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Song, dance and acupuncture highlight first cultural exchange program with visiting Chinese students

Traditional Chinese healing methods combined with traditional and modern Chinese dance and song came together Wednesday, June 21, in the first of three presentations from visiting Chinese students who are part of the Creighton Rehabilitation International Summer Program (CRISP).

Over the lunch hour, physical therapy and occupational therapy students from Hebei Medical University and Shanghai Sanda University introduced their home schools and provided a look at two traditional forms of Chinese rehabilitation therapy: acupuncture and moxibustion.

The students are in the U.S. for the next three months, studying alongside their Creighton counterparts in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Along the way, the robust exchange, which has been bringing Chinese students to Creighton for more than a decade, fosters better understanding not only at the level of academics and practice, but also at a cultural intersection.

“We love this ability to exchange thoughts and ideas with our classmates and professors at Creighton,” said Martin Ma, a physical therapy student from Shanghai Sanda. “Everyone seems eager to talk to us and to learn. We’re also learning a lot in the classes we’re taking. Classes and lectures seem more casual, more like a discussion, than it does in China.”

And the visitors — 25 students and two faculty from four universities — are also getting a chance to share practices they’ve been learning about at their home universities. Another CRISP session takes place over the course of a month with four universities represented, bringing 21 students and one faculty member.

The June 21 presentation on acupuncture and moxibustion delved into the rationales of these traditional Chinese medicine practices.

Acupuncture, with its thin needles inserted at specific points on the body, can help relieve pain, strengthen the body, quiet the spirit and stabilize the mind.

Moxibustion is the use of a smoldering stick, packed with mugwort, that is waved over or placed near the body to help stimulate circulation and helps balance the yin and yang.

Both practices have found some purchase in modern Western medicine, especially in rehabilitation circles.

“I think most people have heard of acupuncture,” said Sandra Wu, an occupational therapy student from Hebei. “We’re learning more about it ourselves, as it’s not widely practiced at universities like Hebei. But traditional Chinese medicine is becoming more well known around the world.”

In addition to the rehabilitation presentation, the Hebei and Sanda students also treated attendees to a Maoist era song and a lively dance. The cultural exchange is already well underway as the Chinese students have taken in the Old Market and festivities surrounding the College World Series®. Wu and Ma said they were still hoping to partake in several other American pastimes of a sporting and culinary variety.

“I want to see baseball and play some basketball,” Ma said, saying he’s already taken part in several pickup hoops games at parks near Creighton. “I like the American sports culture.”

“I hope to have more American food experiences, try some of the local food,” Wu said. “I want to walk around and see more of Omaha and Nebraska.”

The next cultural program featuring Creighton’s Chinese visitors will take place Wednesday, June 28, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Skutt Student Center, Room 104.

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