An update on ILP’s China Program

We have made the difficult decision to, for the time being, close our long-standing program in China. At the start of the 2020 pandemic, countries around the world began closing their international borders in an effort to contain the Covid-19 virus. China followed suit — there have been strict requirements under which travelers are allowed to enter and visa policies have been changing, all resulting in an ILP program not being possible at this time. We are staying in touch with our local contacts in China who are eager for ILP volunteers to return, but because it seems likely that we will not be able to resume our program for a year or more, we are not accepting applications to volunteer in China for now. Our program in China has been a favorite amongst ILP volunteers for the past 20 years and we share your disappointment. We will continue to watch for updates that may allow us to resume our program here and will make any announcements on Instagram.

In the meantime, we have several other locations open — you might be especially interested in our other Asia location: Thailand


Dive into a semester full of unexpected adventure. This country’s home to classics like the Great Wall and visiting pandas … But it’s also one stuffed with surprises. China is full of the prettiest and most diverse mountains you’ve ever seen, sunny beaches, and delicious dishes, too. See thousands of years of history unfold in front of you at ancient sites, then turn the corner and step into sleek and modern cities (hello Shanghai Disneyland!). There’s a lot to see in China, that’s for sure.

We think it’s time you explore a country that deserves more than a short visit!


China is for our travelers ready for adventure. You want mountain adventures, with misty hikes to towering peaks? How about camping overnight on the Great Wall of China? Travel to Yangshuo, a jungly paradise full of mango smoothies and bike rides to whimsical “Dr. Seuss Mountains”. Get all of that and more in this country. Come home with stories about the incredible surprises you didn’t know China was hiding, plus a few stories about the randomly funny and disorienting things that just come with living half-way across the world. 

If you’re ready to laugh off all the adventurous, “just China things” that just sort of happen when you’re hopping on a bus, renting bikes, hiking trails, exploring parks, and walking around your city, then you’re ready for a typical day in China …

Glimpse a day in China

Come live with your fellow volunteers, either at dorms right on campus or in a nearby apartment.  Groups in China are anywhere from about 6 people to as big as 30 depending on the city you live in. You’re set up with adventure buddies no matter where you go! You wake up just in time to catch breakfast for the day, walking down to the school’s cafeteria. Today’s breakfast? A tray of steamed buns served with jam, a banana, and rice. Each ILP semester is all about living like the locals and the food is a major part of that. You’ll get a daily dose of real Chinese food through your provided meals. You’ll quickly realize that Chinese food in China isn’t what you’d order up at Panda Express. But then again, Panda Express doesn’t serve up amazing bowls of pulled noodles. You can only find these in China. Some volunteers say they’d go back just for those noodles! Plan on lots of rice at every single meal to go with stir-fried dishes full of cooked veggies, and proteins like chicken, pork, fish, eggs, and tofu.

You’re only teaching part time, so you have quite a bit of free time. It may be more than you anticipated. That leaves time for you to explore the pagoda-filled park in your city. Or go join in on those aerobic classes that happen all around. Seriously, you’ll see crowds of people just doing an exercise class all together in the parks. And yes, you should absolutely join in. Particularly in China, just walking down a random street can unfold to be quite the adventure. Wondering how you’ll get around to all of these adventures? You’ll be doing a fair bit of walking, but you’ll probably also get the hang of the local bus system and the metro in your city (or on vacation). 

Volunteers in China should be ready for a local experience, eager to soak up everything this country has to offer. In fact, you’ll be taking weekly Chinese classes to help you dive into the culture even more. Plus, you will be able to spend all of your weekends off and vacation days exploring your favorite parts of China. This isn’t a place for volunteers wanting quick visits to a bunch of countries. Instead, China is more for travelers who really want to experience a single country in every way possible — China is so huge, you can find everything you’re looking for.  We’ve had multiple volunteers come back for a second semester in China because they weren’t able to see everything the first time! Camel trek in inner Mongolia, visit cities that look like a slice of Germany, and hang out with monkeys in China’s tropics… you might even live on a coastal city and spend your Saturdays in the sand. Welcome to a semester in China!


In this Exchange Program, you’ll be making a difference by helping children learn English, up to 20 hours per week. No experience is needed, we provide training on our teaching method!

Volunteering and Costs

$2,520 — Includes your roundtrip airfare to China, visa, housing, meals, language and cultural experiences, and training and support throughout the entire experience.

We currently have a “2 for the price of 1” discount for married couples in China. Single volunteers can earn a discount for referring a friend!

China is one of our Exchange Programs which is the most budget friendly option while still giving you all the perks of a classic ILP experience. We’re able to keep your costs so low because your student’s family helps subsidize the program for you by paying a fee to have their child attend ILP classes. 

Like our other ILP locations, the focus of your semester will be on the kids you’ll be teaching. Your students will typically come from pretty affluent families who can afford the best of the best when it comes to English classes; classes taught by a native speaker. That’s you!  You’ll have a full teaching schedule with kids who come to class to see if you’re as strict as their Chinese teachers. Your students are typically from single-child homes so sitting in a classroom with other students and sharing attention can be a struggle.

It’s also very common in China for schedules to be changing all of the time. Volunteers who aren’t big planners and are more willing to go with the flow are a great fit for this country. If not, a more structured semester may be a better fit. While your service of teaching is often the most difficult part of your semester abroad, saying goodbye to the kids you teach is often the hardest part about leaving China! 

Volunteers live in eastern and mid-western provinces in China.

—Spring: Depart up to about 4 weeks after the end of the Chinese New Year (often in February or occasionally early March) – return home the third week of June.  The Chinese New Year varies each year, check projected dates here.
—Summer: Currently no summer program available
—Fall: Depart end of August — return middle of December, just in time for Christmas

—6-30 volunteers in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—Volunteers from the U.S.
—No experience needed!


There is so much to see and do here that we have many volunteers who come back for more! We have a feeling you’ll be surprised by all the things you didn’t know you could do in this country. Everything from feeding monkeys while you hike through towering mountains, floating down a river soaking up the sun on a bamboo raft, bicycling around ancient cities, and shopping till you drop at some of the biggest markets in the world. There’s something for everyone in China.

Beijing — Go camping on the Great Wall, and explore sites like Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. You’ll also want to shop your way through some of the biggest markets in the world.

Yangshuo — Ride bikes along windy roads surrounded by fields to the mud caves, float on wooden rafts down the river next to the Dr. Seuss Mountains, and climb Moon Hill. Oh, and don’t leave without having at least five fresh mango smoothies. Then, head on over to nearby towns like Guilin for famous views of the rice terraces and Xing Ping for one of our most favorite view points.

Huangshan — Also known as Yellow Mountains (and a favorite trip to take). Climb the endless stairs to the top of a mountain with breathtaking views. Besides some impressive mountains, Huangshan is home to nearby ancient towns that look like they came straight from a postcard.

Zhangjiajie — Hike through the beautiful Avatar and Tianmen mountains. Either way, you’re set! Here you can walk on a glass walkway clinging to the side of a mountain 4,000 ft. up, or take the world’s longest cable car ride. Come view the incredible mountains that inspired the movie Avatar, and take a ride in the highest outdoor elevator in the world.

Chengdu — Visit a world famous panda reservation center and even get the chance to hold a baby cub.  Next, catch a bullet train to nearby Leshan to see the biggest buddha you’ve ever encountered.

Xi’an — Home to sites like the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Mosque, and biking around the huge city wall. Lastly, end your vacation with the water show at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. All in all, we love Xi’an.

Shanghai — Shop at huge markets then explore traditional looking canals and streets. (Unless you’d rather spend a day at Disneyland Shanghai, of course). Before leaving, snap a photo at the famous skyline, the “Bund”.

Sanya — You didn’t think you’d find beaches in China, much less ones as pretty as Sanya. Lay on the beaches of this sunny island. Come have fish suck on your toes at the spa and dance the night away listening to live bands. It’s an unexpected island get-away.

Jiuzhaigou — Explore this national park to get views of crystal turquoise blue lakes. They are unreal.  After, explore Tibetan villages with prayer flags as the backdrop. Head to nearby Huanglong to stroll along cascading blue pools down the mountainside.

I feel like I was served more than I was able to serve ...

“I left to get away from school, stress, and people, to clear my head, to travel, be around kids and to serve. I feel like I was served more than I was able to serve. Chinese people are some of the kindest, most charitable, silliest, most peaceful people I’ve ever been around! I can’t tell you how many times people saw we were confused or lost and helped us either with their limited English, hand gestures or with a translator app. Most of all, the love my kids showed me was exactly what I needed. I will always refer to them as “my kids”. I didn’t change China but man did China change me.”

— Shalee