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GROUP VOLUNTEERING PROJECTS
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas for GROUPS since 1994.

CHINA

PANDA CONSERVATION AND CULTURAL IMMERSION ACTIVITIES IN CHINA

Start your volunteering adventure with a fun-filled week of cultural activities that will immerse you in Chinese culture and give you an in-depth insight into this fascinating country. Then follow this with working in the largest Panda base in China, where the focus is on protecting and building a safe environment in which to begin the possible reintroduction of Giant Pandas into the wild.

The Chinese Culture Immersion week is designed to ease you into the lifestyle and pace of China. At the same time, the week is packed with sightseeing, cultural training and fun activities. You'll learn some language, meet the local people, and visit temples and fairs in the local region.

Your second week will focus on Panda conservation work in the largest Panda base in China, where the objective is aimed at protecting the Giant Panda. It is located in the beautiful mountainous area of the Woolong Nature Reserve and near the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddha.

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

  • Price:
    £1,545 (approx. US$2,150) for 2 weeks
    Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & prices in other currencies
  • Duration: 2 weeks fixed length. Subject to visa requirements
  • Start Dates:Programmes start every other week throughout the year. Please see start dates under "Work Content".
  • Requirements: Minimum age 17. No qualifications or experience required.
  • What's included:
    Arranging your Programme
    Full pre-departure support and assistance
    Payment Protection insurance
    Meeting you at the nearest Airport
    Accommodation
    Food
    Daily transport to and from your project
    Local in-country team support and backup
    24-hr emergency support
    Certificate of Completion
  • What's Not Included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport.
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CULTURAL IMMERSION ACTIVITIES WEEK:

This fun-filled culture week is designed to ease your group into the lifestyle and pace of China. It gives you the opportunity to integrate into the rich cultural life of China. You'll meet the local people, taste the local cuisine and get familiar with Chinese customs.

You'll get to know your town and everything required to make your stay comfortable. Your mornings will be spent learning how to speak Chinese and understanding cultural customs before adventuring into the local towns and cities and exploring the streets while socialising with the locals. You have opportunities to visit a Confucius temple and a Guangong temple, local fairs, and some amazing natural scenery sites in groups or individually during free time.

PANDA CONSERVATION PROGRAMME:

Get up close and personal, with both baby pandas who weigh only 100 grams at birth and gradually develop to 60lbs in their second year of life to their far larger parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs. In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population – which is an amazing achievement. The numbers are now such that the panda reserve can at last experiment with returning them to the wild.

Your duties may vary depending on what is required of you at the time, so flexibility is essential. During your placement your daily activities will include:

  • Cleaning of the Giant Panda enclosures, and the nursery.
  • Preparing the food and feeding the Giant Pandas. 99% of their diet is bamboo, however the balance usually consists of rice gruel, high fibre biscuits, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.
  • You may also be asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, in order to expand the knowledge of how best to care for these highly endangered species.

If you're interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity to learn about the Giant Panda, something that is unique to China.

CULTURAL IMMERSION WEEK ITINERARY

  • Monday:
    Start your day with a typical Chinese breakfast, followed by Chinese language lessons and a tour of Fengyan village, which will include the Old house. After lunch you will learn about Chinese philosophy and what is found Taboo. In the evening you will have the opportunity to visit a local family for a welcome party and learn how to make oil tea.
  • Tuesday:
    Your second Chinese lesson will follow breakfast and then you will visit Lianhua town where you will register and you can do some shopping. After lunch you will have a culture session about Chinese festivals which will lead onto a late afternoon visit Hongyan village and a climb up one of the mountains and finishing the day with Bamboo rafting.
  • Wednesday:
    Your morning will be spent studying and participating in Chinese language lessons, Calligraphy and painting, followed by a Chinese culture session focused on the History of China. In the Afternoon you will visit the Confucius and Guangong temples and walk along the Cha river. You won't just look at the Confucius temple, you'll understand what it felt like to be the number one scholar in the Imperial city, to pass the Emperor’s examinations and the path through the temple that only you were allowed to walk. In the evening if you would like, you can join the Gongcheng BBQ.
  • Thursday:
    Today you are going to learn how to buy and bargain in Chinese, and then visit the Market of Lianhua to buy some food and practice what you have learned. The afternoon will be filled with further culture lesson and an introduction into Chinese cooking, where you will learn how to make Dumplings amoung other things.
  • Friday:
    This morning not only will you further improve on your Chinese but also learn different Chinese songs. Your final lesson for the day will be the art of paper cutting, which is strong in Chinese culture as paper was originally invented in the Eastern Han Dynasty in the 2nd Century AD. Free time will be given in the afternoon for preparation for your weekend.
  • Saturday and Sunday:
    You are able to travel freely today and visit Yangshuo and Gongcheng, explore the culture with your newly acquired knowledge in culture and language, or alternatively you can stay at the centre and rest before your next adventure.
  • Most evenings are spent learning how to play Chinese games like; Mah-jong, Chess or watching Chinese films.
  • Note: The schedule can be change depend on the weather and local conditions.

PANDA CONSERVATION: SAMPLE ITINERARY

  • A typical programme is as follows, but this will vary from week to week and season to season.
  • Sunday:
    Pick up from Chengdu airport.
    You will be collected from Chengdu airport by one of our English speaking co-ordinators who will transfer you to the city where you will stay for two nights.
    Monday:
    After a morning's rest, you can take a tour the city of Chengdu including local markets, parks and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley. Visit the Business quarter. Later, join us at the welcome dinner in one of the City’s restaurants.
  • Tuesday:
    Transfer to the Panda Reserve (3 hours by bus). Lunch at the Panda base.
    Afternoon briefing and introduction to the work you will be doing.
    Also registration (where you will be issued with your uniform, volunteer card etc).
    Guided tour of the Panda base and meet the panda keepers whom you will be assisting.
    Dinner at the hostel restaurant.
  • Wednesday – Friday:
    For the next 3 days you will work as an assistant to the Panda Keeper. General duties will include cleaning, preparing food, chopping and carrying bamboo.
  • Saturday:
    8:00 am transfer to Chengdu City/airport (arriving Chengdu airport at approximately 11.00 a.m) for your departure. Afternoon flights are recommended.
  • If your programme is for longer than one week, you can explore the local area or go further afield. Your next week working at the Panda Base will start on Monday and go through to Friday.
  • Note: The schedule can be changed and/or amended depending local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

ACCOMMODATION DURING CULTURE IMMERSION PROGRAMME

You'll stay in a pleasant and cosy house, which is run like a family, with the volunteers and project coordinators all contributing by keeping the home neat and tidy. Rooms are shared with 2-6 other people and include hot and cold water, western style toilets and fans. Laundry facilities are available and a bar with a variety of drinks and food unique to Chinese culture is available. Wi-fi facilities are available through-out the centre, so you are able to Skype and Facebook friends and family.

Upgrades: Upgrade options are available for couples, families or those with a slightly larger budget who prefer 4* hotel luxury. The Western style 4-star hotel will give you your own room and air conditioning. This option is particularly attractive to older participants who have a larger budget that they prefer to spend on their ‘home comforts’. Please note that the cost of this is additional to the cost of the programme. These will be subject to availability at time of booking. Please contact us for further details.

FOOD:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and eaten together at the centre. These will be typical rural Chinese dishes comprising of rice or noodles mixed in with vegetables and often a some meat. However we are able to accommodate a vegetarian diet if informed upon booking.

ACCOMMODATION DURING PANDA CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

Accommodation at Chengdu:
When you arrive, your accommodation for the first two nights will be at Chengdu. Here you'll stay in a hostel room with between 4 and 8 other people. It has a shared bathroom with hot shower.

At the Panda Base:
You'll then be transferred to the Panda Base. The Greenway Centre in the Ya’an Panda base has been chosen to give you a special environment for your visit to China. It is located 1,100 metres above sea-level with an average temperature of 15 degrees. It is perfect for the pandas – and for you!

The Centre is in a pleasant, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, 24-hour hot water and toilets. If you prefer, upgrade options are available (please contact us for further details).

Laundry facilities are available for a small charge (roughly 20 CNY each time). Other facilities include; free wi-fi and a book cabinet with a few books in different languages. There’s also a small shop where you are able to buy the basics like drinks and snacks.

FOOD:
At the Centre you will be provided with three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. These will be Chinese dishes typical of the local area, comprising mainly rice, noodles and vegetables with some meat.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten overseas volunteering holiday into Asia and the wonderful Chinese culture!
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping to protect and conserve the endangered Giant Panda and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

OBJECTIVES FOR YOU

  • Under Construction!

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  • The aim of this program is to assist in the efforts of conserving the endangered Giant Panda.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

ARRIVAL AND TRANSPORT TO YOUR PROJECT
Please note that this will vary from week to week and season to season. You'LL fly into Chengdu airport on a Sunday where you will be collected by one of our coordinators. You will then travel to Chengdu City which is approx. 30-40 minutes away where you will spend your first day, giving you time to relax and rest. Monday will be spent touring the city of Chengdu including the local markets, parks and later you will be invited to a welcome dinner.

The following morning you will be transferred to the Panda base which is approx. 3 hours away, where you will have lunch at the panda base with a briefing and introduction to your work content in the afternoon. Registration will also take place, where you will receive your uniform and volunteer card before you will receive a guided tour before dinner.

ABOUT THE PANDA CONSERVATION CENTRE
The Woolong Nature Reserve was first established in June 1980 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chines Government as a research centre for endangered animals in China. This led to the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in 2004. Since the beginning of this movement, 66 Giant panda cubs have successfully been bred.

The purpose of the Conservation Centre is to increase the numbers of Giant Pandas found in the world and potentially begin to reintroduce them back into the wild. This requires the protection of their natural habitat and their major food source, bamboo.

The Panda centre has established a 90% survival rate for Giant Panda cubs due to its development in raising twin cubs. In nature a Panda is only able to raise and protect one cub at a time. However, with the help of caretakers in the nursery, they are able to leave one cub with the mother to nurse and bond, while another is placed in an incubator and hand-raised. Here Staff will stay with the baby panda for 24 hours a day, every day, for one week and then the cubs are swopped around. This results in both cubs being able to be naturally raised by their mother and receive the care that only she is able to give.

WHY IS THE GIANT PANDA ENDANGERED?
Giant Pandas are naturally solitary creatures that move freely from area to area seeking out fresh bamboo (their staple diet), creating avenues in order to come together in spring and mate. This magnificent creature that is known to have survive the ice age, has over the years been faced with great challenges, such as their natural habitat decreasing significantly due to the expansion of humans: the development of new roads, towns and power lines resulting in the need for more logging and thus haltering the natural migration and contributing to the lack of bamboo. (Bamboo requires shade in order to grow.)

This has resulted in Giants Pandas being unable to find new food and thus preventing male and female Giant Pandas from finding one another and being able to mate and increase their numbers in the wild. The 2008 earthquake in China also had a devastating effect on the Giant Pandas' natural habitat and food sources, thus further decreasing the number of Giant Pandas found in the wild.

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

JUDY MACHIN
Swedish

I really do not want to leave! And I can definitely say this has been one of the best times of my life! It really has, it has changed my life in so many different ways I can't explain in words! Jordan Scott

It has been a most amazing experience. Not just meeting and working with the pandas, but learning about the culture and society of China. The volunteers are friendly and fun to hang out with, so evenings are pretty great. I think it's fair to say that I've had a few culture shocks, so much here is different from my home in Sweden, but I've had a great time discovering these differences. I definitely want to come back someday Lynn, Sweden

The whole trip was amazing and your organisation terrific - we can learn so much from China! Judy Machin