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AASU nursing students to study in China
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The Far East is nearly within reach for a handful of nursing and health-care students at Armstrong Atlantic University who have been selected for a new study abroad program. AASU’s Office of International Education received a $16,000 grant that will help foot the bill for 14 students to learn about Chinese medicine next summer.
The grant was awarded by the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, which was jointly established by KSU, Yangzhou University in China and the CI’s international headquarters, the Office of Chinese Language Council International.
Shelley Conroy, dean of the college of health professions, said the grant is the result of more than a year of collaboration among Ken Jin of the KSU institute, Dean Lily Young of Yangzhou University and the OCLCI.
Conroy said the partnership between KSU and AASU grew out of a trip that Jin and AASU health professions faculty took to China more than 10 years ago, and was fortified by Conroy’s recounting of her own Chinese study abroad experiences while working at Weber State University.
“[AASU faculty] expressed great enthusiasm for developing an interdisciplinary study abroad trip to focus on traditional Chinese medicine in the college, and of the exploration of partnerships with Chinese health-professions universities,” she said. “We worked with the Confucius Institute for about nine months to connect with our sister Chinese university and secure the grant funding award for this trip.”
Jim Anderson, special assistant to the vice president for international education, said nearly 3 percent of
AASU’s full-time equivalent students choose to study abroad each year.
“AASU’s study abroad enrollments have increased, from about 15 students eight years ago to 140 each year for the past two to three years. We run about 14 summer programs on our own and collaborate with USG programs for another six,” Anderson said.
AASU added programs in Asia in the past three years and is running a program in Africa this summer in collaboration with Savannah State University. He said more students in health professions than in other areas of study have participated in overseas programs.
“Because of our strong Spanish programs, the highest area of concentration is in Latin America. We have programs in Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Argentina and Chile,” Anderson said.
Students who travel overseas to study are briefed on health and safety and given guidelines for interacting with fellow students. “All students are provided a study abroad  handbook, a wallet size emergency contact card for the country they are visiting and numbers here in Savannah, and a health/accident insurance policy,” Anderson said.
The CI grant will cover roughly half the students’ travel expenses for the China trip; they will attend lectures and tour landmarks in collaboration with the College of Overseas Education at Yangzhou University.
“It is a significant help to students who may be interested in participating in a study abroad trip to China, but who may have limited financial options,” said Helen Taggart, who serves as interim head of the AASU nursing department and will be one of two faculty members traveling with the student group this summer.
Taggart said the subject matter is relevant because many traditional Chinese medicine methodologies are incorporated into Western medicine in the U.S. “Forms of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and t’ai chi exercise are accepted as part of the holistic approach to health care,” she said.
 “As nurses, it will also be important to understand multicultural approaches to health care in order to have the best impact on health outcomes,” she said. “Immersion in Chinese culture is the best way to really gain an understanding and appreciation of non-Western culture and health-care traditions.”

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