Proctor in China is a four-week culture and language immersion trip for Proctor students interested in experiencing cultural immersion, developing their Mandarin language skills, and earning one full year of language credit toward their graduation requirements. For this summer's group of eight students and two faculty members, Mandarin teacher Jon Beard and Admissions Counselor Ilyena Kozain '10, the past month of once in a lifetime experiences will certainly take time to fully appreciate.
Students traveled through southwestern China to the town of Shangri-La in northwestern Yunnan Province, east of the Himalayas on the Tibetan plateau. Yunnan province, in particular, is a fantastic area to explore because of its enormous cultural diversity, historical significance in terms of trade, and its relative remoteness. In addition, the town of Shangri-La itself is a cultural crossroads due to its proximity to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and 80% or more of the residents of Shangri-La are Tibetan. Once in Shangri-La, students lived with home stay families who spoke Mandarin and have children roughly similar in age to them.
Students also participated in four hours of language classes each weekday, and of course had countless opportunities to practice their Mandarin in markets, with their home stay families, and with friends. During the weekends, they embarked on various exciting excursions, including a five-day trek around Kawagarbo Mountain, one of the mountains considered most sacred and holy by the Tibetan people. Each day, the group met to reflect and share thoughts and feelings about all that they experienced. Through our group meetings, group excursions, and classes, students are supported in and can get the most out of their home stay experiences. The news of faculty member Dave Pilla's unexpected passing while the group was abroad elevated the need to draw near as a team and support one another.
Students share reflections on their month in China below, and be sure to read more blog posts from Proctor in China HERE!