Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Volunteer in China 1yr Programs


Recommended Posts


I am interested in volunteering in rural China for at least one year sometime in the future. Could anyone suggest programs that are available?

I am from the States, so Peace Corps is always an option, but was wondering what else was out there.

my background is IT and japanese, but I am willing to do any type of work.

A bit more info...







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Be very careful about "volunteering" in China. If you choose to volunteer, I would strongly suggest going through The Peace Corps or a well known service.

The reason being simply that a lot of opportunities to "volunteer" in China are simply scams. I'm not sure what kind of volunteer work you're into, but I met a group of British students here last year on their gap year who had paid for the privilege of volunteering in China. They were placed as middle school teachers in the city where I live (although most of them were about 17 or 18 years old themselves). Who do you think was getting the better part of the deal? Well, the kids had fun on their gap year, so perhaps it was worth it, but for those of us to who teach here for a living, hearing of people doing our job for free is always kind of sickening.

China, for the most part, doesn't need volunteer English teachers. English education is a big industry here and many many schools can afford to pay teachers. I had a friend who taught English in some rural minority areas for free, which certainly was a good thing to do, but he didn't go through a service, he just showed up and set to work, helping where he could. I commend that kind of thing. But be very wary of any agencies promising to find you volunteer work, especially teaching, in China. If they want money from you, don't even consider it in my opinion. That last volunteer in China link you posted is a good example. Don't bother with something like that. Those schools can pay for their teachers, but instead they are most likely paying this agency, as are you! Don't pay for the luxury of teaching in China! Find a job doing the exact same thing that actually pays a decent wage.

Anyhow, just my two cents. Good luck finding what you're looking for, just don't be taken in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i find the fact that foreign teachers usually get paid at least 3 times what Chinese teachers get (even when they've got far fewer qualifications, experience or ability to teach) far more sickening than few kids helping some other kids with their English for free.

But, Harvey, it is easy to "volunteer" through your own initiative, plus you can decide for yourself who to help and where to go. For instance, some monks in a remote part of Sichuan once offered me food and board in return for teaching them English.

obviously it makes a big difference if you can speak Chinese- in fact i wouldn't recommend heading off into rural China offering voluntary skills about unless you speak Mandarin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wait a second, that's not the point BDT.

The point is that you shouldn't have to pay to teach for free. Isn't that just a tad ridiculous? If you look at that last link he posted they advertise a fee of about $900 USD to teach for a year, plus a $350 application fee! What, exactly, is the $1250 USD for? Orientation? Pick up at the airport? $1250 USD goes a loooooong way in China! Sure, the school provides your housing and such, but they should do that anyhow. Like I said, if you want to volunteer, great, but volunteer where it is needed, and just do it on your own. It is easy enough to figure out what schools need your services. There is absolutely no reason to pay for a placement volunteering in a school.

And 3x as much as the Chinese teachers make? Not always. When I worked for a university here, my pay was just about in line with the Chinese teachers. They had more perks than we did too. It is a myth that all the foreign teachers here are making big bucks. And besides, if I am being paid 5k a month at a school where each and every student has to pay 16k RMB a semester for tuition, what's the big deal? Afterall, I paid a lot of money for my degree, I gave up a lot to come to China, and 5k really isn't that much when it comes down to it. It isn't enough to save hardly anything (how useful would saving approx. 100 US a month be, anyhow?) not enough to frequently visit my family back home, not enough to avoid public transportation, not enough to eat at fancy restaurants, not enough to buy new gadgets, etc. I dunno, but I don't think comparing my salary to that of a local is really all that useful. Apples and oranges, and anyhow, I know plenty of Chinese people who have far more money than I do.

Furthermore, do you think that as private school such as the one I work for (remember, the students are paying 16k a semester!) were to sign a contract with an volunteer agency, which would then recruit unsuspecting foreigners who don't understand China's job market to pay them a lot of money to work for free at such a school, that would really be fair? What if you were placed at that school to volunteer, and then found out how much the students were paying in tuition? Wouldn't you feel duped? Here are the schools listed on Global Volunteer Network's China volunteer page. I can almost guarantee that several of them are private schools. I also don't think that Yantai itself is a poor or underdeveloped region of China.

Nanshan Bilingual School

Donghai Foreign Language School

Yantai Development Zone Advanced School

Yantai Jianwen College

Yantai Agricultural School

Yantai Herrman Gmeiner School

Fushan No.1 Middle School

Yantai No.3 Middle School

Yantai No.4 Middle School

Yantai Bilingual School

Muping No.1 Middle School

Muping Experimental School

Anyhow, I could go on, but please understand, I'm not against the idea of volunteering, I'm against the idea of scamming people. There are places in China where volunteering could be rewarding and useful, and you don't have to pay $1250 USD to find them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips guys.

Given the conditions that I don't want to pay for a program, and AM intersted in doing something like Peace Corps, are there any other recommendations you guys would have? Also, I am not necessarily looking for a teaching job, though, I wouldn't mind. My skills are in IT, and well, Japanese. Not sure I can do anything with Japanese though if I'm not a native speakers.










Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Harvey

I do tend to agree with BDT that if you can't speak Mandarin and have no China experience, then wandering around rural China volunteering as an English teacher might be a bit overwhelming. However, it could also be a rewarding adventure.

I'd apply for Peace Corps if I were you. It is English teaching, but they support you and give you stipends and such, and will put you in schools where your services are actually needed, not in a language mill. As far as other types of volunteering, I've heard of people volunteering in orphanages and such, but such things tend to be very politically iffy, and not really endorsed by the government. You might contact various NGOs as well ... check out www.chinadevelopmentbrief.com for an extensive list. Some of them seem to have some positions available for volunteers.

Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I went on a chinese language course with Sinoculture in 2005 at Yantai University which I believe is associated with http://www.volunteer.org.nz/china/. I believe they use the same guy in Yantai as their 'man on the ground' who meets you off the airplane etc. I found Jack very obliging and helpful and if you do not know any chinese language and never been to china before he was a useful source of information. For my chinese course we paid 600 US dollars to Sinoculture to organise it and I consider this amount not cheap but reasonable. I think for the first time in a foreign country it is worth paying something (not necessarily as much as they charge for the volunteer package) for a helping hand when you are new and inexperienced in a foreign country. Maybe this is what they are probably charging for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...