China and Me
January 3, 2007 1:12 PM   Subscribe

So, I've decided that I am going to spend next year in China... There's

I don't know anyone who has done a year of volunteer service, whether it's spent teaching or working, in China... I wanted to ask the hive mind if anyone has anecodatal first or second hand advice on organizations that are reputable, cities that are best (I've heard lots of people rave about Shanghai), etc.
posted by daviss to Travel & Transportation around China (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine is teaching English in Huarong, in Hunan Province.

She's blogging at
posted by sharkweek at 3:03 PM on January 3, 2007

Dave's ESL Cafe, though mostly for teachers, has a lot of information about scams, things to look out for, things to plan for, what to bring, etc. There are lots of expats living in China on their forums who could answer any questions you have.
posted by Brittanie at 4:10 PM on January 3, 2007

Hi. I'm Pollomacho and I'm an ex-pat in China (*hi, pollomacho*)

What do you feel constitutes the best? What are you looking for in China? Do you want to get lost? Do you want to find yourself? Do you want to be a strange towering, pale, hairy armed beast that is doted on like a living god but never really admitted into the inner sanctum of the social system? Maybe you just want to be a regualr guy with a job?

Shanghai is great if you want to blend into a city that's very cosmopolitan and seen its fair share of foreigners. The weather is nice, you can get decent pizza and things don't start closing at sundown.

Beijing on the other hand is on one hand a little rougher around the edges, less refined and cosmopolitan. Then again, on the other hand, it's a little less refined which means less snooty. You will be a bit more respected as an outsider here and at the same time not easily accepted because you're an outsider. Part of your job in BJ will be smiling and waving as your boss points out that he has a foreigner on staff.

Chongqing is hot as the fires of hell in the summer, but I really like it. There is something different about it's sweaty, teeming streets. It's a tad sleezy, but then again it's a tad sleezy, sort of like the Chinese New Orleans, and I love New Orleans.

You can check out MetaFilter's Own TM Bokane's site, from there you can find plenty of things to read and links to follow.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:27 PM on January 3, 2007

Some of this information from the University of Michigan might help. This office does a lot of research into work abroad and volunteer abroad programs. Depending on the type of work/volunteering you're interested in, you might have to dig around a bit in the site.
posted by srah at 7:15 PM on January 3, 2007

I'd recommend signing up at Chinese Forums. Lots of users there with experience to share. (Disclosure: site admin is a friend)
As a personal recommendation, I'd say go for somewhere smaller, not one of the big metropolises. Especially if you don't speak Chinese, you could end up in an ex-pat enclave. If off the deep end is your thing, you need to get rural.
At China Development Brief's vacancies page, they occasionally post volunteer opportunities. I considered jacking it in here in Beijing for this one, as Zhongdian is a wild and wooly bit of the Tibetan plateau and I could have learned some Khamba with the crazy nomads. If you poke around the site archives, they also have some articles of volunteering in China that should be available to read for non-subscribers, like this one. (Disclosure: I used to write for CDB)
posted by Abiezer at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2007

This post and the links it contains may help you pick a city.
posted by gd779 at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2007

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