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Emily Ju and family prac­ticed Chinese med­icine together this summer. Courtesy | Emily Ju

Junior Emily Ju has been shaping her under­standing of Chinese med­icine — and all types of psy­chology — since the age of 12. This summer, spent at her grand­father Yang Zhixun’s Chinese medical clinic in Beijing, was the inter­section of her Hillsdale edu­cation and her own psy­cho­logical per­spective.

She has some­thing to show for it: During the interview, she con­ducted acupuncture.

Ju spent her days at Qingxin Chinese Med­icine Clinic  learning to practice acupuncture, observing kinder­garteners and adults jointly learning the fun­da­mentals of Chi, and growing under Zhixun’s con­tinual men­torship.

“His clinic is unique because of the treatment he pro­vides,” Ju said. “It’s based on research invented by my great-grand­father.”

The goal of Zhixun’s clinic is com­bining the foun­da­tions of early Chinese med­icine with external med­icine. It retains the ultimate goal of the practice, com­bining mind and body for the healthy cycling of energy — Chi — with the advantage of being non­in­vasive.

“In order to be the healthiest we can, we should stay in harmony with our envi­ronment,” Ju said. “The problem happens when we act out of harmony and create an imbalance in our body.”

Chi is just as important now as it was a century ago to Ju, her family, and Chinese culture. All of Ju’s work at Qingxin involved that inter­action between mind and body, in which each part helps or hurts the other.

Specif­i­cally, she delved into precise obser­va­tions of children, four-year-olds to fourth-graders, who came to the clinic for instruction in all manners of tra­di­tional med­icine.

“There is a cur­riculum my grand­father created for young children — preschoolers can learn what my grand­father teaches, and kinder­garteners too,” Ju said. “I was keeping track of the behavior of these stu­dents.”

Not only was Ju getting valuable field expe­rience for her minor course of study, early childhood edu­cation, but she was also honing the skill that spans all the social sci­ences: The ability to observe, without bias.

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Ben­jamin Winegard sees the value of expe­ri­ences like Ju’s.

“I would say the most important thing is to know the research method­ology well,” Winegard said. “That trans­lates across dis­ci­plines.”

He said there are inter­sec­tions between spir­i­tu­ality, tra­dition, and phi­losophy every­where in psy­chology. Any student who finds these inter­sec­tions is just a bit better equipped to observe objec­tively and cre­atively.

Ju had to apply that cre­ativity when she saw one student was becoming pro­gres­sively more dis­ruptive.

“She would inten­tionally block the view of everyone behind her during our, say, grat­itude songs,” she said. “She would pick on the class role model; he was then at the brunt of the blame.”

Ju said even the smallest behaviors, like repeatedly taking apart and then reassem­bling her pencil, were indicative of problems with the student’s Chi — problems she could resolve with guidance. This student was ill; there was a reason, in mind or body, for her not to pay attention.

Freshman Meghan Dudzic said she rec­og­nizes the necessity of observing the whole person to help them best.

“I’ve done a lot of work with younger kids, specif­i­cally dis­abled kids with down syn­drome in local schools,” she said. “Con­nection with other people is so important, either in a career or under­standing the human person.”

Ju was able to resolve the sit­u­ation with the student. She attributes it to a unique com­bi­nation of Chinese med­icine exposure, Assistant Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Collin Barnes’ reminders not to “decon­struct the man” when observing, and her grandfather’s guidance.

Ju said her return to Hillsdale would provide par­allels to her learning — even if she did not always agree. There were already par­allels she took with her to China.

“I heard a similar story in an edu­cation class,” she said. “There was a child with a lot of behav­ioral problems — he would put children up against the wall, knocking things down from the shelves — and teachers could not under­stand what was wrong.”

As it turns out, the child suf­fered birth com­pli­ca­tions that resulted in reduced oxygen reaching the pre­frontal cortex, where all decision-making begins. Again, a student was ill, and lis­tening to parents, teachers, and doctors gave insight that would frame a proper solution.

Ju’s return to Hillsdale was a return to Western med­icine, she said.

“Western science has no starting point in studying what Chniese med­icine tries to describe about the human body,” she said. “It doesn’t really have a theory about how the human body as a whole is sup­posed to work. What is the man?”

According to Winegard, psy­chology pro­vides processes to study all of them.

“I’m inter­ested in big-picture, syn­the­sizing research,” he said.

Ju aims to con­tinue pur­suing her major in psy­chology and minor in early childhood edu­cation, her summer enriching and nuancing the two fields more than ever. She hopes to follow her grandfather’s daily mantra.

“If you want to do great things, you first have to learn how to be a person,” Zhixun said.