Daylight is growing shorter, nights are getting cooler (even here in Florida), and the summer haze has lifted. It’s finally fall- last week’s Autumnal Equinox made it official. And AFEA’s busy season is in full swing. For Gainesville, fall means football games and art festivals. And for us this year, it means exams, first needles, and a brand new clinic class.

You’ve already read about Class 28’s first year exams, but in addition to that excitement, they also received their first needles. The Needling Ceremony is a very important part of the acupuncture training here at the Academy in which they receive their first needle from a senior practitioner. Students spend the first year of their studies establishing a theoretic framework on which Year Two is based. In Year Two, the curriculum transitions its focus away from what five element theory is and moves towards how an acupuncture practitioner uses the five elements in practice. And to signify that shift and to recognize their readiness, students are given their first needle. The ceremony reflects on the significance of that first needle and what it means for the beginning practitioner.  Class 28 is safely on its way home now- if not already there- and I wish them several, well-deserved, rest-filled days. It’s been an intense session (pun completely intended), and an intense year of study.

So, while Class 28 is practicing their needling technique on fruit, Class 27 is looking forward to their first human patients. They arrived last Monday for the first day of their Clinical Residency. After two years of intensive sessions, they are now settling in as Gainesville residents, working their way through Internship Prep II, and starting to recruit their first patients. To celebrate- and commemorate- the occasion, the class and their clinic supervisors took a trip on the Suwannee River. In between guided nature hikes, kayaking down the river, and singing along to the official AFEA song-book, they established their intentions for the clinical year experience. I hope to have pictures for the next posting. They have appropriately named their class, “Abundant Splendor,” and I know I speak for the faculty and the staff here at AFEA when I say we couldn’t be more proud of the transformations they have gone through in the last two years, and couldn’t be more excited to see what the next 12 months bring.

Looking at the last week, I find us at another moment of heavy transition, just like last June around graduation. Beginnings have a tendency to feel caught up in the “middle” of the process these days. There’s always a new something, and yet, that new something is part of a much larger picture that one can always just make out on the periphery. Time works in a  very circular pattern here. And so, in an effort to celebrate this part of the circle, I am inviting all of  Class 27 to share their feelings on the “start” of clinic. I am inviting all of Class 28 to reflect on the “end” of year one. And I am inviting Class 29 to reflect on their first intensive and share how they’re feeling about their second intensive, which is in the not-so-distant future.  I’d love to hear where everyone is in this moment.