CyberFair Project ID: 4765

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: The Influence of Buxiban Culture on Nanyang Street in Taipei City
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations

School: Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School
    Taipei, None, Taiwan (R.O.C)

7 students, ages 17-18 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 9, 2007. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): Never

Classes and Teachers: Yung-Hsien Wang and Class 324

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Buxiban (cram school, transliterated from chinese words) culture, which characterizes the Nanyang Street and its surrounding area in Taipei City, has long been well-known to people from far and wide. Located in the vicinity of the Taipei Railway Station, the Nanyang Street enjoys convenient transportation, which, along with comparatively low rents in that area in the past, prompted buxibans to spring up. Lining the street, these “cram schools” and “buxiban-goers” has created a unique streetscape as well as commercial structure.

2. Summary of Our Project

The “craze” for attending buxibans has swept over Taiwan, and in Taipei City, where the competition of getting into prestigious high schools and colleges is most fierce, that is especially epitomized by the Nanyang Street. With an increasing number of students going there for “cramming,” various businesses in the neighborhood have thrived. Add to that, an extremely distinct streetscape took shape. By virtue of discussing this subject, we could somewhat define the concept and scope of buxiban culture, or “cram” culture so to speak; and the observation of the streetscape of the Nanyang Street will further lead us to the discussion of how it is correlated with the culture, which in turn has an effect on the human-environment relationship. Eventually, after painting a clear picture of the Nanyang Street, we could induce a solid conclusion from a final discussion, so as to gain a better insight into how the society, flooded by this cram culture, is transformed with fast pace.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

1.Obstacles in conducting street intercept interviews and interviews with storeowners Since this is our first time to interview pedestrians and storeowners, at first we were highly motivated and enthusiastic about this research. Even though in the process many turned a cold shoulder or even lashed out criticism, we still met many friendly pedestrians and received hearty welcome from some vendors, who voluntarily provided more information than needed. 2.Hurdles in collecting literature Literature review is an indispensable to the research; via literature, we could form a basic construct for the research topic and map out a format. Because of the scarcity of documents on the Nanyang Street, the research did hit snags at first, delaying our schedule for doing the survey, even the whole research. The absence of literature would render the methodology groundless. This is indeed the greatest hurdle in the process. 3.Lack of theoretical basis As senior high school students, we are still novices in carrying out research, and are not familiar with theories and application of geography. Therefore, the lack of theoretical basis in this research is a weakness we need to work on in the future.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

To redefine buxiban culture, we may as well say that it makes changes to human-environment relationship and streetscape, create crowds of students lining up in front of elevators, and enters the collective memory of one generation after another. Strange it may be, buxiban culture has become part of the modern society in Taiwan.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

The subject of our project is centered upon the category of “Community Groups and Special Populations.” As far as coursework is concerned, we made full use of the class time of “research methodology,” opened up by the school, to discuss with the course instructor about the framework and methods of our research. In order to draft up a proposal, we were even divided into several small groups, each of which took charge of different sections. What we learned in the process were diverse skills necessary in conducting the research. That being said, however, the most valuable part for us was still the thorough knowledge of how to construct a research project, which will definitely be conducive to the understanding of our college courses in the future. Apart from that, in gathering reference materials and writing up our project, we came to realize that the effective use of the Internet would for sure facilitate the interaction between the instruction of teachers and the learning of students. It could bring us up to speed on everything efficiently, thus making us keep up with our work schedule within certain timeframe. In the process of carrying out the research, we though of ourselves as “a team of excellent execution performance,” so that each team member could get a feel of being a “CEO.” In this way, not only would the efficacy of work sharing be maximized, but each member could enjoy the opportunity of playing to his strength as well. This, in our humble opinion, lives out the true meaning of collaboration and teamwork. What we most expect of a research project are the birth of novel ideas, newfound conclusions, and some elucidation on complex problems. Fortunately, we have so far achieved our goal. Our understanding of this subject must have been deepened in that if a friend comes from afar to visit the area of our research, we are confident that we will be more than willing to share with them our viewpoints on this project without reservation but with enthusiasm.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

All told, we adopted street interviews, surveys, the Internet, digital cameras, printers, CD-ROM burners, telephones, and computer software. As far as digital cameras go, we made use of the models of Nikon D40 and FujiFilm F610 to record videos of the Nanyang Street, and then uploaded to our website with a view to adding “colors” to the layout. As for computer software, Dreamweaver, Firework, Photoshop, PowerMap 3D, and Yahoo Messenger are utilized for the digitalization of our research. Eventually, net conferencing and file uploading came into place for completion of the project.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

To delve into buxiban (cram school) culture, we came up with three research methods: interviews with storeowners, street intercept interviews, and a questionnaire survey. The interviews with storeowners, for starters, were designed in hopes of gaining more in-depth understanding of what was on citizens’ mind, so that we could grasp how great the influence of buxiban culture has had upon the businesses around the Nanyang Street, thus exposing the commercial aspect of this culture. Besides, since this was our very first time to conduct interviews, quite a lot of things interested us. For instance, we did enjoy the experience of staying on the street all day long to interview almost a thousand people, each of whom had unique personality of their own; the firsthand information gathering, in turn, enabled us to step out of the comfort of our campus and home to get a hands-on feel of our fast-paced society. Street intercept interviews were indeed an arduous task. Facing the crowd, we could tell that passers-by barely wore any kind of facial expression, exuding aloofness. This was especially the case when one pedestrian after another rejected our requests for interviews; the feeling could not be worse. Nevertheless, in order to explore into their age brackets, occupations, and reasons of dropping by, we eventually took advantage of many after-school hours to complete the survey, which is of great help to our research on the buxiban culture of the Nanyang Street. As for the questionnaire survey, we gave them out to students cramming at buxibans, for the purpose of sorting out the reasons behind their choosing buxibans along the Nanyang Street, their cramming, as well as their purchasing behavior. Through direct contact with buxiban-goers, the analysis of questionnaires, and the comparison with the previous methods, we have come to realize, and even redefine, the significance of buxiban culture to local community.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Despite the fact that the final draft of our research project has come out for about a year, we do not dare to hold high hopes for the possibility of our research “impacting” the community. However, we do hope that we could pay another visit to the Nanyang Street and observe closely its subtle changes after this research is finally settled down. Moreover, we do expect that some government official in charge of urban planning would take a look at our project and then pay more attention to the Nanyang Street by providing those “cramming” students with a safe environment as well as “beautifying” the streetscape as a whole. In this way, chances are the Nanyang Street would set an example for other “buxiban clusters” throughout Taiwan. That would in turn make our efforts all the more worthwhile.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

The completion of this research owes largely to the assistance of many people, particularly those students cramming hard at buxibans and pedestrians rushing by on the street. If it had not been for their favor, our survey would have been on shaky ground, and our project would not have come to fruition. In addition to that, we would also like to extend gratitude to our history teacher, Mr. Chun-Mu Huang, and geography teacher, Mr. Yung-Hsien Wang, both of whom gave us timely guidance and inspiring ideas that rid us of bewilderment and dilemma and encouraged us to persist in doing the research. For sure, we are also thankful for our parents, who have shown high tolerance for our survey and discussion sessions on a regular basis, since they means absence at home. This project would merely be a pie in the sky without their support.


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