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Needles set the course for fulfilling a dream

By Fang Aiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-25

Students from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh of a vocational college in North China's Hebei province experience acupuncture treatment at a TCM clinic in June. [Photo by Fu Xinchun/China Daily]

It was needles that brought Anaelle Regniel to China. She was intrigued by the "tiny silver needles that could sooth the pain of a patient" used in acupuncture.

Following her curiosity, the then high school student in France who was learning Chinese about a decade ago, was prompted to find out more about traditional Chinese medicine.

She majored in both Chinese language and TCM at college. Then, considering TCM to be more developed in Britain than France, where there are a few private Chinese hospitals, she did an internship at a TCM clinic in Leeds, Britain.

That was where she heard about the scholarship of the first Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is located in Leeds.

In 2013, she studied Chinese at the Confucius Institute in Leeds for three months, passed the third level of the Chinese proficiency test and won a scholarship.

She then commenced a one-year internship in the acupuncture department of Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine in Harbin.

"I thought at the beginning that with the knowledge and techniques of acupuncture, cupping therapy and Chinese massage that I had learned before, it would not be so difficult. After all, acupuncture should be the same everywhere, right?" recalls the 27-year-old.

Before long, she found with dismay that she was wrong.

"What I learned here in China was totally different from what I had learned before. Actually, I barely knew anything about it."

Later on, she moved to the internal medicine department, where she learned about filling prescriptions. Learning the properties, composition and curative effects of TCM was difficult but productive.

"Those familiar Chinese characters just turned strange in names of herbs. I recited, forgot, then recited again and I'm still reciting them. Now I'm glad that I can follow my teachers' logic when filling prescriptions at the outpatient clinic."

She started her third year of graduate studies in September, as she won a scholarship granted by the local government in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province to take the postgraduate program at the university there.

As she shared in a speech at the 2017 Confucius Institute Open Day in Beijing in September: "I will go back to France as an inheritor and communicator of traditional Chinese culture and help those in need with my knowledge and skills."

Regniel was one of the speakers at the Story Collection, an experience-sharing session of the event, in which directors of the Confucius Institute branches, Chinese language teachers, volunteers and students were invited to share their stories in Beijing.

David Kolosov, a Russian student at Tsinghua University, who hosted the session, says: "Traditional Chinese medicine is not only about curing diseases and conditioning the body but also about Chinese philosophy."

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