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China: Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Summer)

China: Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Summer)

Shadow Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and examine community health issues by working with professionals in urban and rural areas.

This program will en­gage you with integrated healthcare in China today, where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medi­cine coexist. You will learn about China’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape and strategies being imagined and imple­mented to address questions of personal and community health.

Major topics of study include:

  • Critical health issues such as HIV/AIDS, China’s reproductive policy, women’s and children’s healthcare, and the reform of China’s healthcare system
  • Indig­enous ethnic minority healing systems, including Bai traditional herbal medicine, Naxi Dongba shamanism, and Tibetan medicine
  • Chinese traditional healing practices such as Qigong therapy, Five Animal Movements, medicinal food therapy, tea therapy, foot massage therapy, hot spring therapy, and music therapy
  • The pharmacopoeia of TCM herbal medicine and techniques of massage, acupuncture, moxibus­tion, and cupping
The program provided me with hands-on experience with medical technique and theory. I was also very surprised by the amount of Chinese language that I was able to learn in only six weeks. SIT provided me with the tools I need to make a difference globally.

Daniel Raymond, University of North Carolina

Identifying traditional Chinese herbs
Identifying traditional Chinese herbs

Based in Yunnan, this program partners with the Yunnan Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital. The hospital’s doctors, nurses, and facilities are all available to students. You will learn about the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of TCM practices during lectures and then have the opportunity to practice them yourself on most days during a practice session. If you want to practice medicine in a cross-cultural setting, understand TCM better, or gain insight into Chinese health practices, this program offers an ideal setting in which to explore theory and practice.

Compare Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophies with practicing doctors.

Many of the doctors affiliated with the program have certification in both Western medicine and TCM. You will share in many spirited, insightful, and often surprising discussions on the appropriate use of one treatment over another.

Learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy.

Much of TCM philosophy is based in Daoism. To understand the practice, you will explore the concepts of yin and yang, the organs, meridians, and basic underpinnings of many Eastern philosophies, as well as the history of TCM.

Practice techniques of massage, acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion.

Each week, the program will focus on a different TCM practice, including Chinese massage (tuina), moxibustion, cupping, acupuncture, and herbal remedies. You will observe doctors performing these techniques and practice these techniques yourself while guided by professional doctors.

Explore the pharmacopoeia of TCM herbal medicine.

Program activities include visits to parks and gardens with a botanist to learn about healing plants and herbs, exploration of the hospital’s TCM pharmacy, and a demonstration of medicines being made.

Explore traditional healing practices.

The traditional healing practices you will explore include Qigong therapy, Five Animal Movements, medicinal food therapy, tea drinking therapy, foot massage therapy, hot spring therapy, and music therapy. You will learn about the major TCM techniques of massage, acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping.

Minority areas field excursion

A field excursion will take you to Weibaoshan Daoist mountain, Dali Ancient City, Shaxi town on the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Route, the Lijiang World Heritage site, and Zhongdian (Shangri-La) Tibetan area. You can expect to learn about the vast differences between daily life, medical care, and medical practices in urban versus rural settings.

Learn about indigenous ethnic minority healing systems.

During the field excursions, you will have opportunities to learn about Bai traditional herbal medicine, Naxi Dongba shamanism, and Tibetan medicine.

Learn about the 24 forms of Taiji through daily Taiji exercise.


Previous college-level coursework or other significant preparation in the health sciences or a related field, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

The Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine course introduces students to community health issues in Yunnan with major emphasis on the role of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China today. This includes the philosophy that lies behind the practice and an unparalleled opportunity to observe the various techniques associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine. These include herbal remedies, medicinal preparation, Chinese tuina massage, acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion. Chinese language study provides a window into Chinese culture and the program’s theme.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine Seminar – syllabus
(IPBH3000 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
This course offers you a classroom-based introduction to the program theme as well as structured activities alongside professionals in Traditional Chinese Medicine, both in community and clinical settings.

Beginning Chinese – syllabus
(CHIN1000-1500 / 2 credits / 30 class hours)
Intermediate Chinese – syllabus
(CHIN2000-2500 / 2 credits / 30 class hours)
Advanced Chinese – syllabus
(CHIN3000-3500 / 2 credits / 30 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills, as well as reading and writing skills, through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, you are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. Language instructors have completed ACTFL OPI training and are certified in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. A variety of interactive communication-based language teaching techniques form the core of this course.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Students shadow Chinese doctorsYou will participate in one extended excursion north of Kunming, to Weibaoshan Daoist mountain, Dali Ancient City, Shaxi town on the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Route, the Lijiang World Heritage site, and Zhongdian (Shangri-La) Tibetan area. While there, you will gain insight into minority culture, alternative health practices, and rural life. You will visit clinics, explore Bai herbal medicine, Tibetan Traditional Medicine, and Naxi Dongba traditions, and you will learn about the vast difference between daily life in urban versus rural settings.

Lu YuanLu Yuan, PhD, Academic Director

After receiving her BA in Chinese literature and journalism from People's University, Beijing, Lu Yuan worked for seven years as a journalist with Xinhua, the official news agency of China, and as editor of the publication Chinese Journalist. From 1989 to 1990, she was a Parvin Fellow on a journalism training program sponsored by the East-West Center at the University of Hawai‘i. She taught Chinese at Banaras Hindu University in north India as part of her MA degree work in Chinese language teaching from SIT Graduate Institute. She received her PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney. Her thesis examined the political environment for NGO development in Yunnan, China.

In addition to her visits to Tibet and the minority regions of Mongolia, Ningxia, and Yunnan, Yuan spent three years in Kathmandu, Nepal, while her husband Sam was co-director of the SIT Nepal program.

During her childhood, Lu Yuan learned about the basic theory and herbal knowledge of TCM from her uncle, a well-known Chinese TCM doctor. She earned a massage certificate from Yunnan TCM Hospital and compiled a Chinese-English dictionary on public health and TCM for the SIT Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine program.

She has served as the academic director for the Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine program since 2004. In addition to giving lectures, advising students, and coordinating academic courses, Yuan also plans the program’s educational excursions and works to ensure that students’ academic needs are fully met. Yuan has overseen the SIT semester program China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities since its inception in the fall of 1994.

Dr. Wen Zengzhe, Program Coordinator

Dr. Wen has worked for the SIT China: Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine summer program as program coordinator since 2004. He was born in Beijing and graduated from Kunming Medical College in 1983, where he was trained in Western medicine with a specialization in anesthesiology. He completed his Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) training at the Yunnan Traditional Medical College in 1989. Dr. Wen has been practicing TCM for over twenty years. He worked as an anesthesiologist at the Yunnan Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital from 1983 until 1994. From 1994 until 2003, he was the director of the anesthesia department. From 2003 until the present, he has been an associate professor at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Yunnan and is currently the director of the C-Bridge Consultancy Co. Ltd. of Kunming, which promotes cross-cultural exchange on medical issues and development between China, other countries, and NGOs.

Mr. Zhao Jie, Language Instructor and Program Assistant

Zhao Jie was born in Shanghai and raised in Kunming. He received a bachelor of science from Yunnan University in 2003 and a master of science from Yunnan University in 2006. Fluent in both Chinese and English, Zhao Jie has a particular interest in paleontology and has conducted research and published extensively in this area of study. He has been in charge of international affairs on projects with both the University of Leicester (UK) and the Natural History Museum of Sweden. He has been teaching at Yunnan Normal University and Yunnan Nationalities University as a Chinese language teacher since 2001 and has worked as a language teacher and program assistant for the SIT China program since 2002.

Ms. Zhou Yan, Student Affairs Coordinator

Of Yi nationality, Zhou Yan was born in Yun County, Yunnan Province. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from the Xian Foreign Languages Institute, one of the most well-known schools in China, in 2008. Following graduation, she returned to her home province and joined SIT as a staff member. She has served as the student affairs coordinator since the spring of 2008.

Ms. Luo Xiaolei, Language Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Kunming, Luo Xiaolei received a bachelor’s degree in English from Yunnan University in 1989. She worked as office staff and as a translator for the Foreign Affairs Office of Yunnan University and for companies in Zhuhai and Hong Kong from 1989 to 1997. She has been teaching Chinese to foreigners at Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University, and Yunnan Nationalities University since 2002 and has been teaching SIT students since 2003. Ms. Luo has served as SIT language program coordinator since the fall of 2007.

Dr. Duo Lin, HIV/AIDS Expert

Duo Lin has earned medical degrees in Kunming and London. Since 2002, he has been involved with research, public health, and health education related to HIV/AIDS, intravenous drug use, and sexual transmission of disease in Yunnan including among ethnic minorities and in those areas bordering Southeast Asian countries. He is currently the manager of the Yunnan Province HIV/AIDS Asia Regional Project, sponsored by the Australian government, and has participated in and managed other local and regional projects concerning the spread and control of HIV/AIDS. He has contributed to numerous publications and has served as a consultant and participant in national and international conferences on the subject. Since 2006, Duo Lin has been a senior lecturer and ISP advisor for the SIT China semester program and a senior lecturer with the SIT China summer program.

Students learning massage techniquesThis program does not include a long-term homestay. Housing is provided close to the TCM hospital and in small hotels and guest houses during excursion.

Program Dates: Summer 2016

Program Start Date:  Jun 12, 2016

Program End Date:    Jul 24, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Apr 1, 2016

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $7,250

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who instruct students in:
    • Daoist roots of Traditional Chinese Medicine
    • History of Chinese medicine
    • Yin-Yang and the Five Elements
    • Channels and meridians, acupoints and acupressure theory, herbal medicine, tuina massage, acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion
    • Medicinal cooking
    • Chinese healthcare reform
    • HIV/AIDS work in Yunnan
    • Healthcare for women and children
    • Daily Taiji exercise
    • Qigong therapy
    • Five Animal Movements
    • Tea therapy
    • Chinese medicinal food therapy
    • Chinese music therapy
    • Hot spring therapy
    • Foot massage therapy
  • Intensive language instruction in Chinese
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian (Shangri-La), and surrounding villages where students learn about indigenous minority healing systems, including Bai herbal medicine, Naxi Dongba Shamanism, and Tibetan medicine
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Some language textbooks, reading materials, and stationary supplies
  • Transportation on group excursions

Room & Board:$1,925

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Kunming), on all excursions, and during the evaluation period
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad, directly or through a stipend.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: Not yet available.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: Not yet available.

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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