The Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) Experience...
"Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) is a great opportunity to experience and holistically learn about Chinese culture. During the six week program, my Chinese improved more than it did when I took a year of Chinese class in the US. This program is one of the highlights of my college experience." - Olivia Thomson '17 | Biology
"My time studying in Kunming expanded my understanding of how social issues are interconnected between the US and China. I met a ton of amazing people and gained a community of Whitties to connect with through our common experiences. It was an event that solidified my own moral obligations to my community." - Taylor Carlson '17 | Politics
Founded in 2001, the Whitman Summer Studies in China (WSSC) program is a six-week, six-credit 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.
June 12, 2017 thru July 26, 2017
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 region 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 student body of over 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.
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: History of Ethnic Interactions in Yunnan - 2 credits
- Instructor - Brian Dott, Associate Professor of History
- This course is a general introduction to the history of peoples in Yunnan. Yunnan is the most ethnically diverse province in China and one of the last to be put under central administrative jurisdiction. In the course we will examine interactions between different ethnic groups in Yunnan from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) up to the present through reading both primary and secondary sources. Classroom work will be supplemented with field trips to important cultural and historic sites in Kunming and in the northwest part of the province. In addition, classes and field trips will include lectures and discussion of general trends in Chinese history from late imperial times up to the present.
Brian Dott is a professor in the History Department and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program at Whitman. He is an expert in late imperial and modern Chinese history. Professor Dott will draw on this expertise in the seminar class for the program and in the various program trips. Past experience leading Whitman student groups to China include the WSSC program in 2008 and on three occasions leading Silk Road field courses.
Zhao Wencui is Senior Adjunct Instructor of Whitman's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Professor Zhao has taught Mandarin Chinese at Whitman for 10 years, and prior to that taught at Yunnan University where the WSSC program is located for 17 years. A native of Yunnan Province, Prof Zhao earned her BA at Peking University and MA at Yunnan University. She has co-led numerous Whitman study programs in China. Her responsibilities include assisting WSSC students with non-academic concerns and overseeing the Language Partners and Friendship Families.
Chinese Language Partner
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 a 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. Typically 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 2017 the group will visit Beijing enroute to Kunming, China's dynamic capital city, and examine its historic landmarks. 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 towns such as Dali, Lijiang and Zhongdian in the Yunnan Province to learn about various ethnic communities, their history and culture.
Program participants will live in a guest house on the Yunnan University campus or hotel adjacent to the campus. The rooms are basic, compact double bedrooms with a private bathroom. The facilities will be different from Whitman residence halls. For example, students may need to hand wash and line dry their laundry. 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' housing providing Chinese dishes and snacks at a reasonable price. Numerous small restaurants serving Thai, Korean and Chinese cuisine surround the campus, as well as western-style eateries.
WSSC welcomes applications from all Whitman undergraduate students who:
- have successfully completed at least 2 semesters of college-level Mandarin Chinese language (prior to departure for China, June 2017). Students who have not taken Mandarin Chinese at Whitman may fulfill the language prerequisite by having taken Chinese language in high school, or are heritage speakers of Chinese with some formal training in reading and writing (such as Saturday Chinese School). These students must consult with Professors Donghui He or Wencui Zhao for a language assessment.
- are in good academic standing
- will be a continuing student in Summer 2017 (May 2017 graduates are ineligible)
How to apply
To apply to Whitman Summer Studies in China 2017, you will need to submit the materials below. Please note that your application will not be reviewed until we have received all of these materials.
- Financial Aid portion of the WSSC Application completed by Financial Aid Services
- November 28, 2016
- Applicants will be interviewed by the Faculty Directors as part of the selection process after the application deadline.
- The program fees for the Summer 2017 program will be announced in Fall 2016. (Program fees for the Summer 2015 program were $4,200.) The program fee covers the following:
- Housing accommodations
- Meal stipend
- Chinese visa fee
- Medical insurance in China
- Pre-departure orientation on campus and in-country orientation in Kunming
- Group travel within China, program excursions and field trips
- Course textbooks
- The program fee does not cover international airfare to and from China, passport fees, U.S. medical insurance, or incidental expenses such as laundry, stationery items, souvenirs, entertainment or independent travel. International airfare is separate from the program fee and estimated at $1,600-$2,000. A group flight option will be available.
- Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $500 no later than January 17, 2017.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
- Full and partial need-based scholarship aid is available. The Whitman Summer Studies in China program is fortunate to have substantial scholarship funding available through the generous support of the David Deal China Exchange Endowment. We encourage all applicants who feel they may need financial assistance 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 eligible to apply 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.
"Studying in Kunming with WSSC was the highlight of my 4 years at Whitman. Making dumplings with my friendship family, exploring downtown with my fellow Whitties and new Yunnan friends, dancing with locals in nearby villages-- everything was new and exciting. And I'll never forget how capable I felt when by the end of the trip I could actually plan my own travel entirely in Chinese." - Lauren Benedict '17 | Biology
"Whitman Summer Studies in China 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 '15 | Politics