My daughters attended Minds Abroad’s Yunnan S+T Program, last year and it was a wonderful experience for them. The program was a perfect combination of Mandarin classes, volunteering at local schools for underprivileged kids and weekend excursions to places in and around Yunnan.
Since my daughters are 15 and 17, the Mandarin lessons put together for them were customized according to their needs, levels and age group. The class size was limited to only 5 students, which was great in a way. This ensured one-on-one, individual attention. The classes were arranged in a spacious, airy room of the office of Minds Abroad and they were fun-filled , engaging as well as intellectually and creatively stimulating. The tutor was a middle-aged, highly knowledgeable local school teacher and my girls connected with her on many levels. She helped my daughter settle into the life in Kunming and was focused on getting their basics right from the very beginning. She gave a lot of stress on perfecting the tones and I am really indebted to her for my daughters’ new found interest in one of the most complicated yet beautiful languages of the world, Mandarin.
My daughters went to various places of historic and cultural interest in Yunnan over the weekend. Their guides were fantastic and a treasure-trove of knowledge. Many of the sites that they covered were out-of-the-beaten track, not frequented by a lot of tourists. Their top favorite was the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Though the trek up the gorge was arduous and needed a lot of stamina and tenacity, it was worth it. The program associates of Minds Abroad were also extremely hard-working and punctual and they went out of their way to make sure that our girls had a wonderful experience. I am really thankful to Leah, an associate I particularly became friends with. She was extremely kind and lent a sympathetic ear to all my woes and complaints. I overwhelmed her with phone-calls, wechat messages and emails from time to time and she put up with my tantrums like a saint.
She occasionally took the students to explore various nooks and crannies of Kunming outside of her normal work hours. Spending those few precious days in Kunming has been an eye-opening and life-changing experience for my girls. My daughters are thankfully more grateful for what they have. They have made lots of friends, while they were at Kunming and at the school they volunteered at.