Reading 10,000 books cannot compare to walking 10,000 li
Hello students and families!
Our summer trip is just a few weeks away. In order to make it feel more real to you and your family, we’d like to share this tentative itinerary with you all. The itinerary will continue to transform and deepen as we work with local contacts, language teachers, and get to know you better from your application materials—but the main components will remain as they’re outlined below.
We are excited in the ways this itinerary will enable you to work with amazing mentors, to be immersed in Chinese language study, to see and become part of beautiful landscapes, to challenge yourself to press against the boundaries of your comfortable and familiar routines, to learn what China is really all about and who YOU are within all of this.
We also invite students and families to post any questions here on the Yak Board, as some lingering questions might be shared by other group members.
Without further ado, here’s our tentative itinerary:
Arrive in the LA airport and meet the rest of the group and your instructors! We will spend some time orienting you to the program and what lies ahead. In the wee hours after midnight we will fly out of LAX and begin the first part of our journey to the other side of the world.
In transit over the Pacific Ocean, transfer in Shanghai and arrive in Beijing in the afternoon!
Orientation: Beijing and the Great Wall
July 1st – July 3rd
We we’ll be waking up in Beijing, the cultural and political center of China, and here will be spending the next couple of days orienting ourselves, working as a group to set expectations, get clear about how to keep each other safe and supported, and discuss the kind of participation we ask of all of you to make sure that we are deriving as much as we can from a short intense collection of experiences and language study. The backdrop for most of this preliminary cultural and group orientation will be a remote section of the Great Wall.
Rural Homestay: Bangdong Village
July 3rd- July 12th
From Beijing we fly to Kunming, Yunnan and immediately launch off on a bus towards the beautiful and remote Bangdong Village where we will begin our first immersive experience. We are joined by professional language teachers from Kunming, who will be with us throughout the rest of our course. Here we’ll meet our homestay families and engage with the sights, sounds, feelings, struggles, and treasures of life in rural China. During our stay, apart from Chinese courses and time with our homestay families, we will have a chance to learn about tea culture, visit local markets, and immerse ourselves fully in village life.
Mornings will begin early and be spent taking intensive language classes. Language cohorts will be grouped according to language ability. After morning language classes, we will return home to homestays and practice our new language skills with our homestay families.
We’ll spend our time practicing language skills, hanging out with homestay families, and exploring the village. We will be inviting guest speakers to come share their experience and expertise with us, as well as arranging hikes, activities, and discussion-based cross-cultural workshops. We will be balancing structured and consistent group time with giving you all the spaciousness to pursue and explore your own inquiries independent projects. Start thinking now about what compels you and what you would like to dig deeper into understanding.
Evenings will be spent with homestay families cooking, helping out, cracking jokes, reading and watching TV. We will also arrange some group activities, from film viewings, to games, to discussion groups.
July 12th – July 13th
Say goodbye to your homestay families and the community in Bangdong Village. We’re headed back to Kunming!
Urban Home Stay: Kunming
July 13th – July 24th
After a couple of weeks in rural China, we’ll head back to Kunming to experience life in a vibrant city. The contrast between Bangdong and Kunming will be stark, and the arcs connecting them will provide us with deeper insight into the wider cultural and geopolitical landscape of China. You will be placed with new homestay families in the city, some of whom have been hosting Dragons students for years.
Mornings will see us meeting up in our Program House classrooms for language classes. As in the village, we’ll begin the days with short meetings followed by intensive Chinese lessons with the same Chinese teachers who taught us in Bangdong. After class, we’ll have lunch at tasty local spots and have a bit of time to explore the city and put our Mandarin skills to the test.
Afternoons will be dedicated to various lessons and activities. We will have guest speakers, workshops, site visits, and other activities. During our time in Kunming, we will also delve deeper into our Independent Study Projects and everyone will have time to explore their unique interests.
We will return to our homestay families for the evening meal, hang out, watch the hit Chinese TV shows of the moment, play with host siblings, or visit a bustling city park to enjoy the Kunming summer nights.
Weekends in Kunming will be spent with homestay families. They love welcoming you into their lives and taking students to various cool spots in and around the city.
Short Trek, Transference Outside Kunming
July 24th – July 28th
After saying farewell to our homestay families, we’ll embark on a few days of travel. We will also conduct our “transference” outside of Kunming. Transference is like orientation in reverse. Rather than preparing us to engage deeply in experiences, transference helps us process those experiences and connect them to our lives beyond the course. We will reflect on our experiences, talk about ways in which we can take what we have learned home with us, give and receive feedback, and enjoy each others’ company. Hopefully some of the pieces of the puzzle will start to fit together and a picture of your time in China will emerge.
Back to Kunming Airport. We’ll fly back from whence we came!
Looking forward to meeting you all soon!
Longyun, Madeleine and Ian