Data Collection

These two fieldnotes were rearranged from my jottings of two main participant observations for my ethnographic research. The research itself was focused on the dynamics and relationships among members of one particular Chinese international student association called CUSA. The one for New Year Gala was taken on February. 3rd, while the other for one weekly general meeting was taken on March. 23rd.

I chose these two events for my participant observations mainly due to the fact that most of the current CUSA members would actively participate in these events and it would be very helpful to collect data on how they interact with each other.

For the New Year Gala, I was able to work as a backstage staff after asking permission from the current president. During the event I found out that the previous friendly relationships among members would be overshadowed and replaced by a highly professional work-place relationship, while people would feel reluctant to interact others outside of their own departments. Despite their attempts to highlight their identities as members of this “CUSA Family”, there existed great amount of tension between members that resembled those dynamic commonly seen in a employer-employee relationship.

For that specific general meeting, which was held prior to the annual election of new CUSA leaders, the feeling of alienation among members was again prominent. I found out that most of the members would not pay attention to the current president’s speech, instead they often chatted with members belonging to the same department. These findings, alongside with other small details and my last participant observation during CUSA’ annual banquet, would be very helpful for my analysis of the relationships among CUSA members, and would eventually disputed my previous hypothesis that there existed a family or kinship-like relationship inside the whole association.

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