Chinese Delegations Turns to ETSU





November 4, 2011

Chinese delegation turns to ETSU College of Public Health for two weeks of education, insight

JOHNSON CITY – A delegation of almost 20 people is traveling halfway around the world to spend two weeks at East Tennessee State University, where they will learn more about public health education and the difference it can make throughout the community.

The ETSU College of Public Health is hosting Chinese government officials as part of the China-Tennessee Health Education Training Institute. From Nov. 7-18, visitors will be treated to a blend of special presentations by faculty and guest lecturers, as well as visits to a variety of the region’s health-related institutions to witness firsthand how health education is put into action.

It is not the first visit by Chinese public health officials to ETSU, as delegates came here in 2008 as a part of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s China-Tennessee Rural Health Institute. Although this is not an offshoot of that last visit, the 2008 trip did play a part in China turning again to the ETSU College of Public Health for expertise.
“The participants in the 2008 delegation had a very positive experience during their time at ETSU, and two of them specifically recommended ETSU to their colleagues,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the college. “We’re honored that in their search for training on health education, they chose to come back to ETSU.”

Under the direction of Dr. Jim Florence, chair of the ETSU Department of Community Health, university faculty and guest speakers will present special lectures on an array of public health topics during the two-week institute. Faculty, staff and students from the college will also lead several trips that showcase successful health projects in action. Those projects include the Nu-Val Program and employee health initiatives at Food City; the LIFEPATH Public Health Training Center that is housed at the College of Public Health; employee wellness efforts promoted by Eastman Chemical Co.; and quality improvement in health care at Mountain States Health Alliance and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department. The group will also meet with representatives of the State Department of Health, the American Heart Association, regional health writers and the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing.

Florence said he expects both visitors and hosts to learn much from each other and to exchange ideas that will help improve health in both Tennessee and China.

To keep the institute interesting and relevant to all parts of the region, some training events will be held at off-site venues, such as the Gray Fossil Site and Bristol Motor Speedway. The group will take in an ETSU basketball game. The delegation will also visit the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough to see a special performance of “Dispatches from the Other Kingdom: The Cancer Journey,” an oral history theater piece conceived and directed by Dr. Joseph Sobol, director of the ETSU Master’s Degree Program in Storytelling.

And last, the China-Tennessee Health Education Training Institute will wind up the exchange with an American Thanksgiving-style banquet on Friday, Nov. 18.

“It’s actually something the Chinese delegation requested,” Wykoff said, “and considering these two weeks are about the sharing of ideas and goodwill, a Thanksgiving meal seems very appropriate.”