students in classroom doing an experiment
Students participate in a hands-on STEM experiment as part of the UC Davis Summer Youth Program in Shanghai. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)

UC Davis International Offers Summer Programs in Shanghai

In the summer of 2021 UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s International Programs partnered with Gowell Education to provide 90 Chinese youth and university students with a unique opportunity to participate in UC Davis programs, offline and in-person in Shanghai. These two inaugural UC Davis Summer Programs, one for youth grades 4-8 and another for students from Zhejiang A & F University, ran for 10 days at Shanghai’s North American International School. The programs served as a pilot for an upcoming Chinese Academy Program.

The programs were led by U.S. instructors, with support from UC graduates and current UC students living in China, who served as bilingual program assistants. Students in the program benefitted from an English-immersion environment, sharpened their critical and analytical thinking skills, and were able to experience American academics by taking UC Davis classes without having to leave China.

Engaging and Comprehensive

Both the youth and college programs incorporated academics, U.S. culture, extracurricular activities, personal development and American sports. “There was never a dull moment,” said Linda Wu of Gowell Education. The programs included interactive classroom instruction, group projects, hands-on learning and real-time video “drop-in” visits to UC Davis and downtown Davis.

students in class work with VEX robotics
Students in the Youth STEM program worked with VEX Robotics and participated in a virtual tour of the Davis Senior High School’s Citrus Circuits 1678 First Robotics Team’s facilities. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)

Students participating in the youth program could choose from two options: English Communication and Culture, with an emphasis on understanding U.S. culture and public speaking workshops, or STEM English, which highlighted hot topics in STEM, hands-on experiments and VEX Robotics.

What I learned in speech class has given me a lot more self-confidence. — Eric Fong, 11 years old, Hangzhou

The college program focused on English communication, American culture and leadership development. Students participated in team building exercises and learned about U.S. immigration history, multicultural demographics and American leaders. Through several Zoom workshops, students also heard from UC Davis Ph.D. candidates about their research in economics, agriculture, ecology and AI.

Regardless of whether we were with the instructors or program assistants, there was a lot of interaction and the atmosphere in the classroom was very happy.  J. Lai, college student

In both programs, the ties back to UC Davis were invaluable. “These contacts with UC Davis—the UC program assistants, Zoom sessions with current UC Davis students and video drop-ins—made the program unique and provided students with an authentic and different perspective, without having to leave China,” said Wu. “It gave students an authentic UC Davis experience.”

Student Recommended

Aside from an engaging curriculum and connections with UC Davis, students also enjoyed the supportive and welcoming program environment. From encouraging instructors to the carefree culture the program offered, students were able to grow academically and personally. And 100% of students surveyed were satisfied with their experience. Student feedback included:

two kids play soccer on a field
Students participated in daily sports as part of a well-rounded curriculum promoting a healthy mind in a health body. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)
students build bridges in STEM class
Students in the Youth STEM English program build bridges. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)

“I found the program very interesting. I pushed myself beyond my boundaries and learned many new concepts.”  Angie Yuen, 11 years old, Beijing

“The new points that I learned in speech class were interesting and very helpful to my school work.”  Yoyo Zhang, 13 years old, Hangzhou

“I liked doing the crafts and playing soccer here, and I love the teachers.” Jayden Yang, 10 years old, Shanghai

“This summer program was very exciting. I will come again next year.” Shirley Ding, 13 years old, Hangzhou

students doing sports in a gym
College students participate in American sports led by UC Davis graduates. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)
college students at table with instructor at front of class
College students discuss race in the English Culture and Coummunications class. (Linda Wu/Gowell Education)

“I liked the summer program very much and I saw that the instructors paid much more attention to student feedback. This learning style allowed us to build our knowledge in a more focused and effective way.” X. Jiang, college student

“The instructors were very focused on addressing our questions during and after class. I found this particularly attractive.” Q. Li, college student

New Opportunities

Looking ahead, UC Davis International Programs and Gowell Education plan to offer UC Davis Summer Programs in China again in 2022, with the hopes of expanding the program into a Chinese Academy that will be offered annually and will include a study abroad component in Davis. For more information, contact

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