Meet Your Guide to Volunteering While You Travel in China
A native of China, Bao Li Wang is our China Country Manager. Bao Li joined the Global Volunteers team in 2005 and manages and leads all teams in Xi’an and Kunming, China. While on a service program in China, Bao Li will be your guide on everything – volunteering, culture, development, and travel in China.
Bao Li holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Xi’an Northwest University of Political Science and Law. She says she can’t quite explain how she ended up at a law school, but that she always loved English and she is very happy that she is able to use her language skills to do good.
“Bao Li is wonderful. Patient, kind, funny, helpful. She answered countless questions about everything: teaching, Chinese language and etiquette, sightseeing and logistics, Chinese society and culture. She was always tactful and responded to any requests quite promptly. Truly, Bao Li made every aspect of this trip a delight. I cannot imagine a better team leader and am so happy to have spent these two weeks with her.”
– Tracy Harris, teacher
Bao Li was the first child of her parents’ to go to college and at the time, only 10% of Chinese were able to do so. She was born and grew up in a rural village and only left when she went to study at university. Her parents were extremely proud to send her off to college, hoping that she was saying goodbye to the hard life in the country forever. Bao Li says, “Nevertheless, I went against everyone’s will and married a country boy from a very poor family, Mr. Hao, my husband now, after six years of dating. At first, my family looked at this as a failure of all the education I had. But now, of course, he is accepted and loved by everyone in my family.” Bao Li and Mr. Hao have a seven-year-old son named Jerry.
Bao Li first worked with Global Volunteers as a volunteer when she was a college student. After that, she worked for the Sino-American Society for several years. Then, with Global Volunteers, Bao Li started out as assistant team leader and worked her way up in program management. Now, as China Country Manager, she coordinates all aspects of the programs in both Kunming and Xi’an.
“Hands down of the nine Global Volunteers projects I’ve been on, Bao Li is your star. Her soft spoken manner behest her sharp wit and managerial aptitude plus her sense of humor brings another dimension to her appeal. In my book this young lady is a winner. The project was all the more enjoyable for me because of Bao Li.”
– Anita Verbeke, librarian
A Short Interview with Bao Li
What compels you to work for Global Volunteers?
“I am inspired by Global Volunteers’ Philosophy of Service, especially the servant-learner concept. No matter how well educated you are or how high a social status you have, when you are a volunteer, you do what you’re asked to do because that’s the priority of the local people in need. What I like about Global Volunteers is also that we do not just hand some money to a community and leave, we work hand in hand with the local people to help with their community projects. This is important because I believe promoting understanding and friendship is as important as — or even more important than — having the community project completed.
“I first encountered Global Volunteers when I was a college student and had been studying English for nine years. I read English well and often scored high in exams, but my listening and speaking skills were poor. It was the Global Volunteers that changed me from a mute English learner to someone who could actually communicate in English. I was amazed and thrilled by the fast improvement I made in the short time of exposure to volunteers. Now I am very proud to be working as a bridge between volunteers and the many Chinese students and teachers who are struggling with listening and speaking English.”
What is one of your favorite parts of your job?
“The best part of my job is to experience and see with my own eyes that people of two different cultures who meet as strangers with curiosity and uncertainties at first, gradually open up as they spend time together. And they say goodbye as friends at the end of their time in China. It’s such a good feeling to see each team of volunteers and the Chinese students or teachers develop understanding, trust, and friendship in a short time of two or three weeks. And I feel very proud to be a part of that process.”
Why should volunteers spend a week or two in Xi’an or Kunming?
“Why should you travel in China? Why should you come to Xi’an and Kunming? Oh, so many reasons! Both cities are very popular tourist destinations and unique in their own way and represent China differently.
“Let me tell you a bit more about each of our host communities. Along with Athens, Rome, and Cairo, Xi’an is one of the most famous of the ancient cities. It was the capital of 13 ancient Chinese dynasties so there are many historical sites and ancient ruins and tombs in and around the city. It’s basically a live history book. The famous Terracotta Warriors Museum draws many visitors to the city. You can see this and so much more while you volunteer and travel in China.
“What makes Kunming unique is its pleasant climate and colorful Chinese minority cultures. Kunming’s year-round temperature is generally about 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees F) so it’s called the City of Eternal Spring because it doesn’t experience severe cold or a sweltering summer. Kunming is also home to 26 different ethnic groups in China. The charming beauty and diverse ethnic customs and culture make it a hot tourist place among both foreign and national tourists. There is a lot to see in and around Kunming.”
When people think of travel in China, they may not be thinking of volunteer vacations, but a guide like Bao Li is a great reason to do this. She and the eager, dedicated students and teachers who are so eager to learn from you.
Why do you recommend a Global Volunteers service program in China?
“For many Americans, China is still mysterious and threatening. This is not just because of communism, but also its big size and population, its fast development, and the many new actions China’s new leadership is taking. But what you hear is not always the way it is. So, don’t you want to come and see with your own eyes what China looks like? Don’t you want to meet and learn about the average Chinese people’s life and concerns? Maintaining a healthy and peaceful relationship between China and the United States has never been so important as it is today. I strongly feel that, we as individuals, need to help promote understanding among people while the two governments are still trying to establish a stable relationship. So, come! Volunteer and travel in China, a country that’s changing every day, and a country you cannot just ignore with its important role in today’s global community!”
“I strongly feel that, we as individuals, need to help promote understanding among people while the two governments are still trying to establish a stable relationship.”
What Volunteers Have Said About Their China Team Leader
“I don’t think you could find a better team leader than Bao Li. She got along with everyone, was a great team leader, helped us with anything we needed, spoke fluent English, and is generally a charming, efficient, professional person!” – Fran Pilch, professor emeritus of Political Science
“Bao Li is a delightful young woman who makes you feel you are in very capable hands. She has treated us all with great respect for our individual differences. I could not recommend her highly enough.” – Carol Sullivan, teacher
“Bao Li was a great team leader. She encouraged us to work as a team. She taught us about the Chinese culture; she took good care of us and I will never forget her. Thank you, Bao Li!” – Sophia N., student
Bao Li Off The Clock
In her free time, Bao Li says she tries to spend as much time as she can with her son, before he grows up. She says, “It’s a life-time project to build a good man, you know. We read together, go to movies, and travel in China to at least one place a year. The best time is when our small family is all together on a trip.”