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Welcome to the home page for Catlin's 2013 China studies program. This is open to all Catlin upper school students, regardless of their language background!

Key Details

  • Trip Dates: March 9 - March 29, 2013
  • Tentative Price: $4200 (financial aid is available)
  • Group Size: 12-15 students (open to all)
  • Trip Leaders: Beining Hu, Sandy Luu, Dave Whitson
  • Applications Due: November 1

Program Overview

We know China through numbers. A population of 1.3 billion people. Over the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, China's GDP grew nearly 400%, and the economy is forecast to surpass that of the US as early as 2016 in some circles. Perhaps 250 million migrant workers moved from country to city in 2011 (or, only 60 million fewer people than the total US population!). As of 2010, China had 46 cities with populations in excess of two million.

The numbers are staggering, but they also have the potential to dehumanize. Often implicit in the portrayal of China is a homogeneity, or uniformity, that suggests a population fully in lockstep. However, this is clearly misleading, and it obscures a remarkable human drama that continues to unfold before us.

During the years of Mao Zedong's rule, from 1949 to 1976, conformity was critical. In the pursuit of a new order, Mao combatted all "old" traditions, stripping away many of the cultural traditions and beliefs that had served as a foundation of Chinese society for centuries. Religion was outlawed. Androgenous dress was promoted. Educational opportunities were severely limited, as many teachers and intellectuals were banished to the countryside for ideological conditioning. Consumer impulses were stifled and people were conditioned to make do with less. The nail that stood out got hammered.

In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping took power and everything changed. A market economy took hold. Many aspects of Maoist thought, which had shaped the worldviews of two generations of Chinese, were abandoned. China opened itself to the world once again.

But what did all of this mean for the Chinese people? What is at the heart of Chinese identity today--the centuries of traditions, Maoist communism, or Western materialism?

This trip endeavors to hear the stories of Modern China, to see this country from a wide range of perspectives, to move from 1.3 billion to one.

Trip Itinerary

(Click on each location for a detailed overview of our plans. Note that all plans are tentative and subject to change.)

  • March 9: Depart PDX (Korean Air)
  • March 10: Seoul, Korea
  • March 11-12: Xi'an
  • March 13-19: Beijing
  • March 20-21: Qingdao
  • March 22-28: Shanghai
  • March 29: Return PDX

Other Important Information

Group Selection: The over-riding priority is to construct a balanced group. Balance in some ways is obvious--it's good to have a roughly equivalent number of boys and girls, and it's also advisable to have some class diversity, with both upper and lower classmen. We will also be seeking complementary strengths. We want to have at least a few strong Mandarin speakers. We want inquisitive students who can take the lead in interviews with local contacts. And, we want others who are passionate about service so that they can spearhead our work in the orphanage.

Pre-Trip and Post-Trip Commitment: Participation in this program will require a full-year commitment from students. We will meet regularly prior to departure and we will also collectively contribute to a culminating project upon return to Catlin. Most of these meetings will take place during school hours, but occasional evening or weekend commitments may be required. The more that you put into the preparation, the more that you get out of the project.

Impact on Academics: Note that the trip dates span the last week of classes before Winterim, the week of Winterim, and most of Spring Break. The missed week of classes will require program participants to be very organized in the weeks leading to departure, completing as much work as possible in advance of the trip. Students will have several days to adjust back to the US before returning to classes in April, and this will be an opportunity to catch up on some assignments, but most of the work will have to be front-loaded.

Background on the Trip Leaders: We are fortunate to have a group of leaders with a great deal of experience in the region. Beining, of course, grew up in Shanghai and is a Chinese national. Sandy lived in Taiwan for seven years, Guangzhou for three, and has professional connections in Shanghai. Dave spent a month in China on a Fulbright grant in 2007 and later led a teacher professional development trip to Xi'an, Beijing, and Shanghai.


How to Apply

Complete the attached application form and submit it to Dave Whitson or Beining Hu by November 1. Applications submitted after November 1 may not be considered. Financial aid is available for this trip, but the financial aid form must be completed with the application. If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to contact any of the trip leaders.