CHINA SUMMER 2015 About this blog


HSHP China Study Abroad Program

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Lucas Seck, Nick Davis

China Trip Blog May 25th

Fun Side

            We went to Nanchung to go to China West Normal University. Hongwei described the University as the ‘Ithaca’ of the colleges we visited, because it was in a ‘small’ town. We took a high-speed train to the Nanchung, and it was a really cool experience. We went around 160 to 200 mph on a train, something that would never happen in America. When we got to the university, a whole crowd was waiting for us. They all had cameras recording and taking pictures, and were very excited to see us.  It was one of the first times they had seen Americans, and were so kind and happy. We learned a few more Tai Chi moves to prepare for another performance. The new ones I liked more, they seemed faster and with more movement. We got Chinese partners to help us, and mine, Simon, was a really cool dude. We had lunch in their cafeteria, and it was nice to have an authentic Chinese student lunch. It was a strange way to get food, and you had to go to a station and ask for what you wanted by swiping a card. We then took a tour of the campus, and I understood why it was like Ithaca. It was very hilly and had a beautiful lake. We then did our Tai Chi performance, which admittedly was kind of bad because we ended up not being as prepared as we thought. The other performances, like the music and the chicken dance were really fun to watch. We then had a volleyball match versus the team from the university and had a ton of fun. We did a lot better than expected, but found out that we actually broke a lot of rules. The deans of the university also came out to play and they ended up being pretty good, at least better than me. All the people there loved it though and I think we did too. We then had dinner then returned back to Chengdu


5/25 blog

Academic side

Our group went to Nanchung on May 25th. We visited China west normal university for the day.  Chinese educational universities were traditionally called normal.  This differentiated them from universities or schools that were for specific skills like martial arts, not educational.  Now "normal" is not included in the names of new educational schools. 

We took a High speed train from Chengdu to get to the univesity. The train reached 200 km/hr or 120 mile/hr and took us an hour and a half. Along the way we saw power plants and the many rice patties the are across the country side.

We each got matched up with 1 or 2 Chinese students from West Normal university.  They told us about what they studied and they showed us their campus.  Throughout the day they stayed with us. Across the board of reactions from all of the students of Ithaca College, our friends from West Normal University were some of the most inviting and hospitable students we've met. It gave us an example of how we can all extend a helping hand to those around us and care for each other no matter what race we are, or what region of the world we come from.

One of their kung fu professors taught us Tai Chi.  We had already learned a few sequences of 8 part tai chi at Chengdu sports university.  At China west normal university we learned 2 different variations of tai chi. The first one was yang style which was the same style we had learned from Chengdu sport university.  The other was Chen style, which incorporates more quick explosive movements. It was challenging to learn both styles and incorporate it into one performance. With practice and help from the students studying tai chi at China West Normal we learned the sequences well for the short amount of time we had to rehearse.

One of the seniors who works with the international department gave a great presentaion on the Sichuan province and Chengdu. He gave us an overview of the local culture and new things to explore.  In addition to some of the things we had already experienced like the pandas, traditional Jing Li street (the Ithaca commons of China), Sichuan's famous spicy food, and the Chengdu opera, he also talked about some famous facts about the area.

The Sichuan province (provinces of China are comparable to the states of the USA) is home to many historical and important ancient places. Mount QingCheng holds the famous Taoist temple. It has been around for a very long time. Most people say that China does not have a major religion. Although, many Chinese follow the lessons and Taoist teachings to live in a right way.  The E mei mountain is one of the 4 Buddhist mountains in China.  Buddhism was taken from India and adapted into Zen Buddhism for widespread practice across China in ancient times, it is still a common belief. 
In Leshan there is a giant Buddha carving. It is the biggest stone Buddha in the world.  It was carved out of the mountain and is actually part of the mountain.
The ancient city of langzhong has a written history over 3000 years old.  It is one of China's most traditional cities and still has some of the architecture from ancient times. 

219 of the current fortune 500 companies have at least a branch in Chengdu.  Making this city and area of China a hub for international business.  As world trade, economics, and international business have continued to become more and more prevelant in daily life Chengdu prospers while it remains true to the integrity of it's cultural history.

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May 27th


            We started today off with our Traditional Chinese Medicine class where we focused more on acupuncture points and massage. We learned different massage techniques during the lecture portion of class and were then able to practice on each other. The teacher and his students also went around and helped all of us, working on our hand placements and using the correct techniques.

            Following class, we went to the Chengdu Sport University museum. There we were able to learn about the history of the school and its involvement with sports. As a student working with athletes, I think it was very interesting to see the evolution of wushu, polo, golf, and soccer which led to tai chi where we practiced more and were able to focus on some martial arts skills as well.

            After lunch we went to our Chinese class and Yang Fei taught us about Chengdu’s culture and history, as well as the differences between eastern and western countries like America and China. We finished class with each of us saying a few phrases we learned in Chinese.

            From class we were able to visit the hospital and see the differences between the eastern and western methods of medicine via the two pharmacies they had. We were also able to watch a doctor perform a more conservative, eastern approach to treating Hongwei Guan’s shoulder with massage and acupuncture.

            We ended the day with a tennis and badminton lesson and a wonderful dinner with the president at a hotpot restaurant where we received certificates for completing our classes at Chengdu Sport University. After an amazing dinner we were able to explore Jin Li and look at all of the shops it had to offer. Chengdu has an amazing culture and I’m glad we were able to experience so much of it.


            Today in traditional Chinese medicine we learned about Tuina or massage. Tunia is used for a number of reasons including the reduction of injury risk, increasing range of motion/ function, shorten recovery time, increasing supply of nutrients and oxygen with circulation and general stretching and loosening of tight or knotted muscle fibers. Professor Hu Yushi taught us that the main requirements that had to be considered were duration, strength, uniformity, gentleness and penetration. We were then all able to practice the four techniques: stroke, kneading, squeezing, and pushing. It was very helpful to have some of the students there to help us learn as well as be able to watch Professor Hu Yushi demonstrate the differing Tuina methods. 

            Chengdu Sport University houses the only sports museum of its kind in all of China. The exhibit shows the history and evolution of numerous popular sports in China as well as the history of the school itself. We were able to learn about early examples of Chinese polo, soccer, basketball, golf, and wushu. One game called Tou Hu, where you attempted to throw an arrow into a small opening of a pot, we all got to try. This museum also houses some very unique treasures, like a 200-year-old target that was used to celebrate victories. There was also a set of rare wushu weapons; only one other set of its kind exists and is located in Jilin Provence. Thes weapons were especially interesting to see since we got to learn some wushu later in the day. Along with the history of Chinese sports, the last few displays in the museum were about Chengdu Sport University. Zheng Huai Xian founded the school in 1942 and since then they have continued to thrive and develop their different programs.  

            Later in the afternoon we had a Chinese class were Professor Yang Fei talked about the differences between eastern and western people. Like how Westerners like hot and cold foods and will cure a stomach ach with cold soda and in China people mostly like all hot foods and will cure a stomach ache with hot tea. Some of the most interesting differences were how people live based on their views of themselves. In Western cultures like America people usually see themselves as unique and the center of everything; we like to live independently. In Eastern cultures like China people see themselves as a small part of a big picture and therefor do not seek independent living and like to obtain help from others. I found this to be a very interesting comparison, and honestly being from the west and having been here in China, you can pick up on a lot of these differences. The best part of the class is even though China is his home Yang Fei emphasized that no one culture was right and how we can all learn from one another.

            After class we had the opportunity to visit a hospital that is affiliated with Chengdu Sport University but treats the general public along with their students and faculty members. The hospital blends traditional Chinese medicine with modern machines and techniques. This was very evident in the front of the building where there was one window filling prescriptions for pills and the other with Chinese herbs. We watched our teacher Hongwei Guan get his shoulder treated, at first with Tuina and then acupuncture needles. The doctor then used a machine to send electrical currents through the needles to increase their effectiveness; a blending of ancient and modern. To end our time in Chengdu we learned how to play badminton and tennis, two very popular sports in China. Finally we had the honor of having hot pot, for which Chengdu is famous, for dinner with the President of the school.

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Today we visited two different sites, the first was The Great Wall of China and the second was the Ming Tombs. Our day started off early as we traveled outside the metropolitan area of Beijing toward the wall. It was important to get out of Beijing early because traffic going both in and out of the city at anytime of the day is equal to rush hour in any large city in the US. It took us an hour to get to the section of the wall that we would be climbing, which was called Badaling. This is one of the more popular sections of the wall that is opened to the public. On the drive we were greeted with beautiful countryside and mountains, just right outside of Beijing. We went from mountains of concrete and skyscrapers to green mountain ranges sprinkled with sections of The Great Wall.

On the drive our wonderful tour guide, Maggie, who had met us at Beijing Sports University, gave us an introduction to the wall and shared some of the legends associated with the wall. The wall is about 6000km long and while it is extremely grand and impressive it is important to note that it is also called the world’s longest cemetery, due to the many forced labors that died while building the wall.  Another interesting fact of the wall is the popular saying from Chairman Mao, which is “you are not a hero until you have climbed The Great Wall.” This quote is written in huge characters on the walk to the entrance of the wall.

Upon arrival we left the bus, applied one more layer of sunscreen, walked past the huge characters from Chairman Mao providing motivation, and stepped onto the wall. We had an hour and half to get to a certain point on the wall and back, we naturally split into groups and started the journey up the wall, reconnecting with the rest of the group at certain points when a longer break was needed, or we felt the need for a selfie. It was truly a perfect day for us to climb the wall, the temperature was warm but not hot and the sky was a beautiful clear blue. We also got very lucky because the wall was not very crowded. A student, who accompanied us to the wall, said the time he went he didn’t really climb the wall, and he was more so pushed up the wall by the crowd behind him. The student will actually be attending Ithaca College next year as a freshman in HSHP! Thankfully the wall was not nearly that crowded.

The wall is not only impressive because of its size, but also its location. It is constructed from blocks of stone that are at least 1’X 2’ on slopes that at times are almost vertical. The strength and engineering that were required to construct the wall is baffling. At our halfway point where not only was a rest much needed, but was also a perfect spot for a picture, sellers chanting “congratulations you have climbed the wall” greeted us! Offering us the choice of a plaque or a medal congratulating us on our feat, for a price of course. We finished the climb with some epic handstand pictures and a great group picture. Then turned around and began our descent down the wall. At times it was so steep that the stairs were a foot high and we ended up sitting on the steps to get down to reduce the risk of falling. We reached our starting point with shaky legs, but hero’s nonetheless. The return trip ended with ice cream that we finished on the walk back to the bus.

We then drove to a huge complex that sold beautiful, but expensive pieces of pottery and also served lunch. After refueling at the restaurant and browsing the pieces for sale, we got back on our bus and drove to the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs serve the same purpose that the terracotta warriors in Xi’an do. Except these tombs were for the Ming dynasty and not the Qing dynasty. Not all the Ming Tombs have been excavated in order to preserve what is in the tombs. There is a collective agreement to leave the tombs closed until there is enough technology to preserve whatever is in the tombs. One tomb is opened to the public and we were able to go down several meters and see the inside of the tomb. Upon entering the area of the tombs there is an archway that doesn’t lead into anything. The archway signifies the separation between the living world and the dead world. You are not supposed to walk through the archway to enter the tomb, as that would imply you have died and are entering the world after death. It is however essential that you walk through the archway on the way out to signify you leaving the other world and returning to the world of the living.

Much like in the US where we often toss coins into fountains for good luck or wishes, many people tossed Yuan into different parts of the tomb. You could toss money to the coffins, which were replicas, but in the same location of the originals. There were three coffins and more than 20 boxes that contained jade, gold, and other treasures surrounded them. The largest coffin was a replica of the one that the emperor was laid in. The other two that were placed on either side contained the first and second empress. The other places to toss money were the emperor’s chair and the first and second empresses’ chair. After placing our wishes at the different locations we climbed even more stairs to leave the tomb. We walked under the archway returning to the world of the living and drove back to Beijing Sports University. We ate dinner and then enjoyed a relaxing evening recuperating from the day. We fell asleep as new heroes who had not only climbed The Great Wall of China, but had also traveled from the world of the living to the world of the dead and back.

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Finally the day arrived and we made our way to The Great Wall of China. The tour guide explained to us that there were many sections of the wall open to the public but that we would be going to one called the Badaling section. Stretching over 6,000 kilometers long, the wall is the result of the First Emperor’s orders to make the wall continuous, once separate boundaries of 7 kingdoms. The emperor ordered the 7 walls to be connected and achieved this through forced labor. After many years of labor from soldiers, prisoners, and workers, the great wall was completed, but resulted in countless deaths of laborers all over. It soon became known as the “longest cemetery” and bodies were buried along the way in the foundations of the wall.

We learned of the tale of Meng Jiang Nu’s husband who died a forced laborer. According to the story, the young couple had just gotten married and just 3 days post ceremony and celebrations, the Meng’s husband was forced into the labor forced assigned to work on the construction of the wall. After many laborious days, the husband passed from overwork. Meng searched far and wide along the wall for her husband and finally heard word of her husband’s death. She was struck with grief and misery upon learning of her new husband passing. And as the story goes, 400 kilometers of the wall then crumbled, in its collapse exposing bones of those laborers buried underneath the stone. Eventually the wife, Meng Jiang Nu committed suicide from grief and resulted in a temple built at the east end of the wall in her honor.

Simply walking the wall hardly compares to imagining the treacherous work of construction, yet the wall still stands tall, a harrowing and daunting journey. In the words of Chairman Mao, “You are not a hero until you climb The Great Wall of China”. And according my Jawbone Up-24 step counter, we as a croup trekked roughly 1.5 miles of the wall and spanned an elevation of 250 feet, at an average of 2,300 feet above sea level. After hundreds of steps and finishing with quivering legs and exhausted breaths, we could finally say that we had climbed The Great Wall of China, one of the “New Wonders of the World”.

After a much needed ice cream and lunch, we made our way by bus to the Ming Tombs, which were enticing upon hearing they were cool and underground. In the Tianshou Mountains, the tombs served as the cemetery of the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty with construction spanning over 200 years until the collapse of the dynasty in 1644. As the only tomb uncovered thus far, we had the opportunity to visit the Dingling tomb of the 13th emperor, Zhu Yijun, and his two empresses, one of which was originally a concubine who became promoted to empress as her son went to thrown. The tomb, which was composed of 5 chambers ended up housing the emperor and his two empresses together in the middle chamber as a rushed result of the fall of the empire. The 2nd empress was lucky as other concubines who bared no children were sometimes human sacrifices. While down in the tombs, the guide told us of a myth where large red coffins housing the royals were surrounded by jade stones which were believed to preserve the dead bodies. Inside the tombs, wooden figurines were often used as burial objects and many of these could be seen in the museum housing some of the objects uncovered during the tomb excavation. Continuing along through the tomb, we came upon a large stone slab over a meter long, which we learned was used to lock the marble gates from the inside as it fell over into place one the gates were closed.

Returning from underground, we passed through a diamond shape archway symbolizing the walls strength of a diamond, and came upon a large monument. Known as soul topper, we learned that they were placed above ground to symbolize for whom the tomb was built. Exiting the correct way through the embellished archway and stepping over the raised threshold that prevented spirits from entering, we reestablished the symbol of our human forms and finished off our long and exciting day en route to BSU.


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May 26th

Nickie Griesemer

Academic side


Today we did another traditional Chinese medicine class and we focused on acupuncture and moxibustion (needling and cupping). We learned where a few acupuncture points were on the body and what using the points will treat. For example the first point we learned was called Nei Guan. To find this, you put three fingers at your wrist and the point is below the third finger. Focusing on this point will help cardiac pain, stomachache, insomnia, dizziness and other symptoms. Another point, Hegu, is between the thumb and forefinger and this will help with headache and digestive system diseases as well as toothaches. We learned several of these points and then the professor showed us the needles. They are called filiform needles and they are very small. The length of the needle depends on where it will go into the body as well as what it is treating. We had an array of needles all different lengths, but the same thickness. We were all paired with a Chinese student in the class so they got to teach us how to use the needle. First, you hold it a little above the tip and insert it into the skin in a swift stabbing sort of motion. Then you push it deeper and twist it or flick it to create the “needle sensation”. This sensation is described as soreness, or heaviness around the point. We were able to try it on each other and see if we could successfully find the acupuncture point and insert the needle correctly. This proved much more difficult than it seemed and (because I'm afraid of needles) more painful than anticipated. Then we moved on to cupping. This was much more fun, and less scary, than the needles. In cupping therapy, a glass ball shaped jar is attached to the surface of the skin. It is supposed to expel cold and dampness from the body, promote the flow of qi and blood, and relieve pain in the general area where it is applied. To put the cup to the skin, you have to light a cotton ball attached to a stick on fire. This is put into the cup for a few seconds and then the cup is quickly put onto the skin. It creates suction within the cup and pulls the skin up into it. One of the students I was with told me the cups usually stay on for 10-15 minutes for the maximum effect. Once the cups are removed, it leaves a kind of bruise in the shape of a circle but it is amazing how much it helps. I have a very tight upper back and shoulders so a student put a few cups on my back. When he took them off after only a few minutes my back felt much more relaxed than before the cupping. I learned a lot more about acupuncture and moxibustion in this class and I definitely have more appreciation for it.

After this class, we went to Tai Chi with professor Li Wei. The professor is amazing and a great teacher. We did the same moves we did last class in Tai Chi and he added more with leg lifts and balance postures. This type of Tai Chi is called Yan style which is less complicated than Chen style which is what we did a different University. Then he taught us a little bit of martial arts which is just like self-defense. We learned openhanded sideswipes, knuckle punches, and eye pokes. This was so much fun and could be useful for self defense someday! It is difficult because each movement is so controlled and you have to use every muscle but it is also very relaxing. I hope to take the tai chi and kung fu class back in Ithaca to keep learning more!

After lunch, we went to SWUFE which stands for Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. This school also includes different sport and health majors. This area of Chengdu has more smog than where we are staying and the people at SWUFE told us that they only see the sky a few days out of the year and when they do, everyone in the university takes the day off and drinks tea. This seems like a joke but visiting the school, there really is no blue sky. We toured the campus a little bit starting with a building that is similar to Ithaca’s Athletics and Events Center. We learned that every student has mandatory fitness testing. They have to do pull ups, sit-ups, sit and reach, and a few other things. Each student is required to pass these tests every time they have to take one. This could be an interesting idea for colleges and universities in America to try and increase the fitness levels of the students. From here, we took a trip to Jingqiang Blue Whale Basketball Training Center. This was an incredible facility and all national teams train here for at least 3 weeks at a time. Both men and women’s teams train here and they do intensive training in basketball as well as agility and strength training. Some of the athletes we saw training were only 14 years old. Some players come to this facility at a very young age and live here for 10 months out of the year. They are hand picked based on body type and observation and if they are good at the sport, they don’t really have a choice in leaving. If the family is of a lower class and the child is very good at a sport, it will make the family look better and help the country if the child continues to play. They parents make these decisions for their child without the child really having a say. Some may be miserable and want to do something else but there isn’t too much of a choice. After watching the athletes train and touring a little more of the facility, we went into the rehabilitation rooms. This area was so different from the United States. For physical therapy and athletic training, there is a lot of equipment throughout the room to treat various injuries the athletes might have. At this center, there were hardly any equipment and what they did have has been found not to work through research done in the America. They also had a lot of needles for acupuncture which was different than we have in the U.S.

After a delicious dinner at SWUFE, we went back to Chengdu Sport University and we got to visit the research lab on campus. This lab is the only key research lab in all of Chengdu. They showed us a few of their new equipment including a calorie burning machine, balance improvement simulation, and an anti gravity treadmill. It was so cool to see this research center and to see all they have done so far. I am not far enough into the physical therapy program to know about this yet but I cant wait to learn more and compare it to what I experienced here in Chengdu.


Kaela Klapan

May 26, 2015


Fun Side


Our day started out with breakfast in the canteen. Following breakfast we went to our second Traditional Chinese Medicine class.  In comparison to the first class we attended, the language gap was less prevalent with Professor Gao Hong.  Consequently, I learned much more than I would have other wise.  I enjoyed this class because it was hands on. I was able to not only learn about acupuncture, but I was also given the opportunity to practice on myself and other students.   This was my first time practicing acupuncture, so to no surprise I was a tad nervous to have my new friends poke and prod at my skin. However, looking back, I realize how silly my nervousness was.   Considering the fact that we are working in international groups I am amazed at how well we were able to all teach each other new things. Every interaction with the students from Chengdu Sport University information is shared both ways -it was really great that were able to get through the language barrier and share this experience together.  It was very interesting to learn about all the various acupuncture points, and how the Chinese people use acupuncture to diagnose certain diseases.

            During the Traditional Chinese Medicine class Professor Hong also taught us how to use cupping therapy.  This was my favorite part of the class because I wasn’t afraid to try it out. I appreciated how thorough she was throughout in her presentation. She taught us all the requirements, such as the duration and strength that is needed when practicing cupping. At this point in the class my Chinese partner, whose English name is mosquito, was very hands on. She applied many cups on my back and also showed me how to apply them to some of the other students. What I enjoyed most about cupping was using the ignited cotton ball in the cups while placing it on someone’s skin. I wouldn’t say I am a pyro, but it was very fun for me.

            After our class we headed back to the canteen for lunch and then took a bus ride to SWUFE.  As like all the other universities we have visited during this trip, the faculty and students at SWUFE were very inviting.  Seeing how excited they were to see us was very welcoming. I was not expecting our visits to have such an impact on these universities.  Following the welcoming ceremony we were escorted on a campus tour.  After hearing that SWUFE has about 16,000 students and considering that Ithaca has around 6,000, I was very interested to see how SWUFE accommodated their students.  We were able to see their large gymnasium, fitness room, and many other rooms as well, and all of which was very cool to see. One thing that I learned throughout the tour was that each college student at SWUFE has a yearly mandated physical fitness test.  Seeing how much of the American population is unhealthy and/or overweight I think having a policy such as this one would be very beneficial to the younger American generations. We have physical fitness tests in high school but once we graduate they are not mandated.  Why should they stop after high school?

            The last stop we made before we had dinner was a visit to the Blue Whale Basketball Training Center.  As we were approaching the back entrance there were four boys who were in what looked like to be practice.  They all were taking turns running sprints. They all were very tall and fit, and come to find out they all between the ages of 13 and 15! When I found that out I was shocked. They all looked like college students. The Blue Whale Training Center recruits young athletes and trains them for nationals.  It was such a privilege to be able to walk through and see the individual rooms and offices.  I have much respect for those young boys who were outside training. For those boys being an athlete is more than a sport, it is their life, and they train hard for it each and everyday. 

            Following SWUFE we made a pit stop at Chengdu Sport University’s Research Lab. It was very interesting to see what types of research programs they were involved in. It was also cool to see all their different equipment they had. I am not a PT major so some of those machines were new to me, but I am pursuing a career in public health so it was still beneficial to see how their research lab differed from ones that are at IC. 

            From all the sight seeing and walking we did that day I was exhausted once we were done at the research lab.  Once we returned to our rooms I showered and went straight to bed!

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