As one of the four ancient civilizations of the world, China holds a long rich heritage. From the Great Wall of China to pagodas, grottoes, and karsts, there are a plethora of wonderful sites to see on a school trip to China. To date, China has 56 sites listed on UNESCO’s World rich Heritage Sites list, a number beaten only by Italy, which has 58 World rich Heritage sites. We are privileged to open your students’ eyes to such a beautiful country. Our itineraries are always designed with experiential learning in mind to bring your students the most holistic learning experience possible.
China is a must-see country if you want to incorporate cultural learning into your school’s curriculum. Since China’s travel restrictions were lifted in January, more than 676,000 people have been traveling both inbound and outbound on a daily basis. Even so, it is still less than 50% of pre-pandemic levels. So if you would like to experience a more comfortable school trip to China, now is the time to start thinking about it! Keep reading to learn more about WildChina Education’s approach to school trips as well as how our trips will help your students explore China’s rich heritage.
What are experiential school trips?
At WildChina Education, our approach to school trips involves stimulating experiential learning. Learning outside of the classroom is just as important as learning inside a classroom. In fact, both types of learning go hand in hand. School trips help reinforce what students have learned and shape their knowledge in context. Our school trips to China are designed to give your students an immersive experience that can also promote better information retention, a renewed sense of learning, and life-long skills.
During a school trip, information is presented in a way that can produce a stronger emotional reaction than when students are in the classroom. Generally, information is held onto best when it is presented in a way that peaks students’ interests, especially in younger children. School trips can also help students develop interpersonal skills and many other soft skills. Also, you never know what one small experience can do to shape a student’s future. They may find that they are interested in things they never thought to explore before.
Local experts like Dr Neil Schmid leading our Dunhuang (敦煌, dūn huáng) Discovery: Desertscapes and Grottoes program will provide your students with little-known facts about the locations you visit. Having studied East Asian Studies at various universities around the world, he now specializes in Silk Road and Buddhist Studies with an emphasis on the archaeological sites of Dunhuang. He lives very close to the Mogao Caves and is currently compiling Dunhuang’s findings into “The Comprehensive Guide to Scholarly Resources for Dunhuang Studies.” On this school trip to China, students will get to see fascinating sites such as the Cresent Moon Lake, Mingsha Sand Dunes, Mogao Grottoes, and Yadan National Geological Park.
Brief background on ethnic minorities in China
Yunnan (云南, yún nán), Tibet (西藏, xī zàng), Guilin (桂林, guì lín), and Guizhou (贵州 guì zhōu) are the Chinese provinces with the most ethnic diversity. There are 56 officially recognized ethnic groups in China. In reality, there may be more, because many ethnic groups have been officially recognized despite applying for recognition. According to the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, the Zhuang people are the largest ethnic group in China, followed by the Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, and Yi people. The main religions among ethnic groups in China are Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism), Protestantism, Shamanism, Animism, Taoism, and Dongba.
The Lisu ethnic group (傈僳族, lì sù zú) consists of more than 600,000 people and are mostly in Yunnan and Sichuan (四川 sì chuān). They speak a language that belongs to the Chinese-Tibetan language family and has been using a specialized alphabetic script since 1957. Buckwheat, sorghum, lacquer trees, and sugarcane are some of the crops grown by the Lisu people. The mountains inhabited by the Lisu people are lush with dense forests, rare animals, and medicinal herbs.
One of the ethnic groups that reside in Tibet is the Lhoba ethnic group (珞巴族 luò bā zú), which only has a population of less than 3,000 people. The Lhoba people also live in Mainling, Medog, Lhunze, and Nangxian counties in southeastern Tibet.
The aforementioned Zhuang ethnic group (壮族, zhuàng zú) has a population of more than 16 million and most of them live in Guangxi (广西, guâng xī), speaking the Zhuang language. As an area known for rich heritage like karst topography, there are many vertical rocky peaks, enchanting grottoes, and subterranean rivers. In this subtropical environment, the Zhuang people grow crops like bananas, longan, lichee, and pineapple. This area is also rich in Chinese cinnamon, Chinese gecko, fennel, and fennel essence, which are the Zhuang area’s specialty products.
The Shui ethnic group (水族, shuî zús) has a population of 400,000 and they reside in Guizhou and Guangxi. Their region has an abundance of rice, fish, citrus fruits, and medicinal herbs. The language they speak belongs to the Zhuang-Dong branch of the Chinese-Tibetan language family, although they used to have an archaic writing script. The Shui people have lots of oral literature and art, including poetry, legends, fairy tales, and fables, which are usually highly romantic. Grand Songs are sung while they work whereas Wine Songs are reserved for wedding feasts and funerals. They also make beautiful embroideries, batiks, and woodcarvings.
Cultural Immersion & Service in China’s Ancient City: Dali
This school trip to China brings you on a 5-day journey through Dali, Yunnan. This Ming-era town is a rich heritage situated between Cang Mountain (苍山 cāng shān) and Erhai Lake (洱海湖, êr hâi hú). In ancient times, it used to be the chief city of Yunnan and the Nanzhao Kingdom’s capital. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the Nanzhao Kingdom stood up to the imperial Chinese armies. During your time in this ancient city, you will get to visit the local mosque, make flower hats, and take a Kung-fu lesson.
Upon arrival in Yunnan, you will be welcomed with Yunnan Cuisine. On the second day, students will take a Kung-fu lesson and make flower hats. That afternoon, take a cable car up Cang Mountain to enjoy the view of Qingbi Stream. Your students will get a chance to learn rich heritage Chinese characters while playing human-sized Chinese Chess. After some teambuilding and survival challenge activities, students will have a Muslim-style dinner and visit the Mosque.
On day 3 of this school trip to China, students will participate in a community service project, a Master Chef competition, and a tie-dye activity. They will also learn how to weave bamboo baskets, the process of Xizhoubaba, a popular street food in Dali, and take an evening walk in the Dali ancient town to see the Bai people dance.
On the last full day of your school trip to China, students will learn rich heritage like Fengyi pottery with traditional dragon kilns and engage in a painting activity. One last activity students will do is an educational treasure hunt, which is filled with cultural immersion and team-building activities.
More school trips to China that include cultural learning
In our Pingyao: China’s UNESCO City school trip to China, your Program Leader will take you all the way back to a city that was founded in the 14th century. Games and group activities will allow you to immerse yourself in the imaginary lives of magistrates from eras past. While you are at the Pingyao Ancient County Hall, you will learn about the county’s government and the magistrate’s daily activities and even their diets. At the Confucian Temple, students will receive a mix of experiential and cultural learning as they learn how to do traditional paper cutting and explore the temple.
As a way to give your students a new perspective on suburban China, our Fujian: Ocean Sustainability & Adventure program is filled with cultural and historical significance. Aside from zip lining, via ferrata rock climbing, and BBQ dinners under the stars, your students will also learn about Tulou (土楼, tû lóu) history and culture. While you are staying at guesthouses, you will get a chance to pick vegetables with local families and learn how to cook local cuisine in a local Tulou home.
Yunnan, known for its diverse ethnic culture and breathtaking landscapes, is another ideal Chinese province for cultural learning. During your school trip to China, you will be hiking through Tibetan and Yi herder camps to learn about the history and culture of Tibetan muleteers. Your students will also get to learn how to properly back a mule.
Ready to plan your school trip to China?
No matter which province you would like to see on your school trip to China, we have unique and tailored programs for whatever you are looking for. Since inbound travel has only recently opened up, now is the time to start planning your school trip to China. Our guides are not only excellent storytellers, but they can also provide insights only locals possess. Have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out. Our Academic Managers are reachable by phone or email. We are looking forward to chatting with you!
Sources: Exploring the Rich Heritage of Ethnic Minorities in China