Plan your group volunteer adventure with Minds Abroad

Are you planning to spend your next vacation in a more excited way? You want to do something worthy but with lot of fun? You need to be involved in making a change in this world, but don’t want to miss your friends or colleagues? Join your hands with Minds Abroad to find a solution. We help you out with organizing customized travelling and volunteering in China in groups.

You can enjoy your vacation by travelling to china with your best pals and dear ones, spend your time in helping out the needy local people and site seeing. Minds Abroad will make sure that your group volunteer broad experience is everything that each member of your group dreamed that it would be! Yunnan province in china is one of the must visit places if you get a chance to. The entire trip will be customized as per your preferences to best meet your group’s unique interests, schedule and experience.

In Asia volunteering opportunities are at Kunming in China, one of the most beautiful provinces in china with diverse people and cultures, its industrial development has lagged far behind the coastal region of China. In truth, it is this lack of industry that has helped preserve Yunnan’s traditional cultures. However, a less desirable consequence of this is that many families of migrant workers in Kunming have limited economic opportunities. This has left many children in a position where they don’t have access to the kind of education necessary to escape the poverty in which they are growing up. So the volunteer group will be working for the upliftment of these minorities in China.

Group orientation programs will be conducted by Minds Abroad for customized groups. Apart from volunteering you will get a chance to travel and site seeing in China to enjoy your vacation at the best.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

10 Things to Know When You Volunteer Abroad

If you are in high school, you are at a turning point of your life. You are blessed with energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and talent at this age. You have the whole world in front of you to utilize your talents and your energy to leave a mark at this age. So, why don’t you put your efforts into helping a humanitarian cause? Why don’t you devote some part of your time as a volunteer abroad? Helping those people you have never met on the other part of the globe. Let it be a small effort for a small change, but it will create big impact.

1.  Figure out the area of your interest

You can come up with effective results if you love what you do. So once you decide to do service learning, try to pick a volunteer activity in which you can contribute your best to solve those issues and problems that you are truly cared about.

2.  Research for the best organization to join

Try to work with an organization that can offer you the best experience and learning. Find out expert organization in this field because you are spending your time and money to go abroad and hard work for others and your humble efforts should be valued. Research about the kind of support that organization currently needs, their area of activities, the beneficiaries of their former community services, assurance of your safety by them in the host country etc.

3.  Learn about the culture

You are not going abroad for a picnic to just pack your stuffs and leave your home. You are going to spend your time in building up a good life for those minorities scattered across the globe. You will be from a world of modern amenities and comforts. It is important for you to know about the local culture. Learn about the local cuisine, their ideologies of freedom, gender, races etc.

4.  Decide on your goals and expectations

It is important to plan your volunteer trip. You should know what you are going to get out of the program, you can write your ambitions that you are going to make real in the trip. You may not get a second chance.

5.  Be ready to be adaptable to the host community

You are an outsider, a foreigner for the host community. Try to be one among them. Adjust with everything you see there. You will get mixed reactions and emotions. They won’t be welcoming as you expect, but don’t get discouraged. People love those who speak their language and their culture. You are not going there to colonize the ethnic community. Respect their culture and norms.

6.  Donot under estimate what you do

You are making tremendous efforts and it may not give an immediate result, that doesn’t mean that you worked for nothing. Changes take time, accept this fact and move on.

7.  Stay positive and enthusiastic

Every single moment on your trip may not be perfect. Be optimistic and enthusiastic. Ask for local help when you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have doubts. Try to learn new things from the volunteer experience every day. Keep a track of what you did each day will help you to improve in future.

8.  Be open minded

The crucial thing you have to remember when you volunteer abroad is to have an open minded attitude to everything you witness and experience there. Learning different culture, language, learn to adjust everything is the output of your service learning. Be welcoming, compassionate, empathetic and friendly to the host.

9.   Volunteering is not about glamour or fashion

Your expensive clothes, styles, your fashionable accessories and gadgets may not be as out weighting as the internal glow and learning experience you acquire from service learning.

10.  Befriend with the locals of for better communication

Make friends among the locals to get support in your daily activities. You need to practice and learn the local language, get used to the local cuisine, culture and life style for a better survival.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

The Inexplicable Beauty of Shangri-La Truly Makes it China’s Utopia

Shangri-La is without a doubt China’s utopia. With its magnanimous beauty, there is no question as to why everybody raves about it. China’s success as a study abroad destination has much to do with its fantastic locations and Shangri-La certainly features on top of the list. The timeless beauty of the place makes it an unforgettable destination that people yearn to visit again and again.

The Beauty of Shangri-La

Shangri-La is not a new name. This name became enormously famous as a utopian place in China where immortals lived. This fame has been attributed to British author James Hilton who described the place in his book ‘Lost Horizon’ in 1933. In this book the author described Shangri-La as a mystical valley in the Kunlun Mountains whose residents were cut off from the rest of the world.

But perhaps the image of Shangri-La as a site of preservation of oriental culture and a place impervious to time was best depicted by the Austrian-born American botanist Joseph Rock who visited and stayed in China between late 1920s and early 1930s. Even today the real Shangri-La is synonymous with abundant flora and fauna.

For time immemorial, Shangri-La has been declared as the Grand Garden on the Mountains. Long back in the past, it also served as a crucial transit stop for the well-known Old Tea-Horse Caravan Road located in Southwest China. However, currently Shangri-La has achieved global recognition for its pristine and natural beauty rather than anything else.

Located in a geographical triangle formed by Yunnan, Tibet and Sichuan, Shangri-La has a magnetic appeal for students and visitors alike. People who are in China for either Chinese language programs or gap years programs inevitably never miss out to visit this enigmatic place. The county site is about 410 miles away from Kunming, which is Yunnan’s provincial capital. For those interested, one can travel to Diqing from Kunming which takes roughly 50 minutes by flight. Additionally, buses from Dali and Lijiang are also chosen as transportation to reach Shangri-La. Lijiang and Dali themselves are very pleasant and historically rich locations to visit.

More than thirteen ethnic minority groups are present in Shangri-La, which include Tibetan, Hui, Han, Lisu, Yi, Naxi and Bai. They follow a variety of religious beliefs which range from Tibetan Buddhism, Catholicism to Protestantism and several others. While practicing these many religions, people from these multitudes of ethnic groups have still been successful in living peacefully with each other throughout the years.

Considering its beauty and uniqueness, Shangri-la is automatically listed as one of China’s eight most popular tourist spots. With the passing of years, Shangri-La is gaining more and more recognition and is attracting people from all over the world. Of all the popular spots in this region, most important landmarks are Bi Ta Hai Lake, Whitewater Terraces, Meili Snow Mountian Gui Hui Monastery, and Napa Hai Lake.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Vietnam: the Haven for History, Cuisine and Travel

Traveling in Vietnam with Minds AbroadVietnam has been a popular destination for students visiting China for a good few years now. The primary reasons for this are the accessibility and history. The country has turned over a new leaf with the turn of the century. It has become one of the most visited destinations in Asia due to a variety of reasons. When in Vietnam, one can also easily access Laos and Cambodia.

Traveling in Vietnam

Historically, Vietnam has been associated with resilience. This is a country that has always fought off many invaders and has emerged independent. Though the world remembers it as a site of the Vietnam War (American War for the Vietnamese), what people do not know is that before that there were numerous attempts to occupy the country by the Japanese, the Chinese and even the French. The French colonization has left a huge impression on the country’s culture, particularly its cuisine. Even though French cuisine is radically different from the Vietnamese cuisine, the latter does carry features of the former in many discernible forms. Tourists love the delicious local food that is usually found in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s proximity to China and its history has made it an important destination both for travelers as well as students of study abroad programs. Even though the nation is governed by one-party authoritarian regime, it has introduced select features of capitalism to give boost to its economy. Naturally the inflow of students traveling to Asia for Chinese language programs and gap year jobs has increased considerably. The facilities available for those visiting the country are abundant and no one feels out of place while living or visiting there.

If one wants to explore the country, he or she can divide it into three distinct regions which include the north, the central and the south. The capital Ho Chi Minh City is in the south. Weather wise all of them are similar in almost all aspects. One should expect a lot of rain during the months between September and February in the central part of the country; traveling in that area should be avoided because of heavy rains, strong winds and sea swells. During this time, the southern part of the country is most accessible because of the cool and dry weather.

While in the country, students can get around on motor bikes, cycles or rented cars. However surprisingly, renting a car in Vietnam does not only entail renting the car–the driver comes with it. One cannot drive cars around independently. However there is a signature vehicle in Vietnam which would certainly appeal to a younger age group; it is called ‘cyclo’ and it is a vehicle where the driver sits in the rear while passengers sit in the front. It is a manually driven utility with components of a bicycle.

It must be pointed out that Ho Chi Minh City comprises of a sizable Chinese community apart from the native Vietnamese population. This is owing to the vicinity to China. From Vietnam, Laos, China and Cambodia are easily accessible and people often go on tours to all of these places as well.

While the historical destination for almost all students on gap year programs is Ho Chi Minh City, one can also go to many other destinations like Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Xishuangbanna: the Tropical Delight of China

Xishuangbanna is the gateway to Southeast Asia in China. However this prefecture is not just a part of the route. It is also the home of the Dai Community, and hence an important destination for those who wish to learn more about the Chinese culture and way of life. The warm climate and abundant rainfall have led to the rich biodiversity that has made this region one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country. The Dai community has also been able to preserve its culture over the centuries.

The Natural Beauty of Xishuangbanna is Worth Exploration

Xishuangbanna is an autonomous prefecture in Yunnan Province of China. This is one of the oldest sites in the province which is known for its pleasant tropical climate and ethnic concentration. Naturally it has become an important destination of study abroad programs in China.

It is vital for a gap year program or a Chinese language program to incorporate those places in China which not only reflect the modern life that the citizens have embraced but also the deep rooted culture which is poignant and pervasive throughout the country. For example, the modern city of Beijing has been separated from the old Beijing City and, despite being right next to each other, one can clearly see the difference in the lifestyles led by people in these two vastly different regions. The hustle and bustle of modern Beijing and the baroque lifestyle of the old city magically coexist side by side. Likewise, there are entire townships which though having embraced modern culture and the fast-paced life, they preserve their cultural practices and way of living through it all. Such destinations prove to be a great source of learning for students who want to learn Mandarin and also understand the Chinese culture.

Xishuangbanna is one of such destinations. It is located at a lesser height than the rest of the Yunnan Province and hence it features relatively warmer weather with tropical features. Its location also offers one strategic benefit to those who have come on China tour. These individuals can easily travel to neighboring Asian countries of Myanmar and Laos, the former lying to the west and the latter lying towards the east of the prefecture. But this is not all. Xishuangbanna is home to the Dai people and the official name of the prefecture is Dai Minority People’s Autonomous Prefecture. The name Xishuangbanna in turn can be translated to “Twelve Thousand Rice Fields”, which is indicative of the traditional work that the Dai community has been involved in for centuries.

The prefecture is marked by two seasons. There is the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season starts in May and ends in October. The dry season starts in November and continues till April. Those interested in learning Chinese and going on China travel can visit anytime of the year. The abundant rainfall and warm climate has created diverse flora and fauna. The rich biodiversity has allowed preservation of forests and the few elephants remaining in China are found here. This region also produces the landmark tea of the country. There are six mountains called the Tea Mountains where among others, the highly regarded Pu-erh tea is also produced. The dominant religion here is Theravada Buddhism and the region is flanked by several temples and pagodas. One can also see the traditions and customs as being an integral part of the daily life of people living here.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Kunming: the Beautiful Spring City with Excellent Travel Opportunities

While visiting China for study abroad programs or volunteering tour, one must visit Kunming, the spring city. It is the capital of Yunnan Province which is home to 26 out of 52 ethnic minorities in the country. Also Kunming lies at a central location from where one can visit all places of cultural importance and natural beauty with ease. Naturally the city becomes an ideal destination for studying abroad as well as travel.

Places of Interest in Kunming

A properly conducted study abroad program provides students with a comprehensive insight into the country they have visited. The objective of these programs is to put the students out of their comfort zone, explore, learn and put their existing knowledge to use. Where gap year programs based in China and India are concerned, this holds particularly true. This is because both these nations are developing and do not offer the same amenities as the developed western nations. Also there are comprehensive cultural differences which make the interaction of a foreigner with the locals even more interesting.

To ensure that one gets to know more about the country he or she is visiting, traveling has become an integral part of all such study abroad programs. It is said that one gets to know one’s true potential when they are traveling. It is a time when one undergoes a lot of change emotionally. One gets to interact, push himself or herself physically and mentally and gets to work with people from a variety of backgrounds. All these factors help advance one’s communication skills along with intrinsic development in personality.

While in choosing a destination for Chinese language programs or volunteering, Yunnan Province is considered to be an ideal destination. It is not only the climate that is a major factor; Yunnan has many travel destinations which depict the lifestyle of Chinese people and gives a comprehensive insight into the Chinese way of life. The capital city of Kunming is the hub of these destinations. From here, almost all the important landmarks in Yunnan are within easy reach.

One such is the Stone Forest with its breathtaking natural splendor. 270 million years in the making, the Stone Forest is without any vegetation and comprises of jagged stones rising beside each other over an area of 135 sq. miles.

Another great place to visit is the Western Hills which rise around Dianchi Lake. The flora and fauna of these hills has been preserved. Nestled in these hills also lies the Dragon Gate. This is a temple which took fifty-four years to build and still stands tall. One can see elegant work of architecture in this temple which stands at a height of almost 2500 feet above sea level.

In the northeast of Kunming lies Mingfeng Hill where Golden Temple was built in the 16th Century. Built by the Ming Dynasty, it also has the Taihe Palace in its vicinity. Inside the temple are girders, statues, screens and decorations made entirely of copper which together weigh almost 20 tons. This makes this temple the biggest copper temple in China. It is a place that offers a unique insight into the architecture and metalwork done by the Ming and the Qing Dynasties.

Other attractions include Green Lake Park and Daguan Park.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Historically Rich Lijiang is a Not-to-be-Missed Part of China

Beautiful Lijiang

Lijiang is a small town in Yunnan Province which has a history of almost 800 years. It is built at a spot where the Jade River divides into three sections. The Ancient Town of Lijiang was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and the place houses a remarkable plethora of history, landscapes and culture. It is known for its quiet tranquility and of late it has become one of the most popular tourist spots in the country as well.

Exploring Lijiang

If you have opted for Chinese language programs or gap year jobs in Yunnan Province of China, you will get the opportunity to see some of the oldest places in the country. Yunnan has temperate climatic conditions which make it the ideal destination for all forms of study abroad and gap year programs. One can visit the province anytime of the year and there are no temperature extremities of the kind that are encountered in Beijing or Shanghai during summers.

Close to the capital city of Kunming is the small city of Lijiang which has attracted a lot of tourists visiting China. Lijiang City has an 800-year-old history; this town was built between 1127 and 1279 during the end of the reign of the Song Dynasty in South China. The period also coincided with the beginning of the reign of the Yuan Dynasty. Lijiang was the stopover of traders from Tibet who traded horses for tea in that region.

Lijiang was founded at the place where the Jade River parts into three rivers. The town was built in such a manner that the three rivers coursed through it and the complex water system that developed has been compared to the canal system of Venice. The river gets divided into streams which get further subdivided in such a manner that they flow through courtyards and side alleys of the houses. This water system has been hailed as an exclusive method for daily use of water as well as for water storage. Students studying architecture marvel at this 800year-old system.

Students learning Mandarin in Yunnan take time out of their study schedule, and visit Lijiang. The town offers them the history and complete oversight of the ancient Chinese culture which has remained preserved here. The town came to the world’s attention  in 1996 because of an earthquake that had hit the region. But since then the residents have recovered and transformed the town into one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.

Studying abroad is not complete without a comprehensive cultural immersion program. This is why Lijiang becomes an important destination for all those who have opted for Chinese language programs. The old town of the city has been maintained, and, while visiting it, one goes back in time. There is a bonfire every evening at the Central Plaza where foreigners frequently gather. Another feature is the Mu Palace which was built by the Mu Clan when it ruled over the Naxi for 400 years. There is also the beautiful and scenic Black Dragon Pool from which one can take beautiful pictures of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This mountain rises almost to a height of 5,600 meters.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Dali: an Enigma of China’s Glorious Past

North Georgia University students excursion with Minds Abroad, Cang Mountains, Dali
Dali, a city in the southern part of China has become a popular tourist destination and a favorite hot spot for those who are visiting the country to learn Chinese or for gap year jobs. The city has been divided into the Old City region and the New City region for better preservation and maintenance. Many architectural structures from the past have been rebuilt and others preserved, making Dali a favorite destination among both natives and foreigners.

What to Visit in Dali

Dali is a place close to the Kunming City of Yunnan Province in China. Yunnan Province has increasingly become a popular study abroad destination. It is the place of residence of 51 out of 52 ethnic minorities of China and if one wants to see the variety of culture and lifestyles of China, Yunnan is the appropriate destination. Another factor that favors Kunming city as a popular destination for gap year jobs and Chinese language programs is its vicinity to some of the most beautiful and historically important places in China.

Dali is both a city of historical importance as well as a tourist hotspot. The city was the capital of the Bai kingdom of Nanzhao that flourished between the 9th century and the mid 12th century. The city lies in the Muslim dominated region of China, as is evident from its architecture and lifestyle.

Today, Dali has been divided into two cities, the old and the new one. The new Dali city has all the modern amenities and comprises the administrative division of both the sections. The city, now an international tourist spot, has taken charge of the maintenance and preservation of the older town which is a place that is still lost in time. All those who visit the Yunnan Province to learn Chinese or for other gap year programs must also take a trip to Dali along with Lijiang. One can fly to Dali from Kunming in barely 40 minutes.

The modern Dali City has a ‘Foreigners Street’ where one will come face to face with Western food and music and hordes of English speaking business owners. This place is a visitor’s hub, both from the country and outside. In contrast, the old city has many architectural structures which have been revamped for preservation. These include Guanyin Palace of Copper Rain which was rebuilt in 1999 and the Jianji Great Bell of Nanzhao which was recast in 1997. This was an effort to restore the old city to its former glory and today these two places have become places of interest for tourists dabbling in the history of the city. The Dali museum also offers an insight into the glorious past of the region. One can also go to Shaxi which is a nearby historical town. This town was a major destination in the ancient trade route, famous for import and export of tea of China.

But this is not it. The city features the Demi Gods and Semi-Devils Film City, which is an interesting site to visit. It features sections which depict the Song, Xia and Liao dynasties. Visitors are allowed to sit on the throne and don the robe of the emperors for a fee. One is also allowed to pick up weapons for examination. But they are all replica items, but built totally according to the specifications of the original.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon