On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the fall 2017 China SST unit flew to Chengdu, China to study and teach for a semester.

The group consists of 15 people, with music professor Bev Lapp and her husband Dale Klassen leading the trip, along with their two daughters. The China SST happens every three years, in rotation with the Tanzania and Cambodia SST programs. Over 30 SST units have gone to China, says Tom Meyers, director of international education at Goshen College.

This is one of the most diverse SST groups, with students representing Asian, African-American and Latinx nationalities. Meyers says that the group does a great job at “reflect[ing] the diversity of the [Goshen College] student body.”

After arriving in Chengdu, the students traveled by bus to Nanchong. They stayed in the Beihu Hotel for a couple of nights, according to a blog post by group leader Bev Lapp. The group met their host families on Saturday, Sept. 2.

For the first half of SST, the students will be stationed in Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichuan province, which has a population of 14 million people. A blog post says that they will “spend several hours each day studying Mandarin and listening to lectures about Chinese history and culture” at China West Normal University. During the second half of the trip, the students will stay in the Sichuan Province to teach middle-school English in the area’s small towns.

The China SST program started in 1980, said the blog, with Goshen being the first North American college to have a semester of college in post-revolutionary China. For 25 years, the program was an exchange program, with Goshen sending students to China, and the college in China sending professors to Goshen.

Meyers states that the program was started by former Goshen College President J. Lawrence Burkholder, who formed connections in China after helping with refugees displaced after World War II.