On June 17th, 2017, CandleX ran a mental health workshop for American students who are visiting China for a language and cultural immersion program. They will be here for two months.
The students are both excited and scared to be in China. They are most fearful of failing the program due to not fluently knowing how to speak Chinese. Admittedly, the students stated that they put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well. Some students are first-generation college students so they feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed. A number of students reported experiencing depression and anxiety, which is not uncommon for young people who feel great pressure to do well. In order to prepare the students for possible struggles in China, particular culture shock, we were invited to present information on how to recognize culture shock and how to combat struggles.
This workshop's objective was to discuss culture shock, anxiety, self-care, how to help others who may be experiencing distress, and how to stay emotionally healthy. As always, we use heavy student participation throughout our workshops to ensure that the students can incorporate the knowledge quickly and efficiently. Students greatly participated by sharing their stories and how the first few days in Beijing had already presented numerous challenges. Many of us were able to laugh through these stories.
We collected the feedback from the participants to assess our workshop’s outcome and benefits. Students were asked to give one word that would describe the workshop. Some of the responses were: safe space, helpful, relatable, interesting, bonding, friendly, important, deep, energetic, long, informational, overwhelming, useful, funny, honest, and reassuring.
According to the workshop feedback results, more than 75% of participants reported the workshop helped them understand culture shock and 83% of the participants stated that the workshop gave them ideas on how to take care of themselves. At the end of the workshop, students were trained in progressive muscle relaxation. Many students said this was their favorite part of the workshop. Students suggested for future workshops that more focus be given on coping skills. Students said they would definitely try to make the best of their two months in China. They realize this is an incredible opportunity that few get. Hopefully, CandleX has assisted this talented group in this endeavor.