2018 DCI China Program: Advanced Language Learners

2018 DCI China Program: Advanced Language Learners

Program Highlights

2018 DCI China Program: Advanced Language Learners

Dates: August 1-12, 2018   |   Tuition: $3490 Learn More

On this program...

  • Better your Mandarin through family home stays.
  • Travel via high-speed rail!
  • Visit the Terracotta Army at Xi'an.
  • Work with giant pandas in Chengdu.

Group Organizer/s: 

Alison Auerbach & Lauren Games: alison.auerbach@dcinternationalschool.org & lauren.games@dcinternationalschool.org

WTT Contact: 

Luke Mueller, 303-898-5135, luke@walkingtree.org

Deadlines: Enrollment opens on January 22, 2018


Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2018 DCI Advanced Language Learners China Program! If this is your first time on this page, please read through the categories under Pre-Enrollment to learn more about this unique travel opportunity, or peruse the other categories as you like.

Once you have enrolled, please check out the Post-Enrollment information. Around one month before departure, we will post the remaining information under Program Prep to review on a call with the entire group. We hope you will join us on the adventure of a lifetime in China!

Click on the sections above to learn more

Program Itinerary

August 1USA - ChengduToday we'll depart from the US and fly across the Pacific to the metropolis of Chengdu. Airplane
August 2Chengdu, SichuanAfter crossing the international dateline, we'll arrive in Chengdu in the evening. We'll settle in at the hotel, have our first dinner together, and rest up for our upcoming adventure!Chengdu Dreams Hostel
August 3Chengdu, SichuanEarly this morning, we'll make our way to the Panda Center at Dujiangyan for our panda conservation volunteering program. Our tasks will include cleaning panda enclosures, preparing bamboo and “panda bread”, as well as hand-feeding the pandas. We'll also watch a documentary about panda habitat loss, and learn about the breeding & reintroduction work that is currently being done.Chengdu Dreams Hostel
August 4Dujiangyan, SichuanAfter a good night's rest we'll have our big orientation and explore Chengdu, checking out the famous Wuhou Temple and eating our fair share of Chengdu's specialty street snacks on Jinli street. We'll also stroll over to the People's Park to hang with the locals while they get fit and socialize through ballroom dance, kite flying, taichi, and more! For dinner, we'll try our hand at expert level DIY Sichuan cuisine, hotpot! Later in the evening, we'll enjoy a performance of traditional Sichuan opera, including acrobatics, "face changing" and fire breathing. Chengdu Dreams Hostel
August 5Linshi VillageBright & early we'll make our way to tour Anlong Village to learn about the work of Chengdu Urban Rivers Association & pitch in with some of their sustainable agricultural education programming. We'll get firsthand insight into some of the challenges facing environmental NGOs operating in China and how they are trying to continue to support the rural communities on the outskirts of Chengdu. We'll sip tea and play mahjong on the shores of the surging river while we enjoy the relaxed pace of life in rural Sichuan. We'll also have the unique opportunity to dine and sleep in local family homes. Homestay in Linshi
August 6Linshi VillageHomestay & service project in Anlong. Possible projects include CSA assistance, eco-community development, eco-agriculture, etc. Homestay in Linshi
August 7Linshi VillageHomestay & service project in Anlong. Possible projects include CSA assistance, eco-community development, eco-agriculture, etc. Homestay in Linshi
August 8Linshi VillageHomestay & service project in Anlong. Possible projects include CSA assistance, eco-community development, eco-agriculture, etc. Homestay in Linshi
August 9Linshi Village - Chengdu- Xi'anAfter a final morning in Sichuan, we'll hop on the long-distance sleeper train to Xi'an As we fly through the countryside, we'll rest and recharge our batteries, play cards, journal, snack and/or practice our Chinese language skills with our neighbors. All aboard!Sleeper Train
August 10Xi'anUpon arrival in Xi'an, we'll head to see the Terracotta Army of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China. Dating from 209 BCE, the full army and surrounding mausoleum are a must see! Later we'll visit another UNESCO world heritage site, The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda dating to the Tang Dynasty. We'll head out to the countryside where terracotta warrior models are made and try our hand at crafting them ourselves. Xiang Zimen International Youth Hostel
August 11Xi'anToday we'll further explore the sights and sounds of Xi'an by biking along the ancient city wall, one of the few remaining intact in a major city across China. We'll also further our hone our historical knowledge by checking out the famed Shaanxi Provincial Museum. Time allowing, we'll explore the thriving culture of one of China's largest ethnic minority groups: The Hui. We'll visit the Great Mosque and eat our way along Muslim Snack Street, enjoying all the cumin-spiced mutton kabobs and grilled bread we can handle. Xiang Zimen International Youth Hostel
August 12Xi'an - USACheck out, head to the airport and fly home! 再见中国!Your own bed, eventually!

Philosophy Of Travel

Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Walking Tree Travel designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.

Walking Tree Travel stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.


In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for our students, teachers, and staff, Program Leaders and Country Directors follow strict guidelines when deciding on lodging, making reservations, and assigning program participants to rooms.

Students will always be grouped in rooms and/or sleeping areas by gender, and will never share rooms with people who are not associated with Walking Tree. Group Organizers and Program Leaders will be roomed separately from each other and from other students. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled.

Tuition & Fundraising

Program Tuition Includes

more tuition information

Program Tuition Excludes: Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.*

*NOTE: If you are traveling on a program that is completed before September 1, 2018 your basic travel insurance is included. If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have any supplemental coverage beyond what your family’s package may provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.

Estimated Airfare*

International Airfare: In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.

Standards of Behavior

WTT provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.


  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.


  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with WTT.

Continue to the next section

Passport & Visa Check

Passport & Visa Check

All travelers with a US Passport are required to procure a tourist visa to China.

Walking Tree does not offer visa processing services, but we can recommend a visa agent who can handle the process. FlyChina offers affordable & timely turn around on China visa processing. We will provide you the information & documentation necessary for FlyChina to process your visa. Please note that if you opt to use another visa agent, we unfortunately cannot accommodate individual requests for special documentation.
If you wish to undertake the visa application process on your own, below are the steps outlined by the Chinese consulate:

Visa Application Guidelines 

Please download the following hotel and flight reservations to print off and send in with your visa application, whether you’re doing this on your own or working with FlyChina.

Airline Reservation
Chengdu Hotel Reservation
Xi’an Hotel Reservation

Basic Materials to Be Submitted for Application, in addition to the above documents:

(1) Passport

Original passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a photocopy of the passport’s data page and the photo page if it is separate.

(2) Visa Application Form and Photo

One completed Visa Application Form with a recently-taken color passport photo (bare-head, full face) against a light background attached

(3) Proof of legal stay or residence status (applicable to those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)

If you are not applying for the visa in the country of your citizenship, you must provide the original and photocopy of your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status, or other valid certificates of legal staying provided by the relevant authorities of the country where you are currently staying.

(4) Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas (applicable to foreign citizens who were Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship)

If you are applying for a Chinese visa for the first time, you should provide your previous Chinese passport held and a photocopy of its data page.

If you have obtained Chinese visas before and want to apply for a Chinese visa with a renewed foreign passport that does not contain any Chinese visa, you should present the photocopy of the previous passport’s data page and the photo page if it is separate, as well as the previous Chinese visa page. (If your name on the current passport differs from that on the previous one, you must provide an official document of name change.)

Additionally, applicants will be asked to present documents showing the itinerary including air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation, etc.


Visa application form

Part 2.1: check box for TOURISM

Part 2.2: Only one entry necessary for trip, but applicants may apply for more if they have other plans or ideas

Part 2.3: If applying for express service (for additional fee), check yes

Part 2.4: Write 2018-8-2

Part 2.5: 11 days (unless other personal plans exist)

Part 2.6: 8/2-8/4 Chengdu Dreams International Youth Hostel, 242 Wuhouci St, WuHouCi, Wuhou Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, China, 610041  8/5-8/8 Linshi village 8/9 Train to Xi’an  8/10-8/12 Xi’an Traveling With Hotel (South Gate) 21 South Shuncheng Lane Zhonggulou Square Downtown Xi’an, China, 710000

Part 2.7: Self

Part 2.8: N/A

The rest is personal info per applicant.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC China website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.


Travel Insurance


While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers while on program, experience has taught us that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we suggest you consider purchasing travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason, loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. Please see a summary of a plan below and follow the link for a more detailed explanation or to purchase the plan for your traveler.

Trip Cancellation Up to 100% of Trip Cost
Reimburses your prepaid, non-refundable expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
Maximum coverage: $100,000.

Trip Interruption Up to 150% of Trip Cost
Reimburses for the unused, non-refundable portion of your trip and for the increased transportation costs it takes for you to return home or to continue your trip due to a covered reason. Maximum coverage: $150,000.

Missed Connection $1,600
Reimburses for covered expenses resulting from a covered delay that causes you to miss your scheduled flight or cruise.

Travel Delay $1,600
Receive up to $200 per day per person to cover additional accommodation/travel expenses and lost prepaid expenses due to a departure delay of six or more hours.

Medical Protection: 
Emergency Medical and Dental $50,000
-This primary coverage provides reimbursement for expenses incurred during your trip due to covered medical and dental emergencies. No deductible.
-$750 maximum for emergency dental care.

Baggage Protection
Baggage Loss/Damage $2,000
Covers loss, damage or theft of baggage and personal effects.

Baggage Delay $600
Covers the reasonable additional purchase of essential items during your trip if your baggage is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier for 24 hours or more. Receipts for emergency purchases are required.

Assistance Services
Emergency Medical Transportation $1,000,000
Provides medically necessary transportation to the nearest appropriate facility following a covered injury or illness. Also covers the cost of your transportation back home following a covered injury or illness.

24-Hour Hotline Help Included
Help is just a phone call away with Allianz Global Assistance. Our staff of multilingual problem solvers is available to help you with a medical, legal or travel-related emergency.

*Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Insurance benefits underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A­” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101­C series or 101­P series, depending on your state of residence. Plan(s) may not be available in all jurisdictions. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are marks of AGA Service Company or its affiliates. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of this plan and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson InsuranceCompany. Non­Insurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company. Consumer may be responsible for charges incurred from outside vendors for assistance or concierge services. Contact AGA Service Company at 800­284­8300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or customerservice@allianzassistance.com.

Global Leadership Curriculum

WTT has developed a curriculum that helps each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame the experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Language Resources


Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.

Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.


duolingo owl logo

Continue to the next section

Travel Day Details

Group Flight Information

Walking Tree will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the group organizer before departure. Nevertheless travelers will need to check in at the airport and we recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure. For details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your teacher/Group Organizer.

Airline: Air China
Flight: CA818
Date: August 1 -2, 2018
Departs: Washington D.C. (IAD), 4:35 PM
Arrives Next Day: Beijing, China (PEK), 6:25 PM

Airline: Air China
Flight: CA4106
Date: August 2, 2018
Departs: Beijing, China (PEK), 8:00 PM
Arrives: Chengdu, China (CTU), 11:10 PM

Airline: Air China
Flight: CA1206
Date: August 12, 2018
Departs: Xianyang, China (XIY), 8:30 AM
Arrives: Beijing, China (PEK), 10:25 AM

Airline: Air China
Flight: CA817
Date: August 12, 2018
Departs: Beijing, China (PEK), 12:45 PM
Arrives: Washington D.C. (IAD), 2:35 PM

Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event WTT is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.

WTT is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.

To see more about Air China’s baggage policies, please click here.

Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.

Program Staff

WTT will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!

  • Alena Shish
    Alena Shish Program Leader

    Middlebury College – B.A. in Chinese Language in Literature; Minor in French & Francophone Studies

    Born in Ukraine and growing up in the United States, Alena is no stranger to thriving in different cultural environments and studying foreign languages (so far, she speaks four: Chinese, French, & Russian). While at Middlebury College, she had the opportunity to study in both Hangzhou, China, and Paris, France. Her time abroad inspired her to see the potential in study abroad and intercultural exchange for personal growth and cross-cultural understanding. Having fallen in love with the Chinese language, food, and culture while abroad, after graduation, she moved to Shenzhen, China to help Chinese high schools students through the US university application process. Since then, she’s also traveled around Russia, Israel, East Asia and all over China. So far, she’s been to 19 provinces, 4 municipalities, and 2 administrative regions in mainland China. When she’s not hiking or spending time reading, she’s obsessively baidu-ing (the Chinese Google) new Chinese slang, new Chinese dishes to try, or new places to explore in China. She’s excited to see to share her love of China, Chinese language, and travel with all her trip participants.

    • Mina Kotani
      Mina Kotani Program Leader

      International Christian University – B.A. Public Policy

      Mina was born in Seattle, Washington but spent her childhood moving between Bangkok, Tokyo, and Seattle. Having received her education in both Japanese and American public schools and later at the American School In Japan, Mina is not only bilingual but bicultural with a special understanding of the two countries’ culture and relationship. In her senior year of high school, she was given the unique opportunity to travel to the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa to study current and historical issues between the US and Japan. It was on this trip that Mina found her passion in studying Japan’s historical perception issues with various countries including the US and China. Since then, Mina has traveled to South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia on a number of exchanges in pursuit of creating dialogue and understanding between Asian countries. Mina is currently finishing up her bachelor degree studying Sino-Japanese relations. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, and volunteering with children from Fukushima on retreat programs.

      Group Roster

      Please have all travelers check to ensure that their name is spelled correctly. If you have any questions or edits please contact Lacey Merkel at lacey@walkingtree.org.

      1. YuanYuan Gao (Group Organizer)
      2. Natalie Barbieri (Group Organizer)
      3. Mary Shaffner (Group Organizer)
      4. Adelaide Weems
      5. Ammon Longenecker
      6. Anya Chiu
      7. Anya Conermann
      8. Charles Kilbourn
      9. Edden Lav
      10. Elliott Levine
      11. Ethan Deal
      12. Gryphon Lyttleton
      13. Ian Nostrand
      14. Isabella Hawthorne
      15. Kasidy Davis
      16. Layla Frone
      17. Lillian Schieken
      18. Lola Rogin
      19. Maciee Davis
      20. Marcus Bennett, II
      21. Margaret Mooney
      22. Nelson Mosley
      23. Rhaya Jacobs
      24. Sophia Nelson
      25. Terrence Young
      26. Tzai Robinson
      27. Y’ize Lancaster
      28. Zuri Patterson

      Community & Project Details

      -Coming soon-

      Communication & Blog

      Travelers will be able to keep in touch with family and friends at home by using Wifi (when available at hotels and restaurants) via Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

      During the program we keep families and friends updated on the group’s adventures as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, please direct all general inquiries to info@WalkingTree.org. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S. In case of an emergency, please dial 303-997-0310.

      To access the group’s blog, click here.

      Photos which appear in the blog will become available after the program ends. We will send out a link to the photo gallery, where you will have access to view and download as many of the photos as you like!

      Packing List

      What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

      Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT and STUDENT ID.

      China Packing List


      7-10 pairs of underwear
      5 pairs of socks
      1 set pajamas
      3 short-sleeved T-shirts
      2 long-sleeved T-shirts, preferably light-weight
      1 sweater or sweatshirt
      2 pair of shorts
      2 pair of light-weight pants/hiking pants
      1 nice outfit to be worn at community gatherings and final dinner (sundress, skirt, polo, khaki shorts, etc.)
      1 rain jacket
      1 sweatshirt
      1 pair of sneakers (appropriate for hiking/athletic activity)
      1 pair of sports sandals or 1 pair flip flops
      1 hat or visor
      1 swimsuit


      Basic toiletries
      Sunscreen SPF 30+ (You will use a lot!)
      Bug repellent
      Hand sanitizer
      Tampons/maxi pads (if applicable)
      Any necessary medication (TSA requires that pills be properly labeled and in the original container.)


      Band aids and neosporin
      Dental floss


      Bath towel (quick-dry recommended)
      Plastic bag for dirty laundry
      Alarm clock or watch
      $100-200 US dollars in perfect condition (for souvenirs, snacks, optional excursions, etc.)
      Visa/MasterCard ATM card We do NOT recommend traveler’s checks, gift cards or credit cards.
      Durable water bottle


      Small luggage lock
      Portable charger (for long train ride)
      Journal & writing utensils
      Wet wipes
      Ziplock bags
      Journal and pen
      Flashlight or headlamp
      Travel pillow
      Ear plugs
      Chinese/English dictionary
      Cards/games/etc (small and easy to carry)
      Electrical converter and adapter
      **China runs 220V, 50Hz AC electricity. A converter is only necessary if your device does not have 120-220V range.


      Tuition Details

      Program tuition includes: All accommodations, 3 meals per day, drinking water, ground transportation, group activity and entry fees, full-time leadership team,  taxes, tips and estimated airfare*.

      Program tuition excludes: Baggages fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed in the itinerary.

      *Estimated Airfare: In order to give our travelers the best possible price, we break out airfare from the Program Tuition. We will still handle all booking and ticketing via our flight partner who has access to special fares not available to the general public. We will provide full transparency in cost so that families pay what the flight costs and nothing more. You will be invoiced for the flight once we are able to secure the group’s airline contract.

      Insurance:  If you are traveling on a program that is completed before September 1, 2018 your basic travel insurance is included. If you are traveling on a program that departs after September 1, 2018 you must purchase travel insurance if you want to have any supplemental coverage beyond what your family’s package may provide. This change is due to new federal regulations.

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