes from observations, such as my grandma using the jars on her self, and my grandma adding small herbs into our soup to help enrich our bodies. I know that I will need to research at least a bit on this topic, interview the villagers, possibly interview my grandma, and more. 

Also, I checked some previous Microcampus studies on TCM. Peyton Y's Microcampus inquiry project is also TCM, and she said that there are also the 5 elements in TCM, which are: gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. They have certain colors and foods that go along with them. If you lack in an element, or have too much of an element, you have to use another element to keep them in balance. 

What I want to know: 

I first want to know more about TCM herbs, enough to help me when I go to Xizhou. If I have a basic knowledge of this topic, it will help me interact with the locals on the medicines. I also want to know about how people usually use TCM herbs, so when I interview villagers in Xizhou, I will be able to ask more questions and understand what they are saying. Information about what people think in general about TCM will also give me a slight picture on the perspectives of people. 

Background Knowledge: 

To learn more about the basics of TCM, I researched more info online. Go to my Phase 3 page to find that research.

10 Big Questions*:

Now I have to come up with around 10 big questions to help me in researching more about my topic. These will give me a guideline to use while I am interviewing other people in Xizhou. I have not done any research yet; the answers in italics are not the actual answers, but my guess on what the answer will be. Also, I categorized my 10 big questions based on the similarities between them. 

Lifestyle habits influenced by TCM: 

1. What do the people of Xizhou believe is the cause of a common cold? 

If they are big believers of TCM, they might think that it is caused by the imbalance of the body and nature. If they are more of a pill-based believer, they would said it is because of germs and viruses. 

2. How do the people of Xizhou think diseases are caused? 

I think if the person believes in TCM, they may or may not say that it is from the imbalance of the body. 

3. What is the viewpoint / do the people of Xizhou have certain practices on staying healthy? 

For the TCM believers, they might think being healthy is staying in tune with nature. For Western-medicine believers, they might think of washing their hands, wearing a lot of clothes when it is cold, etc. 

4. How do the people of Xizhou choose what food to eat, based on your belief of TCM? 

My grandma once told me how each food helps a certain part of the body, based on its color. For example, an eggplant is around a black color, so it helps the hair (at least for Asians).  

5. How do the people of Xizhou keep themselves clean? 

I do not really know.  

Herbal Medicine Knowledge: 

6. Which herbs/medicines do the people in Xizhou commonly use? 

I would say mountain herbs. It depends on the environment up there, because since the altitude is high, and the sun is closer, not all plants might be able to grow. 

7. Right now, do the people in Xizhou use Western-pills more, TCM, or a mix of them? 

I think most of them would use TCM? But I think some people might also use Western-stylized medicine, too. 

8. How do the people of Xizhou know TCM / "Western medicine" (depending on the person's belief)? 

I think the knowledge of TCM is passed down generation by generation, like it is more of common knowledge. For example, a family might have a grandmother that knows how to treat common colds using TCM. The grandmother would pass that knowledge down by actually using the methods to treat her child. Then, when her child is a mother, she can use the same treatment as her grandmother, and then etc etc. People might know western medicine from the Internet, or from doctors coming from other places. 

Local Personal Opinions on TCM: 

9. Is TCM effective? Why do the people of Xizhou like to use it? 

The popularity of TCM also shows how effective TCM is. From my background knowledge research, the opinions are mixed. Also, it sounds quite nice (all those stories), and is much cheaper than Western-styled surgeries and such. 

10. Do the people of Xizhou think the ideas of TCM will survive?

I think it depends on how many people still believe in it. Many people already have changed to "Western" medicine. Because Xizhou is so far away from the big cities, people there might still be using TCM instead. But I think over time, as science starts to overpower everything else, most people would probably use pills. "Western" medicine is always evolving and improving, while TCM is just the same as it was thousands of years ago. 

What else do I need to know: 

I think I am going to research a bit more on specific herbs that people use usually, so when I interview people, I would be able to recognize at least a little bit. Also, I could research a bit more different people's perspective. I am sure the perspectives online will be different from the local people's perspective, so I will not focus too much on that. I also need to call my grandma for some of her knowledge on TCM. 

Now I am ready to move on to Phase 2, where I have to list the helpful resources I can use in Xizhou. 

*Note: In Phase 3, after I have done my research in Xizhou, I have my final answers for the Big Questions in there. 

Also, here are some new questions that I have (after my research): 

In Xizhou, I have some new questions I thought of from the answers I have gotten from my interviews. 

1. Is TCM truly effective, or is it WM that is being effective, or do the effects from healthiness come from a placebo effect? 

2. Do people just take medicine because a doctor tells them to, or because they actually know what they are taking? 

3. How did WM travel to Xizhou? 

4. How does acupuncture work?

5. How do acupuncture doctors know where to insert the needles? 

6. How have the ideas of TCM affected one's daily life?

7. How did the TCM doctors of before know TCM knowledge like the Yin Yang? Is it really true? 

Hey my name is Shirley, I am a student from SAS Pudong. I used to live in Minnesota, USA, then moved to Suzhou, China, and finally to Shanghai. I am Chinese American, with black hair, brown eyes, at the age of 13. I like to make any kind of arts and crafts, be crazy with my BFFs, and read fanfiction. I also play piano as a hobby. I may seem quiet at first, but if you get to know me really really well I start to talk a lot. I am a survivor of the Fearless Microcampus group! I am glad that I experienced this trip, because I grew a lot as a person, and I learned a lot of life lessons as well. I hope the groups coming later will enjoy this experience as much as I did, and that they will be nice to Mr. T and Ms. Mai! Now, I shall have fun being an Alumni.