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China has a long, rich and complex history. Chinese people are proud of their culture and their ancient past and, at the same time, moving forward in a rapidly changing environment. With a population of 1.3 billion people, China is home to nearly 20% of the world's population. Through the Peace Corps, Volunteers are able to live and work in China, learn Mandarin -- the world's most spoken language -- and experience the intricacies and nuances of the culture.
Countrywide, China has a shortage of 500,000 English teachers. In 1993 the first group of eighteen Peace Corps Volunteers were sent at the request of the Chinese government. Volunteers participating in the pilot project taught English at the university level. English education continues to be a top priority for the universities in China.
Currently 114 Volunteers are teaching English in more than 62 universities, including five medical colleges and four vocational colleges. Peace Corps Volunteers are known as "U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers" to their students and colleagues. Volunteers teach English at colleges and universities within four regions of Western China: Sichuan, Guizhou, Gansu, and Chongqing.
Common classes assigned to Volunteers include: Oral English, Listening Comprehension, Reading, Writing, Literature and Linguistics. Secondary projects instigated by Volunteers include English resource centers, radio shows, movie nights, sports clubs and women's clubs. Volunteers have created a website where they are able to exchange teaching ideas, lesson plans and methods.
China is a place full of vitality and opportunity. U.S.-China Friendship Volunteers have a unique opportunity to be part of this vitality and transformation.
2008 Sichuan Earthquake
A major earthquake struck Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008, killing more than 60,000 people -- possibly many more. All current Peace Corps volunteers are safe and accounted for, but the disaster has likely affected thousands of former students of Peace Corps volunteers.
Volunteers, former volunteers and former students are gathering information on the affected areas and people. See 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in China
In March 1988, the Chinese foreign minister and then-Secretary of State George Shultz agreed in principle to place Peace Corps Volunteers in China. A year later, an exchange of letters signed by the U.S. ambassador and the secretary general of the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) and the Peace Corps opened the way to establish a Peace Corps post in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.
In June 1989, the first group of trainees for Peace Corps/ China began training in the United States. However, following the Tiananmen Square incident, the training was canceled; the China program was temporarily suspended and the trainees were offered assignments in other countries.
The first group of 18 Peace Corps Volunteers to be sent to China arrived for their training in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in June 1993. Following training in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Chinese language, and cross-cultural issues, the 18 trainees swore-in as Volunteers in August 1993. They were posted to Sichuan Province, which at that time also included what later became the separate political entity known as the municipality of Chongqing. This group was viewed by the Chinese as a two-year experiment to determine whether Peace Corps was appropriate for China. Those Volunteers completed their service and returned to the United States on schedule in the summer of 1995. The Peace Corps country agreement was not signed until June 29, 1998.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in China
Volunteer sites in China are located from within Chengdu, where the Peace Corps office is located, to up to 1,200 kilometers (744 miles) away. Many Volunteers live on the campus of the college/university to which they are assigned and the school provides housing. All sites have hot water heaters for showering. However, in the winter, there is an occasional water shortage when water may not be available for hours at a time. Electricity is fairly constant, but power failures do occur, especially in winter. Volunteers live in local faculty housing or in apartments. These residences have a living room, a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and sometimes a study.
Main article: Training in China
Your first weeks in-country will be an intense period of transition. It may be your first time outside of the United States. Regardless of your background and experience, you will be making a leap of faith and putting yourself in the hands of several individuals whose job is to prepare you for Peace Corps service. During pre-service training, all trainees live with host families. Many individuals find this experience to be the best part of their training. Host families provide invaluable lessons in cross-cultural and language areas that Peace Corps staff cannot begin to teach. Some Volunteers remain close to their host families throughout their service and spend some Chinese holidays and vacations with them.
Pre-service training is designed to provide you with the tools necessary to operate independently and effectively as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China. You will participate in a structured learning situation that is community based. You will be required to attend all training sessions, learn and demonstrate proficiency in the language, and observe cultural mores. Your progress will be assessed by others, but you will also be asked to take responsibility for your own learning and to gradually decrease your reliance on the Peace Corps training and office staff. You will be encouraged to assess your own progress as well as your commitment to serving in Peace Corps/China for the next two years.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in China
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/China maintains a clinic with full-time medical staff who take care of Volunteers' primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in China at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to a medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in China
In China, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in China. You may be advised to avoid discussion of topics with your students. Outside of China’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of China are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in China
- How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to China?
- What is the electric current in China?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- What should I bring as gifts for China friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Main article: Packing list for China
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in China and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in China.
Peace Corps News
- Heart of the Treasure Valley: Peace Corps opens eyes of teacher in China - The Idaho Statesman
The Idaho StatesmanHeart of the Treasure Valley: Peace Corps opens eyes of teacher in China
The Idaho Statesman
Ann Montgomery, 56, took a leave of absence from her job to spend a year teaching in China with the Peace Corps. And teaching was only part of her work. ?The intention is legitimately peace and intercultural communication and exchange,? she says. ? ?
- Rowan Countian Maria Corriher stuck in Kiev amid violent protests - Salisbury Post
[?]Rowan Countian Maria Corriher stuck in Kiev amid violent protests
Corriher, a 25-year-old Peace Corps volunteer and daughter of Alicia and Kurt Corriher of China Grove, is all right and staying inside the organization's headquarters, about a 20-minute walk from Independence Square where the fighting has been continuing.
and more »
- Carleton, St. Olaf colleges earn spots on Peace Corps' annual 'Top Colleges ... - Southernminn.com
[?]Carleton, St. Olaf colleges earn spots on Peace Corps' annual 'Top Colleges ...
Evan Leibowitz. In 2013, Evan Leibowitz joined the Peace Corps to teach English in China. (Photo courtesy of The Carletonian). Peace Corps logo. Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 8:44 pm, Fri Feb 14, 2014. Carleton, St. Olaf colleges ...
and more »
- Penn State among Peace Corps' Top Volunteer-producing Universities in 2014 - Gant Daily
[?]Penn State among Peace Corps' Top Volunteer-producing Universities in 2014
Penn State alumni are currently serving as volunteers in Armenia, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Macedonia, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, ...
and more »
- Cornell ranks No. 5 for Peace Corps recruits - Cornell Chronicle
[?]Cornell ranks No. 5 for Peace Corps recruits
Cornell has 29 undergraduate alumni currently volunteering worldwide in Benin, Cameroon, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Moldova, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
and more »
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Thursday March 13, 2014 )
Contributions to the China Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in China. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in China
- List of resources for China
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports
- 2008 Sichuan Earthquake