Using a cultural Inventory to conduct a study of a person's life
In this project, I visited a person's place to interview his daily experience, using a cultural inventory to help me have a deeper understanding and generate insights.
Research object : M, an undergraduate student in Austin
Research field : The apartment M lives in
Duration : Nov 6 - Nov 18, 2019
Researcher : Yuqing Chen
What is a cultural inventory?
A cultural inventory is a listing of a community's cultural assets or resources. A cultural inventory can be used as a resource for schools, cultural organizations, and others seeking to better understand a community or identify specific cultural resources within that community. A cultural inventory is often an important initial step to cultural planning.
M is a sophomore at UT Austin. He is a member of Longhorn BSM (Baptist Student Ministry) -- a group of students who love Jesus and want to share the love of Christ with neighbors and the nations. Before coming to UT Austin, he has lived or traveled in Manila, Tokyo, Taiwan, Thailand and so on.
M currently lives in west campus, Austin, sharing a bedroom with his roommate N, and has another two housemates. He likes this place a lot because it is close to campus, BSM, and Austin downtown. He enjoys exploring coffee shops in downtown and taking photos for them. Another important reason he likes this place is because the spacial kitchen, living room, cozy coach are prefect for hosting guests.
It has been his dream since high school to host people in the community. It’s his passion to serve people. He loves watching people enjoy the food he prepared. He hosts gathering on every Sunday, inviting people from BSM to this place. They cook, usually M is the chef, sometimes play games, and spend the night discussing their faith in god. His cooking is really good, and they always had a lot of fun in this house.
"God told me to share my place with people."-- said by M's roommate N, previously the place's only resident. N decided to share this place, that's how M and other roommates start to live here. This is a very organized place. He is the person who usually organizes the kitchen, and his roommate N is the person who cares about cleanness most in this place.
To better organize their house dynamic, they have a roommate contract, and utilize a calendar for scheduling event and notifying other roommates.
He likes this painting hanging on the wall. It is purchased by his roommate. "It's goofy. It fits our sense of humor."
God guides me.
Every morning, M wakes up early to start his day. M and N have different schedule, to avoid disturbing his roommate N, he sleeps on the coach for the past two weeks, he said it is very cozy. After finishing washing, he cooked breakfast for himself, and sit on the dining table. He always reads Bible on his phone during having breakfast.
After reading and finishing eating, he writes down what he learned from the book, and prays for around ten minutes before he leaves the place for classes.
Talking about how he establish his faith in God, M shared a story started since his high school. He had a hard time during high school when he just relocated to Texas from Japan. Chasing after things never satisfy him, all the passions, desires, insecurity only leads to being broken. At this time, M met a friend from the church, who is very welcoming and showed him what faith actually means, how it works in practice. Although M was born in a christian family, he knew he is a christian but did not know what it really means till this time.
M started to realize that he needs God to save him, and realized that how much love God gave people and how Jesus died for us. He realized that God can forgive him for all the things in the past and he started to live for a purpose, not for desire. This changed his life completely. He became a new person when God came to him, lives in him, leads him, reminds him what is good and strengthens him.
He also give his love to people, as what God did.
He has lists to note what to pray for people, and prays for everyone.
In their living room, this box is for guests to write down what they want and hosts will pray for them.
They talked about their faith, and wrote them on notes and post on the window as reminders.
You are a son or daughter of the King of heaven. And while you are on a date, so is the person siting across from you.
M went to mission trips for helping and serving more people. The last one, Beach Reach, was a two months trip in Taiwan, it is also the time he got to know more about his girlfriend, how strong her faith is. They know each other at BSM since the last year. It is on this trip, after know how passionate she is following God, he decided to ask her to be his girlfriend.
They respect each other, treat each other with love, and walk towards God together. The relationship has never been so healthy.
Before he actually decided to start this relationship, he was figuring out how to do it appropriately. After the relationship started, they also read together to learn how to maintain healthy relationship while following God.
M is preparing a gift for their anniversary, which is coming in eleven months.
He keeps flowers in sand to keep them dry but fresh for this project, and plans to keep adding writings and drawings over time.
M also has gifts from his girlfriend in his place. The records and candle.
He played musics and lighted candles when hosting guests.
Another art project M is working on is his skateboard.
M designed this graphic by himself, applying metaphors form Bible. It described how Jesus died for us, how God saved us from being broken, and lead us to a better world.
He had many other drawings on his notebook. This book is from his brother.
A painting called "So will I". It is from a song with the same name, singing about how I want to worship the God, as the universe does.
This painting "Wonder" is also from the song Wonder, singing the story with God.
Apart from painting, M is also passionate on Photography. He carries his camera in his daily life, and during his trips, catching people's stories on street. He also has another film camera, for catching special moments with people. He found this camera from his grandfather's place, it is one of the earliest cameras Canon made.
A picture he likes most is the one he took for his brother.
They climbed to the top of mount Fuji to see the sun rise and sun set. For seeing both, they climbed very fast to the place for seeing sun set in the first day and did not stop but ran fast to another location for the next day's sun rise in morning. They almost got lost due to running into a wrong direction, but eventually found the way back and caught the sun rise.
They did many other crazy adventures together, hiking, surfing, and etc.
The notebook M used for drawing, is from his brother. They are close to each other. His Pikachu doll and guitar are also from his brother. Although they are not living together, they talks over the phone, talking about their life. He shared his considerations before started his relationship and got advice form his brother.
He also has a close relationship with her mother. He learned how to cook from his mother during high school, he shows his painting to his mother, talking about how life is going on weekend.
At the end of the visiting, I noticed that the sticker on his power bank.
It shows how God loves us but we walked away and got broken, and how we were saved and redirected to come back to the world of love and peace.