1. What sort of volunteer work?
English speaking foreigner visitors to the Yangshuo Guilin region go
into poor villages to teach oral English and introduce the Western Culture
to the students. The purpose of V.E.T. is to help the children speak
a bit of English and to give them the initiative to speak freely with
foreigners. Volunteers teach English through songs and games that help
the students practice what they learn in the daily English school lessons.
Oral English is not part of these lessons as Chinese English teachers
in this area cannot speak English, and as a result Chinese children
can read and write a few words but can’t speak the language. We
know that by helping them develop comfort in speaking bit of English
to Western visitors the children will have a much greater chance of
securing a job in the rich tourism industry of the region. Many of these
poor children will not have the opportunity to go to school beyond the
primary grades for two reasons: 1. the cost of higher education is prohibitive
for their poor peasant family 2. they don’t have the academic
scores to qualify for enrolment into local middle schools. As Westerners
we might not regard a job in a restaurant or as bike rental clerk as
a career to aspire to, but for these young people the monthly pay of
three to four hundred Yuan is a fortune. For a young person that is
not too shy to speak to a foreigner and can speak a bit of English their
future is much brighter.
Volunteers also help V.E.T. to collect supplies, equipment and funds
for the students and schools. Poor schools do not have resource materials,
classroom equipment is a sheet of plywood painted black and some coloured
chalk. It is often impossible for parents to buy the note books, pencils
etc. that every pupil needs. Donations of cash are used to purchase
supplies and equipment, provide transportation for the volunteers to
and from the villages, and organization needs such as printing and administrative
2. Where are the schools located?
The schools are located a 15 minute to one hour ride from the city of
3. What qualifications are needed?
The most important qualification is that the volunteer speaks clear,
understandable English. Equally as important is the desire to help make
a difference, enthusiasm and a great sense of fun.
Volunteers should be aware of the fact that the level of (spoken) English is very basic at most of the schools. Volunteers should also know that the different schools have different demands/wishes and should be flexible regarding adapting (lesson) plans.
4. What time frames are involved?
Volunteer Teachers give the amount of time they choose. Teachers ideally stay for a
week or more. We have had two volunteers that came to China just to volunteer
and generously gave us four months.
5. What would be the cost?
A volunteer can choose to stay at TESOL hostel, a standard double bed hotel room for 50 RMB/night/person, and 30 RMB for meals one day.
6. Are there any age restrictions?
There is no age limit. Everyone in good shape is welcome. We have had volunteers from 19 to 75.
7. What sort of projects are involved?
The primary goal of V.E.T. is to help improve the level of oral English
in poor rural areas of Yangshuo and Guangxi Province. Since inception
in November of 2004 we have logged over 200 classroom hours during the
regular school term and pioneered two special English summer school
programs. In the past we also organised summer schools.
One in the Yuon Cun Village primary school. Forty eight children, ages 9 to 12, attended the three week
morning classes conducted by three volunteer teachers. The second summer
school was in the town of Rongshui at a Miao Minority Middle School.
Three volunteer teachers provided morning and afternoon classes for
120 students while a fourth teacher taught 18 Chinese English teachers
language and methodology.
V.E.T., through the generosity of individuals, has been able to supply
some of the schools with soccer and basketballs. At one of the school
we work in the only playground equipment is two bamboo polls hanging
from a tree that the children can shinny up and down.
Fund raising and collecting supplies and teaching materials is an ongoing
part of the program.
8. Why are the English lessons not funded by the local (or
In short, what is the need, and are
these projects being done from as justice perspective, or just because
the possible funding authorities are too lazy (or worse) to be involved.
What is the specific need being addressed?
China’s remarkable economic rise in the past 25 years is well
documented and known throughout the world. Education has also seen tremendous
changes in this period but the reality is that the less developed smaller
urban and rural areas still battle with extreme poverty. The local Education
Authorities and the individual schools can’t possibly afford the
luxury of a foreign teacher to practice oral English with the students.
V.E.T. is highly praised and recognized for its great contribution to
the children by all levels of education administrators.
The cycle of poverty can only be broken through education. Poor peasant
farmers struggle to pay the annual school fees for their children to
go to primary school but very, very few can afford the higher costs
of sending the children to Junior Middle School or beyond. We know that
if the children can learn to be comfortable with foreign visitors and
speak some English they will be able to get work. Volunteer English
Teachers are committed to helping these children realize a better future.
Many local business people support the Program financially and publicly
displaying recruiting posters, however the funds raised locally are
not sufficient to meet costs that is why we solicit support from foreign