Our WildChina Educational Travel team views service as one of the core tenets when it comes to the intersection of travel and learning. Now more than ever, our actions impact other people— both near and far. For younger generations, this trend is only likely to increase, and so it’s vital that students are encouraged to reflect on the consequences of their actions, engage with social issues, and apply their studies to the wider world.
These objectives lie at the heart of service learning, which combines academic study with community initiatives. And, at WildChina our student tours provide the ideal platform for learners of all ages to gather new information about themselves and the world around them, and to use and test their knowledge in novel, challenging scenarios — something China has in spades.
Here are some of our favorite destinations for service learning tours in China.
Xi’an is more than just home to Qin Shi Huang Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors. Historically, the city was the starting (or end) point of the Silk Road and today is a melting-pot of vibrant and diverse people. Home to over 50,000 Hui Muslim People, Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque offer students the chance to immerse themselves in the city’s unique culture. On WildChina Education’s Xi’an Cradle of Civilization, they will also give back to the community as they spend time at Huiling Community Center.
An NGO that helps individuals with learning difficulties and mental handicaps, Huiling offers innovative and empowering services that facilitate independence and improve daily living skills for the community it serves. The residents will put on a performance for students that reflect the culture of the region and their own experiences.
Students will then work with the residents to make crafts that the center will sell to support their projects. This service-learning tour helps students learn about social entrepreneurship and the great spectrum of human experiences.
Yes, in Yunnan, ‘the mountains are high and the emperor is far,’ but neither issue prevents us, or our students, from helping out with tailored and responsive service projects. Yunnan is among China’s most ethnically diverse provinces, but some of its local cultures now face degradation or extinction.
So, in addition to exploring the compelling landscape, including the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge, students can visit a foundation that is working to preserve local customs. Similarly, Yunnan has a range of rare, unique wildlife, some of which, like the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey has become endangered.
On our Yunnan: Adventure South of the Clouds program, students venture into the heart of the monkey’s territory — northwest Hengduan Mountains — where they consider and debate vital conservation issues with a local conservationist.
Despite Guilin’s fame as a tourist destination— its spectacular karst hills are among the best-known sites in China— rural Guangxi is comparatively under-developed.
On our Guangxi WildChina Education programs, students work alongside local farmers in the picturesque rice fields of Yangshuo, and later, undertake a full day’s service project that supports the community.
The project details are decided only after consultation with the local people, ensuring that our efforts have a genuinely beneficial impact, and helping students foster adaptability, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
On all of the service learning tours, students are first briefed about the project at hand. They then work together to design and implement solutions. After the project is completed, students present their findings to the group and think about how they could continue to make a difference in the future.
Previous projects that students have completed in Guangxi province include a waste incinerator to solve the issue of waste collection in a local village and the building of a water storage system to provide fresh water to the locals. Get to know the possibilities on our Guilin: Stepping into the Scroll program.
Are your students or children interested in making a meaningful contribution to the world this summer? Consider joining us on our first ever WildChina Education Summer Camp.