expedition: China

Shanghai, Hangzhou & Chengdu, CHINA

October 21 - 31, 2018

15 journeyers | invite-only

 

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Ritual x East-Meets-West: China

what

In October 2018, 15 global leaders powerful and mindful leaders will convene for a learning journey in China to see the last embers of the past and the first sparks of the world to come. The experience arc of the trip will take us on a journey through the lens of the past, present and future; from the grand to the subtle; the national identity to the creative willpower of a single human being. We'll witness the evolution in motion, from a quickly disappearing lineage, to a new global superpower being birthed.  

We will be guided by this question: How do we understand the depth of this 2,000-year old culture through its people and places, and collectively envision the next 2000 years of  East-meets-West collaborations?

This expedition is an immersive 10-day learning journey across the urban-rural divide of China, to become intimately connected with the creative + conscious frontier in China. We'll set off in Shanghai, the cosmopolitan gateway to China as  East-meets-West, before we dive deep in the lush countryside of Chengdu with living wisdom masters. We'll meet underground artists, business leaders, spiritual teachers, philosophers and voices shaping the culture and identity of China. We’ll be visiting them in their living rooms, studios, temples, backstage – going from the some of the densest places on Earth to gorgeous natural landscapes, from architectural masterpieces to organically-grown historic neighborhoods.

Many people have preconceptions of China, or worse have misguided experiences in China, and can be blind to the pioneering work in sustainability, education, science, design and technology. This trip is about connecting East and West and uncovering the unexpected gems that are part of the larger narrative of China’s rise.

WHEN

October 22 - 31, 2018 // 9 nights, 10 days*

*For those who aren't able to commit to the full 10 days, we can offer a 6 night, 7 day option (just Shanghai and Hangzhou)

WHERE

The learning journey will cover the span of 3 unique places in China: Shanghai, Hanghzou & Chengdu.

We will explore the buzzing creative hubs of Shanghai, to the subtle cultural portals in Hangzhou, and then move to the serene countryside of Chengdu where we will experience the timeless heritage of ancient Chinese arts, philosophy and beauty. We will travel by the world-class bullet train between Shanghai and Hangzhou (1.5 hours), ride boats along West Lake in Hangzhou, and then hop in a plane to Chengdu, where we will travel slower by car around the countryside. 

WHO 

You. This is an invite only, exceptionally curated and intimate trip for 15 journeyers. Our team is specifically curating each person on the trip based on the alchemy, relatedness, and highest potential for impact and partnership. Some of the spaces we will be entering cannot accommodate more than 15 people as we meet people in their homes, and as we prioritize depth of connection with each person on the trip. Our values are connection-first and to create a container for heart-grounded, mind-expanding exploration.

Space is limited to 15 attendees. 

COST

$8,500 per person // Early bird price: $7,500 if confirmed by July 15th

The retreat price includes:  

  • 10 days / 7 nights of integrated, highly curated "behind the scenes" programming 
  • Private access to 10-15 curated experts and cultural leaders
  • Boutique, unique, design-centric accommodations (from boutique hotels to heritage temples) 
  • 3 delicious, authentic meals each day (from fine dining to delicious local food)
  • Private driver transportation to/from each program location, beginning and ending in Shanghai
  • 1 private cross-cultural coaching session with bi-lingual expert 
  • 1 trip report summarizing people, places, learnings with edited photo gallery for sharing

Excludes: International airfare, tourist visa, local transport to/from airport, additional drinks, & overseas shipping

Available at additional cost:

  • Concierge travel booking service for flights and tourist visa
  • Business-focused meetings with investors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, etc. in China
  • Up to +5 additional curated expedition days for leisure + business based on your interests.  

Curators' note: This is our first time offering up our community, our network and our seeing of China in this format of an experience, we are not sure if it is something we will do again. We are inspired to share the China we have fallen in love with, mapped, and experienced in our expansive community building efforts and in the pursuit of our own curiosities. We recognize that many will never see the multiple layers in China without a super connected local host. We believe that in order to build a shared, sustainable, and flourishing future, we need to bring the East and the West together, and to see through the others’ eyes and heart. We believe you cannot build something truly global without awareness of what is birthing in China, on the ground, with the people who are affecting change. 

We are all in this together. 


Expedition Details

The why?

Given the rise of China as the anticipated next global power, it’s more critical than ever to feel and understand the underlying social, economic and cultural dynamics that are influencing their emerging national future.This expedition is an opportunity to sink beneath the surface of isolated business travel.

Our goal is to uncover the precious gems that are contributing to China’s rise and build bridges of trust. We aim to tell the story of: China’s past, present and future; the young and the disappearing; and the unsung heroes of China’s emerging creative culture. From the vibrant youth culture to avant garde art & architecture to thriving craft traditions – this diverse country is a wellspring of ingenuity, creativity and wisdom.

Many people have preconceptions of China, or worse, have misguided experiences in China, and can be naive to the pioneering work in sustainability, education, science, design and technology. China is home to over 100 minority indigenous tribes, stunning UNESCO heritage architecture, millions of patent technologies, and over 200 dialects. We predict that it will only be a few years before China invents something that everyone in the world wants, leveraging their increased sophistication with AI, VR, product design, and manufacturing expertise. The next generation is more hungry than ever. The time is now.

What is the focus on this expedition?

We will go on a journey together to 3 symbolic locations in China – Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu – showcasing innovation at the edges of wellness, technology, business, spirituality and the arts across urban and rural spectrum in order to most fully understand the Chinese cultural landscape from all lenses.

The journey will entail workshops and strategic discussions by day, and cultural experiences and excursions by evening. Spring in China is the best time of year to be there, and we will travel by futuristic bullet train and private drivers to witness the “in-between” spaces that embody the transition from rural to urban society in the East. 

Core Objectives:

  1. Build meaningful relationships with influencers and leaders shifting the face of China.
  2. Immerse in honest experiences with real people in their day-to-day lifestyles. 
  3. Catalyze fresh ideas and perspectives that can be applied to the business.
  4. Absorb deep wisdom from China’s ancient culture through living masters.
  5. Uncover the multiple facets of Chinese society, and the paradoxes that feed innovation.
  6. Witness the scale and accomplishments of a country that leapfrogged The West.
  7. Understand the deeply-rooted business, social and familial norms of China, and their roots.

Culture needs to see itself. We'll explore the Chinese culture through a holistic lens of identity: national, city, neighborhood, family, community, individual. 

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Inquiries

Together, we’ll be exploring the different layers of reality in China today from the subtle to the gross: 

  • What does it mean to be Chinese?

  • What is China’s unique advantage in the world?

  • What are the philosophies underlying the behaviors and interaction of the Chinese in personal and professional relationships?

  • What is the state and city level identity, and why is that the first question Chinese people ask each other?

  • What does it mean to be a woman and a man in China today?

  • What are the values and priorities of the youth?

  • How is the aspiration of an intimate relationship and meaningful work changing?

  • What is the state of spirituality and consciousness in China and where is it going?

  • How has China learned from the West and been able to leap-frog its cities and technology? What can we learn from their process?
  • How is technology used in a way that supports creativity, learning and a healthier lifestyle? Where is there opportunity for improvement?
  • How has history, tradition and philosophy influenced how modern life is lived? Where is it still alive and thriving in contemporary society?
  • What does the emerging youth culture value and what are they most interested in?

We’ll explore all of this and more with a group of the most inspiring, visionary, and creative individuals in China, qualities similar to the peers that will be joining you on this trip.

Who is this for?

This trip is for those who want to get beneath the cultural layers to better understand the market dynamics of the most creative, conscious and innovative hubs in China, as well as deepen their cultural understanding and appreciation for the lineage and ingenuity of Chinese traditions. This is also for people who already are interested in expanding and working with China in someway, and are deeply interested in understanding the cultural fabric and customs that have made China. Our goal is to educate, connect strategic relationships, and help integrate the insights into practical learnings to take back to your life and work.  

STRATEGIC BENEFITS

In addition to the expected amenities, what makes this unique and beneficial to me?

  • Translation Services (during and post-event)
  • Cultural Education and Understanding & Local Insights
  • Mandarin Language Immersion 
  • Industry Knowledge and Insights 
  • Curated Resources and Reading Materials
  • Talent scouting and recruiting opportunities
  • Networking / Business Development Opportunities & Partnerships
  • World Class Trip Logistics and Hospitality Services
  • Follow Up Communications with Network
  • Follow up Consulting Services
  • Complimentary Cross-Cultural Business Coaching (3 sessions, before, during and after)
  • Invitations to follow up events and private events, and possibility of being invited to next trip

GETTING THERE

Fly to Shanghai International Airport (SHA). We’ll take care of the transport from Shanghai.

Visa Required: For most nationalities, travel to China requires a Tourist Visa. The process is efficient, and it requires a week or so obtain from your local Chinese consulate. We can connect you to our travel agent who can help you get your Visa set up seamlessly. 

We suggest arriving in Shanghai at least a day early on the 21st of October (remember, you lose a day coming from the US) and staying the night in the city to adjust and ground. We’ll spend the first day in Shanghai, and then transport leaves from Shanghai on the morning of 23rd of October. We will cover transport to Hangzhou and Chengdu and back to Shanghai, where you will be departing from on the 3rd of November. We suggest booking your flight for the afternoon or evening on October 21st anytime after 3pm. 


The Experience Arc

unmasking china: connecting to the heart of China

On this journey, we will be engaging with a living narrative of China's ancient history. There is a timeless Spirit in each place that is unchanging, beyond identity. 

 What is China's essence and what is unchanging? What do you see when you remove all the masks of China? What are the different roles and archetypes? If the world is a stage, which roles are growing or shrinking?

We'll be exploring through the nested scales of several lenses: 

lens 1

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Lens 2  

The Grand:

  • Grand infrastructure

  • Epic nature

The Subtle:

  • Commerce

  • Culture

  • Customs 

The Invisible:

  • Identity

  • Status

  • Family Dynamics

lens 3 

The story of a changing identity, seen through different masks:

  • National Identity
  • City Identity
  • Neighborhood Identity
  • Professional Identity
  • Age Identity
  • Gender Identity

What to Expect

Our experience designers will be creating an integrated program that weaves together diverse elements that integrates mind, body & spirit into each day so that all parts of ourselves are met and activated. 

experiential elements

  • Cultural Immersion / Education

  • Market Research / Discovery

  • Master Classes / Workshops 
  • Nature / Wellness
  • Group Bonding / Connection
  • Local Rituals / Traditions
  • Relationship Building / Partnerships
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Conscious entrepreneur / investor 
  • Chinese Zen Buddhism / Daoism
  • Chinese Tea / Calligraphy / Dance / Music
  • Psychology Thought Leader
  • Innovative City Building
  • Sustainability in Business
  • Eco-Tourism
  • East meets West Business Conduct
  • National Identity
  • Anthropologist
  • Urban Planning / Architecture
  • Age and Class
  • Status and Identity

Sample experiences

  • Deep connection with an intimate and highly curated group of peers interested in experiencing China and each other from the head, heart, body and spirit

  • Deep insight into the psychological, emotional and spiritual state of men, women, youth, elderly, business leader, city dweller, etc. in China through the diverse lens of psychologists, economists, anthropologists, artists, activists, community leaders, business leaders, and spiritual leaders

  • Diving deep into the material realm of business, innovation, buildings, architecture and shape and form, and then diving deep into the invisible, spiritual, philosophical and Tao

  • Diving deep into what makes China different and then diving deep into what makes China the same, deep reflection on the essence of China and what it can teach you

  • Diving deep into the intellectual and then diving deep into the senses of nature, smell, touch, taste, body and interconnection

  • A day in the life - move through the city without any cash - acquiring, pursuing, learning all via the scan of a button, experience how “convenience” could look like for the rest of the world

  • Intimate hands on and backstage experiences with artists and performers in their studios or shows, permission for playfulness and the inner child to express

  • Amazing street food and taste diversity - we’ll experience all the different cuisines by region in China, people say the history and medicine of China is in its food

  • Beautiful countryside of China and the bustling city of Shanghai, the multiple paradoxes and contradictions of China

See the full itinerary if you want more details here. 


About Us

This unique experience into China is possible as a product of our own life as natural community builders and super connectors between the East and the West - come experience a China like never before with the two of us as your host. 

Ting and Mina have spent their lives in the USA and China and have built deep relationships on both sides of the ocean with the leaders, thinkers, artists, and spiritual leaders shaping society today. They are both skilled experience designers and facilitators, community builders, and strategists - capable of flexing between the structured and organic way of moving through things.

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Ting Kelly

Ting is on the Board of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, grew up on the Playa of Burning Man since she was 5, is daughter to famed futurist Tim Kelly and leading pharmacological researcher xxx, and spends her time today bridging wisdom from the East to the West via workshops, products and expeditions held by Ritual Studio. She has lead numerous retreats for companies on innovation and branding and co-produced the Culture Change Conference in its first year.

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Mina Lee

Mina is an ex-BCG consultant, COO of Xiaomi Southeast Asia, and Music Medicine Facilitator who has spent her life bridging business and spirituality. Now she spends half her time designing and teaching workshops on authenticity, music medicine and culture change for companies and working 1:1 with leaders -- and the other half of her time consulting and advising companies within the consciousness sector on their growth strategy and finding them the right resources they need to succeed.

What is guaranteed is that Ting and Mina design for the integral person - weaving experiences that engage the mind, body, heart and spirit - and they optimize every experience towards maximum beauty, presence, and connection. You’ll learn so much about China during this trip, about the different layers and nuances of identity - you’ll experience it for yourself through all of your senses - seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling - and formulate a vision of what is possible for China and the role you’d like to play in that possibility. You’ll leave this trip with a feeling of awe, wonder, expansiveness, bewilderment and deep connection, with a new community of seekers interested in being at the forefront of global change, but from a place of connection, heart and spirit.

curatorial partners

Richard Hsu

Richard Hsu was born in Shanghai, then professionally trained in NYC. Hsu returned to his hometown Shanghai to open Nike’s advertising agency, he introduced TED and TEDx to China in 2009, and founded Pan-Asia Network in 2012.

Ping Fu

 

Deeper Context on China

a primer

China is country of more than a billion stories, identities and facets - and because much of the country is behind a firewall, it’s hard to experience China unless you actually go there and experience the culture, youth, people, food, creativity and entrepreneurialism on the ground. China now has the largest crypto funds, invests the most into AI, has the most number of people stressed out and turning towards psychological support and religious organizations. Organizational culture is also being innovated on with leaders who let the people decide their pay or outvote the managers. There is so much being experimented on within China that we can be awed by and learn from and about, which can only be done by going there.

There are 500 million active mobile shoppers in China (that’s USA, Germany and UK added together) and these people spend ⅓ of that time within WeChat, a single app that’s a combination of facebook, whatsapp, twitter, uber and groupon. People share flyers, events, and news within community chats like a group whatsapp chat within WeChat, these are not crawlable by search engines so anytime you search for news or events in China, you are getting a sliver of the actual activity that is happening on the ground.

China has also gone completely cashless in payments as of 2016, you can buy water at a stall in the countryside, one that doesn’t have a cashier, calculator or payments desk, but has a WeChat QR code you can scan and transfer a dollar for your water. City share bikes are unlocked with the scan of the QR code, TV programs in hotels are unlocked with QR codes, advertisements and campaigns are scan to purchase. It’s a completely different set of cultural behaviors. We’ll meet with a technology and behavioral economist.

Because of the one child policy, China is also going through a tremendous social shift in family dynamics and relationships - instead of protecting your sisters or brothers or splitting financial resources, one child now has the care, attention and financial resources of 6 adults. For the first time in a long time, on a national level, a generation doesn’t have to worry about survival and is asking themselves “what is a meaningful life for me? What do I want?” They are reshaping socio-cultural values in everything from attitude to work (from working for money to working for meaning) to attitude to relationships (from staying in it for quantity of time to quality of relationship). We’ll meet with a top filmmaker, psychologist and influential youth voice to tap into the stories and narratives and values of this generation, which will give us a peek into what could be on the horizon for the future of China.

Besides the socio-cultural transformation, China has been undergoing massive macro and infrastructure shifts - cities are built in a year, entire neighborhoods and centers demolished and reconstructed. You won’t believe the pace until you see its effects. We’ll meet with a “World Builder” - someone who works with and advises the government on how to think of and build cities and states across China.

Besides the massive transformations in the material realm, there is an equally if not more mirrored transformation happening in the subtle spiritual and psychological realm. As external changes and stresses increase, people are turning more and more to help under this pressure. The government realizes that there is not a depth of belief beyond capitalism in China right now and is actively greenlighting the revival of traditional Chinese philosophy and culture - namely taoism, buddhism and confucianism. We’ll meet with a descendant of Confucius and then with a zen spiritual master who is building a conscious community and zen amusement park with the vision to transform spirituality into a cultural lifestyle.