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Craig Tafel

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Ribbon HUNDRED 2018
Want students to see a village as their classroom?


Shanghai, China
A fully immersive travel programme to connect young people growing up as expatriates in Shanghai with the local, rural community

What is Microcampus?

Brad Latzke, former Middle School Principal, Shanghai American School
“I see Microcampus as a positive shift to show that learning is not the same as schooling.”

Brad Latzke, former Middle School Principal, Shanghai American School

Children benefit from time away from the introspective 'bubble' of school campus life. This is particularly the case for students living in very rural areas or international schools, as they may feel distanced from the ‘real world’. To live and work as adults in an increasingly globalised world, young people need an opportunity to explore the world around them, experience other cultures and meet people from diverse backgrounds.

Adolescence is a time of rapid social, emotional and personal growth as young people explore their place in the world. Travel away from home and engagement in purposeful projects give young people the chance to push beyond their usual boundaries and challenge their understanding of themselves and others.

The Shanghai American School began the Microcampus project in 2012 to help students growing up in an expatriate ‘bubble’ see a different side of their host country. Students have the opportunity to embark on a month-long trip to Xizhou, a village in Southwest China that the school has partnered with. For many students, this is the first time they have spent any significant time away from home. The programme focuses on experiential learning, personal growth and intercultural understanding, with the aim of having a positive impact on places and people.

On the trip, students complete two main projects. The first is an inquiry-based project, within which students investigate a topic of their choice that relates to the host region. The second is called Service Learning, which involves students capturing oral histories from elderly citizens in a short film project. Both projects require students to interact with local residents and therefore they are provided with an opportunity for intercultural dialogue and a chance to understand the experiences of others.

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Innovation Overview
13 - 14
Age Group
1 627
Tips for implementation
One teacher, one assistant and one local support person accompany students on a month-long trip that happens twice a year. At the Shanghai American School, participating students each pay $2,500 to cover the costs of the trip.
Contact information
Craig Tafel
HundrED Review

Students discover for themselves what they can do. Sometimes this means taking a step back from their usual routines in order to make true discoveries. Microcampus places students in an environment where change can happen.


Following the trip there has been evidence of students and parents reporting personal growth, broader understanding of themselves & the world as well as a notable sense of responsibility emerging in those who undertake the experience.


This programme has been running successfully for 5 years, with over 250 students attending it to date. Whilst the project has its own unique link to a certain village in China, the concept itself can be applied to any school's own context. The website to track the experience is also viewed & explored by hundreds around the world.


See this innovation in action

connect young people growing up as expatriates in Shanghai with the local, rural community
Bogdan Badiu
Microcampus at SAS


Achievements & Awards


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Set defining principles
Create a sense of understanding among the students about what the trip (or trips if the programme continues!) will involve.
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Plan the programme
After understanding the core mission of the trips, plan the practical details.
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Involve the wider school community
Seek specific input from all potential stakeholders about the emerging vision of the programme.
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Identify partners
Reach out to potential host communities to partner with.
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Start the process
Make concrete plans and being recruiting!
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It's go time!
Students enjoy the trip as they undertake two community-based projects.
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