Gap Year Summer Abroad Program in China - The Silk Road

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About

Travel through China's most beautiful and rugged natural landscapes while learning about contemporary issues of human rights, religious practices, and minority representation.

More than half of China’s land is populated by less than 5% of its population, mostly minority groups, many of whom inhabit the rugged lands in the northern and western parts of the country. Worlds away from Beijing, the far-western province of Xinjiang is a land where vast desert basins meet 20,000-foot peaks; where Central Asian cultures blend and exist in stark contrast to eastern China. Dragons’ Silk Road Program features an overview of this region’s history of trade and ancient linkage with all of Eurasia. Amidst Asia’s most striking landscapes, we survey a huge diversity of ethnic customs and religious traditions: those of Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik, Mongol, Tibetan, Hui, and Han communities.

We offer comprehensive, personal home visits so that we can answer your questions in person. One of our expert staff members will present on our program options and share stories from their own formative Where There Be Dragons program. To request a home visit in less than 2 minutes, fill out this form.

Highlights
  • Minority issues, environmental studies, ancient and modern history, political studies, religious and philosophical world-view of disparate Central Asian cultures.
  • Extensive train and bus travel, domestic flight, tent and yurt camping, remote village home-stay.
  • Introduction to Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Marxism.
  • Extensive hiking in Karakoram range of Himalayas as we try to reach the base of the glacier at Mt. Muztugh Ata, trek through Tibetan wilderness, numerous day hikes.
  • Engage in simple Mandarin, Uyghur, and Tibetan language study.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 2 reviews
  • Growth 9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 7.5
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
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Piers
10/10

Silk Road Summer '17

This trip opened my eyes not only to parts of the world I couldn't have dreamed of, but also to myself. I learned a lot about my personality through interacting with new people for extended periods of time. I had to be a lot more self conscious about what I was saying due to the fact that I was with people I didn't know. Beyond experiencing a unique part of the world, this was the single greatest skill that I learned on this trip.

Due to the nature of Xinjiang, a traveller on this course must learn to appreciate spontaneity and changing plans. They must also be comfortable dealing with many unknowns. We were unexpectedly stuck in our hostel for an extra day due to an unexpected government meeting in the area, for instance. There were many times on the trip where plans couldn't be confirmed due to the unpredictable political situation in the area. We were going to visit a livestock market, but the road to the market happened to be shut down on that day. For me, THIS WAS NOT A BAD THING. I enjoyed not knowing what was around the corner and it created a heightened sense of adventure and travel.

Be prepared to physically exert yourself on multi-day treks, hot weather, and long bus rides. Learn to deal with fatigue - you learn the most when you are the most challenged. Use this state as a learning tool for self-growth. As Luke, one of the instructors told me, "your character is most revealed when you are challenged." Learn to be a good person to others when you are not feeling your best, and your peers will greatly appreciate you.

Overall, I would recommend this trip if you are up for personal and physical challenges, and if you want to see parts of the world you'd never think existed.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Max
9/10

Silk Road

Traveling through Western China, to me, was a truly transformative experience. The trip really widened my cultural horizons and allowed to meet people different from my myself, including the Uyghurs of Xinjiang and the Tibetans of Qinghai province. I especially enjoyed my week-long homestay in a farming village, where I became fully immersed in the local way of life. The trip was certainly challenging due to constant and exhausting travel. Still, I would fully recommend this trip to someone wishing for a unique experience while fully willing to take on any challenge.

Yes, I recommend

About Where There Be Dragons

Dragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound learning adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly...