It's been a humbling experience. The people made me remember that it only takes so little to make them happy. I'm looking forward to returning. Go with no expectations and you will be enriched. We embarked on the journey thinking we will teach them something but at the end of the day, I believed I received more. Expect minimal material comfort and leave the cosmopolitan and developed country mindset behind and you will enjoy it.
Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in China - Xi'an
Want to care for people with Special Needs in China? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs project empowers volunteers to assist and interact with young disabled people who aren’t able to attend mainstream school. Volunteers will help at centres where they will gain experience working with people with disabilities and give them care, attention and education to help them grow and thrive as individuals and members of their community.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from AU$539 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Care for and support young people with disabilites
Discover China’s fascinating ancient history
Stay in Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Special education for children with disabilities is considered too expensive for many families in China, but community and government centres offer programs for those who are unable to receive an education through the mainstream school system. However, these centres are commonly understaffed and underfunded, meaning volunteer assistance is crucial to their efforts to deliver quality care.
As a Special Needs volunteer with IVHQ you’ll be helping a small team of local staff to care for children, teenagers and adults with a range of physical and mental disabilities. The most valuable contribution you can make is providing compassion and support.
Special Needs volunteers may find themselves helping with a range of tasks including:
- Assisting special needs teachers
- Helping with the basic activities of daily life
- Preparing and serving meals
- Supporting therapeutic activities and rehabilitation
Please note, staff at these placements often don’t speak English, so you’re encouraged to download a mobile translation app on your smartphone. You can do this with the guidance of the local team when you arrive. The local team will also do their best to place at least two volunteers together, providing you with an additional level of support. If you speak Chinese/Mandarin, you may be placed independently.
Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Xi'an with IVHQ?
While volunteering on the Special Needs project in China, you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Supporting young people with disabilities
- Helping improve access to care for people with disabilities
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining experience with disabled youth
- Immersing yourself fully in Chinese culture
- Learning about China’s ancient history
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
China photo gallery
What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience
I'm delighted by the friendliness of the team - they are so helpful. Sometimes we need different environments to actually make us realise how fortunate our life is. It makes me more humble and more thankful for what I have. If you have the interest to try, then go ahead. It might turn your life around.
It was an amazing experience throughout my time on this program. I enjoyed every moment from the day I’m arrived in Xi'An. You will receive a pure heart and smile if you really spend time with them with a genuine heart. I was very happy to interact with them by teaching, dancing, singing or playing around. Lastly, thanks for good hosting from the local team and guidance throughout this program from my IVHQ Program Manager. They are very friendly, kind and helpful.
I think the best thing is seeing how the children progress and especially how some of them were able to learn the whole English alphabet during my two weeks there. That was not something I expected and I really loved the moment at the end of the volunteering project when they started reciting it together. That was great!
Mainly I would say the biggest impact this volunteer experience had on me was the culture shock I have had. It took me completely out of my comfort zone and I was able to immerse myself in another culture. It really widened my worldview.
I understand the fear of coming to a different country very far from home and to a culture which is most likely different than yours. I would say just to overcome this because only that way can you really enjoy volunteering. But be sure that wherever you go you will take something amazing back home with you, be it a memory or a better understanding of another point of view, etc.
Overall, the locals were friendly caring and a great team to forget.
The local team are very supportive. They care for each of the volunteers from arrival till departure. They spend time with the volunteers and introduce local cuisine, places and culture. The host family were also friendly and approachable. They welcomed and treated me as though I was part of their family. My favorite moments were the friendly and warm welcome by the special needs students and staff over the past two weeks. Spending time with them dancing, teaching English, drawing and outdoor learning journey, and the special performance by them on my farewell ceremony. Also all the new friends from all over the world that I met over the two weeks, the bonding and friendship that we have working together.
To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.
Academic course credit
Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!Learn about course credit
In the middle of China lies the ancient city of Xi’an. It is home to many of IVHQ’s China projects as well as the legendary Terracotta Warriors and one end of the Silk Road. A popular stop on tourist trips to China, Xi’an has much to offer visitors including a rich cultural history and many hotels, restaurants and activities.
Other IVHQ projects are based an hour away in Weinan, an agricultural centre with stunning natural features like the five peaks of the breathtakingly steep Mt Huashan. Still more projects are set in the villages of the Shaanxi province, 1 to 4 hours drive from Xi’an. Volunteers will stay in accommodation near their placements.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of the month and volunteers need to arrive in Xi’an before 4pm on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport (XIY). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in Xi’an. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night before your program orientation.
If you are travelling in China prior to your volunteer program, the local team can arrange for you to be picked up on the Sunday before your program begins.
Orientation is hosted by the 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 – an introduction to China, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.
Volunteer schedule example
On your first day of volunteering, you will be taken to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays Typical volunteer days on the Teaching English and Special Needs Care projects are as follows:
|7:30 - 8:00 AM
|Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
|8:00 - 8:30 AM
|Travel to your placement to join local placement staff. Start time and daily workload depends on the project that you are participating on.
|12:00 - 2:00 PM
|Lunch break. In China, all workplaces have a lunch break for about 2 hours in the afternoon. Some start earlier, some later. You are welcome to stay at your placement with the children or in the office. All placements will offer you food.
|4:00 - 5:00 PM
|Work at your placement usually ends.
|4:30 - 5:30 PM
|Dinner at your placement. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, sight-see or go shopping.
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, travelling 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.
Accommodation and WiFi
Your accommodation will be in either a volunteer house, dormitory-style hostel, or a homestay near your placement. All accommodations have been inspected thoroughly by local staff and chosen because of their safety and security.
Xi’an accommodation: You’ll stay in a volunteer house located in a compound of apartments with a security guard and a security gate. You can expect to share a bedroom with up to five other volunteers of the same gender. Bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. Living is basic but comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity, running water and western bathrooms with hot water.
If you 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. You will have a private room and bathroom with breakfast provided in the hotel restaurant.
WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the volunteer house in Xi’an. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.
Weinan accommodation: Volunteers on the Teaching project in Weinan will be accommodated in an apartment within the school grounds. Living is basic but comfortable and you can expect to share a bedroom with up to five other volunteers of the same gender. Bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. There is WiFi available and western bathrooms with hot water. Weinan is a 1.5 hour trip from Xi’an City and you will travel by metro and train.
Village accommodation: Generally on the Summer Outreaching Teaching project, you will be accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel at a summer camp or with a local family in a homestay.
The homestay has electricity and very basic facilities including a squat toilet and due to the lack of heating in these homes, you would usually only be placed in a village during the summer months. Staying with a family is a great way to learn the Chinese way of life, meet local people, eat local food and engage in local customs and traditions. IVHQ gives the family money from your fee for support, food and board. You can expect to share a room with one other volunteer in the homestay.
The village placements are located 1-4 hours drive from Xi’an and you will be driven there by taxi.
Food in Xi’an blends traditional Chinese and Middle-Eastern cooking. Flatbread, pita bread and barbecued meat are often sold at street stalls and noodles, soups, dumplings and steamed buns are some of the favorite dishes in Xi’an. Meat is a staple of the Xi’an diet however, there are plenty of vegetable options on offer. Unlike other areas in China, food is generally spicy in Xi’an.
You will be given breakfast, lunch and dinner during your stay. Typically, volunteers eat breakfast at their accommodation, with lunch and dinner provided at their placement. During weekends you will be provided with brunch, rather than breakfast and lunch.
Bottled water is readily available in China and you should budget approximately $5 per week for 2 litres a day. Filtered water is also provided in some of the accommodation.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know and the local team will do their best to accommodate you. However, you will need to be flexible and should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|AU$539 Equivalent to AU$77/day
|AU$829 Equivalent to AU$59/day
|AU$1119 Equivalent to AU$53/day
|AU$1409 Equivalent to AU$50/day
|AU$1699 Equivalent to AU$49/day
|AU$1989 Equivalent to AU$47/day
|AU$2568 Equivalent to AU$46/day
|AU$3148 Equivalent to AU$45/day
|AU$3728 Equivalent to AU$44/day
|AU$4888 Equivalent to AU$44/day
|AU$6047 Equivalent to AU$43/day
|AU$7207 Equivalent to AU$43/day
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteer Service
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$529) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in China generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Check what's required to visit China
Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Essential country information
|Chinese Yuan (CNY)
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).