Shortly after submitting grades for spring 2019, I headed to China for nearly a month’s worth of professional exchange and study-abroad preparations. Several years ago a faculty exchange program between Puget Sound and Fujian Normal University (FNU), in Fuzhou, was established. The idea with the program is to promote linkages and synergy between our two universities via faculty visits related to teaching and research projects. In addition to participation in this program, I wanted to get a few things set for my short-term study-abroad program to China next spring (more on that below).
In Fuzhou I gave three lectures during the time I was there. Two of these talks were at Fujian Normal University, in the English interpretation program of the College of Foreign Languages. One talk was on my research on Tibetan medicine, and the other was on teaching my SSi1 117 class (People, Plants, and Animals). I spoke in English while two graduate students took turns interpreting into English. I must say that their translations were quite impressive. I was asked to share my PowerPoint beforehand, and I know that the students worked hard the days before my talk (looking up terms they were not familiar with, and making notes to themselves for the live translation). But I also know that I spoke spontaneously and entertained questions and the interpreters did a fine job. I speak Mandarin, so I understood what was transpiring. I also have over 20 years of experience in China, and have heard a lot of poor English translations; the accomplished students at FNU are a sign of changing times but also diligent training by the institution.
With the help of FNU, I was able to visit the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I was invited to give a talk about my research on Tibetan Medicine to the teaching faculty, had a round-table with doctor-teachers, attended a class on medicinal plant chemistry, had a private tutorial about medicine preparations, and was given a tour of the teaching medicinal plant garden. I was warmly welcomed, and in fact was so inspired that I altered the itinerary for my short-term study abroad trip next year to include time in Fuzhou so that Puget Sound students can attend classes at the Fujian UTCM, with the help of translation by FNU graduate students.
While in Fujian I also participated in other activities with students and faculty. One professor that I spent a fair amount of time with was Professor Alice Liqun Lai; she is a faculty member at both FNU and also at Hwa Nan Women’s College (Puget Sound also has an important connection to Hwa Nan, and a Teaching Fellowship at the college for Puget Sound graduates). With Alice, I attended dragon boat races (she asked which I preferred and I chose a festival in a village outside the city, it was great), visited museums (focused on Neolithic hunter-gatherer cultures, tea, and local porcelain technologies), tea shops and restaurants, a music concert at FNU, and a local Buddhist temple. We also hiked together on different days (on a suspended walkway in the city and in the cool hills above the city), and goofed off at an open mic we stumbled upon one day when out exploring. We talked about teaching, about faculty exchange programs, about being a female academic, and about parenting. If all goes according to plan, Professor Lai will be visiting Puget Sound at the start of the spring semester, also on the Puget Sound-FNU exchange program. I look forward to sharing my love of our school and the local area with Professor Lai in 2020.
After my time in Fujian, I went to Yunnan Province to secure plans for next year’s short-term study-abroad trip, a new component to my Asian Medical Systems (SOAN 225) class. I will leave information about that trip for another day, and just state here that the focus of the trip will be on immersion into the local cultural and environmental ecologies of Traditional Chinese and Tradition Tibetan medicines in Fujian and Yunnan Provinces. This summer I was able to solidify plans in working with the University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Fuzhou, Yunnan University in Kunming, and the Hospital of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in Rgyalthang/Shangrila.
- Denise Glover