China Semester

South of the Clouds

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

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Duration
83 Days
Description

Study Mandarin, trek across the Tibetan Plateau, delve into the complexities of the world’s largest economic superpower.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2018


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2017


Fall Availability

closed

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

37 Weeks

Fall Begins In

16 Weeks

Land Cost

$14,325


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,750

Beijing

Kunming

Chengdu

Xiahe

Xi'an

Program Overview

China. Few countries evoke the same curiosity and intense fascination.


With 5,000 years of history and an expansive tapestry of cultures, China offers Dragons semester students insight into China’s diversity and opportunities to form deep relationships with people and strong connections to place. We go beyond the contemporary image of China, represented by booming cities and rapid economic change, traveling also to remote wilderness areas and living with rural host families in the mountains of the southwest. By exploring little-seen sides of this vast country, we challenge many of the preconceived notions we have about China and about our home communities. Inventive travel experiences are balanced with a strong language curriculum and a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary exploration of Modern Chinese history and economic development, society, and cultural tradition.

Kunming – southeast of the Tibetan Plateau, within a day’s travel of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam – is our home for six weeks of the program. This “City of Eternal Spring” is the capital…

With 5,000 years of history and an expansive tapestry of cultures, China offers Dragons semester students insight into China’s diversity and opportunities to form deep relationships with people and strong connections to place. We go beyond the contemporary image of China, represented by booming cities and rapid economic change, traveling also to remote wilderness areas and living with rural host families in the mountains of the southwest. By exploring little-seen sides of this vast country, we challenge many of the preconceived notions we have about China and about our home communities. Inventive travel experiences are balanced with a strong language curriculum and a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary exploration of Modern Chinese history and economic development, society, and cultural tradition.

Kunming – southeast of the Tibetan Plateau, within a day’s travel of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam – is our home for six weeks of the program. This “City of Eternal Spring” is the capital of Yunnan Province, and it is an ideal base from which to explore Han Chinese/minority relations, economic reforms and development, environmental concerns, and China’s rich history. Through guest lectures, discussions and mentored community engagement, we explore traditional Chinese approaches to healing, cooking, fitness, martial arts, dance, and music. In Kunming, students live independently with Chinese host families, many of whom represent the “new middle class” within contemporary urban society. At the Dragons Program House, we gather for Chinese language study, work on Independent Study Projects, hear from visiting scholars, and cook traditional meals with fresh foods purchased at the local market.

Building on all we’ve learned and experienced in Kunming, we begin our travel phase, focusing on China’s western corridor and exploring Guizhou, Sichuan, Qinghai, Ningxia and Gansu Provinces. Each semester’s travel itinerary is different, guided by the contacts and regional knowledge of the instructor team as well as group decisions and interests. Past groups have traversed the dramatic valleys of the Hengduan Mountains in Northwestern Yunnan, through deep river valleys between snow-capped peaks, along mountain roads that connect remote Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, through ethnically Tibetan, Pumi, Lisu, Yi and Naxi areas. Others have hiked through dense bamboo forests to visit isolated mountain homes in northeastern Guizhou, where family elders look after young children whose parents have left to work as laborers in the cities. We visit Qinghai Province, historically part of the Tibetan kingdom of Amdo, living there with families who still rely on their yak herds, and learning at the feet of master tangka painters. During our travels, the student group takes on greater leadership, culminating in a week-long student planned and led “Expedition Phase.” With a broad curriculum and an itinerary designed to explore all of the variety this country has to offer, our semester program offers an unparalleled comprehensive overview of China today.

 

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Student Profile

Students who participate on this Gap Year semester program come from all different backgrounds and areas of interest. Dragons students on select Gap Year semester programs (Nepal, South America, China, and India) may choose to take courses for-credit. Four different college-level courses are available on the China semester program, although students are not required to take any courses for-credit. Students who take courses for-credit will be invoiced an additional fee at a rate of $1,200 per course.

Academics

Dragons has partnered with Naropa University, our School of Record, to offer interdisciplinary courses for-credit that extend from our Core Curriculum. Students can take 0-4 (zero to four) courses for-credit while participating on the China Gap Year semester program. Available for-credit courses on the China semester include:

  • Regional Seminar – China in Transition (ANTH 250; 4 credits)
  • Contemplative Intercultural Development and Leadership (ANTH 211; 4 credits)
  • Independent Study Project (ISP) (ISP 325; 4 credits)
  • Mandarin Language Study Level I, II & III (CHIN 150/250/350; 4 credits)

Click on the download button below to view course syllabi.

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Program Components

3/5
Comparative Religion

Introduction to Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Confucianism, Marxism, Capitalism.

5/5
Development Studies

Minority issues and status, socio-economic issues, health, land-use and environment, tourism, human rights issues, cultural survival.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Ancient, imperial and modern history, political studies, social issues in modern China, development of market economy, gender and race studies, cultural and environmental preservation, Chinese philosophy.

5/5
Home Stay

5-6 weeks of urban home-stay in Kunming, one or two rural home-stays in Yunnan, Guizhou or Sichuan villages.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

ISPs facilitated throughout program: Traditional Chinese Medicine, calligraphy, ink painting, environmental issues, Tai Ji Quan (Tai chi)/martial arts, tea ceremony, ethnic minority studies, internships with local businesses, NGOs or English schools.

4/5
Language Study

Intensive daily Mandarin Chinese instruction, options for additional one-on-one tutoring sessions and opportunities for language immersion throughout.

2/5
Learning Service

Small volunteer project in cooperation with Yunnan or Sichuan-based NGOs.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Moderately rugged: extended train and bus travel, village home-stays, bike touring, limited camping.

2/5
Trekking

5 to 7-day trek in foothills of Tibetan Plateau, 2-day Great Wall hiking and camping, options for numerous day hikes and/or additional multi-day treks depending on student interest.

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