• Shaxi China Old Theatre Inn - Shaxi guesthouse - Yunnan China


  • Shaxi China Old Theatre Inn - Shaxi guesthouse - Yunnan China

  • Shaxi China Old Theatre Inn - Shaxi guesthouse - Yunnan China

  • Shaxi China Old Theatre Inn - Shaxi guesthouse - Yunnan China

  • Shaxi China Old Theatre Inn - Shaxi guesthouse - Yunnan China

Over a decade of service learning in Shaxi


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Learn and contribute in Shaxi

The Ginkgo Society, a sustainable tourism intiative led by China aventupreneur, Chris Barclay, has established service learning projects in Shaxi in cooperation with guide companies from around the region. These projects give students the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to improving quality of life for people in Shaxi and leave a lasting legacy.

Students can choose from several options depending on the season and budget. Currently our most popular project is greenhouse building in the Yi villages high above the valley. This project takes one full day with a camp overnight in tents. Ginkgo provides the materials and assemblysupport with students doing all of the work on their own.

Another rewarding option in nearby Xia Ke Village is helping local farmers with planting or harvesting crops. This activity is season dependent and is best in the months of April-August, but there is always farmwork to be done in Shaxi with extra hands welcome. Students will learn about local agriculture and have a chance to cook and eat some of what they take back from the fields.

For those students who don't mind some heavy labor, throughout the year there are always families who can use help with traditional home consruction in the Shaxi Valley. Typically this will consist of porting materials and supporting rammed earth building teams. There is also painting work to be done, with some basic carpentry jobs available. This is a full day of volunteer work for students.

Our student programs are designed around participating in local Bai culture and growing student's appreciation for traditional Chinese values and lifestyles. Students can live with homestay families who have been chosen and trained by The Ginkgo Society in hosting student groups. School leaders can be confident that these experiences with the local Bai people of Shaxi will provide memories and learnings that will last a lifetime.

We have partnered with ZenQuest, the leader in experiential education for international students in Greater China. You can find out more about their excellent curriculum on their website or contact them by email here.

• Animal husbandry
• Building a greenhouse
• Learning about the impact of tourism
• Building solar cookers
• Experiencing a day in local people's life
• Helping in a water-powered rice flour mill
• Learning about sustainable agriculture
• Paricipating in preparing fields for planting and harvest
• Traditional wood working
• Teaching in the local school
• Cleaning and repairing a local folk temple

Our Youth Leadership Programs are based on the success of our partner company, ALTEC. Since 1996, ALTEC has provided training to the leading multinationals and joint ventures in China, in such areas as cross-cultural communication, personal leadership, teambuilding, overcoming adversity, collaboration and creative problem solving. Using proprietary simulations and intellectual property developed for the managers and leaders of these top companies, we have adapted this experiential learning content for students in our Shaxi programs

Li Han Mei (Apple) Apple is a Bai woman from Dali with a background in outdoor learning, English teaching and native cooking. She is based in Shaxi and supports our school groups on cultural and experiential learning. Apple also runs the cooking school in the Pear Orchard Temple. She is a graduate of Dali Teacher's University.

Xiao Hui (Sam)
Sam is a Bai woman from Eryuan who married into a family from the Duan Village, where the Old Theatre Inn is located. She is the Resident Manager at the Inn and coordinator for our student programs in Shaxi. Sam graduated from University in Kunming.

Chris Barclay (柏昆)
ALTEC founder and creator of Yangshuo Mountain Retreat and Yangshuo Village Inn. He is managing partner of the Old Theatre Inn in Shaxi and recently restored the Pear Orchard Temple for use as classroms a visitor's centre and teahouse. Chris has studied and worked in China for over 25 years and served as ALTEC's Head Coach since 1996. An avid mountaineer, Chris has participated in 7 climbing expeditions in Tibet above 6,000m.

A world away from Shanghai

Shanghai International School students learn in Shaxi

This pioneering group of 8th graders came to learn firsthand about the people and history of Shaxi. Their program leaders chose this beautiful part of China because of its rich cultural heritage, unique Bai and Yi culture, and traditional Chinese pastoral lifestyle. The learning program was designed to give these students direct access to the lives of local people, in a way that tourists don’t have a chance to experience. We created activies that gave students time with local farmers and middle school-aged kids to ask them meaningful questions about their lives and how modernization is affecting them.
The highly rated program consisted of three topics in three days, all under the theme of Sustainable Development and Culture in Shaxi. Each day began with a short morning discussion to develop a specific skill that participants would apply in their day’s learning adventures. At the end of the program, students put the three skills together to create a team report that summarized the results of their learning.

DAY 1 TOPIC: Cultural Tourism
50-minute workshop: Interviewing Skills Goal: talk to local people about their views on tourism and assess positive and negative impacts to come up with the basis of a cultural tourism plan for the Shaxi Valley.
DAY 2 TOPIC: Agriculture & Animal husbandry
50-minute workshop: Critical thinking skills Goals: to understand the impact of tobacco farming on the environment and weigh against costs/benefits to Shaxi people and Chinese society and to learn about self-sustaining food production in Shaxi.
DAY 3 Topic: Bai Family Culture
60-minute workshop: Presentation skills Goals: to understand the unique culture of the Bai people and how children grow up in this society

"Shaxi is for people who like an awesome experience and are tired of industrialized tourism. It’s for people who want a very unique experience, a clean vacation and special things such as learning about the Bai and Yi people."

"I would recommend the Shaxi trip because it was a great experience to learn how to do things. I enjoyed visiting the elementary school, biking, looking at the stars, working on the farm, and lastly EATING THE YUMMY FOOD!! It was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!"

"I felt Shaxi China Alive was a unique experience. It made me feel relaxed and raised my cultural awareness. The stargazing was a wonderful experience. Working on the fields was hard work and made me realize how lucky I was."

"I would recommend the Shaxi trip to those who wish to learn and get good advice for their future. Going to Yangzhou may be fun, with friends and shopping…But in Shaxi you can learn so much about yourself and others. You will later learn that the Shaxi trip was vey important and life changing."

"This trip gives students a whole new experience on what Yunnan is like and how the locals make a living. It also allows students to become aware of the two different groups of people that inhabit the area. The activities are enjoyable as well."

"The Shaxi trip gives students a chance to immerse themselves into the local culture of the area (not completely, but at least you get a good taste). Also, China Alive has usually been considered just a travel experience; but Shaxi has made it a great educational experience as well." -- Sabrina

"I would recommend this trip because there are more new activities to take part in than a touristy place. It’s a new experience because it’s in the countryside. You also get to learn about a culture that you can’t really learn about on any other China Alive trip." -- Morgane

"It was fun because we were able to bond with a smaller group. The activities were great and so were the rooms."

"This China Alive trip was a new experience with good learning. If you want to experience new culture and can handle a little hard work, I would recommend Shaxi."

"For people who want peace and quiet, and a little bit of excitement, you should go to Shaxi. It taught me a lot about local and authentic experience. It also gave us a chance to bond with a smaller group of people, and to get to know some locals. Also, Smores were great!"

"I would recommend Shaxi because
1) there are fewer people
2) our activities are more immersed in local life
3) Shaxi is amazingly beautiful and so picturesque"