Week 13: Reflecting on Comments & Writing First Chapter of Dissertation

This week began with the presentation of my final, and now is the time to reflect on the comments offered. Other than that, I am also starting to write the first introduction chapter for my thesis dissertation.


First of all, I am so glad that I was automatically assigned to present this week instead of next week because then I have no choice than to push through and focus on my other class next week. Not a bad idea after all.

Now on to the comments that I received, I am going to start off with Dan’s. He mentioned to be a little cautious about the culture and nursing guide when I showed the table I found regarding the traditional Asian beliefs and behaviors relating to mental health. This was an excerpt from a book called Culture & Nursing Care: A Pocket Guide that was written back in 1996. The reason to be cautious being the potentials for orientalist approaches to mental health, but of course this depends on who wrote it. So I decided to do a little research on the author. Her name is Juliene G. Lipson, honestly I could not find much information on her besides some reviews from readers. Apparently this book is widely used by nurses who work in the medical field as a guideline in familiarizing themselves when with dealing with cultural diversity. So I think I can safely assume that the author is not an orientalist, just simply an informative resource for health care providers to provide good care after assessing cultural group patterns and individual variation within a cultural group.

Traditional Beliefs & Behaviors Relating to Mental Health

He also suggested me to look into a few books to read about Asian American and the association with racial problems. I am excited to get on to read these books, hopefully I will have enough time to go over them over the winter break.

One question he asks is about a specific connection between the Asian Americans and mental health that I can draw upon or use to develop or deepen this idea of space. Right now for many studies that I have done on Asians’ attitudes towards mental health I have just been using to support my thesis topic. In addressing issues relating to mental health, seeking for a professional such as psychotherapy is probably the conventional approach nowadays, but for some people who are just starting out and still in the process of familiarizing themselves with the practice, this step might seem like a jump from nothing into something serious. Therefore, I would like to configure the in-between step to ease their thoughts and hopefully prepare them towards psychotherapy. It will be helpful for the design if I can find a way to make this purpose more evident and louder, I will definitely keep this in mind and think of a way to apply the correlation.

To answer the question of how do we know whether a space is vulnerable or not, I think the only way to answer this is through making many iterations and test each of the iterations with people so that I can build the next one based on what the majority of what the participants think. It is challenging to define what is an ideal vulnerable space because it can be very objective for everyone and we all have our own perception in what that would visualize, so hopefully through testing and listening to people’s input, I can create a vulnerable space that might work for most. This will be an experimental piece which will be fun!

Someone mentioned about the interactive chalkboard community sponsored by Starbucks. They hired an artist, Nancy Pochis, to custom made a mobile outdoor graffiti chalkboard with a prompt “I stir things up by…”

Starbucks’ Mobile Graffiti Chalkboard

This approach is very interesting and is quite similar to what I am trying to achieve with the space I am designing. There is not much explanation goes into the behind the scene of this idea, but it is about the notion of sharing and it is fun to see how people perceive the prompt differently.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Starting to write from a blank canvas is definitely not easy, however my notes from the final presentation really helps me in organizing my thoughts. For my introduction, I am planning to write this chapter based on my experience and my perspective on the topic. I don’t really want to insert too many quotes from external sources as I will be doing that for the second chapter on literature review anyway.

Below is how I will be structuring my introduction:

  • My fascination with the concept of memory and how it potentially defines our identity as individuals
  • Times when our memories can appear to be vague, questioning the whole basis of identity and understanding ourselves
  • Times when our memories can be personal that it is challenging to confront myself and speak up to others
  • Reason behind the troubles of expressing myself, leading to the typical Asian household situation
  • Discuss about the powerful imagery by Angie Wang and how it describes the reality of our society, leading to the challenge of being vulnerable
  • The need to normalize the talk of mental health in my cultures and communities by introducing my plan for visualizing a vulnerable space
  • My secondary research plan and the four different topics
  • Why the project is in the form of a practice-based approach for iterative projects and the overall concept



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