China Fieldwork Semester Blog

The China Fieldwork Semester is an intensive project-based student research program in Xizhou, Yunnan. The program consists of a group of 11th and 12th grade students from Sidwell Friends and other US schools. Students work together in a research “collaboratory” housed in a historic residential facility.

Blog content shared here is a selection from personal reflections by students and faculty. Click here to see a video created by the students discussing their experiences. 

This is the second year the China Fieldwork Semester program has run. To read the 2014 blog, please click here.  

  • Apprenticeship Pictures

    Posted: Monday, April 13
  • The Art of Wood -木雕

    Posted: Sunday, April 5
    By Nathaniel Ostrer ’16, CFS Student
    Mr. Li carving wood by Nathaniel Ostrer ’16

    Hidden in a small town in the Dali region of Yunnan Province, unbeknownst to the outside world, a renaissance is occurring. The Cultural Revolution destroyed much of art and culture in China, and its scars linger to this day.

  • Apprenticeships

    Posted: Friday, April 3
    By Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant

    CFS students performed apprenticeships throughout the month of March.

  • March in Xizhou

    Posted: Thursday, March 19
    By Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant
    Nathaniel Ostrer ’16 and Renci Freeman ’15 wading into the wetlands to conduct a water turbidity test. (taken by Alison Steinbach '14)

    March has been very exciting so far for CFS students here in Xizhou. Each student has been apprenticing with a master to learn a local craft, and students have been participating in interesting Landscape Ecology labs in various ecosystems.

  • Chinese New Year in Xizhou

    Posted: Saturday, February 28
    By Raphael Cohen-Fuentes ‘16
    Raphael celebrating Chunjie with a sparkler. (taken by Alison Steinbach '14)

    In the week leading up to the Chinese New Year, or chunjie in Chinese, all of Xizhou mentally prepares itself for the preparations to come.

  • A Weekend Trip to Shaxi

    Posted: Sunday, February 22
    By Jake Van Meter ’15
    The table during an evening tea session with Zhong Laoshi by Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant

    Shaxi (沙溪) is a historic market town on the tea and horse trade route leading from Yunnan to Tibet and Burma. We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit this historic center of life.

  • Seeing the Cangshan, arriving in Xizhou, and the Ecotour

    Posted: Wednesday, February 18
    By Nikhil Chaudhuri ’15
    Yinli Jinzhai’s entrance (“men kou”) by Nikhil Chaudhuri ’15

    It has been a very busy two weeks leading into “Chunjie,” or Chinese New Year. One must never have any debts when “Chunjie” arrives. As students, our debts are more scholarly than monetary.

  • Landscape Ecology Unit

    Posted: Thursday, February 12
    By Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant
    Photo: Logan Friedman ’16 and Abby Castillo ’16 make notes while bird-watching at the wetlands ecotour. Photo by Alison Steinbach ’14.

    Today students began a multi-day Landscape Ecology fieldwork project on various ecosystems here in our extraordinarily diverse area.

  • Meeting local farm host families

    Posted: Tuesday, February 10
    By Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant
    Photo: The farm host family of Jake Van Meter ’15 and Nathaniel Ostrer ’16. Photo by Jake Van Meter ’15.

    After completing the house project, students traveled in groups of two or three to meet their “farm host families.” Every week, students will visit these families, eat a meal together, practice speaking Chinese, and learn about the farming practices and lives of the host families.

  • Houses: the first history-based fieldwork research project

    Posted: Saturday, February 7
    By Alison Steinbach ’14, CFS Teaching Assistant
    Photo: Students learn about a traditional Xizhou house. Photo by Alison Steinbach ’14.

    This week students split into three groups, and each went out to research a specific old house here in town.


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