Ethnic Bedding

1. What kind of visa do I need to enter China and how do I get it?
You will need a one month, single entry visa from a Chinese consulate in the United States. We use an Internet site www.mychinavisa.com to get the application forms. This site has all the necessary information about obtaining your visa. You will need 2 passport photos and will send the application, photos, the required fee and your passport to the address listed in the website. It will take approximately 5-7 days to process the request.
2. Do I need any shots before going to China?
It is suggested that you have hepatitis A and B, a tetanus booster, and Typhoid shots. There are specific timings required, especially for the hepatitis shots, so you should check with a doctor at least a month in advance of leaving.
3. Are there any cultural differences that I should be aware of, so that I can behave in an appropriate manner?
Chinese students are a bit more innocent than US students and there is less opposite sex interaction/more same sex interaction. This has nothing to do with being "gay", just a difference in a mixing of the sexes. This is changing rapidly, but public displays of affection are rare in China and frowned upon. Young men should be respectful of Chinese young women. Swearing is also not something often observed in China. It is a more conservative society in general. Remember that you are a kind of ambassador for the US while you are there. Impressions will be formed of the US, based on your behavior. It would also be inappropriate to use state of the art electronics in villages. This is a bit like flashing your affluence in front of people with less than you have. We strongly advise leaving ipods etc in Kunming when you go to the villages, particularly the ones where you will be volunteering. We do not advise giving gifts to some people in the villages and not others with the exception of perhaps a small gift for the person whose home you are staying in, both in Kunming and in the villages.
4. How will I communicate with the Chinese students and villagers if I do not know Mandarin?
All Chinese students chosen to participate with US students will be able to speak English, though perhaps not fluently. You may need to simplify your English and speak more slowly in order to be understood. They will also be able to be translators for you when you are in the villages, so that you will be able to more deeply interact with the villagers themselves. All of the Kunming home stays will be with families where at least one person speaks English. We will make sure before the US team leaves, that each member knows a few words of Mandarin in order to be polite (hello, goodbye, thank you, excuse me etc). Bilingual US students will be asked to help with translation. All education presented will either be in English, or completely translated by an interpreter.
5. What is the best way for me to get Chinese money? Should I bring a credit card?
The Chinese economy is essentially a cash economy. Credit cards are rarely taken except in 5 star hotels or for your plane ticket to China. There are ATM machines at a number of Chinese banks which can deal with international transactions. US ATM bank cards work in Chinese ATM machines. It is recommended that you carry some cash with you into the country to be used in case of emergency. All of the trip's accommodations, main meals, transportation, and fees to sites are included in the price of the trip. You will need to have your own money to buy extras and gifts.
6. Is China safe?
Chins is very safe, safer than the US. However, it is important to keep your travel documents and money safely on you at all times. Leaving your purse or wallet in a bar or restaurant will most likely result in your losing them.
7. How can I contribute to support programs in China even if I do not want to travel there?
You can make a tax deductible contribution to the Center for Intercultural Education and mail it to: 237 Camino del Norte, Santa Fe, NM 87501. US donations can make a huge difference in China. $100 can build village toilets or water catchment systems, or can buy books and supplies for a whole classroom of poor school children who would otherwise go without. As little as $10 can buy paint to paint the entire stairwell of a 7 story apartment house of elderly people living in poverty. Your contribution of whatever size can make a huge difference to the lives of others.
8. How can I start a program that replicates the China model in another country?
The Center is willing to come to your country to help train a team of people to start their own program and to continue to consult with the team as the program is in it's infancy. If you are in the US, we can connect with you where you are, or you can come to New Mexico to meet with us. Please contact us by email to discuss this further.
9. How can I live a more meaningful life, after I retire?
Each of us has an opportunity to contribute to the well being of all the people in the world and the planet itself, if we wish to. We can work with a non-profit organization in another country, we can financially contribute to organizations making a difference in the world, we can find out what we are passionate about and design a program to work in that area, we can sponsor a child's education. There are infinite possibilities. The Center will work with individuals to help them find the best way to create their own meaningful life. Please contact us by email for more information.