Dear Students, Parents and Friends,
So…the time is nearly upon us… when we finally get dust off those backpacks, say our goodbyes to loved ones and place those first tentative steps on our amazing journey together. No doubt you’re filled with a mix of emotions at the moment -from trepidation to excitement. So…please feast your eyes on our itinerary for the first 6 weeks!
August 31: Arrival in Kunming! After your long flight we’ll check into Lost Garden Guesthouse. This will be a slow day where we orient you a little to Kunming and the program, explore the beautiful Green Lake Park and make a visit to Yuan Tong Si Buddhist Temple, before allowing you all to get a good night’s sleep after your long journey.
September 1-3: Kunming Orientation – We’ll spend the first few days in and around Kunming so you can get to know the city where you’ll be spending the majority of your time over the next 9 months. We’ll introduce you to your new home from home and give you the low down on all the best restaurants in town! We’ll also visit some significant cultural, educational and religious sites in keeping with orientation and our course themes. In the Spring City we will be delving into orientation and building our group culture/daily norms/best practices including:
September 4-6: The Journey Begins and delving into local culture! – We’ll set out on the 4th by bullet train and bus to arrive at Shibao Shan in Jianchuan county. This stunning area of local beauty is famed for its stunning mountain hugging temples, breathtaking landscape and the Shizhongshan Grottoes.
Here we will delve deeply into the Bai Ethnic group’s culture, taking in the amazing Bai Ethnicity Song festival and learning all about their cultural practices. We’ll also be learning to sing and dance, Bai style! We will have a unique opportunity to start observing Buddhist practices up close while spending two nights at Baoxiang Temple – a famed ‘cliff-hugging’ temple.
September 7-9: Shaxi Cultural Center – After leaving the wonderful Bai people and temple life, we’ll trek for 4-5 hours down to the scenic river town of Shaxi, stopping along the way to see the Shizhongshan Grottoes, as well as taking in an important stop on the old Tea Horse route, where we can delve into discussions on China’s ancient trade routes and Xi Jin Ping’s new and improved 21st Century project.
In Shaxi, we’ll set up home at the Shaxi cultural center where we will continue to orient you to China and Yunnan, each other, Dragons, and your personal journey. Meanwhile, the cultural center will become your comfy place for experiential language lessons, scavenger hunts, and other fun and practical activities.
September 10-16: Shangril La and Yading Nature Reserve – We’ll hit the road again and travel up to the Tibetan town of Shangrila, on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in Yunnan. Here we will start learning about Tibetan Buddhism from local monks and local Tibetan experts. We will discuss culture as commodity and the positive and negative effects of tourism in Shangrila, and learn the reasons why this town decided to change its name from Zhongdian. In Shangrila we will continue to build our group identity and learn about each other and the program.
After acclimating in Shangrila, we’ll board local buses and head to the truly stunning Yading Nature reserve in western Sichuan’s Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture where, for three days, we will trek through the most jaw-dropping scenery.
September 17- October 2: Nanyue Village Rural Home-stay – Here we will put down our backpacks for two weeks and immerse ourselves in Tibetan culture during our rural home-stay; we’ll take part in our first Learning Service project within the village, and learn about the motivations, pitfalls and rewards of service work through the lens of international development. You’ll have time to spend with your home-stay families, helping around the home and learning through living with Tibetan families. Once our time in the village comes to an end, we’ll board local buses to Chengdu and take a train back to Kunming to begin transition back into the Spring City.
October 3-10: Back in Kunming we’ll rest up a little after our epic journey and start to get oriented to the place you’ll be living for the majority of your time. You will meet your amazing home-stay families(!), begin intensive Chinese Language Classes at local Universities,take part in Independent Enrichment Activities and begin to transition into work placements with your NGOs! We’ll also take time to explore the city and local areas of interest on bike rides in and around Kunming.
We certainly hope this piques your interest and whets the appetite for an amazing program in China!
We can’t wait to get started and come together as a whole group in Kunming.
The Instructor Team