Photo courtesy Iris Fontana Iris Fontana poses with her Envision Global Forum on Medicine and Science group outside of the Forbidden City in Beijing China, this June.

KPC student makes trip to China

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 11:24pm
  • News

After spending 10 days in the bustling, populous hubs of Beijing and Shanghai, Iris Fontana became an expert at communicating with her Mandarin-speaking hosts — without knowing the language.

Communication evolved through hand gestures and smiling often, Fontana said.

“You would think you would feel like an outsider,” she said. “But everyone made us feel welcome.”

Fontana uncovered the new skill on the internationally recognized Envision Global Forum on Medicine and Science, which seeks out students with strong academic standing. The forum offers the opportunity for students to explore potential professions in a setting outside of their own country, she said.

Fontana’s placement was in the field of science and medicine. While she is currently attending Kenai Peninsula College, working toward a degree in psychology, she said she is very open to various professions.

Over the 10-day trip Fontana, and her group who she now calls good friends, visited the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and the Great Wall of China supplemented with visits to Peking University Health and Science Center and Xi’an Medical University.

Fontana said one of the most striking illuminations was the way the Chinese healthcare is set up.

“First of all, the government pays for two-thirds of healthcare,” Fontana said. “And the doctors trust their patients more.”

Fontana said patients are given the option of deciding their own regimen. And Chinese doctors also offer both Eastern and Western influenced treatments.

Walking into a pharmacy would illustrate this contrast, Fontana said. On one half of the store would be traditional prescriptions. On the other, herbs and oils for a patient who chooses to follow natural treatment options, she said.

Raising money to cross the Pacific Ocean was no easy task, Fontana said. After being nominated for the position, she started fundraising immediately, with only three months before the venture. The plane ticket was the most challenging to fund, since the organization paid for most of the expenses once the group landed, she said.

Donations came from the Soldotna Elks Lodge, Kenai and Kasilof Eagles. She will give presentations to those organizations about what she learned on the trip.

“It was absolutely life changing,” Fontana said. “I would stay a year, it was so amazing.”

Kelly Sullivan can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

A Homer Volunteer Fire Department emergency medical technician, left, assists a person who was involved in a boat capsizing, center, as they walk up the load-launch ramp on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at the Homer Harbor in Homer, Alaska. The crew of the F/V Captain Cook helped rescue the person. The crew of the F/V Casino rescued the other two people who were aboard the 14-foot skiff when it capsized near the entrance of China Poot Bay. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
1 dead, 2 rescued after boat capsizes near China Poot Bay

A 14-foot skiff carrying three people overturned near Gull Island in the mouth of China Poot Bay.

The Kenai River and Skilak Lake are seen from the Hideout Trail in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, July 5, 2020, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Public comment open on proposed refuge changes

State could get more power over regulation refuge

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
10 new COVID-19 cases on the Kenai Peninsula

Statewide, 49 new cases in total were identified: 40 resident cases and nine nonresident cases.

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna is seen here on June 1. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly overrides veto of hybrid election system

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted to override a mayoral… Continue reading

Parker Rose and Kendra Rose, members of the Sterling Horse and Livestock 4-H Club, are seen here with their miniature donkey on April 23, 2020. (Photo courtesy Cassy Rankin/Kenai Peninsula District 4-H)
Keeping cows and carrying on

4-H looks for alternative ways to host animal auction

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

A chart produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shows four risk factors in being infected by COVID-19. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
17th Alaskan dies of COVID-19

There were 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday.

Noah and Eddie Land of Grace Acres Farm in Kasilof set out produce Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at the Farmers Fresh Market at Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Freshness times 2

DoubleUp program helps seniors, families eat healthy

In this July 20, 2013 file photo, several thousand dipnetters converged onto the mouth of the Kenai River to catch a share of the late run of sockeye salmon headed into the river in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo/Rashah McChesney)
Dipnetters banned from retaining kings

Dipnetting on the Kenai River opens Friday.

Most Read