China excursion offers new experiences for students, community members

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Dixie State University is offering two tuition free excursions in May to China, but the trips are not only offered to students. 

These excursions are called cultural exchanges, business professor Verl Anderson said. They have slightly different emphasis from the study abroad trips. Cultural exchanges don’t require a class to be taken, and not everyone who participates has to be enrolled at DSU.

“I just want to share [the experience],” Anderson said.

Anderson has led study abroad trips to Russia for 12 years and traveled to multiple countries, but he said China is “more exciting than any of them.”

“[China] has 5,000 years of history we don’t have,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s passion for China, the culture and the experience he has found there has driven him to create a unique and inexpensive trip for students and community members.

Anderson recognized on the first trip that not everybody cares about earning class credit. Nineteen people went on the first trip consisting of 17 teachers and two students. Anderson didn’t want the extra cost of tuition to be the reason why people didn’t or couldn’t go, so he made the choice optional. Students can still receive three business credits if desired. 

Another reason the trip is so inexpensive is because Anderson chose to not make any profit on the trip. He said the purpose of the trip isn’t to make money. 

“It irritates me that people try to nickel and dime the students,” Anderson said.

Anderson works with Cathy Cao, an economics professor from China, to help cut the costs. Cao, who visited and taught at DSU for one semester, negotiates all the prices for the trip.  

Anderson said she won’t settle until she gets the price she’s after. 

The price for the 16-day excursion is $3,460 and the price for the 12-day excursion is $2,960. The trip expense covers lodging, tours, admission fees, transportation and airfare.

The transportation taken is a big way this trip tries to immerse people in the culture. 

“Anderson arranged the trip so you see as an average Chinese person,” said Rachel Synder, a senior elementary education major from St. George and student who went on the trip last summer. 

The trips

Both excursions start and end the same way, but each is filled a little differently in the middle — almost like a box of chocolates.

The trips start out in Beijing and end in Xi’an.

Anderson said both Beijing and Xi’an are richer in culture compared to Shanghai, which Anderson said is just a big city.

The trip stops at the Great Wall, Ming Tomb, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, a kungfu show, Old Nanluo Lane, and Tian An Men Square.

The first and the longest trip is filled with a five-star cruise up the Yangtze River with six stops along the way, one of them being the Three Gorges Dam.

The second trip is filled with a hike up Mount Tai and rafting down the Stalactite cave.  

The trip may be a few days shorter, but Anderson said Mount Tai is comparable to the cruise.

“[Mount Tai] is where every Chinese [person] wants to go at least once in their life,” Anderson said.

Both trips end in Xi’an visiting the Terracotta Warriors, Ancient City Wall, Tang Dynasty Show, Drum Tower, Bell Tower, Hui Market Street, and a dumpling dinner.

What students should expect

Outside of the expense, students need to plan to pay for a traveling visa, food, and of course a bit of extra money to bring back souvenirs.

Anderson said food shouldn’t be more than $125 for the whole trip. Tourists can eat in restaurants for $2 to $3. He also said more often than not the language barrier isn’t a problem, and most Chinese learn to speak English at a young age. 

Jackson Ream, a junior geology major from St. George, went on the trip last summer and said the trip was extraordinary and life-altering. 

“I don’t have just the American way of doing things anymore,” Ream said.  

Synder encourages people to travel abroad, and said the trip opened her eyes to how China really is and not just how the American media paints it.

“It’s important for us to have that experience in any country that we visit,” Synder said.

Students interested in either trip should contact Verl Anderson at [email protected] or 435-652-7840. The trips are first come first serve and will be capped at 50 people. The first payment is due Jan. 22. 

Anderson said he believes every spot will be filled by mid-October.

“You won’t have a better trip anywhere in the world,” Anderson said.