China Semester

South of the Clouds

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

Enroll
Duration
84 Days
Description

Study Mandarin, trek on the Tibetan Plateau, delve into the complexities of the world’s most populous nation.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2020


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2019


Fall Availability

four spaces

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

38 Weeks

Fall Begins In

17 Weeks

Land Cost

$15,200


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

For-Credit Course Option

In order to deepen your experience abroad, you may elect to enroll in a college-level language course while participating on the China Gap semester program. Those who enroll in an optional course will be invoiced additional fees on top of the land cost, as noted below.

For-Credit Course Fees (1 course)                        Type
$800 Transcript Fee 
$400 For-Credit Academic Fee 
$1,200 TOTAL COST 

 

Students who take a course for-credit will receive a transcript from Dragons School of Record after successful completion of the program.  To read more about the for-credit courses visit our FAQ Page.

Academics

The optional for-credit language course is worth 4 semester credits and is offered at a variety of levels. Included below are course descriptions for the language courses available:

Mandarin Language Study Level I, II & III (CHIN 150/250/350; 4 credits) 

  • CHIN 150: Mandarin I 
    (Chinese Language 150; 4 credits) This course introduces students to standard Mandarin Chinese language and is designed for students with no or minimal previous background in spoken or written Mandarin. Students in this course focus on learning essential vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, and understanding simple grammatical structures. This knowledge prepares students to effectively communicate in Mandarin on a limited range of topics related to everyday situations. Students practice listening and speaking in real-life situations, learn to read and write Chinese characters, and examine how culture and language interact in China. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the oral proficiency and confidence necessary to initiate simple conversations. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.
  • CHIN 250: Mandarin II 
    (Chinese Language 250; 4 credits) This course introduces students to more challenging standard Mandarin Chinese language material in order to establish a solid foundation for the use of the language. Students in this course focus on building on past language exposure to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students expand their oral expression abilities by increasing vocabulary, improving understanding of grammar concepts, strengthening pronunciation abilities, focusing on listening comprehension, and building on previously studied Chinese characters. This course introduces new language concepts to allow students to speak about topics pertaining to their daily lives and also focuses on deepening knowledge of Chinese culture and customs. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to engage in basic daily conversations, read simple texts, and write for daily needs. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the ability to appropriately use language and improve proficiency. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.
  • CHIN 350: Mandarin III 
    (Chinese Language 350; 4 credits) This course is designed to develop advanced skills in standard Mandarin Chinese language and is intended for students with extensive prior exposure to the language. This course focuses on consolidating linguistic knowledge and development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students in this course will develop advanced comprehension of and competence in using spoken Mandarin in a wide-variety of experiences. Grammatical functions will be reviewed and incorporated as they relate to particular communication needs. A mix of communicative and interactive methods are used to develop advanced proficiency and materials are drawn from a variety of media sources and texts. In addition, students develop their understanding of the relationship between the Chinese language and culture. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to express sophisticated and nuanced ideas both orally and in writing.  Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

In addition, you may petition to take an additional for-credit course in order to earn a total of 8 semester credits. Other courses which may be available upon petition, include Regional Seminar, Independent Study Project (ISP): Methods and Application, or Intercultural Development and Global Citizenship. Contact us with questions about for-credit course options, to learn about registration deadlines, or for copies of sample syllabi.

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
Homestay

5-6 weeks of urban homestay in Kunming, one or two rural homestays in Yunnan, Qinghai 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

3 to 5-day trek in the mountains of western China, numerous day hikes and/or additional multi-day treks depending on student interest.