PKS Travels | PKS 东南西北

Language immersion at Presidio Knolls is more than just the mechanical aspects of reading and writing in multiple languages - it’s about developing the confidence and cultural empathy necessary to be a global citizen and a successful leader. We want our graduates to be as comfortable on a mountaintop in Tibet as they are at home in San Francisco, and to develop the mindset to live fearlessly and pursue their dreams (no matter where those dreams might take them).


The PKS Travel Program, “PKS东南西北,” is a signature program of our school and helps us achieve these goals.

Starting in fifth grade, our students make yearly trips to Asia where they can authentically use their language skills while doing field work that extends their Units of Exploration. Research indicates that two weeks of travel of this kind is the equivalent of two months of language proficiency gains from a classroom-only experience.

Each PKS东南西北 trip settles in one place for a sustained, deliberately slow-paced experience. Students will form real relationships with their hosts and learn the history of both the people and the natural world in each setting. By the eighth grade, our students will have the skills to complete a homestay in Beijing.  

Students will keep a single journal with them during the four years of the PKS东南西北 program, adding to it each year. In the end, they will have a travelogue that includes personal reflections, photos, sketches, and musings about their experiences and their growth.

Travel is also one of the best ways to put our Social-Emotional Learning curriculum in action, giving our students a chance to practice flexibility and empathy and to hone the skills they need to maintain grace under stress.

Grade 5 PKS东南西北: The Yellow Mountains


Each year our fifth graders travel to an ancient village at the foot of China’s most iconic mountain range, the Yellow Mountains, where they delve into an experiential study of traditional Chinese culture (read about last year’s trip here). Here they:

  • Study (and make) art

  • Study the philosophy of calligraphy

  • Explore tea culture

  • Examine Confucianism and the Keju system

Grade 6 PKS东南西北: Yunnan


Our 6th graders travel to the Yunnan province in the west of China, where students move from a study of traditional Chinese culture to a study of China’s diversity (read about the inaugural trip here). During this trip our students:

  • Explore the cultural traditions and history of Dali

  • Interview local craftsmen and learn their crafts

  • Collaborate with local preservationists to ensure Dali’s unique culture is not forgotten