The Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona (CIUA) held its annual Chinese Health Day beginning at 9:00 AM on Saturday, April 4th, 2015. This day was a typical beautiful spring day in Tucson; gorgeous flowering trees and other plants under an azure sky with puffy white clouds. Tucson is a well-known retirement destination, therefore public health and wellness are issues of deep interest in the community. CIUA provides focused Chinese health and wellness practices to help meet Tucson’s needs for healthier lifestyles. Utilizing traditional Chinese medicine as an entry point to promote other aspects of Chinese culture and heritage, Chinese Health Day is one of CIUA’s critical annual missions. Under the guidance, planning and organization of the CIUA, a variety of academic units from the UA (i.e., the Colleges of Public Health and Medicine), community partners (Han University of Traditional Medicine), and other civic groups participated in Chinese Health Day. These activities provided a major contribution to Tucson’s health improvement efforts. The Mall, located at the center of the University of Arizona campus was a green lawn with blooming flowers and twenty-some white tents and performance stages where wellness and health activities attracted hundreds of Tucson citizens and students of various ages.
The day’s program was composed of three modules: Chinese medical seminars and health exhibitions, Chinese culture performances, and martial arts performances. In order to enhance people’s understanding of the history of Chinese medicine and current developments, CIUA invited Dr. Yongming Li from New Jersey and Dr. Jianping Liu from the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to participate in the day’s activities. Dr. Li presented a seminar on the “Beauty of Chinese Medicine,“ from which the audience achieved a much better appreciation of the mysteries and efficacy of Chinese acupuncture. Professor Liu presented a seminar on “Chinese Medicine and Health,” which explained traditional Chinese wellness knowledge and the critical relationships between Chinese medicine and health. A UA student majoring in Chinese language, shared his experiences in learning Chinese medicine and its special vocabulary.
Under the tents on the Mall, Chinese medical wellness culture booths exhibited medicinal herbs, food, and music as well as wellness presentations and demonstrations of Chinese calligraphy and longevity practices. Many participants were attracted by the opportunity to taste Chinese tea and other healthy foods. Volunteers from the UA Colleges of Public Health and Medicine were kept busy answering questions from the event’s attendees.
CIUA coordinated the participation of many local cultural groups performing on the event’s center stage. Various martial arts groups demonstrated their skills and there were performances of traditional Chinese musical instruments, dancing and fashion. CIUA’s professional musicians performed on classical instruments which drew enthusiastic applause from the audience. Many participants exhibited strong interest in Chinese Kong Fu and Taiji practice.
In the afternoon, the Fourth “Chinese Bridge” regional Mandarin competition for college and university students was held in the Modern Languages Building adjacent to the UA Mall. Fourteen students from several western U.S. colleges and universities competed in this event. They also participated in the Health Day events and many said that experiencing the day’s events heightened their appreciation of Chinese wellness culture, which also enhanced their performances and motivation in the “Chinese Bridge” language skill competitions and talent show.
CIUA’s Chinese Health Day program was strongly supported by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, the University of Arizona and the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Consul Weiheng Chen of the PRC’s Consulate General in Los Angeles and UA leadership congratulated CIUA on the success of its fourth annual Chinese Health Day. University students and citizens of Tucson also affirmed their appreciation of the positive contributions of this introduction to important aspects of traditional Chinese culture. Many of this year’s attendees and participants are looking forward to next year’s Chinese Health Day and all are assured a satisfying experience due to the richness of traditional Chinese medicine culture and wellness practices.