qiān lǐ zhī xíng，shǐ yú zú xià
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
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: 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 early afternoon on the 28th we will fly out of LAX and begin the first part of our journey to the Middle Kingdom.
June 29th/June 30th: Beijing 北京 / Kunming 昆明
Transit in Beijing before we 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 – Morning 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.
Afternoon July 3rd – July 11th: Kunming 昆明 (Urban Home Stay)
On the afternoon of July 3rd, we will drive back to Kunming and settle you into your urban home stay. You will start your urban home stay experience that night. From July 4th to July 11th, days will look like this:
Mornings will see us meeting up at classrooms in our Kunming Program House. We’ll begin the days with short meetings followed by intensive Chinese lessons with professional Chinese teachers. The group will be split into relevant language levels. 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 short, but some possible things to explore are Tea culture, 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 busy day to day lives.
12th – 15th July: Trek
On our way to our rural homestay we will take some time for a trek. We are still in conversation about which exact spot would be best, but before our rural homestay we believe a moment together as a group in nature would fit nicely into the flow of our course.
July 15th – July 24nd: Bangdong Village (Rural homestay)
Next we will journey to the beautiful and remote Bangdong Village where we will begin our immersive rural homestay experience. We are joined by professional language teachers from Kunming who will be with us throughout our stay in Bangdong. 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 production, visit local markets, and immerse ourselves fully in village life.
Mornings will begin early and be spent taking intensive language classes. 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 and 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. We will also arrange some group activities, from film viewings, to games, to discussion groups.
July 24th – July 25th
Say goodbye to your homestay families and the community in Bangdong Village. We’re headed back to Kunming!
July 25th – July 28th: Beijing 北京 (Transference)
The last few days of the trip will be spent in a small village at the foot of the Great Wall just north of Beijing. We’ll stay at a small guesthouse run by a former Beijing cook and his family. Needless to say, we’ll enjoy some great final meals and good conversation 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.
July 28th: Fly home
Early evening bus to Beijing airport. Return to the United States to begin a whole new set of adventures!
Now that you have an idea of how the course will pan out, and some of the areas we will be traveling through, check in soon for other posts on packing for this itinerary, appropriate clothing, pre-course assignments, and more! Be sure to post any questions right here.
Your instructors 😉
Qianping, Zhaoling & Marcus