Tag Archives: teaching in China

Pins and Needles


The flight, as detailed here, was brutal.  My sciatic was flaring up by the time I got to campus.  Within a day or two, I was directed to a massage parlor near campus.  There is a cosmetic store on the ground level, and you go up a flight of narrow stairs to get to the massage place.  I took a picture of the front so that I could find it again.  I’ve since shown this picture to many foreign faculty on campus so they could find their way to some hurt-so-good sweet relief.


When I walked in and saw the acupuncture charts all over the walls, I knew this was exactly what I needed.


“It’s not like what we think of as massage” Kristine had warned when I told her I was going to go. Understatement of the year.  There are 3 narrow tables in the main room.  The window to the street is open, and the music from the shop next door blares through.  People are walking in and out of the room, and the masseuses are carrying on conversation with them and each other.  You don’t take your clothes off, but they still drape you- so they can dig down without actually pulling off your skin is my guess.

The woman that works there started on me while I was face-up.  She dug down my thighs with her thumb along the meridians.  I sounded like I was in a Lamaze class I was breathing so deeply.  When she got to my knee, it felt like she was trying to shake my patella off and loosen whatever was under there.  I don’t know what inhuman noise I made, but it got her to giggling.

She was to giggle often in the time we spent together.

I flipped over on to my stomach, and when I heard talking over me, it was a man’s voice.  I could see the shoes moving around the table.  Sometimes the socked-slippered feet of the older guy I’d seen would appear.

There was this move he did with my calf at the end that hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  It was as if my entire calf muscle was some zit or blister and he was working to pop it.  The breathing I had to do through that to not jump off the table was enough to give me a bit of a rush.

I came back 5 or 6 days later and had another massage.  This time, I got the older guy that always wears a tank-tee and the socked-slippered feet.  He does these chiropractic moves where he bends you up like a pretzel, the leans in on you like he’s trying to rip you back apart again.  Then nimbly runs his fingers up your spine to make sure everything’s back where it ought to be.  He also had me sit up on a stool at the end and he worked more on my shoulders and did a few more chiropractic moves.

The next time I returned, the trace amounts of soy sauce and MSG in the food in the dining hall had caught up with me and I was feeling absolutely miserable. Monday had felt like a Friday, and the following morning it was all I could do to get myself out of bed even though I’d slept more than 9 hours.  Monday took me there so she could translate.  My joints were inflamed and killing me, and I had absolutely no energy.  I was hoping they could help—I was going to try acupuncture.

She explained what was going on and he asked where I had the most pain.  I showed him and told him that I wanted acupuncture and a foot massage.

He did the acupuncture on my sciatic, so I had to take off my britches so he could get to it.  It was morning, and they’re very slow—I was the only one there. The look on Monday’s face when I told her I’d never done acupuncture before made me even more scared than I already was.

So there I was, braced for this wretched pain… that never came.  I would feel a pinch.  I would feel sensation along the sciatic nerve.  That was about it.

In contrast to the foot massage.  Which was sheer freakin torture. He started out by running his thumb up my calf in a move that felt like he was trying to filet my leg.  I don’t think there was more than 3 minutes of the hour massage that I wasn’t off the chair huffing like a woman minutes away from giving birth.  It was absolutely excruciating.

But it worked.  I was able to go upstairs using both legs afterwards.  I hadn’t been able to do that since I got here.

So I went back the next morning to get some more acupuncture to work on my left knee a little more.


The knee was a bit more uncomfortable than my sciatic.  There were 2 pins in particular that hurt going in.  The way they seem to do everything here is to keep at it until it doesn’t hurt anymore… then they release you.  There is no soft relaxing movement.  If the body is tense and tender, that’s where they apply the pressure.  Once the tenderness is eased, they move on.  I know that’s because the purpose of this is to make you feel Good, not just make you feel good… but still….

He also did acupuncture on my left ankle.  That was quite painful.  Whereas most of the needles just caused the tiniest prick when they went in, the ones on my ankle felt like big huge long needles being jabbed against very tender tendons.  Then he would jiggle them.  He would be watching me very carefully—concerned that the first treatment hadn’t gotten rid of everything.  I don’t think he’s used to not having his touch heal instantly.  My pain was an indicator we were getting right in to where we needed to, so he’d smile.  “You like this!” I’d joke.  By this time, there were several people in the room all looking at me like I was insane for allowing myself to be used as a pin cushion.  That all the Chinese people were looking at me like I was nuts for doing a traditional Chinese treatment amused me enough to make the pain a little more bearable.

“How can you do that?” they would ask me through Grace.

“Trust me, it hurts way less than the massage!” I answered.

I’m doing much better now- able to climb 4 of the 5 flights of stairs to my evening class before I have to resort to only climbing with my right leg.  I’m still having a little pain behind the knee, though.  When we’d talked about it yesterday, the woman said if the pain is directly behind the knee, acupuncture may not be the best treatment.  She described the treatment, but Grace said she didn’t really understand it.  As I told others what they were suggesting- I realized they meant cupping.

Don’t know if I’m brave enough to try that just yet… though I know a student that had it done at the beginning of the week.  We’ll see…

Like an American campus? Really?


The SIAS campus is expansive and beautiful.  Many people told me that it was like an American campus—apparently most Chinese universities are just a collection of high-rises.  But I’ve never seen an American campus like this before.  There are several “regional villages” that are like walking through the world village at Epcot.  Right here behind Peter Hall, there is “European Street”… but first let me show you Peter Hall

This is the outside of Peter Hall, the foreign faculty dorms.

This is the outside of Peter Hall, the foreign faculty dorms.

The lobby manages to be expansive and cozy. The Bridge Cafe has European coffee- that costs as much as a meal does down the street. They put TONS of fresh ginger in their ginger tea.

The lobby manages to be expansive and cozy. The Bridge Cafe has European coffee- that costs as much as a meal does down the street. They put TONS of fresh ginger in their ginger tea.

Reasonable enough.  This looks like an American campus, true.  The streets are lined with trees and it’s clear that the gardening staff is plentiful and takes great pride in their work.

Taken from Peter Hall towards the Administration building

Taken from Peter Hall towards the Administration building

This is looking back at Peter Hall on the way to the Administration Building

This is looking back at Peter Hall on the way to the Administration Building

All very campus-like.  Even the Administration building- with its classic Western architecture on one side and Chinese on the other wouldn’t be too extraordinary on an American campus.  Very nice, but not completely out of the ordinary.

The campus side of the administration building

The campus side of the administration building

There is an ampitheatre


Basketball courts and recreational space that is absolutely busting at the seams in the evening

Basketball courts

There’s a pagoda on the hill that I would expect to see on a Chinese campus

The steps are killing me. Seriously.

The steps are killing me. Seriously.

You can see the pagoda lights in the basketball picture above.  Many features have dramatic night lighting.  With the summer being as hot and muggy as it is, when the sun goes down, life begins—and the city and campus reflect that.

There are a few ponds on campus. This one is just to the left of the Administration building.  Having a pond really takes the campus to a new level- more like a park.


Then there’s the waterfall in the stairs leading down to European street.  Now we’re moving beyond park to something quite different.  Very nice office complexes sometimes have features like this.  It makes me wish stairs weren’t such a place of torture for me right now.


Once you’re at the bottom of the stairs, you find yourself in the middle of a European-style piazza


Where businesses and students have set up shop in the piazza as well as in the spaces in the lower level of the buildings themselves.

Lower level buildings

The first piazza goes under a breezeway and lets out into European Street

European street

Which lets out into another section of street.  Again, there are shops and restaurants in the lower level.  Student housing is above.

Student housing above

Shops and restaurants

At one end of European Street, there is a university gate and the city of Xinzheng is just beyond.  On the other side of European street, there is SIAS Castle.

SIAS castle

There’s a food court in the lower level of the castle.  Again, student housing is above.  Its lit up magnificently at night.

Turning to your left, there’s this:

Cliff with stairs

Cliff waterfall

And this


And in the distance past the stadium…

Past stadium

Which looks like this closer up

Closer up

Which has another piazza, more water features, and a fountain like I have never seen on a college campus.


Following the water feature down, there are more student dorms and classrooms

Student dorms and classrooms

Did a panorama of the piazza

Did a panorama of the piazza

Color me mind blown.  Standing in this piazza as the sun rose up, I was absolutely amazed at the vision of the SIAS President.  This was just an idea once.  He built this.  He had this vision of a campus, and this is what he built.  He had to have had people tell him he was insane.  How did he even get people to know what he was talking about?  I suppose its not that different than what I’m doing now in my classes, or what I do with my coaching and training work, I suppose… but this feels so… incredible.  Literally incredible.  If someone told me about a guy having an idea to build something like this, I’d LOVE it, but I don’t know that I’d believe he’d ever get backing for it.

But he did.  I’m standing here.  And there’s still so much more… there’s the opera building, a few other little burros. Classrooms, the library- I haven’t even shown you half of it, and they’re still building! The air was thick with dust tonight that the breeze kicked up.  SIAS is celebrating its 15th anniversary this May, so there’s all the frenzy to get ready that you’d expect of a new campus.

It has to be incredibly inspiring to study business on a campus like this.  To study anything on a campus like this— talk about the medium IS the message… and the message is “Dream Big”