2018 St. Mary’s China Program

2018 St. Mary’s China Program

Program Highlights

2018 St. Mary’s China Program

Dates: June 7th - 18th, 2018   |   Tuition: $4490 Learn More

On this program...

  • Climb the Great Wall of China
  • Explore the Forbidden City in Beijing
  • Visit the Terracotta Army at Xi'an
  • Work with giant pandas in Chengdu

Group Organizer/s: 

Yun Chen, ychen@smanet.org

WTT Contact: 

Gabriel Duncan, gabriel@walkingtree.org, 303-396-5653

Deadlines: Final payments are due by Mar 11, 2018

Enroll Now Make a Payment

Dear Families – Welcome to the homepage for the 2018 St. Mary’s 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

7-JunThursdayUSA - Chengdu, SichuanToday we'll depart the US and fly across the Pacific to the metropolis of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China.Airplane
8-JunFridayChengdu, 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
9-JunSaturdayChengdu, 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! In the evening after dinner, we'll go see a performance of Sichuan opera including traditional "face changing", acrobatics, fire breathing & more!Chengdu Dreams Hostel
10-JunSundayChengdu, 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.. For dinner, we'll try our hand at expert level DIY Sichuan cuisine, hotpot! Chengdu Dreams Hostel
11-JunMondayChengdu, SichuanWe'll have a final day of exploration in Chengdu including potential visits to Kuanzhai xiangzi and Wenshu monastery. After packing our bags & checking out of the hotel, we'll enjoy Sichuan's famous DIY cuisine Hot Pot! Then 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.Train
12-JunTuesdayXi'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 also explore Xi’an’s distinctive gastronomical culture, sampling their world famous hand-pulled noodles and roujiamo (often dubbed the Chinese equivalent of a hamburger).Xi'an Hotel
13-JunWednesdayXi'anToday we'll further explore the sights and sounds of Xi'an by strolling (or 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.Xi'an Hotel
14-JunThursdayXi'an-BeijingThis morning we'll fly to Beijing International Airport. We'll settle into our accommodations in one of Beijing's oldest hutong alleyway neighborhoods dating back to the Ming dynasty. We'll get to know the area with a hutong photo scavenger hunt, exploring our neighborhood and soaking up Beijing's unique culture. We'll make our way to the Drum & Bell Tower Square for a demonstration of how time was kept by beating drums ancient times. In the evening, we'll take a cooking class to try our hand at crafting the Chinese cuisine we've been enjoying (option of making dumplings or handmade noodles).Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
15-JunFridayBeijingService Day! Today we'll give back via some sort of community service/cultural exchange activity. We may spend time with migrant families and children at a local community center, or help local students practice their English by playing games and having basic English lessons.Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
16-JunSaturdayXiangshuihuToday we'll make our way out to a rural village at the foot of the Great Wall of China. We'll hike through chestnut orchards, walk past the “Wild Wall” (unrestored section) and enjoy exploring this quiet, peaceful community. We'll be staying with the Hu family and have the opportunity to practice our Chinese with them and enjoy home-cooked meals. After dinner, we can head over to small village square where community members play basket ball, ping pong, and use communal exercise equipment--if we're up for it, we'll join in!Hu Family Guesthouse
17-JunSundayBeijingThis morning we'll hop on the subway heading towards Qianmen, the old front gate of the city wall. We'll then walk through tour Tiananmen Square, and reflect on the past and current significance of the events that took place there. Eventually, we'll make our way to the Forbidden City, the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. Time allowing, we'll check out the emperor's impressive collection of elaborate mechanized clocks from all over the world at the Hall of Clocks. After a busy day, we'll spend the late afternoon in Jingshan Park for sweeping views of the Forbidden City from above.Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn
18-JunMondayBeijingDepending upon the timing of our flight, we'll have some freetime for last minute souvenir shopping or one last cultural excurtion. Then we'll make our way to the airport and head home! 再见中国!Airplane


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.
Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.




Tuition & Fundraising

Tuition Includes:

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

Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an WTT program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.

Visit Tuition & Funding

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 

Coming soon…

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.

How to apply on your own:

1. Locate the Visa Office of the Embassy / Consulate General which holds consular jurisdiction over the state in which you reside. You may either submit your application in person, or you may entrust someone else or a travel/visa agent to submit your application at the visa office.

2. If necessary, the applicant should go to the Embassy/Consulate-General for an interview or verification of the signature on application documents upon notification by the Embassy/Consulate-General.

3. Mailed applications are not accepted.

4. No appointment is required.

IV. Processing Time

Regular service: Visas can be obtained on the fourth business day . No express service will be provided unless emergency. Express service needs approval of consular officials, and extra fees may apply.

V. Visa Fees and Payment

1. Visa fees for regular service

Number of Entry 

U.S. Citizens 

Citizens of Third Countries 

Single Entry



Double Entries



Multiple Entries for 6 Months



Multiple Entries for 12 Months or more



Note: Visa fees for certain third countries may vary from the list above based on reciprocal agreements.

2. Express service: An additional fee of $20 or $30 per visa will be charged.

3. Please pay by money order, cashier’s check or Visa/MasterCard. Cash or personal checks are not accepted. Please make checks or money order payable to “Chinese Consulate General”.


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 2017-06-07

Part 2.5: 10 days (unless other personal plans exist)

Part 2.6: 6/7-6/9 Chengdu Dreams International Youth Hostel, 242 Wuhouci St, WuHouCi, Wuhou Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, China, 610041  6/10 Train to Xi’an   6/11-6/12 Xi’an Traveling With Hostel 4F, No.9 Beiguan Zhengjie, Honghai Biz BuildingXi’an 710014, China  6/13-6/17 Beijing Drum Tower Youth Hostel 51 Jiugulou St, Xicheng Qu, China, 100009

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

Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, WTT will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all WTT travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:


$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included


The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.

– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.

The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.

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 Canada
Flight:  AC8107
Date:  June 7, 2018
Departs: Denver (DEN) 7:00 AM
Arrives:  Vancouver (YVR) 8:52 AM

Airline: Air Canada
Flight: AC29
Date:  June 7 – 8, 2018
Departs: Vancouver, Canada (YVR) 12:20 PM
Arrives Next Day:  Beijing, China (PEK) 2:10 PM

Airline:  Air Canada
Flight:  AC29
Date:  June 18, 2018
Departs:  Beijing, China (PEK) 4:05 PM
Arrives:  Vancouver, Canada (YVR) 11:30 AM

Airline:  Air Canada
Flight: AC8110
Date:  June 18, 2018
Departs: Vancouver, Canada (YVR) 6:25 PM
Arrives:  Denver (DEN) 10:10 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 Canada’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. Please read below to see who will be part of the support team on your program. Below you’ll find a list of the Walking Tree staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

  • 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.

    Group Roster

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

    1. Bianca Garcia
    2. Alexis Ewing
    3. Nicole Dempsey
    4. Anel Oaxaca Rivas
    5. Elizabeth Mills
    6. Amairani Rodriguez Pena
    7. Jaquelyn Jaramillo

    Community & Project Details

    Not applicable for this program.

    Communication & Blog

    The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

    WTT tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should 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.

    Click here to access your program’s blog page.

    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

    Tuition Includes:

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

    Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

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