China – A Cultural Service Adventure Awaits!

Giant Panda Conservation and Exploration in China

Upper School Trip to China – Summer 2019
June 21-29, 2019

An exciting opportunity for Upper School students to be immersed in Chinese culture as they work together on service projects at a renowned panda conservation center based in Chengdu, a National Reserve in Sichuan Province. This trip is being offered in partnership with Rustic Pathways.

An adventure awaits!

  • Work alongside researchers to help care for the pandas. Monitor pandas’ behavior, prepare their food and feed them, and clean their living spaces.
  • Participate in Mandarin lessons and language immersion activities
  • Explore the local temple and visit surrounding towns.
  • Lastly, head up to Beijing to visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall
  • Questions? Email or

Day 1

Arrive in the Sichuan Province! Landing in Chengdu, Rustic Pathways’ staff will meet your group outside of baggage claim and after a brief round of introductions we’ll head off to explore the city. Experiencing the sights and sounds of Chengdu, China’s fifth largest city, is a great way to get a glimpse of the rapid development intrinsic to China’s past two decades. Don’t worry about taking it all in – you will be back in Chengdu at the end of your trip.

After arriving, you will head out to Dujiangyan (the hometown to the panda center). We will check into your hotel, grab dinner, and then let you hit the hay so that you are ready for volunteering tomorrow!

Flight Details: Rustic Pathways will arrange flight details after your group is enrolled. Overnight: TBD

Days 2 – 4

Explore the Panda Center After a delicious breakfast in town, you’ll head out for the Panda center! After your orientation yesterday, you’ll be able to dive right into today’s service project. Your staff members will go over the day’s schedule, and you will break into groups of three or four with the other students on your trip. Each group will be paired with specific pandas and researchers to spend the morning with for your service work. The daily itinerary for your time at the Panda Conservation will be divided between direct interaction working with the pandas and spending time with your group learning about general conservation topics, participating in in-depth discussions on the panda breeding program, and performing behavioral observations to learn how scientists conduct their research at centers like this one. During your time with the pandas, you can expect to care for their living area, plan and prepare their food, learn about their habitat and examine threats to their environment.

Taking the occasional break from service work, your group will take some time to explore the natural beauty and culture around the Panda Conservation Center. In addition to protecting Giant Pandas, the area is a National Reserve with lots of beautiful flora and fauna unique to the area. Additionally, students will take tours of the local temple, visit the surrounding towns, and learn square dancing. These evenings, in addition to group discussions, the group will be given time (and encouragement!) to participate in discussion/reflection and take a moment to update their travel journals.

A daily schedule might look something like:

  • 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Clean the indoor and outdoor facilities that your group is assigned to, including sweeping up poop, sweeping up bamboo leaves, picking up any uneaten bamboo stalks, and mopping the indoor facility.
  • 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Read an article about conservation and have a group discussion on the topic.
  • 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Prepare and weigh food provisions and feed your pandas.
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Take a lunch break at the restaurant, rest, and play some local games like mahjong and dou di zhu
  • 1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Prepare and weigh food provisions and feed your pandas.
  • 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Perform behavior observations on the panda of your choice.
  • 3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Prepare and weigh food provisions and feed your pandas.

Overnight: Hotel in Dujiangyan

Day 5

Fly to Beijing Take an morning flight to Beijing. In the afternoon, we will visit the Beijing Foreign Affairs School, a school that trains students and prepares them for getting a job in hospitality, finance and tourism. After touring around the school, take a cooking class taught by the students at the school. We will learn how to make traditional Chinese dumplings. You’ll learn to form the soft dough into any shape you like whether it be an animal, a flower, or a traditional Chinese shape. After you try making your own dumplings, we will move to 

the school’s teahouse and enjoy a tea ceremony. You will be able to sample different teas including green, jasmine and wulong and learn a how to make the same tea when you return back home!

Overnight: Traditional View Hotel, Beijing

Day 6

Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City After breakfast, we will head out to explore the Temple of Heaven. This Temple is where the emperor held the worship ceremonies to pray for good weather and abundant harvests. Today, the area around the Temple of Heaven is now used as a park where people play mahjong, sing operas, and square dance.

After lunch, we will take the metro to the biggest square in China, Tiananmen Square. We will walk from the top of Tiananmen Square to the entrance of the Forbidden City, which was home to the royal families of the Ming and the Qing Dynasties. After walking through the City, we will climb up Jingshan Park to overlook the beautiful view of the Forbidden City.

After enjoying a huge day, we will feast our eyes on an acrobatics show. Marvel as these masters flip, juggle, and dance the night away. We will head back to our Hutong to enjoy dinner and head to bed this evening.

Overnight: Traditional View Hotel, Beijing

Day 7


After a quick breakfast, it’s time for one of the trip’s highlights: a visit to the Great Wall of China. Nothing can truly prepare you for an in-person look and this often photographed site of and monument to human achievement.

Depending on your flight time, we can go to one of two sections of the Great Wall- Gubeikou or Mutianyu. If you have a late departure, you could stay at a guesthouse close to the more remote section of Gubeikou Great Wall.

Overnight: Depends on flight out

Day 8

Fly Home! After our delicious breakfast, pack and say goodbye to your Rustic Pathways leaders. We will help you check in for your international flight back home. We hope you had a great experience and we trust to see you again next year!

Flight Details: TBD

An adventure awaits!

  • To download the China Trip, Summer 2019 Flyer (PDF), click here.
  • To download the D-E 360° Travel Application Form 2019 (PDF), click here.
  • To register, click here.

Total trip costs $5,095 (non-refundable). Early registration is encouraged and allows us to guarantee D-E 360° offerings as soon as enrollment is sufficient.  Registration deadline is December 1, 2018.  A $1,000 non-refundable deposit must be submitted at the time of registration.   Balance due by March 1, 2019.  Cost does not include trip cancellation insurance. 

Questions? Email or

An Important Note about Schedule Changes: D-E 360° reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external operators or partner organizations, changes due to weather or safety concerns, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of a new activity for an old activity. The itinerary shown here provides our best projection of the daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

Questions? Email