China and Vietnam

(May 13 – June 10)

posterTo fully understand China, it should be experienced through an insight into its many different sides, its many different faces, most of which are rarely explored by foreign visitors. From the modern metropolises of Beijing, which almost all Western travellers frequent, to dozens of medium-sized cities in the country’s interior where far fewer outsiders visit, to thousands of  smaller traditional villages spreading across the vast countryside, which are relatively less visited by Westerners, the  opportunities of China are plenty. In fact, one of the most fascinating parts of China is the Himalayan Plateau which covers over one third of the country and is home to dozens of isolated and ancient cultures. Many of these places are off-the-beaten-track. This journey will take students to all these places: from Beijing in the East, to Kunming in China’s interior heartland, to small rural villages and a variety of remote mountain towns in the Chinese Himalayas.  The program begins in Beijing and relocates to Kunming for almost two weeks. The last week is spent first in Hanoi, Vietnam and then in Hong Kong, China.

  • Beijing – sightseeing capital at Great Wall, Tian’anmen Square, 798 Art District
  • Visit Kunming in Western China – 10 days of service learning and exploring
  • Travel for 5 days in mountain towns of the Himalayas
  • 4 days in Hanoi, Vietnam exploring the center of the new Vietnam
  • Stop-over in Hong Kong exploring the old British colony now in hands of Chinese

The cost of the program, which includes everything, for those taking 6 credits is $6,245 for those in Track 1 and $6,445 for Track 2.  For students enrolled in 9 credits, the cost is $6,995 for those in Track 1 and $7,195 for those in Track 2.

cityThe majority of this program will be based in Kunming, which is the capital of Yunnan, China’s most geographically and ethnically diverse province. The city is famous for its year-round, spring- like weather, clear air and gorgeous parks. Here, during some weekdays, students will attend classes offered by their faculty. During some weekday afternoons, they will also participate in classes on Survival Chinese, which are offered by the faculty of our partner university, Yunnan Arts University. During some weekday mornings in Kunming, some students will participate in volunteer service learning activities in local non-profit organizations, while other students will attend classes on Chinese medicine, offered by seasoned practitioners in the field of Traditional

Chinese Medicine. In Kunming, during some evenings, students will participate in Chinese Martial Arts Classes. As an integral part of the program, students will also have the opportunity to visit various sites of historic and cultural interest of the city in order to understand the basic tenets of Chinese culture including the Dynamic Yunnan acrobatic show.

Towards the beginning of the program, students will visit Beijing, one of the most historic yet modern cities of China. It will be followed by a visit to Kunming, where the majority of the program willwall be based in. Students will be led to Yunnan’s north to a string of Himalayan towns and villages famous for their history, strong ethnic minority culture and scenic beauty. This will include Lijiang, known for its exhilarating scenic beauty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shaxi, a traditional farming village on the ancient Tea and Horse Road, and the historic walled city of Dali. Students will then head to Jianshui, a city steeped in history, which will lead them straight to Vietnam. Students will have the chance to explore some of the fascinating, historic sites of Vietnam such as Sapa, a beautiful, quaint market town, Hanoi, the home to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Museum and his Stilt House, and Halong Bay, famous for its emerald blue seas hemmed in by karst limestone hills. They will end their program with a trip to Hong Kong, where they will explore various interesting landmarks. This trip will be conducted by Maryville alone without Minds Abroad.

Academic Activities:class

2014 Maryville China Program has two tracks:

  • Volunteer Service Learning Teaching    English Track (Track 1) 
  • Volunteer Service Learning Working With Children With Autism Track (Track 2).

Track 1: Volunteer Service Learning Teaching English

In Kunming, during some mornings, participants will teach English to students in non-profit organizations that are devoted to helping children from a variety of disadvantaged backgrounds including homeless children, the children of the migrant workers, and children from economically challenged ethnic minority groups. These groups are from extremely economically disadvantaged areas and many people belonging to these groups migrate to Kunming in search of a better livelihood. Teaching English can be a rewarding experience, especially when it succeeds in instilling crowdpassion for the language in these children. By teaching basic English to these disadvantaged children, participants will indirectly give them the skills that they need to escape poverty. Through this activity, participants will not only have an excellent opportunity to immerse themselves in Chinese culture but will also learn about community and developmental issues in a typical Chinese city.

Track 2: Volunteer Service Learning Working With Children With Autism

serviceStudents can choose to participate in a service learning opportunity, providing assistance to a local organization working with children with autism.  Finally, students will complete a research project of choice, taking a closer look at one aspect of Chinese medicine or disability culture in China.


 Students take either 2 or 3 courses, depending on their own course. All will take Language and Chinese Culture.  If enrolled in 9 credits, students will also take “Exploring the Culture of China and Vietnam”. In addition, students will take one other course from the remaining list.

  • Language and Culture (Chinese professor) – required course

 The purpose of this class is to give students the basic Chinese language skills they need to more fully enjoy and experience their time in China. Knowing basic Chinese will not only enable them to do tasks like order food and ask where the bathroom is, but will also give them the confidence and skills they need to interact with Chinese people on a daily basis. Classes on Survival Chinese are castlemainly intended for absolute beginners or those who know just a few words in Chinese. Emphasis is placed on tone differentiation and pronunciation as well as survival language skills so that students face no difficulties in communicating with the local Chinese people on a basic level in their “day to day” lives in China. Students after taking these classes will develop the confidence to successfully complete daily tasks, while they are in China. The Survival Chinese classes are offered by the highly experienced faculty of our partner university, Yunnan Arts University. These classes will mainly stress on reading, writing, listening, speaking and

developing these skills through discussions and hands-on training sessions that will bring students closer to the Chinese culture.

  • Exploring the Culture of China and Vietnam (James Harf – Maryville) – suggested course if taking 9 credits

streetThis 3-credit course allows students to prepare for and reflect upon a wide range of both group and individual excursions during their month-long program in China and Vietnam.  Students will keep a daily journal, where they will describe what they observed and participated in that day.  They will reflect on what lessons they learned about the Chinese/Vietnamese cultures and how these lessons impact their understanding of their own culture.  The journals will also include other reflections on their observations and activities.

  • Digital Photography (Scott Angus)

 Students will explore the rich visual culture of China, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Students will master various functions of digital cameras and create professional images that can be sold, collected or published. The class is focused on guided walks that showcase the vibrant and colorful spirit of this country. Students will have the opportunity to document important cultural sites such as the jungleForbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Himalayas, and the Great Wall and make editorial comments on the history, culture and visual design of the city. They will also stay in a time-warp, scenic village that will give them endless opportunities to click photos.  Students are expected to graduate with a portfolio of professional images that are equal to those published in National Geographic and the Smithsonian Magazine. They will also create a blog, as a part of this course, where they can exchange their ideas and viewpoints with their fellow students. This is rare opportunity for participant students, some of whom will be passionate explorers in future. They will get to capture amazing images in a place that is steeped in beauty and mystery. Students are expected to carry their own cameras with them all the time, as every moment of this journey will give them the chance to capture their experience.  There is clearly a difference between a tourist and an explorer. An explorer is an open-minded, ever curious and enthusiastic scholar learning new ways of being through his/her experiences of travel. The objective of this course is to enable students soak in the cityscapesmell, taste, feel of a country, which is so different from where they come from, to observe its people and their ways of living closely and explore its megacities as well as traditional villages so that they learn more about its history and cultural quirks. Almost everything, the way the students eat, live, sleep, shower, dance, will be different in China and the job of a passionate explorer would be to capture these experiences. This course is not about taking shots of typical tourist spots that we call kitsch, but instead about finding new ways to illustrate the powerful zeitgeist of China.  The aim of this coursework is to help students learn about the culture of another country through taking photographs. This is primarily accomplished in three stages: the pre-departure stage, while they are in their host country and the post-departure stage. In the pre-departure stage the students will acquaint themselves with the culture of their host country mainly through extensive academic research and secondary sources such as study materials and photographs in relation to that particular culture and country. When they are in their host country, students will get in direct contact with its culture and people by taking numerous photographs on their subjects and interacting with local people. When they will return to their home country, the world in a new light.

  • The Culturally Competent Communicator:  Increasing Cross-Cultural Competencies While Trekking Across China and Vietnam (Leilani Carver – Maryville)

From hiking the ancient Great Wall of China to understanding the importance of Dragons in Chinese mythology, to politely greeting Asian business executives, to understanding the ritual of a tea alleyceremony, this course will help students increase their levels of cross-cultural understanding and effectiveness with individuals and groups from East Asia.  Increasing cultural competency is especially important due to the rise of China’s economy, their population of 1.35 billion people and the rise of multi-national organizations. We will be seeing some of the most beautiful, scenic and culturally significant places in China and Vietnam.  As we experience these places, you will be learning firsthand about Chinese language, beliefs, values and norms. Come join the exciting journey with experienced Maryville Professors who have lived and worked in China and Vietnam.

  • Chinese Medicine and Cultural Perspectives on Disability and Illness  (Eliza Prager:  occupational therapy – Maryville)

Students who take this course will gain an appreciation for the history and practice of Chinese medicine.  Class time will be spent learning the theory behind Chinese medicine and observing the practice of herbology, acupuncture, and cupping by local practitioners.  Students who take this course will accompany Chinese medicine physicians on grand rounds, observing triverhe clinical reasoning behind patient diagnosis and choice of therapeutic modality.  In addition, students will gain a basic knowledge of the cultural perspective towards people living with a disability or illness in China, and the medical and community resources available to persons with disability.  Students can choose to participate in a service learning opportunity, providing assistance to a local organization working with children with autism.  Finally, students will complete a research project of choice, taking a closer look at one aspect of Chinese medicine or disability culture in China.

  • Cultural Comparison of Value Patterns and Gender Roles:  China and the U.S. (Lisa Schreiber — Millersville)

In order to develop a deep, multifaceted understanding of communication within cultural groups it is necessary to explore a culture’s worldview.  The focus of this travel course will be a comparative exploration of Chinese versus U.S. cultural patterns and gender roles which will provide a lens through which to understand cultural variability, self-identity, and communication.  Students will wall2learn how people from China and the U.S. differ in their value orientations, beliefs, approaches to learning, approaches to problem solving, their views of gender, and in their views of power relationships.  All of these factors have a profound influence on the way that we communicate, and if these differences are not anticipated, they can interfere with our ability to adapt to one another.  This course will help students of culture and students of business better understand their own perceptions and behavior and will move them toward a better appreciation of Chinese worldview and communication codes.

Academic Travel

As a part of this program, students will visit fast growing metropolises and sites steeped in history and culture. We believe this diversity of excursions not only gives participants a balanced boatperspective on a rapidly modernizing urban China, but also on rural society where the majority of the people in China still live. Some of the places of interest that students will visit are large metropolises like Beijing and Hong Kong as well as Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shaxi, a magical mountain village, Dali, a historic, walled city, Jianshui, a historic city with a long-standing history, Hanoi, the charming Vietnamese capital, Sapa, a market town with a tribal patchwork and breathtaking scenery and Halong Bay, a World Heritage Site famous for its karst limestone hills. From Vietnam, students will head to Hong Kong for three days.

The program price includes the cost of activities that are listed as part of the program, in addition to airfare, local transportation, in-country transportation. These activities include:

  • Survival Chinese Class
  • Chinese Martial Arts Class
  • Cultural Activities
  • Service Learning
  • Academic Excursions
  • TCM Classes (Only For Track-2)
  • Volunteer Service Learning
  • Shared Modern Apartment Accommodation
  • All Meals During The Days Of The Program
  • A Cell Phone, SIM Card, And A Small Initial Credit For In-Country Calling In China
  • Unlimited Public Transport (Via Buses) For All Program Activities While In Kunming
  • Detailed In-Country Orientation Within The First Few Days Of Arrival
  • 24/7 Staff Support Throughout The Program,
  • Land Transportation To Sites Listed In The Program
  • Tickets To Cultural Sites And Cultural Performances Listed In The Program


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