Volunteer Work in China: A Comprehensive Guidebook

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For many people, the very thought of traveling to volunteer in China might come as a surprise; considering the strong economy of the country. So, let’s begin with what exactly volunteer traveling is all about and then we’ll move on to why, where, and how you can volunteer in China.

There is a new way of traveling abroad that the millennials (mostly) are practicing these days – it’s called voluntourism (another term for volunteer travel). Most of the high school and college students, as well as those on their gap year, want to travel abroad to volunteer under several projects.

While, some do it to gain exposure and understand different cultures and lifestyles in our world, others volunteer for international work experience, in order to boost their career graph.

Either way, a voluntour is a great way to explore the world, while making a significant contribution to the society.

Coming to the point about traveling to volunteer in China, this is a fabulous opportunity to understand one of the oldest cultures in this world, from its roots. China is one of the most economically stable countries in the world. However, there are still weaker sections in its society, which needs consistent volunteer support for its welfare and development.

Adding to this, volunteering in China is a great platform to explore and understand the country in its best form while developing a close contact with the locals.

In case you have been thinking of setting out to do something worthy & meaningful, this Comprehensive Volunteering Guidebook on China will help you to find answers to your questions and clear your doubts before you make your mind and book your tickets for Beijing!

What are the volunteering opportunities in China that are provided by VolSol?

Being one of the most popular destinations in Asia, China attracts a lot of students and gap year travelers as well as backpackers who are enthusiastic and eager to explore the country & at the same time, contribute towards the development of the society in some way or the other.

Volunteering Solutions, in association with local organizations in Beijing, have been running 3 sustainable volunteering programs, and you can choose to be a part of any, to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged & disadvantaged kids.

Childcare & Orphanage Volunteering Program

childcare volunteering China

 

If you just love to work with children, then the Childcare Volunteering Program in Beijing would be apt for you. You’ll be placed at a foster care home, where you’ll have to look after the toddlers and infants, in the age group of 3 months to 6 years.

Your daily tasks would involve taking care of the little ones, providing them with comfort and love, cooking and cleaning at the home, and also help the staff with managerial work as and when needed. You can also take up an active role in painting the center, in order to make it more lively and colorful. Help the older kids with some basic lessons, and also keep them engaged with different art & craft lessons. Overall, it’ll be an enriching experience for you to get closer to a bunch of adorable kids, and your life will be filled with unconditional love.

Program Duration & Fee – The minimum duration to be a part of this program is for 1 week, while the maximum is for 18 weeks. The cost for one is $450 which will include Airport Pick-up, Accommodation, Project Orientation and 24/7 in-country support.

 

English Teaching Volunteering Program

volunteer teaching in China

 

As a volunteer for this program, you’ll be placed at a school in Beijing, dedicated to the children from poor immigrant families working in the city. These schools operate on very limited resources and lack the basic facilities that are required by the kids, for proper learning and growth. Due to inadequate resources, the school authorities cannot afford to employ good English speaking teachers. Thus, as a volunteer, you’ll get to play a key role here by teaching English to the kids in the school.

You don’t need to have a TEFL Certificate in order to join this program. All you need is the zeal to teach these young bunch, and help them have a better future. The main focus should be on developing the communicative skills of the students and also enhance their vocabulary. Apart from English, you can also teach them Maths, Art & Crafts, General Knowledge lessons etc., precisely anything that can help them learn new things. It would be good if you can plan activity-based lessons.

Program Duration & Fee – The minimum duration to be a part of this program is for 1 week, while the maximum is for 18 weeks. The cost for one is $450 which will include Airport Pick-up, Accommodation, Project Orientation and 24/7 in-country support.

 

Disabled Care Volunteering Program

Disable care in China

For those who wish to be a part of a more challenging program, can opt to volunteer for the Disabled Care Program In Beijing, and work with children and adults suffering from mental disabilities. There are two different placement centers – Rainbow Team & Three Color Workshop. Both the centers have around 15 to 20 people of varying age groups. All you have to do is help these people with their daily activities, and keep them engaged in some sort of engaging work like painting, crafts, etc. You can also teach them basic lessons in English and Maths.

Other than that, you can actively play a role in carrying out the managerial activities of the center and help with fundraising. You can also plan out and organize some sort of sponsorship activities so that the centers get monetary support from outside. No matter what you do, your contribution will be highly appreciated by the inmates as well as by the management team.

Program Duration & Fee – The minimum duration to be a part of this program is for 1 week, while the maximum is for 18 weeks. The cost for one is $450 which will include Airport Pick-up, Accommodation, Project Orientation and 24/7 in-country support.

What are the requirements to be a volunteer in China?

There is no hard and fast set of rules to be a volunteer. All it takes is dedication, enthusiasm, sincerity, and patience. Anyone who has these qualities can be a volunteer. However, there are certain basic prerequisites which one should keep in mind before planning to volunteer in China.

  • The age of the interested candidate must be at least 18 years while applying for the project.
  • The participant must be ready to work hard and religiously.
  • The volunteer needs to have an open mind and positive approach towards the project.
  • Must add creativity to the project.
  • Since there are programs associated with children, volunteers should not have any past record of criminal activities. (A Criminal Background Check Report should be submitted)
  • Interested participants should be of good mental and physical health.

It is essential for you to understand that no luxuries would be available during this journey, however, we shall try to make this experience as comfortable as possible.

What is the process of getting a Visa for China?

You can apply for your Chinese visa within 90 days from entry date. The best time to apply for your Chinese visa is 30-60 days before your departure. If you have all the documents and a passport that is valid for up to 6 months, then you can apply for a Chinese Visa – and it’s a pretty hassle-free procedure.

Getting a Visa is entirely the volunteer’s responsibility, but Volunteering Solutions will provide with written documents which would help volunteers in getting the Visa.

When do I need to arrive in China for my program? What will happen once I arrive?

You need to arrive at the Beijing Capital International Airport, where our local coordinator will meet you and take you to your accommodation. Our programs in Beijing start every Monday of the month (except during holidays) and volunteers need to arrive on the program start date itself. Please check your program start date and make your bookings accordingly. Please note that pick up from Beijing Airport is only provided from 8 AM – 8 PM.

Those volunteers who are arriving overland or are already in China will be picked up at a meeting point decided beforehand.

On the first day, there will be a detailed Program Orientation, where you’ll be provided with all the information regarding your project work, Chinese culture, the dos and don’ts that you must follow and all other necessary details. You will be told about the transportation from the accommodation to the placement and the best places to eat and shop as well during the briefing. Your country coordinator will take you to your placement on the first working day and introduce you to everyone.

What kind of accommodation facilities can I expect in China?

Like we mentioned earlier, during a volunteering journey, you can’t expect the luxuries that you usually enjoy at home. However, Volunteering Solutions has always ensured to provide a ‘home away from home’ experience to all the volunteers.

Volunteers will be provided accommodation in a Youth Hostel in Beijing. The hostel is located in the heart of the city, and volunteers can use the subway trains to commute to the project placements, on a daily basis. The subway station is not very far from the hostel. The hostel has a dining room and internet facilities as well.

Meals are not provided to the volunteers in Beijing. However, your coordinator will guide you on the best and reasonable restaurants to eat. Beijing, being an international city with rapid development has also lots of restaurants around the city. Chinese cuisine is one the most popular cuisines around the world and you would love to explore the different dishes and foods available in the city – so go ahead and tickle your taste buds.

How much money do I need to carry for my personal expenses?

The Fee you pay would cover your accommodation, airport pickup, and program placement costs. However, there would be other costs that you need to bear – like meals, transport, phone charges, and traveling to tourist destinations during the weekends, etc.

Carrying around $70-$80 per week would serve your purposes smoothly.

Here’s a little detail about the currency exchange rates:
1 Chinese Yuan Renminbi = 0.15 USD
1 Chinese Yuan Renminbi = 0.11 GBP
1 Chinese Yuan Renminbi = 0.13 EURO

The local coordinator will assist you for any kind of help that is required so that your volunteering experience can be absolutely worthy.

What Are the Dos and Don’ts That Should Be Followed While Volunteering in China?

When traveling, you may find it challenging to accept the diversity, but it’s crucial to be open-minded and understanding, especially in China. Some people’s behaviors might be perceived as silly, irritating and unacceptable, but you need to have a broad mind, study about the Chinese culture, religion and history beforehand and be polite while interacting with people in order to understand them.

After some time, you will get used to everything you could not accept or understand at the beginning.
There’s no ‘rule book’ as such, but of course, China is a country which is very particular about the mannerisms. Therefore, you need to be mindful of certain things while communicating with the locals.

DOs:

  • Try to be punctual – The Chinese folks are very accurate about the timings. If you have an appointment with someone, make sure you show up on time. Otherwise, it might be perceived as something extremely disrespectful.
  • Greet people, and ask if they have taken their meals – When you meet someone for the first time, it’s polite to ask if they have already eaten their breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending on time. Make sure to lower your head while you greet those who are older to you. Like most of the Western countries, the hugging and kissing gesture of greeting people are not accepted in China, so you must refrain yourself from crossing that line!
  • Eat and drink as much as you can! – If you are invited for lunch/dinner, you have to keep eating until your hosts finish eating, even if you are full! If you stop eating in between, it’ll highly disappoint your hosts.
  • Do carry a pollution mask – Beijing is known for its pollution and smog, hence it would be good for your lungs if you carry a mask! It’s nothing uncommon, as you’ll see even the locals donning a mask while they are out on the streets.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and toilet papers with you – Whether you are visiting the washrooms in the Forbidden City or at any of the fine dining restaurants in Beijing, you won’t find hand sanitizer or toilet papers, since the bathroom hygiene in China is very different from that of the West. Bear in mind that most public toilets are squatters!
  • Do learn the basics of the language – Mandarin Chinese is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world, but the Chinese expect you to learn at least the basics! Knowing some common phrases would also help you to connect with the locals on a daily basis. Here are some useful phrases that might help you:

              Ni hao – Hello
              Ni hao ma – How are you?
              Ni Zao – Good morning
              Wan Shang hao – Good evening
              Xie Xie – Thank you
              Bu Yong Xie – You’re welcome

DON’Ts:

  • Never say ‘No’ – Make sure not to say ‘No’ under any circumstance! The Chinese people are very dedicated to everything, and therefore, when it comes to the other person, they are not willing to accept a ‘No’. You can rather respond saying ‘Yes, but it’ll be difficult’.
  • Don’t forget your table manners – Greet everyone with a smile before you start your meal. Finish all the food that is served to you. Don’t tap your chopsticks on the bowl, as that is considered to be very inauspicious.
  • Don’t point your finger at anyone – The Chinese only point their fingers at the dogs, and thus, pointed finger at anyone would mean that you are disrespecting that person.
  • Don’t expose your body – There’s no dress code as such, but try to avoid clothes that are above the knee, or shows your neckline.
  • Don’t click photographs without seeking permission – If you wish to click photographs of the locals, it’s better to seek permission before you click. Also, most of the monuments and museums have strict photography rules & regulations that you must abide by.

What Are the Things to Do While Volunteering in Beijing, China?

Being a volunteer in Beijing, you will have so much to explore that you might feel like putting a pause to time! Beijing is a modern and sprawling city in North China which has served as the capital of the country for more than 800 years.

Beijing is home to some of the finest remnants of China’s imperial past. On one side, Beijing offers you to explore its glorious past, and on another side, you’ll get the opportunity to feel its modernity.

 

Here’s a list of things to do during your volunteer trip to China, and make sure you don’t miss out anything!

The Great Wall Of China

Considered as one of the seven wonders of the world, this Great Wall of China stretches for 4,000 miles, and took a thousand years to be constructed! The best way to explore is to go for a weekend hike.

 

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

This is the best preserved imperial palace in China, which housed 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911), and it’s the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. The design and the layout of the 870 buildings on the premise represent the essence of traditional Chinese architecture.

 

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen with chairmen Mao portrait, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

It is the largest square, which can accommodate millions of people – and it was this place where the ceremony of establishing the People’s Republic of China was held. ‘Tiananmen’ (Gateway to Heavenly Peace) separates the Forbidden City from the rest of Beijing.

 

The Temple of Heaven

Temple-of-Heaven-China

The place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven, this is considered to be one of the holiest imperial temples. It has been described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design”.

 

The Summer Palace

Summer-Palace China

The Summer Palace is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in modern China. It is a representative of a traditional Chinese garden and a charming place to appreciate the artificial landscape first created hundreds of years ago.

 

Giant Panda House of Beijing Zoo

Giant Panda House of Beijing Zoo

The Beijing Zoo was established in 1906 and houses some of the rarest Chinese animals, such as the Golden Monkey, the Red Panda, Sichuan golden monkey, Manchurian tigers, yaks from Tibet, enormous sea turtles etc. But of course, most of the people visit this zoo to see the Giant Pandas closely.

 

Binge on the local cuisine, especially the Beijing Roasted duck

Beijing-roasted-duck

Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, and you can’t even think of missing it out while you are there in Beijing! Roasted ducks, Zhájiàng noodles, Barbecue skewers, Dumplings, Stir-fried pork liver, Beijing lamb hot pot are some of the must-try dishes.

 

Watch the Kung Fu Shows

panda show

No trip to China can be complete without watching a live Kung Fu show! This can be done on a weekday evening as well. Enjoy a 70-minute Shaolin Kung Fu performance at Beijing Red Theater that displays the eye-popping athleticism and artistry of this famous Chinese martial art. See skilled performers whip out lightning fast kung fu kicks, leaps, and daredevil tricks as they tell the story of a boy practitioner at Shaolin Temple, known as the birthplace of Kung Fu.

Why Should I Choose Volunteering Solutions in China?

This is an obvious question, and almost every person who decides to travel abroad to volunteer faces the trouble of choosing one organization through which they can fulfill their dreams.

With its presence in 24 destinations all across the globe, Volunteering Solutions provides a plethora of volunteering programs in each of these destinations. In the last 11 years, since its inception, Vol Sol has placed more than 13.5K international volunteers on different projects as well as internship programs and has helped them nurture in their personal and professional lives.

From the time a candidate generates a query, through the process of clearing doubts, filling application form, making payments, and reaching the volunteering placement location – the Vol Sol team takes care of everything. They have in-country coordinators and representatives who are specially appointed to help volunteers at the project sites.

Apart from these, Vol Sol provides help in various important divisions, such as:

● Raising fund for volunteers who face financial crunch to sponsor their trip.
● Providing Medical and Travel insurance at a nominal extra cost.
● Trips and tour package to explore other locations in China.
● Vehicle facilities for local traveling and airport drop at some extra cost

Volunteering Solutions provides a Certificate of Completion after the program gets over.

Several candidates from different parts of the world chose China to volunteer and returned back with amazing experiences and bundle of memories. Many of them reverted back to the Vol Sol team to say that they are looking forward to returning back again!

Reviews From Our Past Volunteers

vivian fullVivian Full (Canada), Orphanage Volunteering Program

“I recently returned from a 2-weeks placement in Beijing at an orphanage for children with special needs, and it’s been one of the most humbling, gratifying and surreal experiences in my life. I worked with about 20 kids, from infants to young adults and had full days of teaching English, changing diapers, coddling babies, cleaning the orphanage, helping with laundry, bathing the babies, you name it!

The children and the caregivers welcomed me and the other volunteer with open arms, and it really felt like I was part of their family. They were definitely full, hard days, but ultimately, absolutely life-changing work! I still keep in touch with the caregivers and orphanage director and they send me updates and pictures of all the kids. I’m already making plans to return to the orphanage to help out more next year! Thank you VolSol for all your support! I recommend doing volunteer work at some point in your life, it really does teach you so much!”

 

parminder bassi

Parminder Bassi (United Kingdom), English Teaching Volunteering Program

“I certainly enjoyed my placement, the school was great, the teachers and coordinator were really helpful and the children were fantastic. I had so much fun at the school.

Definitely worthwhile, I enjoyed every minute. I did also feel the school and coordinator really did appreciate my efforts and the kids seemed to have fun.

The accommodation was good, the staff was helpful and the place was kept clean. In a very good location also. The in-service support by Melissa (Country Coordinator) was great. She was very helpful, supportive and made me feel comfortable.

I have two highlights – first has to be the kids. When I walked into the school they always were smiling, waving shouting ‘hello teacher’, which was so cute. The second was visiting the Great Wall of China, it was an amazing privilege to be able to visit such a place. I loved this experience, I felt it really did change me and I want to do more. The company seems well organized and helpful. Thank you for making this happen 🙂 ”

 

Your volunteering journey in China will definitely be one of the boldest decisions of your life. When you’ll travel to China to volunteer, you’ll realize that there are hundreds of little children who are not as lucky as you’ve been. And ‘destiny’, as a matter of fact, has led you to their land, to shower them with the affection that they deserve. Volunteering Solutions wants to help you on this journey of yours and wants to make it memorable in every possible way.

For more information, check out the website here or mail us at [email protected]

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