VOLUNTEER IN CHINA

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, like the prettiest and most diverse mountains you’ve ever seen, sunny beaches, and delicious dishes. See thousands of years of history unfold in front of you at ancient sites, but turn the corner and step into sleek and modern cities (hello Shanghai Disneyland!).

We think it’s time you explore a country that deserves more than a short visit — a semester in China gives you an experience most travelers don’t get the chance to soak in.

THE EXPERIENCE

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? Head 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, so 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 for 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 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, you have quite a bit of free time … maybe more than you anticipated. That leaves time for you to explore the pagoda-filled park in your city, and 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 you should absolutely join in. Particularly in China, just walking down a random street can unfold to be quite the adventure. Get around your city to all of these adventures in a bunch of different ways: 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. 

Volunteers in China should be ready for a local experience, eager to soak up everything this country has to offer. You’ll be taking weekly Chinese classes to help you dive into the culture even more, plus will be able to spend all of your weekends off and vacation days exploring your favorite parts of China. It’s not a place for volunteers do quick visits to a bunch of countries, 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 on the sand. Welcome to a semester in China!

HELP TEACH ENGLISH TO KIDS IN CHINA

You’ll be making a difference by helping children learn English through our Exchange Program 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 and 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, so volunteers who aren’t big planners and are more willing to go with the flow are a great fit for this country. While 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! 

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

WHEN
—Spring: Depart typically after the Chinese New Year, in February or early March – return home the third week of June
—Summer: Currently no summer program available
—Fall: Depart end of August — return middle of December, just in time for Christmas

WHO
—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!

EXPLORING CHINA 

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 here — 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 til your drop at some of the biggest markets in the world. There’s something for everyone in China.

Beijing — Go camping on the Great Wall, explore sites like Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, and 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 … plus don’t miss out on the mango smoothies. Head on over to nearby towns like Guilin for the famous view of the rice terraces and Xing Ping for one of our most favorite view points.

Huangshan — Also known as Yellow Mountains; climb the endless stairs to the top of a mountain with breathtaking views. Afterwards troll through nearby ancient towns that look like they came straight from a post card.

Zhangjiajie — Hike through the beautiful Avatar and Tianmen mountains; walk on a glass walkway clinging to the side of a mountain 4,000 ft. up, take the world’s longest cable car ride, 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 a chance to hold a baby cub and catch a bullet train to nearby Leshan to see the biggest buddha you’ve ever encountered.

Xi’an — Terracotta Warriors, Great Mosque, bike around the city wall, water show at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Shanghai — Shop at huge markets, explore traditional looking canals and streets, visit the Wild Animal Park where you can ride an elephant, hold a cub, and feed giraffes, spend a day at Disneyland Shanghai, and snap a photo at the famous Bund.

Sanya — Lay on the beaches of this sunny island, have fish suck on your toes at the spa, and dance the night away listening to live bands, and see 2,000 + monkeys at Monkey Island.

Jiuzhaigou — Explore this national park to get views of crystal turquoise blue lakes and 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