Hello Language Six Students!
In less than a month, we will embark on our summer adventures together. As we eagerly await your introductions here on the Yak Board, we want to present you and families and friends with a proposed itinerary for our summer course in China! It will continue to change—as your instructors work with local contacts, book transportation and get to know you better from your application materials—but the main components will remain the same. We’ve thought hard about this itinerary, and we know it will set you up to interact with amazing mentors, to learn a bunch of practical Chinese, to see beautiful places, to struggle through discomfort, to challenge your concept of what China is about, and to enrich your life. We invite you to be part of something that will be educational, transformative, adventurous, challenging, and fun for both you and the communities we interact with.
Our aim is to help each and every student achieve their goals and for us to foster an environment that enables you all to grow as individuals, on every level. Each of you will have a personal journey, but each of those journeys will intersect with Dragons’ curriculum, which seeks to engage the ideas of Global Citizenship, Awareness of Self, and Leadership & Skill Building (fondly known as GAL). Each destination, itinerary decision, activity, and discussion is chosen in part to engage with GAL. This framework is one of the things that will allow you to transform a collection of experiences in China into meaningful learning about the world and your place in it.
Again, this itinerary is subject to change. This flexibility is one of the things that’s going to make our course awesome and like no other course that’s come before or will come after. You aren’t purchasing a package tour. You’re being invited to participate deeply in moments in time in unique places with people we have long-term relationships with. You’re being invited to share people’s homes and people’s lives and to experience all the adventure that entails. This is a great opportunity, and we can’t wait to be part of it with you. So here it goes!
June 28th/29th: Los Angeles 洛杉矶
Arrive in LA 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 evening (technically, early morning of the 29th) we will fly out of LAX and begin the first part of our journey to the Middle Kingdom.
June 30th: Kunming 昆明
Transit in Hong Kong and we will land in Kunming, the City of Eternal Spring and the provincial capital of Yunnan, the land South of the Clouds in the afternoon. We’ll take our first steps into China together, gather our bags, and then head a little way outside of Kunming to begin our orientation.
June 30th – July 3rd: Kunming area 昆明近郊 (Orientation)
As we recover from jet lag, we’ll get ourselves ready for the journey to come. Apart from some survival Chinese lessons, this is the space for us to lay the foundation to build a supportive group culture, learn about how to best stay safe and healthy in China, and discuss the kind of participation we need to model in order to derive as much as we can from such a short, intense collection of experiences.
July3 – July 15th: Jixiang (Rural Home Stay)
Your mornings will begin early and be spent taking intensive language classes with Chinese teachers. The group will be split into relevant language levels. Following language classes, you will return home to your home stays and practice your new language skills over lunch with your lovely families.
You’ll spend your time practicing new language skills, hanging out with your families (possibly toiling in the fields), organizing pick-up basketball or soccer games, and wandering the village. The pace of life will be slower here, and you’ll need to work to remain engaged with locals even when struggling to understand the local dialect of Mandarin. You won’t always know what’s going on, and sometimes it will seem like nothing at all is happening. But it’s within these seemingly empty moments that you begin to understand and participate in others’ realities. Keep your eyes and ears open and keep yourself motivated to learn and you’ll benefit immensely from our time in the village.
We will also have lectures, guest speakers, and other activities that will help us learn about life in rural China more generally. What are the challenges people facing? What do the kids dream of? How do people make a living? What is their relationship with nature? What is the local political structure? How do people find their way in a small corner in China, a vast country in the middle of an era of unbelievable, blisteringly fast change? Start thinking about the questions you want to ask.
Return to your home-stay families for a thoughtfully prepared evening meal and spend your evenings in their company.
July 16th – 24th: Expedition Phase
Students will be responsible for planning our travel and trekking for these 9 days. In the past, students have designed “expeditions” in such places as Dali, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shaxi, and Shangri-la. Students will begin planning for this part of the course during our homestay in Jixiang.
July 25th-August 4th: Kunming (Urban Home Stay)
Mornings during this part of the course will see us meeting up at our beautiful classrooms located on a residential building in a typical neighborhood. We’ll begin the days with short meetings followed by intensive Chinese lessons with professional Chinese teachers. After class, you’ll have lunch at all the best local spots.
Afternoons will be dedicated to your ISPs, guest lectures as well as group and solo excursions. Our time in Kunming will be shorter than Jixiang, but some possible things to explore are Tea Ceremony, calligraphy, Kung Fu, traditional musical instruments, Chinese cooking and more!
Evenings will be spent with your home-stay families cooking, helping out, cracking jokes, and watching TV. We may also arrange some activities.
In Kunming you will be with your home-stay families and they absolutely love taking you to various cool spots in and around the city or just having you participate in their hurry-scurry lives.
August 4th- August 8th: Beijing 北京 (Transference)
The last few days of the trip will be spent in a small village near Beijing as we begin the last section of our trip, transference.
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, hike up to an unrestored section of the wall, and enjoy each other’s company. Hopefully some of the pieces of the puzzle will start to fit together and a picture of your time in China will emerge. We’ll try help you take that picture and place it within the collage of the rest of your life so that this trip continues to be part of you even when it’s just a memory.
August 8th: Fly home
Early morning bus to Beijing airport. Return to the United States to begin a whole new set of adventures!
For your convenience, here is a brief breakdown of the tentative itinerary:
Orientation Outside of Kunming: 6/30 – 7/3
Rural Home-stay in Jixiang Village: 7/3 – 7/15
Travel/trekking in Yunnan: 7/16 –7/24
Urban Home-stay in Kunming: 7/25 – 8/4
Kunming to Beijing flight: 8/4
Transference in Beijing: 8/4 – 8/8
Depart Beijing: 8/8
Ross, Ben and Patricia