Map of China

Destination Overview

China is home to some of the world’s most ancient, significant, and intact cultural sites. Few places on earth provide such a vivid glance at the earliest days of human civilization and recorded history. Ancient Chinese customs can still be observed in rural areas but often stand as a stark contrast to the energetic development in the country’s capital city. The unprecedented economic development that China has experienced over the last thirty years has put it on a track to develop as a global superpower. These same blessings however, have left a significant chunk of the country’s massive population behind.

Since re-opening its borders in 1978, Chinese society has gone through a whirlwind of rapid economic and cultural changes. The hasty economic development has brought on many challenges including high inequality, rapid urbanization, environmental sustainability, and displacement of people. There is almost no access to resources or financial help for the 70 million rural poor so this population is often forced to migrate to the country’s cities.

The population, at 1.3 billion, is enormous, and the number of poor is staggering. In order to alleviate some of these social problems, the government issued centrally regulated population controls and officially restricted the number of children couples can have. As a result, many children, especially those who are disabled, are abandoned. Parents are often forced into making a profoundly difficult decision when they don’t have any resources to provide for the child and believe the state will provide them with more opportunities.

State-run orphanages are overwhelmed with the number of babies whose families are unable to take care of them. Medical procedures, education, and even affection are almost always in short supply in the state-run system, so the government allows exterior private organizations to operate and help with the overflow. Each summer, GoBeyond students volunteer in China through our high school travel programs. They lend a hand to China’s forgotten children through these organizations and have the chance to immerse themselves in the past, present, and future of the world’s most populous culture.

“Our leaders took us to the best place we could have started our long journey in China – the Great Wall! We discovered that we needed multiple bottles of water after only the first set of stairs. Even though the heat was tiring, nothing could bring us down as we trekked along the path and up and down countless sets of stairs that the Great Wall is made up of. The scenery was beautiful, and many of us took candid pictures of each other as we looked out of the small castle-like windows at the vast mountain-scapes and super green cascading trees.”
-Moshe G. - Los Angeles, CA