China: Chinese Language & Traditions

Language and Cultural Discovery

Learn or improve your Chinese while exploring bustling cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Explore the Great Wall and Forbidden City. Experience rural China through homestays.


July 3, 2018




Community Service


Physical Activity

Rugged Travel



Program Description

This Experiment takes you from vibrant Beijing to the grasslands of inner China. In Beijing, you will deepen your understanding of China’s history through visits to important cultural sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. You’ll have the opportunity to mingle with locals, sharpen your Chinese language skills through formal classes, check out folk music and acrobatic performances, taste fresh foods in local markets, and prepare a typical Chinese meal. You’ll learn even more about China through close interaction with Chinese peers who will join you for part of the program.

Travel by overnight train to inner China, also known as Inner Mongolia, where you’ll see the sun rise over the grasslands, meet herdsmen, taste Mongolian food, and learn about Mongolian culture. Your Experiment continues in the city of Chengde, where you will take Chinese (Mandarin) lessons and bike to nearby palaces and temples during your homestay.

Practice your Chinese language skills during your stay in the Han rural village, Buyang-zhuang, accompanied by your Chinese peers. Together, you will hike scenic mountains and visit the historic city of Qufu, the hometown of Confucius. The program concludes with three days of exploration and reflection in Shanghai, where you will visit sites such as the nearly 500-year-old Yuyuan Garden, Old City, Longhua Buddhist Temple, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a language certificate noting the number of hours of language classes completed.






July 3, 2018 - August 2, 2018 (4 weeks)

Program Fee:


(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:


Depart/Return City:

Los Angeles


Beijing, 3–4 days


Chengde,* 6–8 days; Buyangzhuang,* 5 days

Other Accommodations:

Hotels, hostels, and gers

Sample Itinerary

    Days 1–3

    Orientation in Beijing

    • Learn about the history and culture of China
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions
    • Begin Chinese language practice
    • Walk Beijing’s historic hutongs (narrow streets lined with traditional courtyard residences)
    • Visit sites of interest such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, and the Temple of Heaven

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Days 4–8

    Excursion to Inner Mongolia (Thematic Focus)

    • Ride an overnight train from Beijing to Inner Mongolia
    • Visit Mingsha Shan (“Singing-Sand Mountain”) and go sand skiing
    • Participate in discussions on modern Chinese history
    • Attend lectures on the history, religions, and culture of Inner Mongolia
    • Enjoy a dinner of Mongolian food and a bonfire party
    • Observe athletic events including horse racing, horseback riding, and wrestling

    During this period, you and your group will stay in yurts.

    Days 9–16

    Urban Homestay

    • Do activities with your host family
    • Take Chinese language lessons
    • Practice Chinese language conversation with your host family

    Thematic Focus

    • Participate in cultural exchange activities and play sports with Chinese students
    • Visit local markets and nearby villages
    • Assist in preparing a Chinese meal
    • Attend a concert of Chinese folk music
    • Bicycle to sites of interest such as small Potala Palace, Big Buddha Temple, Hammer Peak, and Pule Temple
    • Visit museums and parks

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample community: Chengde

    Days 17–18

    Travel in Beijing and Tai’an

    • Visit and have lunch at the Great Wall near Beijing
    • Travel to Tai’an and prepare for your rural homestay

    During this period, you and your group will stay in centrally located hotels.

    Days 19–23

    Rural Homestay Accompanied by Chinese Students from the City

    • Do activities with your host family
    • Explore the village
    • Practice Chinese conversation
    • Learn about agrarian lifestyles and help village residents work in the fields
    • Visit a nearby mountain village
    • Play basketball with village students
    • Climb nearby mountains such as sacred Mt. Tai

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample community: Buyang-zhuang

    Day 24

    Excursion to Qufu Accompanied by Chinese Students (Thematic Focus)

    • Tour the city
    • Visit the free market
    • Visit Confucius Temple
    • Attend a concert of ancient Chinese music
    • Bicycle to Confucius Forest

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Days 25–28

    Reflection and Wrap-up in Shanghai

    • Meet with Experimenters from the China: Ethnic Minorities and Contemporary Culture program and share learning experiences
    • See an acrobatic show
    • See sites of interest such as Yuyuan Garden, Old City, Longhua Temple, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Nanjing Road (Shanghai’s main shopping street), The Bund (a famous waterfront area in central Shanghai), Xintiandi district, and Shanghai Zoo
    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

    During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hostel.

    Day 29


    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Emerson Gale

    Born to a family of traveling art teachers based in rural New York, Emerson Gale enjoyed the fruits of cultural discovery from a young age. Attending craft conventions across the US as he grew up, Emerson developed a fascination for multicultural education and leadership. After graduating high school, he studied political science and philosophy at Syracuse University. During his junior year, Emerson lived in China for six months as an international relations and Mandarin scholar as well as an English teacher for underprivileged migrant students in Beijing and Shanghai. He delivered his honors program thesis on education in China.

    Also a citizen of the UK, Emerson then served a year with City Year London as a full-time mentor and tutor for high school students. After City Year, Emerson spent a year building living willow structures in partnership with local communities at schools and parks throughout the US. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the California Institute of Integral Studies. In addition to being very passionate about arts in education, Emerson delights in exploring the great outdoors, composing music with friends, and baking tasty treats with his mum.

  • Julia Gooding

    Raised along the scenic coast of Maine, Julia graduated from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, with a degree in Asian studies and Spanish. Julia was then awarded a Fulbright scholarship to China, where she conducted research on contemporary Buddhist practice. She has since traveled between the US and Asia in various capacities. Julia worked at a Manhattan-based China labor rights NGO, ran educational exchanges in Taiwan and China, and consulted with American schools on international admissions and partnership programs. Returning to study at Harvard Graduate School of Education, she received an EdM in international education policy in 2012. Julia now runs an international student program at The Harvey School in Katonah, New York.

    Julia’s passion for travel began as an Experimenter in Costa Rica in 2002. She then spent a gap year after high school in Latin America and India. Her extensive adventures in Latin America, Europe, and Asia include organic farming in Norway and Japan, a semester of study in Spain, and teaching English in a prison in Nicaragua. In addition to Julia’s global interests, she enjoys running, cooking, meditation, and adding maple syrup to everything.

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2018

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the China: Chinese Language & Traditions program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2018, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring 2018, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

  • Participant Handbook
  • Parent Handbook
  • Health Guidelines
  • Personal Funds Abroad
  • Accident and Sickness Insurance
  • Packing List

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2017, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.