Our History

In the Beginning ...

CET started out as “China Educational Tours,” a small organization based in Boston and operating in China at a time when few US study abroad organizations were there. CET’s first students came from a partnership with the New York/New England Consortium, made up of institutions such as Wellesley College, Hamilton College, Bowdoin College, College of the Holy Cross, Dartmouth College, and others. This innovative partnership not only took US students abroad to China but also brought Chinese language teachers to the United States to support the growing interest in Chinese language learning on these campuses.  

CET added destinations in China throughout the 1980s and 1990s before expanding to other locations around the globe. From the beginning, CET’s values of academic excellence, respect for the host community, and superior student support have informed the programming choices we make.  

Moments in CET History

1982-1987

"China Educational Tours" is founded in Boston, MA. Their first study abroad program, CET Beijing, opens in Summer of 1982. In 1987-1988, Mark Lenhart, then a student at Bowdoin College, studies at CET Beijing, by then one of the largest study abroad programs in China.

1988-1994

The first local roommate program launches at CET Harbin in 1988. The 1989 Tian'anmen Massacre derails study abroad in China and CET enrollments. In 1994, CET is acquired by Academic Travel Abroad and relocates to Washington, DC.

1995-2001

China enrollments rebound in this period, and CET adds new destinations in 2001. CET Vietnam, CET Siena, and CET Prague become the first CET destinations to open outside of China.

2002-2008

CET partners with Middlebury College in 2004 to open the first Middlebury School in China program in Hangzhou. In 2008, CET's first internship program opens in Shanghai, and buoyed by the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, CET's enrollments in China hit all-time highs.

2009-2014

Film and photography programs in partnership with FAMU open in Prague. Building on our core strength in language teaching, intensive language programs are opened in Japan and Syria (now CET Jordan). Long-time Academic Travel Abroad executives Kate Simpson and Chase Poffenberger take over ownership of ATA and CET in 2012. Mark Lenhart joins the ownership team a few years later in 2016.

2015-2019

CET continues to expand to new destinations. Programs in Brazil (2015) and Colombia (2019) mark the first CET options in Latin America. And in 2018, CET went back to high school, running the first pre-college programs under the CET name in Beijing and Florence.

2020-2021

CET pivots to adapt international education in a world of halted travel. In July 2020, CET establishes the COVID Playbook and launches three International Student Programs in Beijing, Shanghai, and Florence, three Virtual Intensive Language & Culture programs in China, Japan, and Jordan, and launched Custom Language Training for students and non-students alike. Beginning Spring 2021, in-person programs in Prague and Jordan returned.

2022 & Beyond

As the world recovers and changes, so does CET. Squarely in a recovery period, CET is focused on reviving in-person programming while also Building Back Better—ensuring the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Sustainability plans are at the forefront of our full return to travel.

1982-1987

“China Educational Tours” is founded in Boston, MA. Their first study abroad program, CET Beijing, opens in Summer of 1982. In 1987-1988, Mark Lenhart, then a student at Bowdoin College, studies at CET Beijing, by then one of the largest study abroad programs in China.

1988-1994

The first local roommate program launches at CET Harbin in 1988. The 1989 Tian’anmen Massacre derails study abroad in China and CET enrollments. In 1994, CET is acquired by Academic Travel Abroad and and relocates to Washington, DC.

1995-2001

China enrollments rebound in this period, and CET adds new destinations in 2001. CET Vietnam, CET Siena, and CET Prague become the first CET destinations to open outside of China.

2002-2008

CET partners with Middlebury College in 2004 to open the first Middlebury School in China program in Hangzhou. In 2008, CET’s first internship program opens in Shanghai, and buoyed by the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, CET’s enrollments in China hit all-time highs.

2009-2014

Film and photography programs in partnership with FAMU open in Prague. Building on our core strength in language teaching, intensive language programs are opened in Japan and Syria (now CET Jordan). Long-time Academic Travel Abroad executives Kate Simpson and Chase Poffenberger take over ownership of ATA and CET in 2012. Mark Lenhart joins the ownership team a few years later in 2016.

2015-2019

CET continues to expand to new destinations. CET partners with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to operate the 60-year old UW in India program. And programs in Brazil (2015) and Colombia (2019) mark the first CET options in Latin America. And in 2018, CET goes back to high school, running the first pre-college programs under the CET name in Beijing and Florence.

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