You, Me, and Yangyi – More adventures in Chengdu!

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

I’ve known Yangyi for such a short amount of time, but I’m increasingly more fond of her every day. She likes to tease me and vice versa, but she also takes the time to always make sure I’m doing well. “Have you eaten? Do you need to rest? Drink more hot water.”

She mothers me so much that it’s becoming a consistent joke in our group. “Amo” means “mom” in the Yi language which is also her mother tongue. I’ve taken to calling her Yiyi Amo or Yiyi Mama when she starts to coddle me, but it’s all in good fun. I appreciate her considerate nature and try my best to be a good friend to her in return as well.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Faith Lewis, people smiling, people standing

This is a photo of us at IFS which is a huge mall on Chunxi Road. At the very top is a panda that looks as if it’s hanging over the side of the building as seen in the picture. The area is lively with a mix of different fashions, street performers, and vendors, but it was a gentle chaos that I enjoyed a lot, especially with my Yiyi Amo by my side.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup and outdoor

Apart from exploring our surroundings, the lectures have also been very interesting and informative. A fairly resent one that I mentioned in my last blog post focused on Yi medicine and how it compares to a more Western model of health care. As I’ve stated before, I plan to go to school for public health specializing in health behavior and health promotion. I’m especially interested in working with minorities based on race, sexuality, gender orientation, sexuality. disability, etc, and advocating for equitable health care and health care access.

One of my goals is to work closely with underrepresented communities to help ensure that cultural beliefs and practices are integrated into health initiatives, so this lecture was very interesting to me as it the Yi people are an indigenous, ethnic minority within the country. Yi medicine adheres to a more traditional framework of treatment that centers natural remedies. The belief is that the body descends from nature and should be treated as such. Furthermore, the theory of Yi medicine says that the physiological operations of human life are the rise and fall of Qi (pronounced “chee”) in the body, the circulation of Yin and Yang, and the endless cycle of life.

Qi is a universal manifestation of various energies that every living thing has.Yin and yang are terms used to describe relative opposite qualities or manifestations of Qi. If yin is form, then yang is function. If yin is material, then yang is immaterial. If all of these aspects work in harmony then you will experience good health, well-being and contentment; however, should they become ibalanced then you are sure to experience some suffering.

Most remedies can be found in three categories: plant, animal, or mineral. For example, salt water is used to help treat sore throats which I thought was interesting because my grandmother taught me the same thing as a child. Fresh peach leaves can be used to kill tapeworms after being mashed and applied to the stomach externally. On the other hand, Western medicine centers the “cell” and approaches treatment from a more scientific, technological based framework that relies heavily on chemical remedies.

I thought that this outlook was interesting because in past classes we’ve discussed the hyper-reliance on the biomedical model of treatment within the heath care system which doesn’t account for social issues or remedies that could effect one’s health outcomes. Overall, this particular lecture has been one of my favorites by far and it really highlighted the importance of respecting traditional medicine and the way worldviews vary between cultures which effects our relationship with our bodies as well as our health.

Image may contain: Faith Lewis, smiling, standing                                                                          Photo of me at Jinli Street – a popular marketplace.

We also had the opportunity to learn a few Yi songs and taught a few English songs in return. One student led us through a popular song in China called “Don’t Be Afraid” and one of the American students taught us “Hey, Jude.” To be honest, I’m not a big singer. I don’t mind belting out a few lines when I’m listening to music alone but when I’m in a group I prefer to enjoy observing.

I don’t have the vocal range for anything else, although my partner may argue with me on that point, but I notice I sing more and that I’m less abashed by it. Sometimes I’ll link arms with my friend Chen Hao (who’s musical talent is out of this world) and we’ll just sing together as we walk behind Yangyi to our next destination. It’s become easier to put myself out there and to shed the worry of embarrassing myself because I know that everyone is there to have fun.

I’m going to miss them.