Athletic Training Students Experience Professional and Personal Growth in China

Lebanon Valley College athletic training students studied abroad in China.

Four years of studying Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture in high school and a fortuitous twist of fate led to Ava Grillo making her first-ever plane trip one of a lifetime—all the way to China.

Grillo ’21 D’23, a physical therapy and exercise science major at Lebanon Valley College, wanted to study abroad. Her advisor, who knew of her previous studies, suggested she inquire about joining athletic training students and faculty for a 10-day short-term study abroad trip to China. 

As part of the Perspectives from Traditional Chinese Medicine program, Grillo, along with five additional students and three faculty members, attended an international conference in Shanghai and then studied medical techniques at Beijing Sport University (BSU). The trip also included tours of famous locations and other cultural opportunities.

“Before I arrived in China, I decided to have an open mind and participate in every opportunity,” said Grillo. “I have no idea if or when I will return to China, so I wanted to live to the fullest during the trip. I visited famous sites and tasted new foods while furthering my knowledge and professionalism in the health professions field. I gained understanding of traditional Chinese medicine practices and how they may be incorporated into my career.”

At the Asia Pacific Conference for Certified Athletic Trainers in Shanghai, Dr. Joseph Murphy, director and associate professor of athletic training, discussed large-scale event planning and crisis management. And, Ryan Natale ’18, M’20 shared his experience of working at the Boston Marathon, a hands-on learning opportunity Dr. Murphy often arranges for athletic training majors

Dr. Eva Frank, assistant professor of athletic training, presented a workshop on personal branding and how best to work a room and interview. Shea Fisher ’19, M’20, Michael Dueck ’19, M’20, and Victoria ByDeLey ’19, M’20 facilitated some hands-on activities for attendees at Dr. Frank’s workshop. Julianna Currie ’20, M’21 presented her student-faculty research on a community partnership and public health initiative she conducted with Erin Ulrich, director of athletic training clinical education and clinical assistant professor of athletic training.

“I never thought that I would be able to present research as an undergraduate student—especially across the world,” said Currie. “That amazing experience made me realize the confidence I have in my work and public speaking skills, competencies we practice in class all the time.”

Along with learning and networking with professionals from across the country, the group visited well-known locations including the Bund, East Nanjing Road, Yuyuan Garden, and Shanghai Tower.

“I loved Shanghai and could see myself going back if the opportunity presented itself,” said Currie. “Shanghai felt like a more modern city that is rapidly growing.”

During the second half of the trip, the group traveled to Beijing to attend college classes, tour the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, and enjoy other cultural experiences. At BSU, LVC students studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and sport techniques including, cupping, acupuncture, taiji, wushu, and rouli ball. 

“Often, the best way to learn is to engage yourself completely in something new,” said Grillo. “I was so happy with what I learned and experienced that I will continue to hold that knowledge for the rest of my career and life. I will continue to throw myself into new situations to come out ahead, despite the feeling of vulnerability that these new situations can bring.”