In Phase 0: Topic Exploration and Selection, all of the students chose a topic for their Microcampus inquiry project. The topic I selected to study for our 28 days in Xizhou was Tourism and Development. Now we are in Phase 1: Posing Real Questions, where I will be coming up with 10 main questions for further researching.
What I know about tourism and development is that it can change and develop a place completely. Of course, it is transforming Xizhou, but it has also impacted our home, Shanghai. In 1990, Shanghai was only a city with small buildings and houses, but within 20 years, in 2010, many taller buildings, towers, and skyscrapers were built. Shanghai changed dramatically and was one of the most busy, populated cities, becoming a tourist attraction that foreigners wanted to visit from around the world. Similarly, Xizhou was also once a much quieter place, but is developing into a major tourist attraction as more and more buildings and houses are replaced.
Many of the things I learned about tourism was through being a tourist myself. I visited countless museums with my family during the first couple of years living here in Shanghai. Many of these museums often had a section dedicated to Shanghai's history. In these areas, I would usually find a before-and-after comparison between Shanghai before tourism was popular, and after. Sometimes, there were descriptions about the changes of Shanghai between 1990 and 2010 in terms of environment, community, and economics. In addition, everything I know about tourism and development in Xizhou so far was from the topic description from the topic list I was given (and Mr. Tafel, of course).
I know a few things about tourism, but I am eager to learn more. Some of the things about Xizhou I want to know more about would include the specifics and details of the tourism and tourists in Xizhou (attractions, facts, statistics) that are causing and resulting in development. Then, I want to begin focusing on the actual development of Xizhou, and how it impacted the place (the environment change, community change, economic change, etc.) throughout the years. This would let me see what Xizhou would have been like if it were not such a tourist attraction, and what it will be if the development continued. I would also like to interview a few people in the community about their views on tourism and development in Xizhou. This would definitely help, seeing their opinions and perspectives on the topic. I would also ask them the three questions from the topic list - if development can occur from tourism without changing the place, who controls this process, and how. All of this information can lead me to figure out whether tourism has impacted Xizhou in a good way or a bad way.
I have done some background research about tourism and development in Dali. This background research will definitely help me come up with the 10 best questions that will be the most helpful to my later research. This can be found here at Phase 3: Interpreting Information
(along with research results).
The "Big 10 Questions" list is one of the most important parts to to achieving successful research. Below are the questions I came up with to help me learn more about tourism and development in the Dali area. In italics I have written some possible answers to each of the questions.
1. How has Dali physically changed? (ie. building structures, environment, etc.)
I already know that many buildings have been torn down in order to build other things from my background research, but I can further answer this question with more specific examples. There are many ways this question can be answered. I can talk to a local villager about these changes and some of the things that have been destroyed and constructed around them. I can take a look at an old photo of Dali and compare it with what I see when I visit the current area in person. Apart from building structures, it is possible that there have been environmental changes due to the tourism and development of Dali. Maybe the weather has changed, becoming more humid, hot, dry, or cold, or maybe pollution levels have increased.
2. How has Dali changed in terms of community, economics, and other components similar to these?
I think the answer to this question will be much like the first, as they are both relating to the changes of Dali. This question will probably be tougher to answer because all of these aspects of change are not visible. The development in Dali could have changed the community - maybe the local villagers are more passive or more aggressive because of all the foreigners in the area, but this will be hard to figure out. I think Dali's economic status is definitely much better than it was a few decades ago since the area is much more popular and touristed, but again I can find out more about the economy.
3. What do the different people of the village think of the changing? (ie. young townspeople, old townspeople, village officials, tourists, etc.)
During my background research, I came across a few articles that had different opinions regarding the question of which people of the village liked or disliked the development of Dali. The majority of them believed that the young villagers preferred the more modern Dali, while the older villagers thought the opposite. Answers to this questions may be different from what I see in my research. A pattern may exist with different ages or positions, unless there doesn't seem to be a pattern at all.
4. Who is the most and least affected by the tourism and developments of Dali?
The answer to this question would be somewhat related to question three. Those who do not really have a strong opinion about the development of Dali would probably be the least affected ones, and those who extremely like or dislike the development would be the most affected people.
5. Will other small places around Dali also become populated with tourists over time?
This is also a more difficult question to answer, since you also cannot know the answer for sure. I am looking for more of a "yes" or "no" answer to this question, and I can find out more about some places that have become very tourist-popular, and places that haven't to help me make a prediction whether more places will or will not become touristed.
6. Can development occur from tourism without changing the place?
This could be a good question to ask some of the local villagers since there can be different opinions and ideas. There are two possible answers: First: yes, development can occur from tourism without changing the place. Tourism and development does not affect the area at all. Second: no, it cannot. With tourism and development comes change.
7. Who controls the process of tourism development and how?
I think there is most likely a big boss (and a big, big boss) who has the power to take main control over the process of tourism and development. However, I think that if a lot of people who are not high-class got together, they could affect the big, big boss's control over the process of tourism and development.
8. What would Dali be like if it hadn't turned into such a tourist attraction?
Dali may have still been like a quiet, town like some of the smaller places around it. Although there is no way of finding and proving out exactly how it would be, since we can't see into the future, I can make an educated guess.
9. What would Dali be like if it continues to become a bigger tourist attraction?
If Dali were to continue to grow in the number of tourists who visit each year, it would become a large internationally known city like Lijiang or even Shanghai. I think that the people who control the process of tourism and development will rebuild the place to make it more modern, but still try and keep the culture and vintage-ness of the city.
10. Overall, has tourism so far developed the Dali for the better?
There is not a "correct" or "incorrect" answer to this question, it is really more of an opinion, and can be debated about. I can use all of the evidence from the answers of the questions above to to support the statement I make, but ultimately it would depend on what type of person you are. So far I think there are and equal amount of good and bad things about the tourism and development of Dali, but maybe my opinion will change after I learn more about this topic in Xizhou.
*note Refer to Phase 3
for answered questions
I ordered these questions from:
"specific" (exact changes of Dali, villager opinions) [questions 1,2,3,4]
to more "general" (tourism development processes) [questions 5,6,7]
to "very broad" (overall Dali developments; good or bad?) [questions 8,9,10]
I think this grouping makes the most sense to me, and will be the easiest if I answered these questions in this order, since the specific questions would help determine the general questions, and the general questions would help determine the very broad questions. After putting each of the questions in groups, I decided that there was also a need to put each question in order inside its group. Of the "specific questions", I saw that questions 1 and 2 were related, and 3 and 4 were related. The physical changes of Dali affected the non-visible changes, and what different people of the village thought of the development would help me figure out which people were the most affected by the development. I did the same with the "very broad questions". Questions 7, 8, and 9 were things that would help me get to the final question: whether tourism and development so far has affected Dali in a more positive or negative way. If I preferred the "old Dali" from question eight over the "future Dali" from question nine, I would probably think that tourism has impacted Dali in a more negative way, and vice versa.
These are the big ten questions will help me by acting like the "fuel", or energy source for my research process, but I think there is always more background research I can do about my topic. For example, I can read more about the economics and environment in Dali to help me understand the city better. More background research will also ensure that I know exactly what I am doing once I arrive at Xizhou, and make my time there much more productive. The more preparation, the better!