Tai chi, tea and traditional Chinese medicine

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Courtesy of UA Confucius Institute

A group of people do Tai Chi during the 2013 installment of the Chinese Health Day in Tucson. This year's event will take place Saturday on the UA Mall.

This weekend, the UA Confucius Institute and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are presenting Chinese Health Day 2015. The festivities will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the UA Mall.

“The purpose of Chinese Health Day is to promote healthy lifestyles and overall wellbeing and to increase cross-cultural awareness on the UA campus and in surrounding communities,” said Zhao Chen, co-director of the Confucius Institute and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.

The event is jam-packed with several different performances, lectures and activities that represent Chinese culture. Some events throughout the day will be basic medical activities, such as medical screening and assessments, while others will teach the public about Chinese medicine. Some events throughout the day include Chinese massage, Chinese martial arts performances, a healthy Chinese food preparation show and Chinese food tasting. Other events — such as a traditional Chinese Lion Dance, a fashion show and a calligraphy exhibition — do not have much to do with health, but display the different elements of Chinese culture.

Two esteemed health professionals from around the world will be speaking at the event — Yong Ming Li, a New Jersey medical doctor and acupuncturist, and Jianping Liu, professor and head of the School of Basic Medical Sciences at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

Both Zhao Chen and John Olsen, professor of anthropology and co-director of the UA Confucius Institute, believe that sharing the special practices and approaches of the Chinese for good health is beneficial to the public.

“With a 5,000-year history, Chinese culture is well-known for its unique medicine — traditional Chinese medicine — and for its fascinating fitness practice[s], such as Tai Chi,” Chen and Olsen said.

All of the elements included in the Chinese Health Day — even dance, calligraphy and tea — are considered to be part of the regimen that keeps China’s population fit. By bringing together people of different cultures and teaching them about China’s health practices, Chen and Olsen said they hope to spread the knowledge of different societies and allow everyone involved to benefit from one another.

The UA Confucius Institute, which is a co-sponsor of the event, helps people learn the Chinese language and enhances the understanding and appreciation of Chinese cultural heritage. The institute was established in 2008 as a collaboration between the UA and the Hanban in China. The CIUA aims to become one of the Model Confucius Institutes around the world by morphing its mission and goals and hopes to educate and inform the general public on all aspects of Chinese culture, in hopes of creating a friendly, productive relationship between the U.S. and China.

“We hope to provide a fun environment for all ages to learn about wellness practice in Chinese culture and hence increase peoples’ awareness on health practices across cultures and to promote their interest in adapting healthy lifestyles in their own daily living,” Chen said.

Chinese Health Day is open to the general public. The two lectures are also free to the public and will be held in the Modern Languages building.

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