Whitman Summer Studies in China
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.
The 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.
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 200 foreign students per year.
June 13 - July 24, 2013
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.
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.
AsnS 200: Summer Seminar in Chinese Studies: Introduction to Yunnan Peoples and History
Instructor - Chas McKhann, Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, Whitman College
This course provides a general introduction to the peoples and history of Yunnan Province. Site of the Whitman Summer Studies in China Program (see also Chn 110 and 210), Yunnan is the most ethnically diverse province in China, and among the last to be incorporated into the former empire. This seminar will introduce students to the major ethnic divisions in the province, their cultural differences, and their histories of interaction with each other and with the Han Chinese. We will also cover provincial geography, and the history and architecture of the capital city, Kunming. Regular field trips in and about Kunming during the first four weeks of the program will be followed by an intensive two week tour of northwest Yunnan, where we will learn first hand about Bai, Tibetan, Naxi, Pumi and Yi ethnic groups. This year's trip will include discussion of issues related to development-especially tourism and hydro dam projects-and their impact on local cultures and the environment.
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.
Academic travel is incorporated into the seminar course. In 2013 the group will visit a major city, such as Shanghai, enroute to Kunming. 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 10-12 days to various parts of the Yunnan Province to learn about conservation challenges first hand, including water and river conservation, habitat conservation, and energy and development issues.
The Faculty Director of the program is a Whitman professor who accompanies the group to China and provides oversight for the academic program while in China. In 2013 the Faculty Director will be Dr. Chas McKhann, Professor of Anthropology at Whitman College. Dr. McKhann has led the Whitman Summer Studies in China Program twice before in 2001 and 2011 and has been doing research in Yunnan and Sichuan since the early 1980s.
Professor McKhann received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992. His field of research is the cultural history of Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups in southwest China--especially religion, social organization, art and tourism among the Naxi of Lijiang. His current project is a study of the religion and science of David Graham, an American missionary-anthropologist who lived and worked in southwest China 1911-1948. Dr. McKhann's regular courses include Chinese Society and Culture, Chinese Religion, Anthropology in China, and Peoples of the Tibeto-Burman Highlands.
Professor Zhao Wencui of Whitman's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures will serve as Assistant Director of the program. She is a native of Yunnan Province. Professor Zhao has taught at Yunnan University for 17 years and at Whitman College for 5 years. Professor Zhao oversees the Language Partners and Friendship Families and assists students with non-academic concerns.
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.
Requirements for admission into the WSSC program include the following:
- Completion of at least 2 semesters of college-level Mandarin Chinese language
- Minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.8
- Status as a current student at Whitman College
Applications for the Summer 2013 program are due November 28, 2012 and can be downloaded by clicking HERE. Students will be notified about acceptance in December.
The fees for summer 2013 are estimated at $4,000. 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 $1200-$1500 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.
Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 within two weeks of acceptance.
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.
In past years scholarships ranging from $500-$4400 have been awarded to students to enable them to participate in the WSSC program. Scholarship awards are based on financial need and academic merit.
Questions about scholarship opportunities for this program should be directed to the Off-Campus Studies staff in Mem 204.
Comments From Past Participants
"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, 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, Summer '11 Participant
"I gained a greater understanding of China from major cultural differences. China has very different standards for government, academics, beauty, social life, and food than the United States, for example some of us ate chicken feet, considered to be a delicious snack in China... Also, I learned about China's environmental problems for the first time, as we saw and experienced smog and other forms of pollution and then met with some of the Chinese people who are trying to work out solutions."
—Sarah Anderson, Summer '06 Participant
"This experience gave me a much better understanding of China than I had had before. It was particularly helpful and interesting studying in China because we were able to immediately apply what we were learning in the classroom. Because we studied Chinese in Kunming and traveled in the Northwest Yunnan Province we were able to experience both city and rural life as well as understand some of the differences both linguistically and environmentally."
—Chantal Stieber, Summer '06 Participant
"Going to China taught me that people are basically the same the world over, and that nationalistic fervor and predudice has no place in the 21st century. Perspective, perspective, perspective....people speak about the Whitman bubble but they fail to acknowledge the American bubble, which is infinitely more harmful because it sets a bad example of stubborn, selfish nationalism for other countries. Though the Chinese people were fairly positive about America, they taught me to see the shortcoming's of the "American dream". Hopefully being back in the U.S. won't lead me back to complacency. I hope you will consider taking time to participate".
—Jonathan Rue, Summer '06 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.