Crossroads Shanghai (China) is a 3.5-week, 4-credit academic course administered by Whitman College in cooperation with CIEE Shanghai located on the East China Normal University campus, focused on education, linguistics, and second language learning. 
The purpose of the program is to give students the opportunity to study educational philosophies and practices across two distinct cultures. To accomplish this, we will spend 2-3 days of preparatory study at Whitman's Johnston Wilderness Campus outside of Walla Walla immediately after finals end in the spring semester.  Then in June the group will engage in three weeks of intensive study and field work in Shanghai, China and the surrounding area.

Program Dates

  • May 16-18, June 4-26


  • Shanghai, a vibrant city of 23 million, is situated on the banks of the Huangpu River on China's eastern seaboard. Home to some of the best schools and universities in China but struggling to educate an enormous migrant population, Shanghai is an ideal location for studying China's educational practices.  The city is also a major financial and cultural center for China whose residents are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and openness to the outside world. 
  • The program will be administered in cooperation with CIEE Shanghai on the East China Normal University (ECNU) campus, a university that specializes in the training of teachers.  ECNU is located on a beautiful park-like campus within the city.  Participants will be able to access the city center and Shanghai's major attractions easily from the campus via subway and public bus. CIEE (The Council on International Educational Exchange) is a US-based study abroad provider founded in 1947.  

Tentative Itinerary*

  • May 16-18: Intensive preparatory studies and overnight stay at Johnston Wilderness Campus outside of Walla Walla
  • June 4: Depart from Seattle
  • June 5: Arrive in Shanghai
  • June 6-25: Intensive coursework, school site visits and field studies in Shanghai
  • June 26: Depart Shanghai and arrive in Seattle

*These are anticipated dates, which will be finalized when the optional group flight has been booked.

Who is this course suited for:

  • This course is suitable for any Whitman student with interests in education or linguistics, including international students studying at Whitman. Knowledge of Mandarin Chinese is not required. 
Course Title: LING 300/COMP 300 Second Language Acquisition in China and the USA
Credits: 4 credits
Counts as:

Humanities or Cultural Pluralism general education distribution | No Chinese language is required

Course Objectives:

  • to gain a basic understanding of dominant theories of second language acquisition.
  • to reflect on cultural and linguistic differences between the US and China and their effects on education, especially in regards to writing.
  • to gain a deeper understanding of the Chinese educational system.
  • to gain experience tutoring second-language learners of English.
  • to have deepened cultural self-awareness, Chinese cultural literacy, and cultural bridging skills.
  • to have deepened awareness of cultural influences on education.
  • to develop a personal educational philosophy.

Special Program Features:

  • Opportunities to tutor English Language Learners at East China Normal University.
  • Weekly programming with a local migrant school, working with children.
  • Two-day excursion to a town/city outside of Shanghai.
  • Multiple co-curricular and cultural activities, including a boat tour of the city and a visit to the National Propaganda Museum.


  • Participants will be expected to complete reading summaries for assigned course readings, a Commonplace Journal, a Final Reflective Paper and participate in all required field activities in China.

Dr. Lydia McDermott is Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking (COWS) at Whitman College. She holds a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with a graduate certificate in Gender Studies, and an MA in creative writing. Before coming to Whitman, she served as a Nonnative English Learner Specialist in the Business College at Ohio University as well as the Director of the Graduate Research and Writing Center. She has long been interested in second language acquisition and inclusive pedagogy for English Language Learners, and in her work as the Director of the COWS she prepares student tutors as well as faculty for working with these students.

CIEE Staff Assistant—A CIEE staff member will be accompanying the group on all excursions and providing program support and translation services.


During the weekend pre-course orientation at the Johnston Wilderness Campus located on upper Mill Creek in Walla Walla, participants will reside in rustic cabins and/or the main lodge.  During the three weeks in Shanghai, participants will reside in double rooms in a modest hotel close to the East China Normal University campus.


In Walla Walla at the Johnston Wilderness Campus, catered meals will be provided each day.  Participants will be expected to assist with meal set up and clean up. In Shanghai, students will be provided with breakfast each day at the hotel.  Students will be on their own for lunches and dinners and may opt to eat at one of the university's student cafeterias or at one of the many Chinese restaurants and eateries around campus.  Exploring restaurants is an excellent way to connect with an important aspect of Chinese culture.


Crossroads: Shanghai welcomes applications from all Whitman undergraduate students who:

  • are in academic good standing
  • will be a continuing student in Summer 2018 (May 2018 graduates are ineligible)
  • knowledge of Mandarin Chinese is not required
  • International students at Whitman (including those from China) are welcome to apply

How to apply:


  • Monday, November 27, 2017

Group size:

  • Space is limited to 15 students


  • Applicants will be interviewed by the Faculty Director and an Off-Campus Studies staff member as part of the selection process after the application deadline.

Program Fees:

  • The estimated program fee for the Crossroads Second Language Acquisition in China is $3,200. The program fee covers the following:
    • Tuition
    • Housing accommodations
    • Chinese visa fee
    • International medical insurance
    • Group travel within China, program excursions and field trips
    • Course textbooks
  • The program fee does not cover international airfare to and from China, meals in 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 $1,800 - $2,100.  A group flight option will be available. 
  • Meals are estimated at $550.
  • Total Estimated Costs: $5,850 (includes program fee, estimate for international airfare, and meals in China.)

Enrollment Deposit:

  • Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $500 no later than January 17, 2018.

Scholarships and Financial Aid:

  • Students with financial need are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.  A substantial amount of need-based scholarship assistance is available through the David Deal China Exchange Endowment funding.  Both partial and full scholarships may be awarded.
  • Students will be notified of their aid awards in their admission notification letter.
  • Students who have received financial aid previously for China trips through the David Deal Endowment, such as the Whitman Summer Studies in China 2017 program, 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.