The Bridge Year Program in China introduces students to both modern and traditional aspects of this immense and burgeoning nation. Students spend most of the year living with host families in the metropolitan city of Kunming where they support organizations in areas such as public health , education, and environmental conservation and are exposed to the political and economic development that exemplifies modern China. Meanwhile, short-term group service projects in rural areas and various excursions to ethnic minority areas acquaint students with more traditional aspects of Chinese life and society. Through these experiences and other cultural enrichment activities, participants learn about China’s unique history, culture, politics, philosophy, and geography as well as some of its most urgent social, economic, and environmental challenges. Students also learn conversational Mandarin and visit some of China’s most stunning natural and manmade attractions.
Program Location : Bridge Year students in China spend nine months of service based primarily in the city of Kunming. Known as the 'City of Eternal Spring', Kunming enjoys a pleasant climate. As the provincial capital of Yunnan, this rapidly growing city is a political, economic and cultural center and home to a large number of NGO's. Hedged in by lakes and mountains, it maintains a rural flavor while still offering the sense of a large vibrant Chinese city.
Local Language : Standard Chinese, China’s official language, is the standardized form of the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. Spoken by roughly 70% of the population, it is also the lingua franca of a nation with as many as 292 different languages and dialects. Written in block-like characters call hanzi, Mandarin reads from right to left and from top to bottom. As part of the Bridge Year Program, participants study intensive Mandarin in order to gain the necessary communicative competency to engage in community-based service work.
Program Partner : In China, Princeton University is partnering with Where There Be Dragons, an organization specializing in overseas experiential education. Since their founding in 1993, Dragons has managed hundreds of unique small-group service learning programs in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Dragons is dedicated to inspiring youth leadership and responsible global citizenship through community-based service projects and cultural exchange.
Service Opportunities : Dragons has well-established relationships with various service organizations operating in Kunming and Yunnan province. Participants support a wide range of programs intended to address prevailing social, economic and environmental issues facing Yunnan. Some of these activities include fundraising and grant-writing, conducting needs-assessment, training foreign volunteers, promoting environmental awareness, providing research, developing websites, teaching IT skills, teaching English, one-on-one mentorship.