Whitman Summer Studies in China

The WSSC Experience - read more stories at the bottom of this page.

"WSSC was a more fulfilling experience than I ever could have imagined. Spending six weeks getting to know one specific area in another country made a lasting impression on me – more so than visiting a number of places for a brief period of time. The people of Kunming lived up to their reputation of being some of the friendliest in China, which made returning home to the U.S. extremely difficult – leaving my new friends behind.  I think one of the best aspects of the trip was the amount of freedom given to the students. It made me feel as though I was actually living in Kunming as opposed to being on a field trip. Going out and interacting with people by myself or with just a few friends was fantastic language practice." - Tom Shellum, Major: Politics, Summer '13 Participant

"Before this trip, I was nervous about my Chinese language skills since I only took it for a year. However, the class size was small and the teacher was very dedicated. I feel like I'm ready for second year Chinese!" - Amy Ishida, Major: Psychology, Summer ’13 participant

Program Summary

Founded in 2001, the Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) program is a six-week academic program administered by Whitman College in cooperation with Yunnan University in Kunming specifically for Whitman students interested in Chinese Studies. The purpose of the program is to give students an opportunity to study conversational Chinese intensively in an environment where it can be put immediately into practice, as well as a chance to learn firsthand about Chinese culture and contemporary society by living and studying there.

Location

Park with a Statue of MaoThe WSSC program is located in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in China's southwest. Kunming is a city of 5 million set in a valley beneath the Western Hills and known for its year-round spring-like climate. While the city is rapidly modernizing, one can still find pockets of "old Kunming" such as the traditional architecture of some of the city's Buddhist and Daoist temples. Yunnan Province itself offers tremendous opportunities for understanding various cultures within China. The province is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in China with 24 different ethnic minorities represented. The province is also strikingly beautiful with everything from towering mountains adjoining Tibet in the north to lush jungles bordering Laos and Vietnam in the south.

Host University

Yunnan University is a comprehensive, national university founded in 1922 with a current study body of approximately 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Whitman students attending the program will study at Yunnan University's Center for Chinese Studies, which specializes in teaching Chinese as a second language and hosts about 700 foreign students per year.

Calendar

June 15 - July 28, 2015 (tentative)

Academic Program

The academic program is intensive and designed for students who are serious about improving their spoken Chinese language skills and eager to learn about Chinese society firsthand. Program participants are required to enroll in a 4-credit language course, either Chinese 110, Chinese 210, or Chin 310 and a 2-credit seminar in Chinese Studies for a total of 6 credits.

CHN 110: Conversational Chinese I - 4 credits

Instruction - This course will be taught by a Chinese language instructor from Yunnan University. It is an intensive conversational Chinese course based on the vocabulary and sentence patterns the students have learned from Chinese 105 and 106, plus new phrases the students will need living and studying in China. Classes meet 3 hours per day, 5 days per week for a total of 60 hours.

Prerequisite- Chinese 106 or its equivalent and admission to the Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) Program.

Learning farming practices

CHN 210: Conversational Chinese II - 4 credits

Instruction - This course will be taught by a Chinese language instructor from Yunnan University. It is an intensive conversational Chinese course based on the vocabulary and sentence patterns the students have learned from Chinese 205 and 206, plus new phrases the students will need living and studying in China. Classes meet 3 hours per day, 5 days per week for a total of 60 hours.
Prerequisite -
Chinese 206 or its equivalent and admission to the Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) Program.

CHN 310: Conversational Chinese III - 4 credits

Instruction - This course will be taught by a Chinese language instructor from Yunnan University. It is an intensive conversational Chinese course based on the vocabulary and sentence patterns the students have learned from Chinese 305 and 306, plus new phrases the students will need living and studying in China. Classes meet 3 hours per day, 5 days per week for a total of 60 hours.
Prerequisite
- Chinese 305 and 306 or its equivalent and admission to the Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) Program.

Artisan DemonstratingAsnS 200: Summer Seminar in Chinese Studies: Social Issues in a Transforming China - 2 credits

Instructor - Susan Holme, Director of Off-Campus Studies

This course will examine contemporary issues facing China today such as urbanization, the evolving one-child per family policy, aging population/social security, and education reforms.  To take advantage of our locale, we will focus on how these issues manifest themselves in the city of Kunming and in rural Yunnan Province.  Readings will cover contemporary issues as well as an introduction to Chinese history since the Opium Wars to provide participants with a framework for analyzing the current social challenges and political debates in China.

Special Features

Lunch with Language Partner Chinese Language Partners
One special feature of the WSSC program is the Chinese Language Partner component, designed to give students an opportunity to practice their Mandarin Chinese on a regular basis with a Chinese college student. Each Whitman student is paired with an undergraduate student at Yunnan University. During their meetings twice per week, the students are expected to speak primarily in Chinese and encouraged to visit interesting sites together in the city, such as the wholesale flower market or a local tea house.

Chinese Friendship Families

A second special feature of the WSSC program is the Friendship Family program, which is intended to facilitate cultural understanding. One or two WSSC students are assigned to a Chinese family (usually a professor from Yunnan University and his/her family) with whom they get together once per week for a family activity, such as a home-cooked Sunday dinner or making a day trip to the countryside to visit relatives. This part of the program gives WSSC students a unique opportunity to witness contemporary Chinese family life.

Smiling in ChinaAcademic Travel

Academic travel is incorporated into the seminar course. In 2015 the group will visit Shanghai enroute to Kunming to examine the impact of rapid urbanization in China's most dynamic city. During the four weeks of intensive language study at Yunnan University in Kunming, the seminar lectures are augmented with field trips in the Kunming area. At the end of the program, the group will travel for approximately 10 days to various parts of the Yunnan Province to learn about social challenges in rural areas including the impact of tourism.

Staff

Susan Holme and Wencui Zhao will lead the 2015 program.  Susan Holme is director of Off-Campus Studies at Whitman College.  She has overseen study abroad at Whitman for 20 years and co-led Whitman Summer Studies in China in Summer 2006.  Susan began travelling to China in 1982 and is fascinated by the incredible transformation China has made in the past 30 years.  After completing her MA in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley and prior to working at Whitman, Susan served as Faculty Resident Director of World College West’s study abroad program in Shanghai and in Taipei.

Professor Zhao Wencui is an Adjunct Instructor of Whitman's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.  She is a native of Yunnan Province. Professor Zhao has taught at Yunnan University for 17 years and at Whitman College for 7 years. Professor Zhao oversees the Language Partners and Friendship Families and assists students with non-academic concerns.

Housing and Meals

Lunch in China

Program participants will live in the Foreign Students' dormitory or in a guest house on the Yunnan University campus. The rooms are basic, compact double bedrooms with a private bathroom. The facilities will be different from Whitman residence halls. For example, hot water for showers may only be available evenings in the residence hall and clothes dryers are not available. Students attending this program will need to be flexible about their living environment.

Students are provided with a weekly meal stipend for purchasing their meals and may choose from a wide variety of places to eat around campus. Yunnan University's student cafeteria is conveniently located near the students' residence providing Chinese dishes and snacks at a reasonable price. Numerous small restaurants surround the campus, including some offering western-style meals.

Eligibility

Requirements for admission into the WSSC program include the following:

  1. Completion of at least 2 semesters of college-level Mandarin Chinese language
  2. Minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.8
  3. Status as a current student at Whitman College

Applications

Applications for the Summer 2015 program can be found by clicking HERE.  Completed applications are due Tuesday, December 2, 2014 and must be submitted to the Off-Campus Studies Office. Students will be notified about acceptance in December.

Cooking in a kitchenFees

The program fees for the Summer 2015 program will be announced in Fall 2014.  (Program fees for the Summer 2013 program were $4,400.) The program fee covers the following: tuition and room, meal stipend, orientation in Kunming, group travel within China, program excursions and field trips, medical insurance in China, course textbooks and visa fee. International airfare is separate and estimated at $1400-$1800 and a group flight option will be available.

The program fee does not cover airfare to and from China, passport fees, U.S. medical insurance, or incidental expenses such as laundry, stationery items, souvenirs, entertainment or independent travel.

Enrollment Deposit

Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 within two weeks of acceptance.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Full and partial need based scholarship aid is available. The Whitman Summer Studies in China program is fortunate to have a substantial scholarship program funded by the generous support of the David Deal China Exchange Endowment. We encourage all applicants who feel they may need financial assistance to in order to participate in the program to complete the financial aid application that accompanies the WSSC application form.

Please note that students who have received financial aid previously for China trips through the David Deal Endowment, such as Archaeology in/of China or Silkroads, are not eligible for further funding from this endowment. Questions about scholarship opportunities for this program should be directed to Susan Holme, Director of Off-Campus Studies, Mem 205.

Comments From Past Participants

Drinking Tea

"WSSC was a more fulfilling experience than I ever could have imagined. Spending six weeks getting to know one specific area in another country made a lasting impression on me – more so than visiting a number of places for a brief period of time. The people of Kunming lived up to their reputation of being some of the friendliest in China, which made returning home to the U.S. extremely difficult – leaving my new friends behind.  I think one of the best aspects of the trip was the amount of freedom given to the students. It made me feel as though I was actually living in Kunming as opposed to being on a field trip. Going out and interacting with people by myself or with just a few friends was fantastic language practice." - Tom Shellum, Major: Politics, Summer '13 Participant

"Before this trip, I was nervous about my Chinese language skills since I only took it for a year. However, the class size was small and the teacher was very dedicated. I feel like I'm ready for second year Chinese!" – Amy Ishida, Major: Psychology, Summer ’13 participant

"After 6 years of learning Chinese, it was fantastic to actually be in China - learning directly from Chinese teachers and the Chinese locals.  The Language Partners we met with during the weeks at Yunnan were a hi-light of the program for me, along with the academic travel in Yunnan Province at the end of the program." -  Woody Jacobson, Major: Politics, Summer ’13 participant

"WSSC, through exposure to incredible new experiences and emphasis on individual, personal cultural immersion, provided a deeply immersive step into the daily lives of individuals and communities living in the China of today. From traditional dancing to drinking butter tea to seeing what happens behind the walls when the old town is torn down to make way for the new, each moment in the program was unique and full of personal impact. WSSC is what you make it, providing incredible opportunities that are just a starting point for exploring whatever you are passionate about. I could not recommend it highly enough."  – Anna Stutz,  Major: Politics, Summer '13 Participant

"One of the things I learned during WSSC is how diverse China is. I liked learning more about the ethnic minorities and visiting the Dongba priests, because those are some topics better learned in person through the people. It was also nice to see China's forests, temples and parks because it taught me that there is more to China than just its rapid urbanization." - Eduardo Vazquez, Major: Art, Summer '13 Participant

"Whitman in China Summer Studies is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I had the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable scholars who devote tremendous amount of time and effort in preserving minority cultures in China. After I spent a night in Naxi village and experienced Naxi’s unique cultural practices, I came to appreciate scholars’ passion and hard work in preserving these magnificent cultures. Now, I am motivated to join their team and make a difference as well.” -  Xialing Ann Chen, Major: Film & Media Studies, Summer '11 Participant

"Regarding my improvement in Chinese, I think that this program helped me immensely! I went right after my first year of Chinese, and it really helped me develop a solid foundation for listening and speaking. When I returned to the 200-level class next semester, I realized how much I was able to understand from hearing it the first time! It was great!" - Jane Carmody, Major: Politics, Summer '11 Participant

This program is funded by the David Deal China Exchange Endowment created from the generous gift of an anonymous donor in honor of David Deal, Professor of History.