The Ancient and Modern Silk Roads:
Understanding China Then and Now.

Co-sponsors: Dr. G.R. Davis and Dr. Li Qing Kinnison and

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17 Day 15 Night Tour of the Ancient and Modern Silk Roads of China

Shanghai Xi'an Dunhuang Turpan Kashgar Urumqi Beijing



Project Description

Academic Goals and Nature of the Project

Enrollment requirements and selection criteria

Estimated project cost per student and inclusions

Additional Expenses not covered

Day by Day Schedule and Itinerary and Hotels

Readings and Course Materials

Academic Requirements

Academic Expectations and Grading

Travel Safety

Orientation Sessions and Post-travel Activities

The Professors

Apply for this project JAN 427A on-line

last update 4 May 2014 at 3:58 pm



Project Description

Traders used the ancient Silk Road to export Chinese goods to the Greeks, Persians and Romans and import items and ideas from the West. In modern times China's role in international trade is unrivaled. In this project we seek to understand those factors that have contributed to China's success. We'll investigate synergies throughout her history. We'll learn about and encounter diverse ethnic group with their customs, beliefs and philosophies. We'll investigate natural and human resources and economic and governmental policies that underlie China's dominance. We'll examine the consequences in terms of human rights and environmental impact. As we retrace the ancient Silk Road from Xi'an in central China to the westernmost point at Kashgar, we'll experience first-hand the vast landscape the early merchants traversed; desserts with dunes, steppes beneath mountain barriers. We'll visit markets that resemble those of a thousand years ago, encounter several of China's dozens of unique ethnic groups and tour major historical and cultural sites in five cities along the old trade route. Firsthand we'll witness the might of modern China in the electric vibrancy of Shanghai and Beijing. We'll compile our knowledge and impressions in a book of photographs and essays that summarize what we've learned and experienced.

An analogy: Imagine how much you could learn about the USA on a trip that spans seven America cities: New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC with an expert on American culture, language, and history. For the Silk Roads interim, our itinerary takes us to seven major cities in China: Shanghai, Xi'an, Dunhoang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, and Beijing. We'll see each with local guides and Wofford's own Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, Professor of Chinese and a veteran traveler.

Daily Schedule

Pre-departure class sessions: Student presentations are scheduled for morning and afternoon sessions for first two days on campus. Sponsors will host informational sessions on expectations, travel safety, cultural issues, etc. and provide examples of photos and essays that are to constitute the contributions for the book project.

17 Day 15 Night Tour of the Ancient and Modern Silk Roads of China

Visits: Shanghai/Xi'an/Dunhuang/Turpan/Kashgar/Urumqi/Beijing

Dates: Jan 7-23, 2015

Day 1- Greensville or Charlotte to Shanghai

Fly to Shanghai via our selected airline flights.

Day 2 - Arrive Shanghai

Arrive Shanghai. Our friendly local guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.

Stay at the Holiday Inn Express Zhabei Hotel Shanghai for 2 nights

Day 3 – Shanghai

This morning visit the Old Downtown and the classical Yu Garden. Then visit the Shanghai Museum. The attractions include enormous fine stone sculptures, bronze-ware, porcelain, calligraphic works, Chinese paintings and ancient furniture, the Bund (Waterfront) and Tianzifang Artist Area. After our group dinner we attend a famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Dr. Kinnison's photo of Acrobat Show

Day 4 – Shanghai to Xi'an by air

Fly to Xi'an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. Its long standing history and colorful culture have left numerous brilliant historical sites and precious cultural relics. Afternoon city tour includes a visit to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Great Mosque, the Drum & Bell Tower and the Muslim Street. Check into Xi'an Hotel for 2 nights.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, lunch.

Dr. Kinnison's photo of a snowy scene in Xi'an.

Day 5 – Xi'an

Full day sightseeing includes the Excavations of Terra-Cotta Warriors & Bronze Chariots, one of the greatest archeological finds of the century. Visit the City Wall where students can take a bike ride on the wall if the weather permits . Tonight feast on traditional Dumpling Dinner and enjoy the Tang Dynasty Music Show.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dumpling Dinner.

Dr. Kinninson's photo of a Dance Performance

Day 6 – Xi'an to Dunhuang by air

Fly Xi'an to Dunhuang. City tour in the afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant. Check into Tianrun International Hotel

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, dinner

Day 7 – Dunhuang

Full day tour includes the world heritage site - Mogao Grottoes, the world's most important site of ancient Buddhist Culture. The grottoes preserve nearly a thousand years of Buddhist cave-temple architecture, clay sculpture, mural paintings, and manuscripts dating from the 5th to 14th centuries. Also visit Sounding Dune and the Crescent Lake. Stay at Tianrun International Hotel.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, lunch

Mogao Grottoes near Dunhuang


Singing Sand (Sound) Dunes near Dunhuang


Day 8 – Dunhuang to Turpan by train

Drive to Liuyuan and take the train T69 to Turpan departing at 11:15 am, arriving at 6:51 pm. This train-travel adventure allows you to enjoy the beautiful view of the grasslands, desert, oasis, mountains, oilfields and more en route and experience a common form of transportation in China. Upon arrival, your local guide will meet you at the train station. We'll have dinner at a local restaurant and check into Jiaotong Hotel for 2 nights.

Day 9 – Turpan

Turpan is an oasis surrounded by desert and dry mountains; it is famous throughout China for its large, sweet grapes and gourds. Today's tour in Turpan includes: Jiaohe Ruins - The Jiaohe Ruins is the place of ancient Chinese ruins found in the Yarnaz Valley, 10 km west of the city of Turpan. The city of Jiaohe was the capital of the Anterior Jushi Kingdom, concurrent with the Han Dynasty, Jin Dynasty and Southern and Northern Dynasties in China. It was abandoned after its destruction during an invasion by the Mongols led by Genghis Khan in the 13th century; Karez Well - It is a local Turpan water system, called Karez well. It is a qanat system that has been regarded as one of the three greatest water projects of ancient China together with the Du Jiang Yan Irrigation System, and the Grand Canal and Emin Minaret. The last stop is the famed Flaming Mountains - The Flaming Mountains are barren, eroded, red sandstone hills in the east of the city of Turpan. The mountain climate is harsh and the temperature is extremely hot in the summer, the hottest site in China.

Enjoy Uygur minority dancing and singing performance at the hotel tonight.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Flaming Mountains near Turpan


Jiaohe Ruins

Day 10 – Turpan to Urumqi to Kashgar by air

Morning drive to Urumqi Airport for flight to Kashgar, the pearl on the ancient Silk Road, described as “fruitful soil, cotton aplenty, and inhabitants who live by trade” by Marco Polo. Upon your arrival, our local guide will meet you . Dinner at a local restaurant. Check into Kashgar International Hotel for 2 nights.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 –Kashgar- Urumqi by air

Full day visit the famous local market –namely Sunday Bazar which is the largest international trade market in northwest China. Traders at home and abroad come to purchase or sell all kinds of goods. The bazaar opens every day in Kashgar, and the Id Kah Mosque, a 500-year-old important mosque for the locals. There you will see the typical Islamic architecture like domes, minarets and arches, as well as pious prayers. In just a few minutes' walk, you will come to the Old Street of Kashgar. The maze of narrow alleys and traditional houses built with earth or bricks may give you the illusion of walking into the ancient Kashgar. The last stop in Kashgar will be the Abakh Khoja Tomb which is an ancient Islamic building complex and a cemetery where five generations of a famous Islamic master were buried. You will see the largest dome architecture of Xinjiang east of the cemetery. Then you will board an evening flight to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Our guide will be waiting for you outside the Arrival Hall of the airport and escort you to the downtown hotel - Mirage Hotel for 2 nights.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar


Abakh Khoja Tomb in Kashgar


A tiny glimpse of the massive Kashgar Bazaar

Day 12 - Urumqi

Full day Visit to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum, Red Hill Park, a large museum with emphasis on Chinese civilization on the Silk Road and local ethnic cultures. We'll visit the Heavenly Lake at 6600 ft elevation surrounded by 7800 ft peaks!

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, dinner

Heavenly Lake. A side trip from Urumqui

Day 13 – Urumqi to Beijing by air

Fly to Beijing, the capital of China. Our friendly guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free on own. Stay at Sunworld Hotel at Wangfujing for 4 nights.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast

Day 14 – Beijing

Full day visit to the Temple of Heaven where you can watch local people doing morning exercises and learn to do Chinese Tai Chi with Tai Chi master for one hour, then visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City of Supreme Harmony, and enjoy a Peking Roasted Duck Dinner tonight.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Duck dinner

Wofford 2006 Interim Travelers at the Great Wall


The Forbidden City in Beijing

Day 15 – Beijing

Full day excursion to the Mutianyu Great Wall with cable car up and slide down. Visit en route and a photo stop at the Olympic sites of Bird Nest & Water Cube. Attend the Legend of Kungfu Show.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

Wofford 2010 Interim Travelers at the Great Wall

Day 16 – Beijing

Full day free to explore on you own with approval of plans by trip sponsors.

Meals: Buffet Breakfast

Wofford students ready for a pedicab tour

Day 17 – Beijing /GSP or CLT

Departure transfer to airport for your return flight to the U.S

Meals: Buffet Breakfast


Hotel Accommodations:

Shanghai – Holiday Inn Express Zhabei Hotel

Xian – Xi'an Hotel

Dunhuang – Tianrun International Hotel

Turpan – Jiaotong Hotel

Kashgar – International Hotel

Urgmuqi – Mirage Hotel

Beijing – Sunworld Hotel at Wangfujing

Sessions upon return to Wofford Campus:

Class meetings: Three full days upon return to Wofford Campus: Students work on essays to accompany photographs (described below). Students will assist sponsors in editing and selecting essays and photographs for inclusion in the book that is to be published. Students are to assist with the layout of the book. All course items are to be submitted for grading no later than noon on the final day of interm.

Final day of class: Students present two photos and essays to the class and complete work on their portfolios and turn in their extended Personal Essay (described below.)

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Academic Goals and Nature of the Project .

With China's role in the world and in our own economy so undeniably profound, it would only be prudent for Americans to be more fully informed about a nation that is likely to supersede our own as the world's most powerful. Factors that must be considered include Chinese history, belief systems and philosophies, natural and human resources, and a government that espouses policies that promote trade, often with dire consequences in terms of resource exploitation and individual human rights. The range of topics would appear far too vast for each student to pursue so we adopt the strategy of dividing the issues into smaller parcels, each one of which will be selected by a student who will thoroughly research the topic and prepare a presentation for the entire class during the pre-departure sessions. In so doing, each student develops some expertise on a topic and shares that information concisely in a presentation. The students are responsible for learning for themselves and teaching each other. This is true even for the 17-day travel portion of the project where each student will develop expertise on one of the sites we'll visit and will prepare for an on-site presentation that explains the particulars of that site, be it a market, a mosque, or a work of art, and connects that item to our overall academic theme. Thus each student must pursue the appropriate resources for each of their presentations, organize and condense the information, and deliver it to the group in an interesting fashion. In this manner learning is shared and success is built upon the cooperative exchange of information. To assure that the academic work is pursued with sufficient rigor, the work of students will be assembled in photographs and accompanying explanatory essays into a book which will be distributed to each participant. We have found that the publishing of a book motivates students to work more conscientiously on a final product. Such a book is a permanent and accessible record and a form of accountability that drives most students to achieve more than they might otherwise.


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Enrollment requirements and selection criteria:

This project is open to all students; there are no pre-requisites. Interested students from any major and academic standing (freshmen to seniors) are welcome. Participants will be expected to walk without complaint for several miles on some days, to function cheerfully in all weather conditions, to accumulate thousands of miles on multiple airline flights and a train trip as we traverse China from west to east and back again. All participants are expected to be prompt, courteous, cooperative, reliable, responsible, and sensitive to cultural differences. They are to engage in no behaviors that will embarrass or endanger themselves or members of our group or reflect negatively on Wofford College. All participants must be able to accommodate to unforeseen changes to schedules, and students who do not cope effectively with stress or with new or uncomfortable conditions are advised to seek other Interim opportunities. Students with restricted diets should discuss this matter with instructors before enrolling. The instructors are seeking students who are willing to engage seriously in academic preparation during the on-campus class meetings prior to the travel portion, who will maintain interest, energy, and enthusiasm during the travel segment, and who will engage in thoughtful reflection and discussion throughout the entire project and especially upon our return to campus when we shall create a book based on what we've learned and experienced first-hand.

Participants will be selected based in part on the following criteria:

These instructors urge students to select their top choice of interim project based on the academic topic and avoid trying to guess which projects will "make" and which might be "oversubscribed." Although it may be comforting to travel with friends, we believe that interest in the subject matter and destinations shared by participants will provide sufficient stimulation such that whoever your travel partners may be, the experience will be superb.

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Estimated project cost per student and inclusions .

The $5100 project cost for each of the 20 participants covers:

Round-trip airfare to China, in-country flights and train trip with taxes, accommodations in highly-rated hotels suitable for American travelers, 14 group meals, entrance fees to museums, parks, and cultural sites included on the itinerary, English-speaking local guides and tips at each site, college-mandated insurance and phone, airport transfers including transportation between Spartanburg and airport of departure (most likely GSP or Charlotte) and $65 per participant to cover publishing costs for the 100 page book we are to create, a copy of which will be provided to each person.

Additional expenses not covered.

Approximately $330 in expected costs consisting of $180 for Chinese visa, ~ $150 for 10 meals during the travel segment, and ~ $20 for reading materials. Additional costs may vary widely on an individual basis and include medical expenses (i.e. vaccinations); cell phones and phone cards, optional travel guide books, entertainment and tips for performances not included in the itinerary, beverages, snack foods, and souvenirs. As with all January travel projects, it is impossible to predict weather-related or other travel issues that may arise nor the expenses associated with any necessary changes.

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Specific readings

The instructors will consider which one or two of the following books will be required reading for all participants, or if many have particular merits, we may arrange for each of several small groups of students to read one book and discuss it with the entire class.


•  Gifford, Bob. (2008). China Road: A journey into the future of a rising power. New York, NY: Random House. (see below)

•  Hessler, Peter. (2011). Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip. New York, NY: HarperCollins. (see below)

•  Chang, Leslie. (2009). Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. New York, NY: Random House Publishing. (see below)

•  Hessler, Peter. (2007). Oracle Bones. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

•  Hessler, Peter. (2006). River Town. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

•  Hessler, Peter. (2006). A journey between China's past and present. New York, NY: HarperCollins.








We expect to use these DVDs, all of which are in the Wofford Campus Library.

•  Wild China, 2008

•  China: the rebirth of an empire, 2011

•  China inside out: new world power, old world policies, 2008

•  In search of China: Chinese pursuit of identity, 2004

•  The final migration 2012

•  China: the great cultural mix, 1997

•  China's century of humiliation: a look at China's interaction with the West

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Requirements (papers, presentations, readings, etc.)

In addition to readings, viewing of media, and consistent participation in classroom discussions, there are five main academic requirements for each student:


•  A list of topics will be provided (see below) and students will select from that list, or, with the approval of the instructors, pursue a topic of their choosing. Each student is allocated about 20 minutes to present their topic during our pre-departure on-campus sessions. Each student is expected to be the expert on his or her topic. Powerpoints are appropriate. Showing impertinent YouTube videos is not. Because the topics vary so widely, there is no one source that will suitable for all presentations. Students are expected to consult whatever resources are necessary to produce a very good presentation on their topic. As presentations will be schedule on the first two days of the interim session, it is essential that students prepare well in advance. The sponsors will provide assistance as requested.

•  Prior departure students will prepare for an on-site presentation during the travel segment. The sponsors will provide a list of topics (partial listing below) for students. Each student is to become knowledgeable about their chosen site and “teach” it to the group upon arrival. We have found this to be an effective mode of information exchange on other travel interims in that students are actively involved and are more likely to be attentive to a presenting classmate than a local guide (who may not be fully aware of the academic objectives of our project and may have some difficulties with English). We intend to rely upon the local guides for supplemental information not provided in the student presentations.

•  During the travel segment, students are expected to take photographs to document their experiences, some of which are to accompany essays that address in some detail the academic components of our project. Upon return to campus we will use the model developed in Davis' southern Africa travel interims in which students will create an electronic portfolio consisting of approximately eight images and essays. These essays demonstrate what the student has learned by participating in this project and must include personal reflections and observations that relate academic content to field experience. The topics may range widely and include historical sites, religious practices, social conditions, Chinese customs, trade practices, economic and/or environmental issues, etc. Students will anonymously peer-review essays in the finals stages.

•  On the final day of the project on campus, each student will select two photographs and essays to present to the class.

•  An extended personal essay which is due on the final day of interim. Students will
choose one of the following questions to address in an extended personal essay. The length is not specified: make sure to address the topic comprehensively whether it takes several paragraphs or several pages. You may include a photograph with this essay if you wish.
1. As a result of your experiences in China, how has your perspective changed?
2. What aspects of Chinese culture would we do well to adopt as Americans and why?
3. Why is understanding China important for Americans?
4. What set of conditions has allowed China to dominate world trade and what are the prospects for the future?
5. What are the two most pressing challenges that China faces as a nation and how are these challenges likely to be met?

Topics for pre-departure student presentations. Each student will choose one of the following topics to pursue in depth. They are to relate how their topic has contributed to the rise of China as an international power.

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Students are expected to
a) Attend all orientation and concluding sessions
b) Participate in all aspects of the project, to include
i) interacting with tour guides
ii) becoming generally knowledgeable on the topics pursued in this project and developing some personal expertise on several topics.

c) Contribute essays and accompanying photographs to be included in the book that showcases our knowledge of and perceptions about China. Essays and photographs are to demonstrate what the student has learned by participating in this project and must include personal reflections and observations that relate academic content to field experience.
d) Compose a longer more general personal essay described in the “Requirements” section.
e) Prepare for a pre-departure class meeting a presentation about a topic selected from a list of options (see “Requirements” section.)
f) Prepare a presentation to be delivered on-site during the travel portion of the project (see “Requirements” section.)


H = excellent performance in the completion of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to A or A- work in a typical Wofford course, and exemplary behavior throughout the entire project.
P = satisfactory completion of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to C work in a typical Wofford course
F = failure to complete any of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to C work in a typical Wofford course, or behavior deemed inappropriate by the trip sponsors in consultation with Wofford administrators.

State Department Status

The US State Department has no travels warnings or travel alerts related to China as of 8 March 2014.


Orientation sessions content.

Topics cover Chinese customs and traditions and advice for safe and enjoyable travel. The professors will emphasis the behavior contract.

Debriefing sessions: nature, content, dates.

Sessions upon return to Wofford Campus: Class meetings: Three full days upon return to Wofford Campus: Students work on essays to accompany photographs (described elsewhere). Students will assist sponsors in editing and selecting essays and photographs for inclusion in the book that is to be published. Students are to assist where possible with the layout of the book. All course items are to be submitted for grading no later than noon on the final day of interim.

Final day of class: Students present two photos and essays to the class and complete work on their portfolios and turn in their extended Personal Essay (described elsewhere.)

The Professors

Dr. G.R. Davis, Professor of Biology, has co-sponsored twelve travel projects to thirteen countries since coming to Wofford in 1993. He has traveled with Wofford students to South America, Africa, and Europe on projects ranging from Modern Art and the Mediterranean to Life in Namibia and South Africa. This will be his first travel project to Asia.

Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, Professor of Chinese, has traveled extensively throughout China. She has lead three Wofford Interim projects to her native country and has visited many of the sites in central and eastern China that are part of this project. For those cities in the west she has not visited, we are confident that the travel agent Dr. Kinnison has used on previous trips will again provide excellent service.

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Apply for this project JAN 427A on-line