I spent 6 weeks volunteering in China, working 2 weeks in a disability centre in Xi’an and the other 4, teaching in the city of Weinan.
David Zhou runs the program in China and I cannot stress enough how great he is as a program leader. Even before I arrived in China, David was always on hand to answer any questions or concerns that I had. This did not stop once I arrived either. Whether helping other volunteers to arrange post placement travel plans, recommending food to try, or helping us when we got lost, he always had time. As did his family. If you’re fortunate enough to stay at the home base in Xi’an, like I did for the first two weeks of my placement and every weekend thereafter, you’ll be welcomed with open arms from David and his family.
As you are pretty much given free reign in the placements, it can be difficult to know what to teach, what to include in lessons and how to get everyone involved. Whatever programme you opt for however, the support you will receive from the people around you is second to none, provided you’re not afraid to ask for help or guidance. The kids I worked with were extremely curious and sometimes a little shy, but all of them loved playing games and having fun. It was often a case of trial and error, but the kids enthusiasm and excitement at having you there definitely made teaching one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
It’s also quite difficult to sum up just how good the food in China is. Whether eating in the Muslim Quarter or dining at Jim’s (Ask David to take you), China knows how to turn ordinary food into something that’s unforgettable. It can however, take some getting used to. Food in the homestay is basic but lovely, and for the best Chinese dumplings in the whole of China, you need not leave the homestay.
All in all, I would certainly recommend the IVHQ China programme. It could be one of the most rewarding things you ever do!