Joyce Zhang

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University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

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International Experience Summary:

Joyce studied community health in China, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and Mandarin Chinese at the intermediate level in Kunming City, Yunnan Province, China for six weeks through the School for International Training (SIT). By the end of this international experience, Joyce achieved an understanding of the fundamental differences between Chinese and Western medical systems. She observed doctors in local TCM hospitals and was able to practice TCM treatment methods with these doctors on herself in the classroom environment. Treatments for symptoms both physical and mental included herbal medicine preparation, Chinese tuina massage, cupping, acupuncture and moxibustion. She also learned that the philosophy behind TCM treatments are based on Daoist, Buddhist and Confucianist principles involving rebalance with the environment and within oneself to be healthy in mind, body and spirit; a whole different perspective than western medical thought. Through discussions about this philosophy and her first excursions to Buddhist monasteries and temples, Joyce rediscovered her religious roots in Buddhism. Additionally, she visited various minority villages to observe how these smaller village communities handled illness and disease in their respective county- or township-level hospitals despite having less funding from the Chinese government. During her stay in Kunming, Joyce improved her Chinese fluency by practicing with friends for class, taking the initiative to order while dining, and translating for non-Chinese speakers on the program. The other students with her on the program came from all over the world, each with differing levels of proficiency in Chinese language and culture. Therefore, it was a wonderful experience to be exposed to their respective walks of life and for them to learn about her culture as a Chinese American. From this opportunity, Joyce gained a new perspective on health care, friends for a lifetime, and a better grasp of her identity.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: SOS: Sustain Our Societies

S.O.S. Sustain Our Societies was a “choose your own adventure” type of workshop where students walked through and chose their own path based on their answers to some leading questions about sustainability. At the end of the path, they would end up at one of the VIH awardees’ posters, which presented a unique perspective to sustainability that was observed in the awardee’s respective country of study. The topics addressed preserving ethnic minorities in China, recycling culture in Italy, intersectionality of sustainability in South Africa, and direct effects of climate change in Ecuador. Our objective was to educate people on what the word sustainability truly entails and to open their minds again on the severity of various issues happening internationally. Each poster also related those global issues to similar issues happening locally in America and even the greater Pittsburgh community. We discussed ways to make sure students can stay in tune with international crises and ways that they can continue these types of conversations to further spread awareness. Our CEE ended with students having the option to design and donate tote bags to a local pantry that provides to communities in need.