2020 Miami Valley China Cultural Journey
January 11, 2020 -
January 27, 2020
Dates are tentative
Airfare not included in program tuition
|Deadline(s):||Deadline is forthcoming|
Review all materials
What to Expect
Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.
We work hard to create safe, engaging, and immersive itineraries for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group.
|1||USA - Beijing||Today we'll depart the US and fly to Beijing||In flight|
|2||Beijing||After crossing the international dateline, we'll arrive at Beijing International Airport in the evening. We'll settle into our accommodations in one of Beijing's oldest hutong alleyway neighborhoods dating back to the Ming dynasty. We'll have our first dinner together and rest up for our upcoming adventure!||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn|
|3||Beijing||We'll begin our morning bright and early with a hutong scavenger hunt, exploring our neighborhood and soaking up Beijing's unique culture. We'll make our way to the Drum and Bell Tower Square for a demonstration of how time was kept in ancient times by beating drums. We'll then hop on the subway heading towards Qianmen, the old front gate of the city wall. We'll walk through Tiananmen Square, and reflect on the significance of the events that took place here. Then 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 to enjoy the sweeping views of the Forbidden City from above.||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn|
|4||Beijing||Today we'll take a private bus to visit the art districts in the northeast corner of the city. We'll learn about contemporary art, the role of artists in society, and make studio visits to see where many of China's premiere practicing artists live and work. We'll engage in our own art education activity at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. We'll also experience life in Caochangdi, a thriving urban village that is home to many world-renowned artists and galleries. On the way back into the city, we'll drive by the nearby Olympic Park, constructed for the 2008 Olympic games, to see the unique architecture of the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube lit up at night. In the evening, we'll take a cooking class and 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|
|5||Xiangshuihu||Today 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 as part of our homestay programing.||Hu Family Homestay|
|6||Beijing||Today we'll start the day bright and early by testing our bargaining skills at the famed Pan Jia Yuan flea market. Later, we'll visit Beijing's university district and further explore imperial culture at the Summer Palace. We'll wrap up our last full day in Beijing with the quintessential Peking duck dinner.||Drum Tower Hostel or Sleepy Inn|
|7||Beijing - Transit||We'll say farewell to Beijing with a morning visit to the Yonghegong Lama Temple, Beijing's largest and most active buddhist temple. Later in the day, we'll board our overnight sleeper train to our next destination, Xi'an. We'll enjoy the ride and pass the time by napping, journaling, playing cards, snacking, or practicing Chinese with our fellow passengers.||Train|
|8||Xi'an||Upon arrival in Xi'an, we'll discover 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|
|9||Xi'an||Today we'll further delve into Xi'an's history by walking the Ancient City Wall, visiting the Shaanxi History Museum, and experiencing the Great Mosque. We'll sample the delicious street snacks of China's Hui Muslim ethnic minority group.||Xi'an Hotel|
|10||Shanghai||After enjoying a final morning in Xi'an, we'll make our way to the airport for our flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, we'll get settled into our accommodations and begin exploring our neighborhood and sampling Shanghai's cuisine. We'll walk the Huangpu River on the Bund, appreciating the 20th century architecture of the former International Settlement in contrast to the hyper-futuristic skyline of Pudong just across the water.||Train|
|11||Shanghai||We'll stroll, shop, and people-watch while taking a walking tour of the French Concession. Later, we'll visit the Yuyuan Gardens and Market to hone our bargaining skills. We'll be sure to sample Shanghai's famous xiaolongbao or soup dumplings!||Shanghai Hotel|
|12||Shanghai||Today we'll explore the pedestrian eating and entertainment district of Xintiandi and the Shikumen museum to learn about the Shanghai equivalent of Beijing's hutong. Next, we'll enjoy Shanghai's take on the arts by exploring Moganshan Lu district.||Shanghai Hotel|
|13||Shanghai - Suzhou||We'll get an early start this morning and catch one of the first bullet trains to nearby Suzhou. Known as the "Venice of the East", this picturesque ancient city has a network of canals and rivers that run through the city. It is home to some of the most beautiful gardens in all of China. We'll take a trip back in time as we explore the gardens and learn about the aspects of traditional scholar-official society, which led to their creation and cultivation.||Shanghai Hotel|
|14||Shanghai||Today we'll get a broader view of China's breakneck development at the Urban Planning Museum. We'll also visit the nearby Shanghai Museum, considered to be one of the country's best and check out the People's Park along the way. We'll wander through the Tianzifang shopping area before saying farewell to China with a karaoke party!||Shanghai Hotel|
|15||Shanghai - USA||Today we'll travel at over 250mph on the Maglev train to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Fly home!||Airplane and your bed eventually!|
Need to Raise Money? We have you covered.
Our travelers are provided with funding opportunities that are easy to implement and fun to take part in. Our flagship fundraiser involves selling fair trade, organic, carbon-neutral coffee from a women’s collective in Peru. There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so get started now by clicking the link below!
In order to provide a safe and memorable experience for travelers, we follow strict guidelines when choosing our accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels which are centrally located, clean, safe and wifi-enabled.
Hu Family Guesthouse
Students are all lodged together in a large, rural “courtyard-style” home owned and managed by the Hu Family. Students eat meals together in a common dining room, cooked and provided by the Hu Family.
Drum Tower Hostel
The convenient location of Drum Tower Hostel reduces commute times and eases busy travel days. However, we have chosen to partner with this particular accommodation for its safety standards, comfortable and cheerful atmosphere, and commitment to good service. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
The cosmopolitan and vibrant atmosphere make this hotel a wonderful experience for our student groups. Selected for the great service, clean rooms, and great prices, Sleepy Inn is an excellent place to relax between adventures around Beijing. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.
We will provide additional details on your Group’s Flight and travel day details here.
We 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 Group Organizer.
A NOTE ON FLIGHTS
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 Walking Tree Travel (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 visit the airline’s baggage webpage to find out about baggage fees and options. It is also important to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.
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.
Host Community and Project Details
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
Long-sleeved T-shirts, preferably light-weight
Sweater or sweatshirt
Light-weight pants/hiking pants
Nice outfit to be worn at community gatherings and final dinner (sundress, skirt, polo, khaki shorts, etc.)
Sneakers (appropriate for hiking/athletic activity)
Sports sandals or 1 pair flip flops
Hat or visor
Sunscreen SPF 30+ (You will use a lot!)
Tampons/maxi pads (if applicable)
Any necessary medication (TSA requires that pills be properly labeled and in the original container.)
Band aids and neosporin
REQUIRED ADDITIONAL ITEMS
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
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL ITEMS
Small luggage lock
Portable charger (for long train ride)
Journal & writing utensils
Journal and pen
Flashlight or headlamp
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.
At minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every program. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado where we remain available to the group for additional help whenever necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program. Meet your support team!
China Country Director, 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: English, 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.
Educational Partnerships - Denver, CO
West Chester University-B.S. Elementary Education
School for International Training (SIT)-M.A. International Education
Nicole grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Amish country, and has always been accustomed to seeing a culture unlike her own. Since her first international experience at 4 years old, she has been intrigued by exploring foreign places. However, it was a study abroad program when she felt the power of international travel. After working 2-years for an inner-city, public school she felt something was missing. Nicole moved to Cusco, Peru, obtained her TEFL Certification, and taught English. Recognizing the value and impact of intercultural experiences, she returned stateside to obtain her Master Degree. After interning with an NGO in Haiti, she backpacked through Central America and fell in love with Guatemala. A life-changing 4 years later of living and working abroad at a private school, she returned to the States with her adopted dog Timo. Nicole is thrilled to call Denver home, and looks forward to hiking with her dog and the changing seasons.
See below for a list of travelers enrolled on the program.
Blog and Communication
We work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program. Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, and can check back any time via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page or the link included in the email.
Beyond our proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.
For any general inquiries during travel, please email your Walking Tree Representative (see top of page) or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the United States.
We have developed a curriculum of activities designed to help each of our travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple and engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.
Standards of Behavior
Walking Tree 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.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
- 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.
GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE
- Getting a piercing or tattoo
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
- Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
- Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
- 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 us.
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.
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 Premier travel insurance which would cover you in the event your student needs to withdraw before travel due to a covered reason or loses baggage in route or encounters an emergency while traveling, among other unforeseen circumstances. While most travelers have opted in for us to purchase basic travel insurance on their behalf during the enrollment process, this plan does not cover trip interruption or trip cancellation. 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.
-Recommended Travel Insurance-
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.
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 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.
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. Non Insurance 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 800-284-8300 or 9950 Mayland Drive, Richmond, VA 23233 or email@example.com.