|Dates:||July 1 – July 21|
|Arrive:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Depart:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Grade||9th, 10th,11th, 12th|
*Airfare for group flight from Los Angeles additional
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New for 2018: The ARCC China Service Program. Back by Popular Demand!
- Spend a Night under the Stars on the Famed Great Wall of China
- Assist Researchers and Biologists with the Care of China’s Most Beloved Animals, Giant Pandas
- Explore the Ancient Relics and Modern Sights of Timeless Beijing
- Discover a Colorful Mountain Culture in a Traditional Village in China’s Yunnan Province
- Teach English and Make Lasting Friendships with Eager Chinese Students
- Experience the Himalayas in Beautiful Shangri-la, “Paradise on Earth”
- Plan an Urban Adventure Day in Shanghai
- 30 Hours of Community Service
Yunnan Village Service
China’s Yunnan province is the most diverse in all of China, with over 50 different ethnic minorities groups making up this cultural melting pot. We get the unique opportunity to travel to Yunnan and immerse ourselves in the rich, colorful cultures of this province while lending a hand on vital infrastructure projects in rural villages and teaching English lessons to eager Chinese students. During our time immersed in the small village we make meaningful connections, watch our students improve their English, and learn about the diverse minority groups that have lived in this beautiful area for thousands of years.
From the modern metropolis of Beijing to rice farming villages in Western China, immerse yourself in a country where modern culture and ancient history meet. Explore the wonder of Beijing and take in the history of this ancient city while exploring famous sites such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Then soak in the grandeur of the Great Wall in a once in a lifetime experience as you set up your tent to spend the night on this ancient wonder. Leaving Beijing behind we travel to Western China, the home of the beloved Giant Panda. We go behind the scenes to assist wildlife biologists and handlers cleaning panda facilities, preparing food, and feeding this highly endangered species. Next we make our way to the foothills of the Himalayas and teach English to village school children, and help improve rural village infrastructure while experiencing some of the most astounding landscape known to man. We return to “modern” civilization as we take in the bright lights of Shanghai’s famous Bund and enjoy a final feast along the wharf, reflecting on all we’ve learned of this rich, ancient, and mysterious culture that has withstood the test of time.
Beijing Exploration & the Forbidden City
We get our first glimpse into Chinese culture as we wander through the crowded streets of Beijing observing the juxtaposition of modern and ancient. We journey back in time and explore the magnificent Forbidden City, which served as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. After spending several hours exploring this amazing complex, we visit the more modern Tiananmen Square, which was constructed in 1949 as a symbol of the People’s Republic of China. During our time in Beijing we also visit the Temple of Heaven, built during the Ming Dynasty for the purpose of offering sacrifices to heaven. As we stroll around the grounds of the complex, we witness the local people practicing various traditional past-times from fan dancing to Tai Chi, opera singing to Chinese chess. After a full day absorbing the sights and sounds of Beijing we enjoy a delicious meal of local cuisine and prepare for tomorrow’s big adventure.
Great Wall Adventure
No visit to China would be complete without visiting the iconic Great Wall. Dating back to the 5th century, the wall was built of stone and other earthen materials as a form of protection from various nomadic groups. We take a day to learn about the Great Wall’s rich history and marvel at its construction. At night we set up our tents and hammocks and get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to camp and enjoy the stars from atop this ancient wonder.
Chengdu Panda Service
Leaving Beijing behind we make our way west, flying to Chengdu to lend a hand on a very special wildlife project. Working with biologist and wildlife experts we learn about China’s beloved pandas and assist in one of the most successful and famous conservation efforts to date. Due to natural low birth rates and habitat destruction, the giant panda population had dwindled to less than 1,000 pandas in the wild; however, concerted effort from wildlife organizations around the world has resulted in panda populations slowly increasing. Chengdu is home to the world’s greatest concentration of pandas and is the epicenter of global panda conservation efforts. Here we work with an inspiring nonprofit organization and assist wildlife biologists and panda caretakers in caring for and feeding these incredible creatures.
Shangri-La and the Himalayas
Leaving our new panda friends behind, we make our way to “Paradise on Earth” to experience the colorful cultures and snowy peaks of Shangri-La. We take time to explore this beautiful village nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and visit the Songzanlin Monastery. If we are lucky, we have the opportunity to meet with the young Buddhist monks and learn about their lives at the monastery. We then visit the Zhongdian market where we see local Tibetans selling everything from yak cheese to black stone cookware. During our time in paradise, we also head to the Napa Lake area where we climb up to the yak meadows and explore our unbelievable surroundings. At night we enjoy a local Tibetan meal and head to the town square to join the locals in their cultural dancing.
Yunnan Village Service
Traveling further south we get a better understanding of the true diversity of Yunnan culture as we glimpse the many different ethnic groups that make up this unique province. Bordered by Tibet, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos, Yunnan is a melting pot of culture and tradition. We get the unique opportunity to learn about and immerse ourselves into traditional village life while lending a helping hand on important infrastructure projects and teaching English. During our time in the village we get a glimpse at a lifestyle that dates back thousands of years, make deep connections, and gain insight into one of China’s many historic ways of life.
Shanghai Urban Adventure
Leaving the beauty of Yunnan behind we arrive into Shanghai in the late afternoon and meet up with our local guide to head downtown to visit the famous Bund and enjoy a traditional dinner in Shanghai’s delicious “Shanghai Laolao” restaurant.
On our final full day in China, we explore the lively city of Shanghai, meandering through the endless narrow streets, shopping and trying our luck at bargaining for goods. By visiting sites such as the Shanghai Museum, the People’s Park, Nanjing Lu, and the Bund, we are able to fully reflect on our experience and the differences between life in urban and rural areas in China. At night we enjoy a final feast and celebrate our adventure with a memorable closing ceremony. Packing up our belongings,we say goodbye to the beauty of China and make our way back home with a lifetime of memories.
“Brooke adored her leaders. She has gone to camp and taken trips over the summer with leaders since she was 9 years old, and she was incredibly thrilled with the chance to get to know her ARCC leaders. They were far superior in every way to any leaders she has had in the past. They were kind, fun, intelligent, helpful, available, positive, enthusiastic, and genuine, she is so lucky to have had the opportunity to travel with them.”— Parent of Brooke Y., Scarsdale NY
“Olivia always returns from her ARCC trips with amazing new relationships and a stronger desire to due future service work.”— Parent of Olivia H,. Midlothian, VA
“Allison’s world vision has clearly been expanded greatly. While she was a relatively confident young woman before, I think this trip further bolstered her confidence level and her ability to relate to all the different kids in the group underscored one of her strongest traits: she is accepting and willing to get along with everyone.”— Parent of Allison W., Houston, TX
“She found her leaders very knowledgeable about China and she enjoyed learning the history. Despite being very tired, she was bubbling with enthusiasm upon her return. Thank you.”— Parent of Olivia H., Seattle, WA
“Kyle definitely expanded his horizons with this trip. His meal choices have become more mature. He recognizes, maybe for the first time, how privileged his own life is and how much help many others in the world need.”— Parent of Kyle M,. Northbrook, IL
“Both Leaders were awesome – completely professional, fun and reassuring. Thanks for the great job!”— John T., ARCC Student, Seattle, WA
“ARCC trips teach independence and self-reliance. My daughters have learned to deal with challenges and adversity on their own and in a safe environment. They have learned that they can adapt and succeed, even when way out of their comfort zones. They have made friends, and they have seen and done things that I know they wouldn’t have otherwise seen or done.”— Parent of Maggie G., Coppell, TX
What is the packing list for this program?
Each program has a specific packing list that has been designed to fit the program’s activities, length, climate and cultural differences. Please click here to view the China: The Great Wall to the Himalayas packing list.
What will the weather be like in China?
In China, the weather can vary from very hot climates to more mildly cool climates up in the higher altitudes in Shangrila (some nights it can get as low as the high 50’s). Please pack according to the ARCC packing list; we have taken these climate variations into consideration.
What are the service projects like?
This summer we will be visiting several communities in China and working on different service projects that reflect the needs of the local community. Through our in-country partners ARCC has close ties with several different communities in China, and through these connections we have been able to assess where our help is needed the most. There are several types of projects we will engage in to get the best and most well rounded experience possible: volunteering with pandas at the panda breeding center in Chengdu, teaching English to school children with little access to spoken English, helping farmers in a village in rural China, and working on various infrastructure projects that are needed in a rural Yunnan village. Through these projects we will not only help the communities we are visiting, but gain a new insight into the beautiful culture and peoples of China.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling to China?
ARCC recommends that you take some health precautions before your trip to China, which are the same as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When you enroll in the program, you will receive more complete information on pertinent travel vaccinations and immunizations. Please also refer to the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website. Our leaders carry a full first aid kit, and are all certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR).
Where do we sleep?
During this adventure we sleep in a variety of accommodations: quaint guest houses, simple western style hotels, hostels, and an on-site bunk house at our panda service project.
How will we travel once we arrive in China?
While in China we will travel to each location using various means of transportation. We travel between Beijing, Chengdu, Shangrila, Lijiang, and Shanghai using one of the national airlines of China. For charter to villages and between activities we will use private charter vehicles.
What is the food like?
We will have a chance to sample the incredible and diverse traditional dishes served throughout the different regions of China. While staying in rural host communities, we are presented with a wide spread of traditional options, ranging from vegetarian stir fries, soups, noodles, and a variety of different types of fresh meat and fish. While the variety is widespread, each meal is also presented with the staple food of the region, white rice! When we are not staying in villages, we eat out at restaurants. Many of these have both the option for Chinese food, as well as for Western cuisine such as pizza, pasta, hamburgers, and so forth.
How much spending money should I bring?
For our China program we recommend you bring anywhere from $50 – $75 additional spending money per week, a total of $225. You should bring this money in the form of cash (small bills are best) and also bring an ATM/debit card with you. China uses the “Renminbi” (RMB) or “Yuan” (CNY) as currency and there are approximately 6.5 RMB/CNY to every US $1.
As with any international program, we strongly recommend talking to your bank about your travel plans and its international withdrawal policies to avoid any surprise fees or card cancellations.
Do I need a passport to go on this program?
Yes. ARCC requires that all students traveling to China have a valid passport. Please note that it must be valid for 6 months AFTER your return date, until at least January 21, 2019. Please have your passport renewed if it expires before this date!! Passport applications are available at the post office. If you do not already have a passport, you should apply for one as soon as you enroll in this adventure. It normally takes six weeks to process a passport application.
Do I need a visa to travel to China? How much does it cost?
Yes. Once you enroll in the China program and gain access to your “ARCC Family Portal” your visa information will be provided. You can obtain a Chinese visa in person at a Chinese consulate or embassy, or through the mail using a third party provider. The visa costs for U.S. passport holders is $140 if you obtain it in person, and up to $200 if you use a mail service. ARCC office staff will assist you throughout the visa process but it does need to be processed in your local region.
What is the time difference between China and the USA?
China is fifteen hours ahead of the Pacific Standard Time (PST) during the summer, and twelve hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). If it’s 7:00 AM Monday in China, it’s 4:00 PM Sunday in Los Angeles and 7:00 PM Sunday in New York.
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this trip?
Although you won’t be doing any traditional backpacking on this program it is important that you bring a large backpack as your main piece of luggage. During the trip the group will be navigating through airports, on and off buses, up and down stairways, and taking short hikes on unpaved paths. The group will be able to move much more efficiently if everyone is carrying their belongings on their back.
What kind of goods and supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
We have the chance to live amongst some needy people who have the very basics for survival. With education being a tool to better their lives, basic school supplies are welcomed with open arms; Pens, pencils, notepads, calculators and English children’s books are widely accepted. Also, sporting equipment (soccer and basketballs, nets, and air pumps with needles) are also an incredible way to cross the cultural border and share smiles. Because of limited space on our vehicles ARCC would ask that every person to bring no more than a gym of bag of goods to donate.