Whether factoring in its population, land area, or economic growth, one thing is certain - China is huge, and so is its need for volunteers. As the world's fastest developing economy, China's society has seen an increasingly large disparity between its rich and poor populations. Despite the economic growth, China largely remains a poor country, creating an interesting contrast of luxury and welfare. Nowhere is this more apparent than the country's capital of Beijing.

Officially, over 20 million people call this city home (not including the 7 million plus unregistered residents living illegally.) Across China, more than 130 million people struggle to make ends meet while living under the international poverty line. A greater understanding of Chinese culture will undoubtedly be a valuable take away from an experience volunteering abroad in Beijing.

As one of the country's strongest and most developed cities, Beijing provides a natural draw to citizens wanting a slice of the economic pie (but is there enough for everyone?) From helping individuals from poor economic backgrounds to unwanted children, volunteers will find many opportunities for service in this massive city. Go Overseas recommends getting involved in some of the following projects.


Within the last 50 years, the Chinese government implemented the One Child Policy in an effort to curb outstanding population growth. An unfortunate side effect of these restrictive family planning policies was an increase in the number of unwanted children. It is not uncommon to find a large number of little girls in Chinese orphanages, as ancient traditions glorifying the birth of sons remains ever-present in contemporary Chinese society.

Additionally, children who suffer from cleft lips or other small, visible abnormalities are also often neglected from a young age. Volunteers can help by pitching in at one of the many orphanages in and around the suburbs of Beijing. Orphanages are often understaffed, providing children with less attention than they deserve - as a volunteer, you will be able to lend a helping hand and show a child some love.

Charity for the Disabled

In addition to physical ailments, Chinese society collectively frowns upon individuals who suffer from mental disabilities. Birthing a child with brain defects shows a sign of weakness, and thus these children are often abandoned, who later grow into adults who feel unwanted, unloved, and out of place in society. Volunteers can help by facilitating activities that teach these individuals important life skills and helping them to function more independently. Daily activities and weekly field trips help connects those who are differently abled to feel more comfortable and familiar in the Beijing community.

Teaching Children of Migrant Workers

Beijing offers many opportunities for individuals in the more rural areas who are in need of work. Unfortunately, many of these people come to Beijing and work illegally, as they cannot register for a proper housing permit. Because of this, the families of these workers do not have access to basic health care or education. The Chinese government denies these social services to citizens who move to Beijing without permission, yet families are motivated to move to Beijing despite these laws to take advantage of financial horizons.

The children of these workers are put in a unique situation; not only do they end up being behind many of their peers attending formal classes, they especially fall behind in terms of their English language skills. On the whole, Chinese society deems fluency in English extremely important, with lessons being mandatory from age 8 onwards. Volunteer English teachers will provide opportunities to students from poor backgrounds, giving them more competitive skills.

Volunteering Tips

As a volunteer, you will witness first hand how Confucian ideals and collectivism infiltrates Chinese thought and actions. Be leery of situations where you would make any of your colleagues embarrassed - for instance, do not publicly disagree. Instead, remain quiet and discuss it later. It is an unfortunate reality that subjugated feelings are more positively received. If you want to make a difference, you may have to play by the rules.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Beijing

Although there are no vaccinations required prior to your volunteer trip to Beijing, it is highly recommended that you do a general check up with your doctor or physician before leaving. Chinese medication emphasizes slow healing with natural practices; while it may be interesting to learn about culturally, it is advised to pack any medication you normally use from home.

Beijing is in general a very safe city to live in; however, it is recommended to beware of pick pocketing in crowded places (i.e.just about everywhere.) Chinese people, especially children, warmly welcome foreigners and will most likely try to talk to you even while you are walking down the street!

Contributed by Megan Lee

Volunteer Programs in Beijing

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 programs
The Global Education Partnership
Service-Learning in China | The Social Entrepreneurship Think Tank
10 •3 reviews

OUR PURPOSE WHY - 95% of students in rural China cannot go to college...

Edutrip International Cultural Exchange Company
Deep understanding of China & community service
10 •2 reviews

Are you the kind of person who enjoys helping others? Are you looking...

Cultural Homestay International
Volunteer Teaching to a Host Family in China with CHI
9 •3 reviews

Become a conversation volunteer in China with Cultural Homestay...

Volunteering Solutions
Volunteer in China | Most Affordable & Trusted Projects
8.67 •3 reviews

Volunteer with children in China and make a difference their lives...

English Language Institute (ELI)
English Language Institute - Volunteer Teaching
8 •1 review

Join ELI as a volunteer English teacher in China. You’ll teach at a...

Hutong School
Volunteer in China with Hutong School

Join Hutong School's Volunteer Program and gain valuable experience...

Discover Corps
China: Panda Volunteer Conservation Adventure

The panda has become a symbol of China and conservation efforts around...

Star Exchange
Star Exchange "Language Volunteer in China" Program

Our Star Exchange Language Volunteer Program is combining the...

Other Volunteer Programs in China

Not enough options in Beijing? Check out these other Volunteer Abroad programs in China!
  • VIA Programs
    VIA Global Community Fellowship
    Multiple Countries
    9.27 •11 reviews

    The Global Community Fellowship is a 13-15 month program for young and...

  • ImmerQi
    ImmerQi | China Volunteer Program
    9 •2 reviews

    The Volunteer Program China (VPC) gives volunteers the chance to come...

  • Guizhou Forerunner College
    Volunteer at China's first and only non-profit college!
    10 •1 review

    The Volunteer program at Guizhou Forerunner college is a one-year...

  • RCDP International Volunteer Program
    Volunteer in China - Lowest Fees & Happy Volunteers Since 1998
    10 •1 review

    Our volunteer programs in China are located in the historic city of Xi...

  • Volunteer English Teacher (VET)
    Volunteer English Teacher - Helping the Children of Southern China
    10 •1 review

    Teach and volunteer in China with Volunteer English Teacher (commonly...

  • AIESEC Australia
    Global Citizen - Volunteer Abroad Projects
    Multiple Countries
    10 •1 review

    Our Global Citizen (Volunteer Abroad) program is a practical overseas...

  • Global Volunteers
    Experience the Real China as a Volunteer Teacher
    9.83 •6 reviews

    Join Global Volunteers in China to teach children and teachers English...

  • International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
    Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in China from $310
    9.18 •11 reviews

    Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

  • United Planet
    Volunteer Abroad in China with United Planet for 2-12 Weeks
    9.33 •6 reviews

    Join United Planet this summer on our annual volunteer teaching...

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