Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources

Updated 2 years 12 months ago

In Phase 1, I posted some big questions on my inquiry project topic silver smithing that would assist me with my research at Xizhou. In this phase, I found helpful resources that could lead to some answers and even more wonders. 

In my research process, I used keywords such as "silver smithing in China", "Bai minority culture", "silver smithing history", and "Chinese minority silver smithing", in order to acquire a comprehensive background knowledge about the topic and its environment/situation. However, if I narrow the keywords down to "silver smithing in Bai minority", there are not as much information on it. Therefore, I had to use all the different aspects of information resources I gained for interpretation. 

I know my research information is valid because I have checked the sources of the websites I used for my research. Some of them are credible websites that I know from daily life, such as CNN and Chinese People's Daily. Others may be written by organizations/individuals with personal experiences and in depth research on a topic, such as the completed inquiry project work of students and one that was written by an individual who not only read a lot about the topic and gathered information/facts from valid resources, but also traveled to China and combined his knowledge with personal experiences/observations. 

Experts:
Jeff Hays - email: ajhays98@yahoo.com - I chose this expert not only because I believe he is open and welcoming to questions and interests from reading his self introduction and author's note on the website, but also because he has large amount of information and personal experiences with the Bai minority culture and perhaps also its specific relationships with silver smithing. 

Chinese Argent team - contact website: http://www.chineseargent.com/contact - I chose this organization because it appears to include many experts on this topic and provides some very in depth and detailed descriptions to silver smithing. 

People's Daily experts and editors - email: englishpd@163.com - I chose this organization because although I could not find the contact information of the specific editor, I do believe that contacting a local Chinese news organization like such could give me some very constructive feedback.

Sample email: 

Dear Mr. Hays,

I have noticed from your website, http://factsanddetails.com/china/cat5/sub87/item178.html, that you have been deeply interested and engaged in the Bai minority culture with large amount of reading and personal experiences . I am an 8th grade student currently participating in a project called Microcampus, which is an amazing opportunity that lets students spend one month in Xizhou, Yunnan, investigating on an Inquiry Project of our own choice. My project focuses on the craft of silver smithing of the Bai minority culture. I sincerely invite you to take a look at the project that I am still working on at http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/projects/blogs/8571/students, and would really appreciate some feedback, advises, and comments from you. I have also attached a list of 10 big questions  that would guide my research in Xizhou, and would love to seek some feedback on their effectiveness and depth as well. Thank you!

Sincerely,
Stella R.

Big questions:

  1. What are the relationships between silver smithing and Bai minority's culture?
  2. Where did silver smithing originate from in the Bai minority culture ? How? Why?
  3. How does silver smithing reflect on the Chinese culture/traditions?
  4. What are some applications of silver smithing in the village?
  5. What are some specific techniques, skills, and designs unique to the Bai minority culture?
  6. How do the traditional silver smithing techniques compete with the modern machines?
  7. How is silver smithing inherited in Xizhou?
  8. What are some issues and challenges of inheritance that silver smithing is facing? How could these issues possibly be resolved?
  9. Is silver smithing protected as a cultural heritage in the village? How?
  10. Will silver smithing likely be inherited in the future where the development of technology is advanced? How?

At the current point, I have not received any reply or feedback from the experts yet. 

In order to gain information and access to local resources, experts and people, I need to conduct 3-5's with the teachers and staffs. 3-5's are a series of 3-5 conversations for purposes of knowing more about our inquiry project topic and finding local people in the village who might be experts on the topic or provide helpful resources from their experience. I chose the people below to interview because I believe they are all very familiar with this village and definitely know some specific people who may not only have expertise on the topic, but also in addition have experiences with cooperating with previous Microcampus students. Below are the information I received from 3-5's, information that repeatedly appeared are marked with *.

Mrs. Chu:

  • Mr. Duan/小段 and his wife [pass the ficus tree]
  • Antique dealer Mr. Mao/阿毛叔/老毛 [between 四方街 to Linden Centre (150m away from Mr. Yang's shop)]
  • Bai ladies (wearing silver jewelry) [in the market]
  • Shop owners/silver smiths along the streets [from 杨卓然 to 四方街]

Mr. Zhao:

  • Mr. Hong/洪师傅 (contact: 18908722731)  [in a shop on the right side of the street from 杨卓然 to 四方街]

Mrs. Mai

  • *Mr. Hong/洪师傅 (contact: 18908722731)  [in a shop on the right side of the street from 杨卓然 to 四方街]
  • One of the Miao ladies Mrs. Shih/司阿姨 [shops two doors downhill from Linden Centre]
  • Mr. Linden and Mrs. Linden [Linden Centre]
  • Shop owners [Dali old town]
  • *Mr. Duan/小段 and his wife [pass the ficus tree]
  • Mr. Yang/杨师傅 [shop at the north of 四方街]
  • Antique dealer Mr. Mao/阿毛叔/老毛 [between 四方街 to Linden Centre (150m away from Mr. Yang's shop)]

​Mr. Tafel:

  • Mr. Zhao (3rd or 4th generation of the silver smiths family) [at the end of the market street
  • Silver smiths Mr. Lee/李师傅 [shop from 杨卓然 and 四方街, as well as the opposite direction (North)]
  • *Antique dealer Mr. Mao/阿毛叔/老毛 [between 四方街 to Linden Centre (150m away from Mr. Yang's shop)]
  • *One of the Miao ladies Mrs. Shih/司阿姨 [shops two doors downhill from Linden Centre]

​Mr. Yang

  • Shop owners on a street [turn right from 杨卓然 and turn right again]
  • Mr. Yang himself [Linden Centre]

​Mr. Linden:

  • Silver smiths [步行街]
  • New silver smiths [north of 四方街]
  • Silver smiths [Between 杨卓然 to 四方街 (walking north, on the east of the street) ]
  • Xiao qi [between 四方街 and the Muslim section, north]

I think I have received an abundant resources of local contacts from 6 adults that I could connect with/seek help from that would keep me busy for the upcoming weeks. Although some of the contacts are specific and easy to find, many of them would require me to spend time to find, make connections and be familiar with. Therefore, the resources at hand would fulfill my inquiry project work time. 

​I believe books from the Linden Centre about specific regions with dense population of silver smiths, as well as student reflection/documentary on a project similar, would be really helpful to my research. I have in fact already received some book recommendations from Mr. Linden during the 3-5. 

In this phase, I found many helpful resources that would help me move forward with my inquiry project. In Phase 3, I will be recording all the information about my topic that I received from multiple sources. 

My name is Stella R. I am an 8th grader at Shanghai American School Pudong campus who already returned from Xizhou as a member of the Revival group. The 27 days Microcampus adventure was truly one of the most fascinating experiences I have ever had. I will not forget about the beautiful environment with the clean air, green lands, and blue sky, the welcoming village full of cultural and historical values, and the challenging opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in many aspects. This may be the end of the 4 weeks long journey, but it is the start of something brand new.