Office of International Programs


China's Orphans

July 22 - August 8, 2015

SBS 470 (6 credits) or EDU 579 (6 credits)

Great Wall

This international service learning course will provide students the opportunity to study, experience, and contribute to the welfare of children in another culture. Through a combination of classroom and experiential learning, the course promotes understanding of the social circumstances and the developmental challenges faced by orphaned children in China. Students will engage in a service project in collaboration with a program that provides education and enrichment to children in an orphanage. The goals of the course are to provide students an opportunity to develop intercultural understanding, to deepen their comprehension of children’s developmental needs, and to examine international adoption practices. Classroom and orientation sessions prior to departure are required.

This course is open to all USM students as well as community members. The course will require students to complete a set of readings and participate in class discussions prior to travel to China. The class will be together in China for 16 days, during which time we will complete service learning at two orphanages, New Day Creations in outer Beijing and the Dahua Orphanage in the southern part of the country. The remaining time will be spent visiting various sites in Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, enjoying local cuisine, and touring the more rural area around the beautiful city of Guilin.

The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal wrote a series of articles on our program and posted pictures and videos on their site:

Class Meetings and Itinerary

Class Meeting Schedule

June 13, 9:00-11:00 am, online

June 27, 9:00 am- 4:00 pm, USM Gorham campus

July 11 at 9:00 am through July 12 at 4:00 pm (overnight), location TBD

Many of the day-to-day details in China will not be finalized until closer to departure, but a tentative outline of the daily itinerary is as follows:

Tentative Itinerary

Wednesday, July 22: Leave Portland

Thursday: Arrive Beijing; welcome dinner; free time

Friday: Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace; enjoy a noodle lunch, hot pot dinner, and acrobatics show

Saturday: Hike the Great Wall, visit Olympic venues, and have a Peking duck dinner

Sunday: Visit the Panjiayuan Antique Weekend Market and Temple of Heaven; shop at Pearl Market; enjoy a dumpling lunch; arrive at the New Day Foster Home

Monday- Friday: Volunteer at New Day

Friday: Depart Beijing for Guilin

Saturday: Visit Elephant Trunk Mountain

Sunday: Take a Li River Cruise and a bike tour of the rice paddies of Yangshuo

Monday: Visit Moon Hill; transfer to Dahua County in southern China; arrive at the Dahua Orphanage

Monday- Friday: Volunteer at the Dahua Orphanage

Friday: Experience an overnight train ride to Guangzhou

Saurday: Depart for the United States


Deb Como-Kepler, Psy.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in psychotherapy with families and adolescents. A clinical supervisor in the Lewiston area, she has particular interest and training in attachment theory and therapy. Dr. Como‑Kepler is also a part‑time instructor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program of Lewiston‑Auburn College.

Dr. Julie Alexandrin, Associate Professor, came to USM in 2007 to create a professional program for educators who work with youth who are gifted and talented and/or have disabilities. This work resulted in the Abilities and Disabilities Studies program, created in 2008, with concentrations in gifted and talented, special education and Teaching ALL Students, with an emphasis in Universal Design and working with students with a disability who are gifted and talented, and/or who are English Language Learners.


The application deadline is March 16, 2015.

A complete application includes all of the following:

  • Signed, completed application form*
  • $200 non-refundable deposit (applied to the program cost)
  • Typed 200-word essay
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member or academic advisor (recommendation cannot come from the faculty member(s) leading the program)
  • Official copies of USM academic transcript

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. You will be notified by e-mail of your application status. If your application is not accepted, the nonrefundable deposit will be returned. If the program is canceled for any reason by the USM, all deposits will be returned.

*If you are having trouble downloading the application, please contact us at (207) 780-4959 or and we will send you one. You may also want to try upgrading to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


The estimated program fee is $3,750. The cost of tuition and fees at the in-state rate is in addition to the program fee. The program fee includes accommodation, roundtrip airfare from Boston, ground transportation including train travel, site visits, field trips, most meals, and comprehensive medical insurance through iNext.

Not included in the program fee is the cost of tuition, fees, some meals, books, academic supplies, or other personal expenses. Six credits of undergraduate tuition plus regular university fees is $1,721. Six credits of graduate tuition plus regular university fees is $2,483. All participants in USM travel courses receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

All participants will be automatically registered for a payment plan. The $200 deposit will go towards the cost of the program and the remaining balance will be due as follows:

50% of the balance due Monday, June 15, 2015

Remaining balance due Monday, July 13, 2015

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Federal financial aid and loans are available to matriculated students who participate in travel courses. In order to receive the benefit of financial aid, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits during the summer for a summer travel course. If financial aid does not cover the full cost of the program, students are responsible for paying the remaining balance according to the payment plan schedule.

Include the costs of this course in your FAFSA application. If you have questions about financial aid or completing your FAFSA, please contact the financial aid office at (207) 780-4166. If you are not a matriculated student at USM, please check with the financial aid office at your institution.

USM's Office of International Programs offers small scholarships for students enrolled in summer travel courses. Scholarships are competitive and awards are up to $500. The application deadline is March 16, 2015. Students applying for the International Summer Scholarship must apply to a travel course before or at the same time as submitting a scholarship application.