Service Learning and Minority Villages – 22 Days

In this itinerary students will visit some of the major sites in China, experiencing both bustling metropolis’ and quiet villages seemingly trapped in time. They will be immersed in Chinese family life, and act as cultural ambassadors during their service project. Each day will have set learning objectives, along with activities and goals that will guide the students through their journey.

Service Learning and Minority Villages – 22 Days
Service Learning and Minority Villages – 22 Days
Service Learning and Minority Villages – 22 Days
Service Learning and Minority Villages – 22 Days

USA – Beijing

Flight from USA to Beijing


Arrive in Beijing. Dinner near hotel.


Up the Meridian Line from 天坛 to 天安门: We’ll start the morning at the Temple of Heaven where students will be able to participate in morning exercises with the locals. After visiting the temple we will have a group lunch at a small restaurant featuring typical Beijing dishes. Afterwards we will go north to visit one of the largest squares in the world, Tian An Men square. Finally we’ll pass through the “heavenly gate” and visit some of the 9,999 and ½ rooms of the Forbidden City where the emperors dating back to the Ming Dynasty used to reside. Dinner will be as a group in a Beijing dumpling house in the hutongs (old Beijing alleyways.)

Beijing-Chengdu (Sichuan)

Journey to the West: We leave on an early morning flight to Chengdu Sichuan. Upon arriving we will go to the Wenshufang monastery, and learn a bit about Buddhism and its arrival in China. Students will then try their hand at ordering the famed Sichuan “snacks” like “Dan Dan Mian” and “Chao Shou” for lunch before participating in an afternoon scavenger hunt. Dinner will be at the birthplace of “麻婆豆腐” (Grandma’s tofu) and will be a mix of Sichuan stir frys.


Daoism vs Buddhism: In the morning we’ll visit the Green Ram Daoist Temple. Said to be the birthplace of Lao Tzu, we will discuss with students the differences between Buddhism and Daoism, and let them draw comparisons as we explore the shrines. In the afternoon we will have another Sichuan specialty for lunch, FenZhenRou ( steamed pork with a rice flour coating) after which students will test their bargaining skills in the flea market. Finally the late afternoon will be spent in the People’s Park where Chengdu locals come to dance, play cards, and most importantly drink tea! Dinner as a group near the hotel.

Chengdu -Zunyi (Guizhou)

Into the karst mountains of Guizhou: We’ll start out early to take a bullet train to Zunyi, Guizhou. We will have a group lunch in town to discuss any last minute questions students may have about their home stay experience, or any cross cultural concerns they may have. In the afternoon we will meet at the partner school and do some icebreaker games before students head back with their host families to their homes.

Zunyi Homestay

Homestay: Students will live for one week with a Chinese family. Zunyi is not a major tourist city so the students are able to get into the rhythm of daily life with their families. The town is a model green city and very clean. It is largely dominated by the central river and pedestrian streets so it is very safe as well. During the homestay, students will spend their time either attending class with their host sibling, or going on cultural excursions as a group. Each student will be paired with a host sibling their same age and gender, and all meals will happen with the host families. Cultural excursions during this portion of the program include: Visiting the Sea of Tea where students will pick tea with the local farmers, visiting Hai Long Tun, a 9th century fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and climbing to the top of Jin Ding mountain, a Buddhist temple where we can learn more about the monks hermetic lifestyle.

Zunyi – LiPing Service Project

Service Learning and Guizhou Minority Culture: We will convene at the partner school to say goodbye to our host siblings before taking a second bullet train to LiPing, the Dong Minority center of China. The Dong are one of 55 ethnic minorities adding to China’s amazing diversity. They are famed for their traditional Drum Towers, (village meetings are still regularly held in these structures to decide important village matters) and their polyphonic singing which finds its way into work, meal time, and everything in between as a way of expressing themselves. LiPing will be the site of our service project, a one week English summer camp for Chinese students living in the villages in this remote part of Guizhou. Students will have worked throughout the course of the school year with TIE educators to design and implement a summer camp. Each day will be roughly 3.5 hours in the morning and 3.5 hours in the afternoon.


Dong Minority Culture: We will end our service project by visiting the largest of the Dong minority villages, Zhaoxing, and the secluded village TangAn which sits perched on top of rice paddies. We will enjoy a Dong minority show where students will be able to hear the traditional songs and reflect on their time here before the journey home.

LiPing – Beijing

The Trip Home: We will start early to begin travel back to Beijing, with a short train ride, followed by a flight back to the capital where we will pack our bags and begin preparing for the travel home.

Beijing – USA

Fly Home!

The estimated cost for this 15 day trip is $3200-$3500, depending on final international flight taxes and fuel surcharges.
What’s Included:

  • All international and domestic airfare
  • All meals
  • All local transportation, including but not limited to, domestic flights, trains, and charter buses.
  • All centrally located hotels, based on twin shares, except during the family stay portion of the program.
  • Travel Insurance for all participants
  • 1 TIE Trip Leader
  • 1 Additional TIE Chaperone for every 12 participants

Up to 4 meetings with a TIE expert at your school to inform and assist parents and students with everything they need to know prior to travel including;

o insurance, health, safety, and connectivity

o visas and visa applications

o cross cultural communication and what to expect in the homestay

o day of departure and packing, as well as any other concerns that parents or students may have prior to travel.

What’s not included

  • Visas $140 (if participants apply in person at the consulate, use of a third party will increase this amount)
  • Vaccinations (the CDC recommends typhoid for certain parts of China. This is not required, families will need to decide with their health provider what is best for them.) $90-$200 (depending on the health provider)