Volunteer in China with International Volunteer HQ

Volunteer in China

Volunteer in China with International Volunteer HQ, the world's most affordable and trusted volunteer organization. IVHQ has a range of volunteer abroad projects available in China, including Teaching English and Special Needs Care.
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At a glance…

  • Available year-round
  • Teaching English and Special Needs Care projects available
  • Projects based in and around the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an
  • Accommodation in volunteer apartment or homestay
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Program fees from $280 for 1 week
  • Between 10 and 30 volunteers start in China each month
My volunteer experience in China was the best 8 weeks of my life. Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and I can assure you that it is rewarding beyond words.
Alicia Crossley
Nationality: Australia
Age: 19
Country: China
  • Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in China to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
  • Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in China will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
  • Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
  • Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
  • Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
  • New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
  • Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore China with your new-found friends.

IVHQ has volunteer placements located in and around the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an (home to the world famous Terracotta Warriors).

Volunteer 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.

Teaching English

The Teaching English project focuses on developing the conversational English skills of Chinese students. Volunteers are predominately placed in Weinan, outside of Xi’an where they work with Chinese government owned schools or community schools in local villages. We do also have placements 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. Volunteers can teach classes independently in some placements, or they can work together with other volunteers and/or the school’s English Teacher. During July and August, schools will have their summer break, so during this time volunteers will work on educational outreach projects set up by the local team in nearby villages and communities. 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. Volunteers simply need to have a great deal of enthusiasm, an open mind, a caring nature and patience. It is also important to be self-directed and creative, don’t expect to be told what to do! 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. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

Special Needs Care

Many parents in China cannot afford special education or focused care for their children with physical or mental disabilities. There are however, community and government 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, underfunded and under resourced. Volunteers on the Special Needs Care 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. It is important to note that specialized Special Needs Care is relatively new in China, so the local staff can benefit and learn from volunteer involvement as well.

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.

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 Care 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.

Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer apartment or in homestay accommodation near their placement. Volunteers 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 most 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. Teaching placements are mainly in Weinan or surrounding rural villages which are 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 homestays and apartments have electricity and western bathroom facilities. Volunteers can expect to share a room with one other volunteer in their homestay or apartment. Both homestays 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 Xi’an 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). During summer months, Teaching volunteers may be accommodated in a hotel close to their placement.

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 school apartment. Lunch during the week is served to volunteers at their placements. It is important to note that lunch is not provided during weekends. 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.

“I felt very helpful at the school as I was the first foreigner that most of the students had met. I felt that I was really able to help them, not only with their English studies, but also with their knowledge of 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 needed close at hand.” - Naama Hecht (Teaching English Volunteer in China)

Read more reviews from IVHQ volunteers in China here

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!

Capital Beijing
Population 1.351 billion
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).

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. Volunteers are to provide a letter from their local doctor or a medical certificate declaring them fit and healthy with no known transmittable medical conditions (this is a requirement from local officials for working with children). All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in China.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

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