• China
2 - 4 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Host Family
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The land cost for China: Mandarin Language Intensive is $8,850. Need-based scholarships are available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Sep 28, 2023
Mar 08, 2018
19 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Language in China has always been a dynamic and powerful force. As we enter a contemporary reality of emerging powers and dominant cultural influence, the voice of this great country speaks louder than ever before. Dragons’ Mandarin Language Intensive is designed to help students find their own voice, offering comprehensive instruction through formal language classes, home-stays and independent study projects (ISPs).

Chinese Language-Intensive summer program, we expertly combine in-depth and rigorous language study with out-of-the-classroom experiences. Our Mandarin-speaking instructors offer precise, relevant language guidance while also providing a vision that encompasses the broad scope of this course’s ultimate goals of cultural and personal discovery.

4 and 6 week options available.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Learn and improve Chinese-language skills through classes, interactions with homestay families, and meetings with local mentors
  • 10-day homestay in Kunming, cultural center of Yunnan Province, 10-day village homestay in Lashihai with Naxi ethnic minority community.
  • Language and culture, ancient, imperial and modern history, political studies, development of market economy, gender and race studies.
  • Minority issues and status, socio-economic issues, health, land-use and environment, tourism, cultural survival.
  • Experience life in two very different communities, one urban, one rural

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 4.7
  • Support 5
  • Fun 5
  • Housing 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Mandarin 4 Week Language Intensive

When I was looking for summer programs in China, I was primarily focused on how much Mandarin I would be learning throughout the course of the trip. I chose Where There Be Dragons mainly because it offered serious language study--3-3.5 hours of Mandarin lessons almost every day. When I got there, I realized that I learned even more Mandarin outside the classroom, just from walking around different towns/villages, talking to my instructors, and ordering food.

What I didn't realize was how much I would enjoy the parts of the program that went beyond learning Mandarin, like the rugged travel/hiking portions of the trip. I am by no means any type of hiker in the U.S., but with beautiful scenery and great friends to hike with, I made some amazing memories. Homestay was also a big component of the trip. My two homestay families were excellent care-providers and taught me so much about Chinese language and culture. They even helped me review what I had learned in Mandarin class some days, and showed me around their hometown. It was such a valuable experience to take a break from learning Mandarin out of a textbook and instead learn more terms and phrases used in daily exchanges. This allowed me to conduct smooth transactions with locals throughout my trip, as well as preparing me to take on AP Mandarin this year.

What would you improve about this program?
Having a second independent study project, or a similar group project, during the second half of the trip would give another great opportunity to learn about Chinese culture.
104 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

I definitely enjoyed this trip. I chose it to improve my mandarin, and learn more about China, as I had been taking mandarin in school, and wanted to improve my skills. While there, I learned about mandarin yes, but so much about China and the culture there. The homestays and the Independent Study Projects let every person in the group engage with different aspects of china individually. My independent study project was learning the basics of how to play the guzheng, and as someone who plays western instruments, it was fascinating to learn eastern ideas on music.
The homestays were great, and a highlight of the trip. I enjoyed seeing how different people live, and having two separate homestays in two different places let me see different points of view. I bonded a lot with one of my host sisters there. It was nice to live in a family atmosphere, and see that despite being halfway across the world, people are people.
The instructors were great on this program. All of them were nice people who understood the difficulties of being in a foreign country. They all had their own unique perspectives to offer on chinese culture, and offered guidance, while preserving independence.
Language lessons were good, though it is a little hard trying to create lessons that are difficult but not too hard for people with different language backgrounds.
Overall, it was a fantastic program. I loved the independence offered, and how everyone could engage with China on their own level. I didn't feel held back, or left behind in the group. The trip cemented my interest in China, and I plan on going into the Asian Studies field in college.
Useful tips: Consider bringing a small english/chinese dictionary for words you might forget. Learn how to use a squat toilet. Do your best to leave your expectations behind, and embrace the experience!

What would you improve about this program?
The packing requirements are different from other dragons trips, but the packing list is the same, So a more specific packing list would be nice. (Bring more street clothes than the packing list suggests because you spend most of your time in cities/villages, not trekking)

98 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

China Language Immersion 4 week summer program

I spent an amazing month in China with the Dragons program. The highlights were two homestays - one in the city of Kunming and the other in a small village in South East China called Nan Yao. I spoke only one word of Chinese when I arrived ("Hello") and left with a growing vocabulary and a grasp of the basics of this complex language. More importantly, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in both city and rural culture.

The organization of the trip was superb. The 3 trip leaders were fun, creative, and had great in-country experience. They gave the group a great deal of independence while maintaining a high level of support and safety. Communication was excellent - Dragons kept our families well updated on how the group was doing, and the "Yak Board" communication site was excellent.

I would HIGHLY recommend WTBD as an organization that knows how to lead youth in international trips.

What would you improve about this program?
Continue to expand the countries/experiences provided!
96 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi, great question! Since there is no one way to answer your question, we recommend reading program reviews to get a feel for what your experience living in a homestay may be like. Our blog also is a great resource for finding articles on living in a homestay abroad :)