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Volunteer in China

Volunteer in China with International Volunteer HQ! IVHQ has a range of volunteer projects available in China, including Teaching English and Special Needs/Childcare.
Map of China
Capital: 
Beijing
Population: 
1.351 billion
Official languages: 
Standard Mandarin
Currency: 
Chinese Yuan (CNY)
Time zone: 
UTC+08:00
Weather and climate: 
The climate of China is extremely diverse; subtropical in the south to subarctic in the north. Xi’an has a continental temperate climate with four distinct seasons; dry winters, a warm but variable spring, hot, wet summers and cool and rainy autumn. The warm season lasts from May to August with an average daily high temperature above 26°C (78.8°F) and monsoon rains are heavy and frequent. The cold season lasts from December to February with an average daily high temperature below 9°C (48.2°F). The coldest time of the year is mid-January, with an average low of -7°C (-19.4°F) and high of 3°C (37.4°F).

LOCATION OF CHINA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

IVHQ has volunteer placements located in and around the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an (home to the world famous Terracotta Warriors). Panda Conservation volunteer placements are located approximately 2 hours outside of Xi’an at a panda sanctuary in the Shaanxi province.

START AND DURATION OF CHINA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

Programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks.

CHINA VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS

Volunteers must be 18 years or older on the program start date and have at least a high school education. All volunteers are required to bring a letter from their local doctor or a medical certificate, declaring them fit and healthy with no known transmittable medical conditions (a requirement from local officials for working with children). All volunteers must have adequate travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ program staff on arrival in China. 

HOW MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WILL THERE BE?

Between 10 and 30 volunteers start on our program in China each month. What does this mean for you? More people to socialize with and travel with, more people to meet from different cultures, more people to volunteer with, more projects to work on, more staff support, better infrastructure for volunteers and lower fees!

CHINA VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS

"I felt very helpful at the school as I was the first foreigner most of the students met, I felt that I really was able to help them not only with their English studies, but with their knowledge about the western way of life in general. It was wonderful living in the volunteer house with the other volunteers and our Chinese hosts. The house was very comfortable, very clean and located in a very nice area with everything we need close at hand." - Naama Hecht (Teaching English)

Click here to read more testimonials from IVHQ volunteers in China.

China volunteer project descriptions

Teaching English

The Teaching English project focuses on developing the conversational English skills of Chinese students. Volunteers work with either Chinese government owned schools or community schools in local villages, located in and around Xi’an. With the unprecedented economic growth China has experienced in recent years, the importance of English education has also grown considerably. Many schools in China have established an English Corner, where a certain area is designated to teaching/learning English. However, many of the English teachers within these schools struggle with their spoken English and as a result there is a high demand for native English speakers to assist with these classes. Please note that volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project. Volunteers simply need to have a great deal of enthusiasm, an open mind, a caring nature and patience. If English is not your first language, it is important you are fluent and have both advanced written and verbal English skills to join the Teaching English project.

Special Needs/Childcare

Many parents in China cannot afford special education or focused care for their children with physical or mental disabilities. There are however, community centers which offer programs for children with special needs, who come from poor backgrounds and are unable to receive an education through the mainstream school system. Volunteer assistance is desperately required as these centers are very understaffed. Volunteers on the Special Needs project work in community centers alongside a small team of local staff, assisting children and adults with a range of physical and mental disabilities. Volunteers assist with daily operations, such as preparing food, serving meals, cleaning, and arranging games and activities for the children and adults. However, the most valuable contribution volunteers can offer is providing love and support to the students. Given China’s one-child policy and the value Chinese society places on male babies, the country has seen a significant increase in the rate of child abandonment. Most Chinese orphanages are understaffed and short on necessary resources and funds. Volunteer work includes feeding the children and preparing them for school, arranging after-school activities (games, crafts, sports), helping them with homework, and providing love and care. Volunteers may also have the opportunity teach the children English, depending on the age and English capabilities of the children. Please note, while you can indicate your preference of workplace, we are unable to guarantee the type of placement you will be working at, as your placement depends on the need and availability at the time of your volunteer program.   

Given China’s one-child policy and the value Chinese society places on male babies, the country has seen a significant increase in the rate of child abandonment. The Childcare project in China supports an orphanage in Xi'an city that was founded in 1922 and is now home to more than 500 orphans. Volunteers on this project work with children between the ages of 0 and 19 years. Childcare volunteers assist with a wide range of tasks within the orphanage, including administration, cleaning, feeding, caring for children, teaching, assisting with homework and arranging activities, such as painting, singing, and sports activities. This project also provides an invaluable opportunity for the children to interact with foreigners and gain an insight into Western culture, as well as learning some basic English skills to assist them as they grow older.

Summer Camp and Culture Trip

Date: 14 July to 1 August 2014

IVHQ’s partner organization in China is pleased to invite volunteers to participate in a cultural immersion experience for 3 weeks starting in July. This unique project provides volunteers with an opportunity to gain a real understanding of the Chinese culture and local customs, while still participating in volunteer work.

In the first week, volunteers are located in the beautiful Qin Mountains and will be involved in Teaching English to children who have also traveled from Xi’an city as part of their Summer Camp. Teachings take place in the morning and during the afternoon, volunteers are involved in outdoor activities, team building and educational games with the children. Volunteers are accommodated in a local hotel and will have the opportunity to experience traditional food from this area, which is hard to find anywhere else in China!

Volunteers travel back to the city for their second week and spend this week exploring the exciting sights in the city of Xi’an. The children volunteers will be teaching in the first week will also be joining the volunteer group to show off their city! After a long day of sightseeing, volunteer can return to the comforts of a 3-star hotel in the evening to relax. The itinerary for this week is outlined below:

Day 1: Visit to the famous Terracotta Warriors and exquisite Huaqing Hot Springs.

Day 2: Bike ride along the impressive Xi’an City Wall, allowing volunteers to see the whole city, followed by a special visit to the Big Goose Pagoda.

Day 3: Trip to the historical Bell Tower of Xi'an, Drum Tower of Xi'an and Muslim Street which is very famous in China for its ancient winding streets that comprise a market full of delicious Muslim-influenced Chinese food. 

Day 4: Visit to Huxian County, one of the most famous counties of peasant paintings in China, to appreciate the lifestyle of the village peasants by viewing their paintings which were a record of their everyday life in the 1950s. Volunteers will learn how these paintings were created and have the chance to give it a go themselves!

Day 5: Visit to a local village to see first-hand how the local farmer’s work. Volunteers will help the local peasants by picking grapes and will get to taste some of their produce.

In the last week, volunteers will be picked up from their hotel and transported to a homestay in Xi'an. This is a fantastic opportunity in which volunteers can experience living alongside a local Chinese family and immersing themselves within the local culture. During this week, host families take care of volunteers, helping them with anything they need, and sharing their lifestyle and customs. Volunteers may also be involved in Teaching English to the family, learning how to cook traditional Chinese food, exploring more sights of Xi’an with the family, attending family friends' parties, visiting the familys' extended family or friends in rural villages, and trying the local cuisine.

Cost: US$1160

ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS 

Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer house in central Xi’an and can expect to share a bedroom with one to five other volunteers of the same gender. Bedrooms are comprised of double beds, single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. Living is comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity, running water, Wi-Fi and western bathrooms with hot water. The volunteer house is safe and secure, located in a compound of apartments with a security guard and a security gate. In the volunteer house, there is a cook who cooks the meals for the volunteers.

On some Teaching placements, volunteers work outside of the city of Xi'an and are accommodated in either a homestay with a local family, or in an apartment within the school grounds. Both the host families and school apartments are based between 1.5 and 4 hours outside of Xi’an city. Staying with a family is a great way to learn the Chinese way of life, meet local people, try local food and engage in local customs and traditions. Living is basic, however all home stays have electricity and western bathroom facilities. Volunteers can expect to share a room with 1 other volunteer in their home stay or apartment. Both home stays and school apartments have been inspected thoroughly by local staff and selected based on their safety and security.

For volunteers who are based in central Xian and would prefer to not live in a dormitory situation with shared facilities, there is the option of upgrading to a 3-star hotel located nearby the volunteer house. Volunteers have a private room and bathroom with meals provided in the hotel restaurant (breakfast and dinner) and lunch is provided at the volunteer placement. The upgrade costs an extra US$25 per person, per day for a single room, or US$15 per person, per day for a twin/double room (if there are two of you traveling together).

Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Breakfast and dinner are prepared by local cooks and served in the volunteer house or homestay, and luch is served to volunteers at their placements. The meals consist of fresh, nutritious and safe local foods for volunteers to eat. Bottled water is readily available in China and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 liters per day). 

The variation in climate and typography across the different regions in China, mixed with the influence of international cultures has led to the development this diverse and tasty cuisine. Chinese staples include rice, noodles, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), dao-mieu (Chinese spinach), on choy, yu choy, bitter melon, and Chinese broccoli or gailan, herbs and seasoning. Cuisine in Xi’an blends traditional Chinese and Middle-Eastern style cooking with flat bread, pita bread and barbecued meat, often sold at street stalls. Soups and dumplings are some of the favorite dishes in Xi’an, along with dishes of fried rice and vegetables. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. 

ORIENTATION

Orientation is hosted by our China team at the volunteer house in Xi'an. Orientation is held on the Sunday evening, and your volunteer program begins the following day. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in China – Introduction to China, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

VOLUNTEER WEEK

First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays: A typical volunteer day on the Teaching English and Special Needs/Childcare projects are as follows:

7.00 AM  Breakfast at the volunteer house.

7.45 AM  Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements, in most cases by public transport. Work and hours is dependent on the project and placement that the volunteer is working at. 

12.00 PM – 2.00 PM Lunch break.
5.00 PM  Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to their homestays, go sight seeing, or do some shopping.

7.00 PM  Dinner at the volunteer house.

Please note, this schedule can vary depending on the project the volunteer is participating on. 

VOLUNTEER WEEKENDS

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Xi’an and wider China. Popular tourist activities and destinations include visiting the Terracotta Warriors and Xi’an City Wall, traveling to Beijing or Shanghai, checking out Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace, walking the Great Wall of China, cycling through rice fields of the Guangxi province, or viewing the incredible limestone peaks of Yangshuo.

See our China Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in China! 

China Volunteer fees: 
Volunteer periodProgram fee US$
1 Week270
2 Weeks420
3 Weeks570
4 Weeks720
6 Weeks1020
8 Weeks1320
10 Weeks1620
12 Weeks1920
16 Weeks2520
20 Weeks3120
24 Weeks3720

To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
Please note: All programs attract a Registration Fee of $249 USD on top of the Program Fee.

What do my fees pay for?

Registration Fee (refundable if you choose not to go*) – 24/7 support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, IVHQ Fund, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – airport pick-up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer program period, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs.

What additional costs will I have?

Visa, flightstravel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, transfer back to the airport at conclusion of program, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours and spending money (volunteers in China generally find US$50 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses).

* - Terms and conditions do apply.