The Mount Holyoke summer program in Beijing offers an intensive program of language immersion that covers a full year of Chinese language study in eight weeks. Students spend the mornings engaged in classroom instruction, and the afternoons with language partners and activities that introduce them to Chinese arts and culture. Tours to major historic and cultural sites round out the program.
Beijing is the cultural and political center of China. With its long history, rich culture, hospitable inhabitants, and modern developments, Beijing quickly mesmerizes visitors. Students have the opportunity to walk on the Great Wall, visit the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, see the Beijing Opera, and taste the most authentic Beijing duck. They experience Beijing's beauty and charm firsthand and improve their Mandarin in an environment where standard Mandarin is spoken.
In 2014, Mount Holyoke is delighted to offer the Beijing Summer Program in cooperation with the China Studies Institute, based at Peking University (PKU). PKU is the oldest and most influential institution of higher learning in China. Many Mount Holyoke students have participated in other summer and semester programs offered by the China Studies Institute. As in years past, Mount Holyoke Professor Ying Wang organizes the academic component of the program and ensures its alignment with MHC texts and curricula.
PKU is located in the northwest part of Beijing. Its beautiful campus is set on the prior site of royal gardens and is notable for traditional Chinese landscaping and historic buildings. The University is proximate to historic sites such as the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace, as well as a commercial district called Wudao kou, where local residents and international students go for shopping and entertainment. A city railway in Wudao kou offers a convenient connection to the downtown area of Beijing.
The program runs from late June to mid August, and facilitates learning through both curricular and extra curricular activities. Every day, classroom teaching is divided into lectures and drill sections in the morning, which are reinforced by individual help from language partners in the afternoon. The relatively small size of the program means that students receive a lot of individual attention: lectures typically have 10 to 12 students in each section, drill sessions only 4 to 5. Every student is assigned a Chinese language partner who, in addition to individual tutorials, is responsible for arranging language-related activities outside the classroom.
Students can also participate in optional cultural activities, such as Taiji boxing, Taiji sword, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese songs, and cooking, which usually meet in the afternoon. In addition, cultural tours will be arranged by the program. Historically, these have included visits to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Beijing Opera, 798 Art Community, the Temple of Heaven, and the Chinese Acrobats. A finalized schedule of tours for 2014 will be posted here in the near future.
MHC students who complete the program successfully will receive a total of 8 credits. These credits count against the maximum of 8 summer school credits that students may use toward the Mount Holyoke degree. (Students who have already transferred in some summer credits may petition for an exception to the 8-credit limit.) Students from other colleges should consult their home institution about credit transfer.
Students will live in double rooms in PKU's modern dormitories. Rooms are equipped with air conditioning, television, refrigerator, and private bath. Every floor has a laundry room and kitchen.
We have not yet set the fee for summer 2015. The program fee for summer 2014 was approximately $5,300, covering tuition, program and application fees, and accommodations. Students will be responsible for their own airfare (estimated at $1,300) and for their meals and personal expenses while in China (estimated at $1,000).
Mount Holyoke offers a limited amount of financial aid for the program, available to MHC students only; see the application form for details. Students from other colleges should check with their home institution about financial aid.
We strongly encourage all students to apply for the Benjamin Gilman Scholarships, if they are eligible; applications are due in March. The Freeman Foundation, which has just discontinued its Freeman-Asia grants, also encourages students to explore the IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding directory. MHC students should review the Outside Scholarships page for additional instructions.
The program is open to students who have completed successfully (B- or better) at least one year of Chinese language in college. Students who studied Chinese in high school (or elsewhere) but have not taken the language in college should consult with Prof. Ying Wang to determine whether they meet the requirements for the program. Students will be placed at the appropriate language level (intermediate or advanced) upon their arrival.
To apply, submit the program application form and waiver of liability to the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives by February 16, 2015. The McCulloch Center is located in 108 Dwight Hall; its mailing address is:
McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives
Mount Holyoke College
50 College Street
South Hadley, Massachusetts 01075-6451
Students will be notified of the results of their application within about two weeks of the deadline, and will be required to pay a deposit at that time to hold their place on the program. The program requires a minimum enrollment of ten students in order to run.
Comments from previous Participants
"Choosing to spend the summer at Peking University is definitely the best decision I've ever made. Not only was living in Beijing an adventure in itself, the amount of Chinese that we were able to learn in such a short time was unbelievable. The language faculty was outstanding, and the time spent with one-on-one tutors was greatly rewarding. Everything is designed to help you succeed as a student as well as grow as an individual." Caitlin Baltzley MHC '16 (Summer 2014)
“The MHC Beijing Summer Program is truly exceptional! Not only were we provided with one-on-one attention and small classes taught by excellent professors, every experience was a new one. From ordering baozi to riding the subway to climbing the Great Wall, the learning never stopped. By the end of the program, we weren't just practicing Chinese, but speaking it!” Helaina Peck MHC ’16 (Summer 2013)
“MHC’s Beijing summer program is truly unique. The fluidity of my spoken Chinese, as well as my vocabulary and writing ability improved more than I ever thought they could. It was also an incredible opportunity to experience Chinese culture firsthand. I would suggest this program to anyone looking to excel in the Chinese language and have fun doing it!" Olivia Vicioso MHC ’16 (Summer 2013)