Over the course of their tour of the Philippines, Tzu Chi University (TCU) students and faculty conducted healthy cultural exchanges with schools and medical institutions. The students learned a great deal from their exchange with the Chinese General Hospital on July 17 and two De La Salle University campuses on July 19.
Healthy exchanges between Tzu Chi University (TCU) medical students and local schools and medical centers were conducted over the course of the nine-day outreach in the Philippines.
Inclement weather caused by the pull of Tropical Storm Son-Tinh (Henry), and later Tropical Storm Ampil (Inday), didn’t deter the TCU delegation from learning more about local medical culture. On July 17, the delegation met with medical staff at the Chinese General Hospital (CGH). Two days later, they traveled to two De La Salle University (DLSU) campuses: the main campus in Manila and the campus in Dasmariñas City, Cavite.
The tour accomplished its task of enlightening students to the environment of healthcare in the country. It also served as an opportunity for dialogue between TCU executives and those of the visited institutions, discussing the possibility of holding symposiums about TCU and, later, student exchange programs.
“Maybe next year, DLSU can hold a symposium about TCU. Several of our peers will come here to give a talk,” said Hsu Hao-jen (許豪仁), Associate Professor for Life Sciences at TCU.
TCU and DLSU two years ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding, making these cultural exchanges possible.
DLSU is no stranger to Tzu Chi paying them a visit. Not long ago, doctors and professors from this Lasallian institution visited Tzu Chi and witnessed a series of concepts and principles that would inspire changes in the university. Such changes were made evident in the Dasmariñas campus, notably the Health and Sciences Institute.
“It has high ceilings so that natural air flow can be encouraged. There’s also the computer-automated system that shows which doctor is attending which patient. Everything is in real time. This is something that, little by little, we’ve been patterning after Tzu Chi hospitals in Taiwan,” said Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia, Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization.
She also cited the importance of collaboration between the doctors of Tzu Chi hospitals and the DLSU medical system. Citing the success of former scoliosis patient Rejean Ligue’s surgery in Taiwan, Garcia mentioned about the school encountering a similar patient in the past.
“If we had known [about Rejean’s case] sooner, we could’ve sent him to Taiwan and he would still be alive today. The collaboration needs to happen. We really need to get doctors moving back and forth,” added Garcia.
Meanwhile, TCU and CGH College currently has no existing Memorandum of Understanding. Dr. Normando Gonzaga, dean of the CGH College of Medicine, hopes to sign one someday.
“The objective is to strengthen [the field of] Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). And Tzu Chi has a good TCM program,” said Gonzaga.
Dr. Nestor Garcia, assistant chief of the CGH emergency room, is positive about the relations between Tzu Chi and the hospital. For years, the CGH has been supporting the foundation’s medical missions mainly through manpower. Many Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) volunteer doctors practice at CGH, including the founder of TIMA, Dr. Leh Siu Chuan.
“Tzu Chi has always been there to help our charity patients, shouldering the cost of operations and such,” said Dr. Nestor.
As their last tour in the country before returning to Taiwan, the TCU students cherished every second of their exposure to the Philippine norm. From the moment their flight landed in Manila, physical therapy student Chang Jung-hsuan (張容瑄) already knew what to expect of life in the country.
“The average standard of living in Manila, Tacloban, or Ormoc, isn’t very high. I realized that we have to be contented with what we have,” said Chang.
Between July 13 and 16, the students joined TIMA doctors and Tzu Chi volunteers in screening patients for eye surgery. Over 100 patients suffering from various eye maladies will undergo eye surgery in August.
Nursing student Lu Pen-ting (盧本婷) echoes a similar insight, even adding her impression of the resilience of the Filipino in times of disaster. She’s glad to have studied in TCU, given that the yearly trip the university holds has opened her eyes to the plight of people around the world.
“We shouldn’t complain about material things, as they’re too trivial compared to the plight of these people. I shouldn’t waste time complaining, instead cherishing what I have,” said Lu.