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  NOVEMBER 11, 2011
East Tennessee Hosts China-Tennessee Health Education Training Institute

delegationThe East Tennessee State University College of Public Health will host nearly 20 delegates from China for a two week training institute in health education. Representing 14 different provinces, as well as the China Center for Health Education, the delegation comprises senior officials, most with ten or more years of work experience in health education. The goal of the two week exchange is to review the most recent concepts and approaches to health improvement using health education and to see those approaches actually applied by large regional employers, the health departments, and others.

Under the direction of Dr. Jim Florence, chair of East Tennessee’s Department of Community Health, university faculty and guest speakers will present special lectures on an array of contemporary public health topics during the two-week Institute. Faculty, staff and students from the college will also lead several trips that showcase successful health projects in action. Those projects include the Nu-Val Program and employee health initiatives at Food City; the LIFEPATH Public Health Training Center that is housed at the College of Public Health; employee wellness efforts promoted by Eastman Chemical Co.; and quality improvement in health care at Mountain States Health Alliance and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

The group will also meet with representatives of the State Department of Health, a regional AIDS education non-profit organization, regional health writers, and the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing. Dr. Florence said he expects both visitors and hosts to learn much from each other and to exchange ideas that will help improve health in both Tennessee and China. The official kick-off welcome for the institute was provided by Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee’s First Congressional District. 

To keep the institute interesting and relevant to all parts of the region, some training events will be held at off-site venues, such as the Gray Fossil Site and Bristol Motor Speedway. The group will take in a university basketball game. The delegation will also visit the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough to see a special performance of “Dispatches from the Other Kingdom: The Cancer Journey,” an oral history theater piece conceived and directed by Dr. Joseph Sobol, director of the university’s master’s degree program in storytelling. The China-Tennessee Health Education Training Institute will finish the exchange with an American Thanksgiving-style banquet on Friday, November 18.   

It is not the first visit by Chinese public health officials to East Tennessee, as 25 delegates came to the university in 2008 as a part of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s China-Tennessee Rural Health Institute. Although this is not a direct offshoot of that last visit, the 2008 trip did play a part in China turning again to the College of Public Health for expertise.

“The participants in the 2008 delegation had a very positive experience during their time at [East Tennessee], and two of them specifically recommended [East Tennessee]to their colleagues,” said Dean Randy Wykoff. “We’re honored that in their search for training on health education, they chose to come back to [East Tennessee].”

Information on the institute is available at

[Photo: The China-Tennessee Health Education Training Institute Delegation, and some members of the East Tennessee faculty, being welcomed by Congressman Phil Roe.]