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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
September 20, 2004
Volume 40, Number 2

Therapy students learn Mexican techniques

By Angela Heisel

Dr. Terry K. Crowe, director of the UNM School of Medicine Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, and Dr. Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, UNM Vice President for Student Affairs, conducted an 11-day UNM course focusing on traditional Mexican medicine in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer.

Ten students with majors in occupational therapy, social work, medicine, Latin American studies, Spanish and anthropology participated in the graduate level work.

The professors and students worked with five Mexican healers both in the capital city of Oaxaca and along the coast. Laurencio Lopez Nunes, a botanist who has been studying medicinal properties of Oaxacan plants was the primary instructor.

The students focused on the healing elements of plants, including making and buying medicinal plants. The students lived with Mexican families and studied Spanish in the mornings, staying in the capital city the first week.

“The highlight of the course was participating in a traditional healing ceremony (limpia) and a traditional steam bath in an adobe tezmascal on the Oaxacan coast,” Crowe said. “The course ended at a coffee plantation in the jungle. We studied medicinal plants growing in the jungle, learned how coffee was grown in the shadows of the trees, participated in Mexican family life and learned therapeutic massage techniques.”

According to Crowe, the students and faculty were enriched by this special learning experience. The Mexican healers were extremely generous with their time and knowledge, she said.

As a result of this course, the health professional students will be more sensitive to people’s views of illness health and wellness and choices of intervention.