By Bill Knief
Follow the national healthcare reform movement too closely and you’ll eventually run up against seemingly insurmountable barriers to intelligent debate on this most pressing of issues: millionaire pundits with an axe to grind, self interested lobbyists, Big Pharma, Big Money, Big Politics, vicious, downright biased individuals and a press more interested in headlines than in serious content. It’s enough to make a person sick.
In Taos, supposedly known for its wealth of cranky curmudgeons pushing selfish, petty agendas, the contrast couldn’t be greater. We had a healthcare forum this past summer that drew a big crowd and came off without a hitch. Last week herbalist Rob Hawley, naturopath Lucy McCall and pharmacist Jake Mossman devoted the second lecture in the SMU, UNM-Taos collaborative series to areas of cooperation between traditional Western style medicine and a more holistic, non invasive approach to health and wellness. Saturday September 19 marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Holistic Health and Healing Arts Academy at UNM-Taos.
Longtime HHHA Director Jean Ellis-Sankari observed, “In the midst of the whole healthcare debate I feel we have a head start in Taos on what’s coming—it’s the fusion of holistic and traditional Western medicine. We all realize it’s not about pitting one against the other; it’s about learning when to recognize which discipline to apply. Let’s look at Western medicine historically to see where it has gone out of balance, and figure out how we can bring it together…with a holistic paradigm.”
In 1998 students, potential instructors and community practitioners began to formulate the HHHA certificate program at UNM-Taos, and the next year it was approved by main campus.
“One of the big changes that has taken place over the years is that we have developed the Integrative Massage Program,” Ellis-Sankari said. “It’s approved by the state and the Higher Education Department. We already have a cohort of students that has completed the program that will be sitting for their boards and hopefully walking in our formal graduation this spring.
“I estimate we have around 3,000 students that have come through our classes. We have a small number that go for the whole certificate, but many who take the courses for personal benefit. People are attracted to the low cost, high value nature of homeopathy. It may not always lead them to a career or academic degree, but what I hear from them is that they need the community of the classroom; they have a forum to talk about how to live their lives more coherently.
“It is such a fractured, fragmented world we live in, our classes can become a haven where you can quiet the mind, learn how to meditate, build a knowledge base and start on your map for healing.”
TRAVEL WITH A PURPOSE
International Studies is a program within the Holistic Health and Healing Arts Academy run by Pearl Huang Snodgrass. It is celebrating its fifth year of offering educational travel experiences all over the world.
“Each trip has a theme,” Snodgrass explained. “It’s not a tourist trip. All students have to go with the concept of studying culture and specific topics after careful preparation. I tell them, if you want to stay at a Holiday In and eat steak and potato, don’t go to visit a foreign country—stay home!”
The program has sponsored trips to China, Spain, Peru and Mexico along with anticipated trips to India and Belize to study such topics as language and culture, anthropology, science and ecology.
“Our trips are very affordable compared to most travel and they are offered to the community as well as credit seeking undergraduate or upper division students. We do fundraising and offer small scholarships when we can. Our students want to experience the way people actually live and conduct themselves and to really interact with them. It’s a very good learning experience to be surrounded by another person’s culture.”