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A JOURNEY DOWN THE YANGTZE Teaching Aquatic Therapy in China As somebody who loves to travel and explore new places, I’m very grateful my career has given me the opportunity to go around the world educating people on the benefits of aquatic therapy. Recently, I traveled to China to help educate some of their best and brightest physical therapists. I had been to China before, but only as a tourist. This trip was a chance to dig a little deeper and see parts of the country most Americans never get to experience. I didn’t journey to the Western-friendly cities of Hong Kong or Shanghai. Instead, my destination was Jiangyin, a small city on the southern bank of the Yangtze River in the Jiangsu province — definitely not the type of place where the street signs or businesses cater to English speakers. While the sense of being a total foreigner in a strange land exhilarates me, it does present a few problems when it comes time to teach. Luckily, most of them can be overcome with the help of an interpreter. Things do take a little longer — what I could normally get across in two days takes three in translation — but I never feel like the concepts I’m teaching get lost along the way. One thing that does get lost, however, is my sense of humor. Idioms and jokes don’t translate easily, leading to a lot of lines that go over like lead balloons. I’ve learned this time and again over the years, but I still struggle to remove them from my lessons.
specifically for aquatic therapy. I hadn’t expected to do this, but it was clearly part of the organizer’s plans from the start. It was a bit like being tapped for a secret government project — minus the security clearance and international intrigue. As much as these trips are a chance for me to teach, they’re also a chance to learn. Whenever I have a free moment I try to do some exploring and get a bit of the local flavor. On this trip we went out to dinner every night, which offered me the chance to sample the local cuisine. The dining style in Jiangsu province involves sitting around a table with a massive Lazy Susan in the middle. Throughout the meal, servers heap dish after dish onto the table. On a given night I tried around 40 dishes. We dined like this four times and, barring salad, not a single dish was repeated. Since I’m a diehard foodie, you can imagine how elated these meals made me. In February, I’ll be traveling to Barbados for another teaching opportunity. It will be my first time in the country, and I’m really looking forward to it. The Caribbean may not be as foreign and unfamiliar as China, but I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises all the same.
Despite the language barrier, I’m always inspired by the warmth and inquisitiveness of the people I teach. They are genuinely excited to learn new techniques to apply to their everyday work. No matter where I teach or how thick the language barrier is, we still manage to connect with each other in a very real way.
In addition to teaching, I had the chance to consult with a company building a pool
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