Students as teachers

14:44, November 11, 2009      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Chinese traditional therapy, such as acupuncture, has attracted an increasing number of followers abroad.

Helen Dai found her life had changed after a year's study of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The 35-year-old Shanghai resident was among 30 students, including eight from France, Canada and the United States, who recently underwent training in TCM at Shanghai's Insight Ancient Chinese Medicine Institute.

The session, organized jointly with Acupuncture Without Borders (AWB), a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, ran from Oct 26 to Friday, and was free. But it came with one condition: The trainees must visit impoverished regions for two weeks each year over the next three years. There, they have to teach what they have learned to local doctors.

Dai majored in hotel management and worked in business before becoming a full-time homemaker.

"I put into every piece of housework the same effort that I put into business," Dai says. "Although I didn't have to worry about material needs, I found myself dissatisfied."

Great changes occurred after she began studying TCM in Shanghai and committing herself to medical charity. She helped provide medical assistance to poor people in Sichuan's Garze county. She recently went to Kosovo for a month with her husband, who is from England. They took a carload of food for the local people.

"When I saw people living in these very poor conditions, life suddenly seemed simple," she says. "I used to want career success really badly, but now I realize that an ordinary life achieves happiness." She felt exhausted after the trip, but her Chinese doctor took her pulse, and declared her physical condition in far better shape than before.

"He told me my heart was rid of disturbing thoughts, and my body purified when I helped the poor," Dai says.

Wang Meng, 28, majored in industrial automation in college, but later discovered an interest in TCM, which he studied for a year at Insight Ancient Chinese Medicine Institute.

"In modern-day society, people are materially rich but spiritually poor," Wang says. "People are becoming more isolated, and moving further from nature."

He says he has found his spiritual pursuits jibing with TCM, which advocates harmony between man and nature.

Bryan McMahon, a 30-year-old American, has lived in China for six years, and is in his fifth year at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

"Two years ago people were saying that TCM was in crisis," McMahon recalls. "But I've met some young people who have great passion for it. I believe there will be a time of prosperity for TCM. It is on the rise."

McMahon believes that within the next two decades, people will seek out professional TCM doctors.

"More people will refer to TCM doctors, and I hope to become one of them," he says.

Yang Yongxiao, principal of the Shanghai institute, has witnessed the growing popularity of TCM. He says the center was established in 2007, when there was an outcry on the Internet to "ban TCM".

The institute is dedicated to medical charity work, including cooperation with Dorje Association, which offers medical help to Garze county.

"There are two routes TCM can take - the high-end and the countryside," Yang says. "If acupuncture and moxibustion can find a revival in the countryside, it will greatly alleviate the pressure on the country's medical system."

The recent project is the first time AWB has cooperated with a Chinese organization to hold such training courses, according to Sylvie Hu, an acupuncturist and representative of the AWB in Beijing.

Hu says in other countries, AWB experts typically train doctors and nurses in the countryside themselves. But in China this approach is unrealistic because so much of it is remote.

Training medical professionals in cities and allowing them to go out as teachers to impoverished regions, is a more practical alternative.

Also, acupuncture and moxibustion are cheap and easily applicable in the countryside.

"We always make sure we get a local government's invitation or consent," Hu says. "Most of the time we also cooperate with local medical professionals."

She estimates that of the 30 trainees in Shanghai, 15 are medical professionals.

Source: China Daily
  • Do you have anything to say?
Special Coverage
  • President Hu visits Malaysia, Singapore, attends APEC summit
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
Most Popular
Hot Forum Dicussion