Students will be met at the airport. The program begins with a three-day Orientation that will allow students to get acquainted to each other, to the school neighborhood, and to Beijing and begin Chinese language classes. Students will move in with their host families at the end of the Orientation.
Students attend classes on weekdays from 8am-2:30-3:00pm. Students attend 20 Chinese language classes each week. You will also be strongly encouraged to take a formal language pledge to exclusively speak Chinese each morning at school, not just in classes with your teachers but during breaks and with your classmates. Students also take China in the World, a class taught in English, which meets four times times per week and provides context for students' experience in China. Students will also participate in the Global Citizens Initiative, which includes two Skype sessions with our counterparts in the SYA Italy Summer program.
For the first half of the program, we encourage you to eat lunch in the school cafeteria. Your tuition to SYA includes this meal. After the school cafeteria closes in mid-July, students are given money for lunch and can choose from inexpensive options near the school.
Students can choose two of the three extracurricular offerings: martial arts, Chinese painting or calligraphy. Optional taiji classes are offered two mornings each week. Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays are spent on group excursions to places of interest in Beijing.
Students are expected to be home for dinner each evening. Students must return home by 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, unless they are with their host parents or at a school function.
You will find out about your host family placement one week before the start of the SYA China Summer program.
SYA host families are wonderfully varied. Many are repeat host families, and new families are often friends of repeats. Some have younger children, some have older children, some of our families are empty nesters whose children have families of their own. Many host families speak some English, but proficiency in English is not a requirement to host SYA students. Students and host families are encouraged to speak as much Chinese at home as possible.
Almost all students will have a private bedroom, but occasionally will be asked to share with a host sibling. Bathrooms are shared with host siblings or other family members. The majority of host families have children that are between the ages of 10-18.
On school days, about 20% of students walk to school, a few students ride bicycles, and some ride the bus. A few are driven to school by their host parents and a few take the subway. In general, host families live within a thirty-minute radius of the school.
Students will receive a cell phone when they arrive in China. It is a basic phone, but it will ensure reliable communication among students, host families, and SYA staff. SYA will put some money into the phone initially. Most students spend more money, but texting is very cheap in China. There is no limit on email/messaging/calls to your friends and family back home, but we encourage you to be “in the moment” and limit communication with home in order to fully engage in the SYA China summer experience.
Parents can certainly visit during the SYA summer program, though visits should not impact students' program commitments. Parental visits that coincide with the program's conclusion have worked well in the past.