Traditional Chinese Medicine Culture:From Confucius Institutes to World

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2017-06-29 18:02:15 
 


From left to right: Hou Baiqian, Li Jie, Cao Fan and Cao Xiangdong attending Volunteer Chinese Teacher program at Beijing Language and Culture University


Nafees (left) and Bilal (right) attending a Chinese culture class at Beijing Language and Culture University

According to the statistics of Hanban, in 2016, 91 Confucius Institutes in 51 countries around the world set up traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) courses and held many lectures, workshops, experiencing programs and other activities on TCM culture.

According to officials of Hanban, Confucius Institutes now become important platforms for people from all over the world to know TCM culture. Through various forms, including jointly setting up TCM major and credit courses and inviting Tongrentang experts to Confucius Institutes around the world to deliver lectures and compile textbooks, TCM culture is demonstrated to the people around the world.

The statistics show that in the year of 2016, a total number of 5,088 students were having Chinese TCM courses in Confucius Institutes. More than 50,000 people attended activities such as lectures and workshops on TCM culture. TCM culture has been added into the training course system of Chinese teachers, aiming to meet the increasing needs of learning TCM culture around the world.

From knowing little to experiencing TCM culture in person

Coming from Pakistan, Nafees and Bilal are having Chinese Culture class at Beijing Language and Culture University. They believe that learning TCM culture needs firsthand experience. They compare TCM culture courses with Chinese courses, reaching a conclusion that Chinese courses can be learned through textbooks but learning TCM culture needs both theories and practical training.

“Learning theories is not enough to learn the knowledge of TCM. We need practice to master it”, says Nafees, “On the class, the teacher will firstly demonstrate Chinese medical therapies such as acupuncture, cupping and Tuina manipulation. And then we practice what we have learned with each other.”

Majoring in international education, Bilal and Nafees used to have no idea about TCM culture. When started learning, they occasionally found it not as easy as other subjects, but they believe that it will not be that hard if they keep practicing.

As of now, over 300 volunteer Chinese teachers of the Confucius Institute headquarters(Hanban) in the United States and Bulgaria took part in the TCM theory and practice learning—“TCM’s basis and quintessence of Chinese culture”. After 6-month training, the volunteers have all gotten a better understanding of the profoundness and broadness of TCM culture.

Hou Baiqian, Cao Xiangdong, Cao Fan and Li Jie are among these volunteers. They are from different provinces and universities. They met one another at Beijing Language and Culture University this May to take part in Volunteer Chinese Teacher program. Through having TCM culture training class, they have all grown more confidence in the scientificity of TCM.

According to Cao Fan’s understanding, the knowledge of Chinese medicine is accumulated by gradual practices. It’s also great treasure of history. She said, “Through training, we know that our TCM culture is so profound and broad.”

Hou Baiqian also thinks that after training, he gets a better understanding of the scientific basis of TCM. He will be confident to explain to foreigners about their questions and confusion when going to abroad for Chinese teaching.

Spreading the knowledge of Chinese medicine through daily lives

For volunteer Chinese teachers, learning TCM knowledge is a part of their training, aiming to spread the knowledge to foreign students.

From the perspective of students, Bilal and Nafees think that the most effective way of teaching is to have students experience the culture of Chinese medicine by themselves. For examples, they can figure out student’s health problems by watching their faces. Then, they can offer them some solutions. Bilal says that when he returns to hometown to teach Chinese, he will guide the students and demonstrate them therapies of TCM in a close range.

Hou Baiqian and Cao Xiangdong are going to the United States and Bulgaria respectively to teach Chinese. For them, the biggest challenge isn’t about how much they know about TCM, but how to teach it.

Cao Xiangdong believes that it takes a long time to learn TCM. With the language barriers, learning the culture of TCM may bore foreign students. Therefore, a direct demonstration could be the best way of teaching.

According to Hou Baiqian and Cao Xiangdong, the daily life and the difference between Chinese and Western culture can be used as an entry point to spread the knowledge of TCM. Cao Xiangdong’s assignment is about food treatment. He doesn’t introduce common used herbs of TCM to foreign students because these herbs like angelica and wolfberry are not common in other countries. Instead, he introduces some ingredients in people’s daily lives. For example, he explained the medicinal value of white radish and ginger in the perspective of TCM. Cao Xiangdong said that, “Actually, daily lives are full of the culture and knowledge of TCM.”

Hou Baiqian takes tea ceremony as an example to illustrate that the knowledge of TCM can be integrated in Chinese languages courses. He says that foreigners may all know that Chinese people enjoy drinking tea, but what’s more from that, according to TCM, tea is also a kind of health-preserving drink. Hence, while delivering the knowledge of tea ceremony, volunteer Chinese teachers can integrate the knowledge of TCM in it.

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The Traditional Chinese Medicine Courses Offered by Confucius Institute

The overseas TCM teaching and promotional activities of TCM culture conducted by Confucius Institutes have obtained good results and become an important platform for people around the world to know China and TCM culture.

Taking the Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute’s advantage of Sino-foreign cooperative education, the institutions in China actively send abroad experts and scholars on TCM and set up majors and Chinese credit courses on TCM or vocational education and training courses in collaboration with foreign institutions in order to train local TCM talents. For example, there are about 20 TCM undergraduates and postgraduates in the Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, London. The Confucius Institute of Wonkwang University in South Korea has launched the undergraduates and postgraduates training program with Hunan University of Chinese Medicine. In addition, Confucius Institutes around the world hold high-end seminars and lectures on TCM to promote personnel exchanges and scientific research cooperation. In the mean time, these institutes actively compile traditional Chinese medicine textbook and make efforts to enhance the transfer of scientific and technological achievements to the cooperation between schools and enterprises. Some Confucius Institutes set up organizations such as “TCM culture exhibition hall”, “TCM health center”, “Yangshengtang” and “TCM corner”, attracting local people to experience the diverse TCM culture including acupuncture, identification of Chinese herbs, production of TCM and auricular therapy.

(Story and photos by Huang Shiya, People’s Daily Overseas Edition June, 23rd, Page 9)

 
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