closed for 2016
Travel with us to Taiwan for our 24-day teen Mandarin Chinese and community service program. Our journey will include formal Mandarin Chinese language classes while simultaneously exploring the culture, politics and landscape of this remarkable island.
We join hands with a small village where we immerse ourselves in the music and traditions of the Atayal while teaching English. Our experience hikes the Taroko Gorge, followed by a trip to the coast for some of the best surfing in the world and a thrilling raft trip down the Liwu River.
Click Description to learn more about our teen Mandarin Chinese and community service program.
Read about our senior leader Beth McMahon who designed this program with us after spending a year in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar.
Taiwan // You Don't Want to Miss
#1 Whitewater Raft the Liwu River!
Taroko National Park in Eastern Taiwan is famous for its rugged landscapes and canyons, particularly the impressive Taroko Gorge. This steep canyon has amazing views and historical shrines, hot springs, mountain forests with wildlife, whitewater rafting, and trekking. The Liwu River flows through the canyon and is excellent for rafting during the summer months.
#2 Surf the Taiwanese Coast
Taiwan holds some of the most wave-rich and uncrowded stretches of water, only meters from the beach. You'll find yourself immersed in the sound of crashing waves and stunning ocean and mountain views. Consistent swell patterns year round ensure plenty of water time and an abundance of waves.
#3 Study Mandarin Chinese Language
Studying Mandarin in Taiwan is not only great for college and future work in the world, but a fun and eye opening experience. After a few classes, you will not only have the ability to make lasting connections in the community, but also obtain a deep understanding of the power language holds in our lives.
#4 Food You’ll Crave for a Lifetime
The culinary philosophy of Taiwan is, “eat often and eat well”. Every time you think you've found the best street food, the most incredible restaurant, or your number one beef noodle soup, there's another experience that surpasses it. The island's food is a mash-up of the cuisine of Chinese communities along with Japanese cooking and aboriginal influences. Food is a serious business in Taiwan!
#5 Prepare and Teach English in a Native Village
A town full of children eagerly await their new “Laoshi” or teacher. As you arrive, children run out of every doorway and welcome you to their town. The ability to speak English is an important skill in Taiwan. You'll offer friendship and opportunities that your students will never forget.
#6 Night Markets
Taiwan's 300+ night markets await your midnight cravings. These open-air bazaars are particularly loved for street food, referred to locally as xiao-chi, literally "small eats".
#7 Hop Into The Hot Springs at Jiaoxi
The springs are located in Yilan County in the northeastern part of Taiwan. The park has several foot baths, water play areas, as well as sheltered resting areas. After washing your cares away, you might want to taste the local cuisine prepared with vegetables cultivated with waters from the hot springs.
#8 Learn the Art of Taiwanese Cooking
Whether you are dying to learn or just hungry for new experiences, learning Taiwanese cooking in Taiwan cannot be matched. Our cooking teacher opens her home and kitchen to us while teaching us about the unique flavors and recipes of Taiwan for a home-style cooking experience that you will never forget.
#9 Experience the City of Taipei
A 300-year-old city, this unhurried but vibrant capital has taken a bit to find its own identity. With Chinese, Japanese, and Western influences in its food, culture, folk arts, and architecture, Taipei has finally decided that it's a mix, and better for it.
#10 Immerse Yourself in Native Cultures and Traditions
The Atayal (泰雅) are the second largest tribe of Taiwanese aborigines that still practice many of their traditions including dancing, singing, weaving, and speaking the Atayal language.
#11 Bubble Teas!
If you visit Taiwan you can't help but notice the unique bubble teashops on every corner. Bubble Tea to Taiwan is what coffee or soda is to the U.S. Stretch your horizons and try out a delicious glass!
#12 Toroko National Park and Gorge
The main attraction of Taroko Gorge is its phenomenal landscape. With a very steep relief rising from the sea level into high mountains, deep canyons, and mountain forests, you're destined to be amazed. The tunnel of Nine Turns, a twisting cave with spectacular views over the canyon, the Eternal Spring Shrine, the Swallow Grotto, the Wenshan Hot Springs, and Baiyang Waterfall are some of the most memorable sites along the way.
#13 Ride the Bullet Train
Taiwan’s High-Speed Rail is quick and stylish. There’s nothing like sitting in comfort sipping a coffee while the world blurs beneath you at 150mph. Taiwan has one of the fastest trains in the world, catapulting you from Taipei to Kaohsiung in just 90 minutes.
#14 Yangming Mountain
High in the north of Taiwan and very close to downtown Taipei, with volcanic sights, tranquil valleys, various plants and hot springs, this mountain is the largest and most beautiful natural area on the whole island. With exquisitely designed bridges, elegant pavilions, and beautiful flowers, the Back Mountain Park, also called Yangming Mountain Park, is well known for its volcanoes, crater lakes, and hot springs.
English teaching and lesson preparation in a native village.
20 hours of Mandarin Chinese classes. No Mandarin Chinese language experience necessary.
Immersion within Community and Country.
Learn: Study Mandarin Chinese language and Asian cultures
Whitewater Raft: Liwu River
Surf: Taiwanese Coast
Hike: Taroko Gorge
Classes: Traditional dancing and cooking
Explore: Asian Markets; Buddhist Temples; Historical Sites
San Francisco, CA (SFO)
A leader escorted round-trip group flight is arranged to fly out of San Francisco (SFO). Please contact our office for fare information.
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Taiwan is a once-in-a lifetime experience with an indigenous heritage that enchants all who visit. Complete with ancient cultures, fascinating politics, and unique food we arrive at the Northern tip of Taiwan, and are immediately immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the cultural center of Taipei. Before heading out on our journey, we tour the city and soak up the urban culture.
Our first days of adventure are a chance to get to know one another, challenge ourselves, and explore the landscape and its many narrow gorges and winding rivers perfect for rafting. We head down the Liwu River as it cuts through the marble flowing through Taroko Gorge. When Taroko National Park was established in l986, it was of special significance for the environmental protection movement in Taiwan. Sliced in half by narrow, deep-cut Taroko Gorge, it is one of Asia’s top natural wonders and an absolute must-see. Hiking through the breathtaking marble cliffs we explore the unique beauty that 100 years of tectonic changes created and learn the ancient history of the gorge.
We arrive at our home base, Au Hwa Atayal Village, a secluded commuity where we have been invited to teach English and live amoung the families for the next twelve days. As school ends each day, we join the community in traditional feasts, singing, crafts, music and dancing. We are welcomed to try our hand at cooking, fishing, and learning the ancient Atayal traditions weaving, net-knotting and woodworking. Living and working in this remote community, we get a true hands-on sense of aboriginal Taiwanese life.
While living in Au Hwa we travel to the nearby city of Ilan, where we learn Mandarin Chinese language and explore the cultural influences of both China and Japan on the Taiwanese way of life. This city of less than 100,000 people is a perfect place for us to immerse ourselves among the fourteen officially recognized tribes in any number of markets, temples, and museums.
Our final days are spent on the memorable expansive beaches taking advantage of the coast, surf and sand as we say our final goodbyes. The island’s lengthy stretch of coastline is an amazing feast for the eyes. We share a traditional final feast, listening one last time as the waves break on the beach and enjoy an unspoiled paradise like nowhere else on earth.
Arrive in San Francisco, CA and board our group flight to Taipei.
Explore Taipei. Visit Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, the Martyrs's Shrine, the National Palace Museum, and the Handicraft Center.
Set out for Taroko National Park. Hike through the winding gorges, swim in hidden waterfalls, and whitewater raft down the Liwu River.
Move to a small mountain village outside Lou Dong, home of the Atayal Tribe. Learn to cook from a chef in the village. Teach English to children in the mornings, then take Mandarin language classes in the afternoons. Learn the song, dance, and weaving of the Atayal people, along with calligraphy and Tai Chi. Visit the market in Lou Dong. Explore the beaches and countryside. Hike in the secluded Changyang Shan Mountains.
Learn to surf. Spend a few days riding the waves and exploring the beaches of northern Taiwan.
Celebrate with a farewell banquet.
Board a group flight to the United States, where we say goodbye and head our separate ways.