May 31, 2023
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Professor wins national health and physical education award

Hongwei Guan, associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, has been recognized with a national award for his contribution to the field of physical education, particularly his leadership in experiential learning with students at Ithaca College and in China, where Guan studied the cultural of health and physical education.

Guan received the R. Tait McKenzie Award on March 16 from SHAPE America — Society of Health and Physical Educators — a national organization that promotes physical education programs in schools.

Assistant Sports Editor Samantha Cavalli spoke with Guan on receiving the award and the positive work he did for the community to be honored with the award.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Samantha Cavalli: Can you explain what the award is?

Hongwei Guan: The award is a professional award that was issued by the SHAPE AmericaSociety of Health and Physical Educators. This is a major conference [SHAPE America National Convention and Exposition] in our career of physical education, and it is a prestige award. It encourages those who did the contributions and service in the professional world, but not only within the SHAPE America, or outside the SHAPE America, but it represents the SHAPE America well in the professional health and physical educators.

SC: What research have you done that allowed you to receive the award?

HG: I think others nominated me because of my contribution in the profession. I think a lot of things added up, so my involvement with teaching at IC and serving as the former president of the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health. Also, my service to the Youth Olympic Games, especially the Culture and Education Program. I think the experiential learning that I created here at Ithaca College also contributed to the award. I am helping the students from here in the U.S. learn about the culture and signs related to health and physical education in China and also bring the Chinese students here as well. The collaborative work between the U.S. and China and also what I am doing here in general, I think.

SC: Did you know you were receiving the award?

HG: I knew about the award. I did receive the award information before the conference, and I received the invitation to attend the ceremony.

SC: How did it feel winning the award?

HG: I was very honored, and I know a lot of people are doing great work as well, and I just feel that I am one of them. I feel very honored and kind of appreciative of the award, and it is very competitive, but I think when people are nominated, they miss that it is a national award.

SC: Was this one of your greatest accomplishments?

HG: I’m not sure I would interpret this as my greatest accomplishment because what I do every day, I think, is an accomplishment and that I create opportunities for students. What I learned is that the most important thing is when I see I transformed experiences to the students. That is the most rewarding accomplishment I feel when I pay it forward. I learned so much from my mentor at Indiana University, and I owe him so much, and I did not have the chance to pay back to him. This is what I am trying to do: paying it forward to create more experiences for my students, and what I am doing is sharing my knowledge and my experience with future students. I am proud of using sports and the physical activity as a promotion for understanding culture and how they behave and to promote global education and prepare global citizens and leaders. That is what I feel is most rewarding, and I have taken students to China, and they have really changed and transformed. That is the most rewarding time. That’s the accomplishment. This is a great award and I am proud of it and I feel honored, but that is not my goal to receive the award as an accomplishment. I think a lot of people are doing great things, and they sometimes receive awards, and sometimes they don’t, but the accomplishment is there working for the award itself.

SC: What does the award mean to you in your career?

HG: Encouragement and reinforcing that what I am doing is valuable. It is really encouraging when you see what you are doing is rewarded and that people think it is important in the world and profession to help the younger generation to be prepared as global citizens.