Congratulations to Sam Culbert who is the first recipient of the Archives Summer Fellowship. This fellowship is intended to support students who are interested in conducting research with primary source materials from our university archives. Sam worked with the Don and Claire Egge Collection which comprises of materials that document the Egge’s years of living in China.
Sam provides insights into his summer in the Archives!
Tell us a bit about your interest in China?
For me, my fascination with China began with the language. I had a choice between taking Spanish, French, and Chinese in 8th grade, and Mandarin sounded the most interesting to me. After learning the inane ‘pull the carrot’ (bǎ luóbo) song, eating chicken feet, and being required to call my teacher ‘the Ruan power (Ruan was her surname)’,I knew I had picked a winner. I continued my Chinese language studies in high school and even traveled to China with my high school class, visiting seven cities over two weeks. I was awed at the rapid pace of development everywhere I went, and fell in love with the food and the people. I went on to take Chinese classes here at UPS, and participated in the UPS Taiwan summer program, furthering my Mandarin studies. I have just returned from a year abroad in Beijing, where I lived with a Chinese homestay family for one semester and with a Chinese college student the next. My appetite for all things China has only increased!
What appealed to you about this opportunity?
This opportunity seemed an excellent way to apply all that I had learned about Chinese history, language, and culture here at UPS and while abroad, as well as learn more about the dramatic events surrounding the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing and elsewhere. The collection also contains fragments of a big character poster (dà zì bào) that students posted on the wall in Harbin during the protests!
What is it like working in an archive as opposed to book and electronic based research? What do you like about it?
Working in the archives is a great opportunity, because you get to hold the actual record of events in your hand, the actual materials that all the tertiary academic work is based off of. You get the chance to interpret the sources yourself, rather than reading about them in a narrative someone else has already created.
How do you intend to share all the research you have done?
I plan to create a multimedia presentation using a media sharing tool called Capzles. I intend to showcase many of the sources I think best reflect the events that took place in Tiananmen Square, as well as provide context for those who might not be familiar with what was happening in China during those years, and highlight aspects of the pro-democracy movement that many may not know very much about. The presentation will include short blog posts and images, as well as the sources themselves.