One of the most memorable travel experiences at SYA China is the two-week trip to Yunnan province, held each spring, which is located in the extreme southwest of China. Each year, students endure a 34-hour train ride south to immerse themselves in life outside of Beijing. The geography of Yunnan is as diverse as its people, with the Tibetan plateau to the north, rain forests to the south and elaborately-terraced rice paddies in the east. During their trip, they encounter much of Yunnan’s diversity—living in villages, visiting markets and even trekking
along the renowned ‘Ancient Tea Horse Road,’ which links Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet, stretching across Nepal and India.
During this trip, SYA encourages students to extend themselves by using their language skills to meet and learn about local people and their lives. Each year there are students who gain a tremendous amount from educational travel and they become good travelers because they engage in their surroundings.
SYA China’s first stop was at the capital, Kunming, where they enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere in comparison to their every day life in the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Kunming is one of the safest cities in China and is referred to as the “Spring City’ as it almost always has perfect weather.
After a three-day stay in the capital, they made their way to Jian Shui, a quaint, ancient town in Honghe Prefecture of Yunnan Province, which has over 100 temples, large residences and academies of classical learning.
The rest of their time was spent exploring local markets, hikes leading to some of Yunnan’s most beautiful regions known for their ethnic diversity, spending nights in the homes of the villagers and becoming part of the culture with traditional dances and singing around night time bonfires.
Educational travel is an essential part of SYA’s high school study abroad curriculum and an important way to help our students understand a China that is both impossibly large and amazingly diverse. SYA's trips are designed to give our students an in-depth look at parts of Chinese culture that are unknown to all but the most seasoned traveler.
SYA China student, Owen Greenwood, from Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, put together a video below highlighting their two-week adventure across southwest China.