It's difficult to imagine what college life will be like when one chooses an unfamiliar major in an ancient technique that is thousands of years old and comes from the other side of the world.
Two young women from South Africa, however, made just that choice when they decided to study at the University of the Western Cape and Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, exploring the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine and culture.
Sinovuyo Mkula, a fourth-year student studying Chinese medicine and acupuncture, was excited when she took her first steps.
"The work we do has more of an authentic and natural approach to healing. I wanted to become part of a community that would help save our Earth and the many people looking for a way out of 'normal' medicinal approaches," she said in her speech to the Global Generation Z Forums.
Shannah Rose Erasmus has taken one step further, as she plans to complete her master's at Zhejiang Chinese Medical University. "As my understanding of TCM deepened over the years, so did my interest in Chinese culture," she said, adding that she felt that it would be beneficial to study Chinese medicine in its environment.
Students like Mkula and Erasmus have acted as liaisons in helping to implement TCM in South African communities and in its public health system.
"Through my studies, I hope to give back to my community, engage in cultural exchange and better the lives of the people of South Africa," Erasmus said.
Mkula has incorporated the principles of TCM in her daily life and spoke of many patients opting for alternative medicine in helping to treat illness. She said that many Africans have seen its benefits and are intrigued by the new possibilities it presents.
The promotion of TCM is one of the projects included in the Belt and Road Initiative, and Mkula believes that the initiative may also contribute to intellectual development, helping countries to move ahead and develop.