Are you thinking about bringing your family to China? Are you looking for a way to experience China in a manner that would introduce children to the country, and to have a deeper experience than hotel stays might typically offer to a traveling family?
Traveling to China as a Family: Some Initial Thoughts
Chinese Now! has encountered a number of Chinese language learners (and parents of Chinese language learners!) in the Washington, D.C. area who are considering traveling to China as families. We are not a travel agency or tour company, but as part of our effort to encourage a comprehensive understanding of China we are glad to help people think well about such a major trip.
Our simple observation is that each family member will grow in their own way, with regards to their understanding of China, the world, and themselves, through such a trip. In addition, this type of journey deepens the bonds between family members in ways that go beyond the destination. In short, if you are fortunate enough to have the time and the resources to consider such a trip, work hard to make it happen. China is far more accessible than it was even 10 years ago, including to Americans without significant Chinese language skills. You should visit at least one of China's great cities, but also travel off the beaten path. Planning a visit to a small city or a rural area takes a bit more effort, but the perspective gained from that experience will be invaluable.
Please contact us at [email protected] and let us know a bit about your family and your plans. We would be glad to have an initial conversation and point you to resources that can help you make this happen!
A Special Destination: Consider Service as Part of Your China Trip
We would encourage you to consider engaging in meaningful service as part of a family trip to China. We are fortunate to have a relationship with a special place in China, New Day Foster Home, just south of Beijing, which can welcome families that wish to volunteer during a trip, for stays of 10 days to years. This is a unique opportunity to experience China and to engage in service while doing so. It brings us great joy to offer to help you understand if New Day is right for your family, and to introduce you to New Day if you are interested in learning more.
New Day Foster Home is a remarkable place, with a remarkable story. Located approximately an hour south of Beijing, in a village called Qingyundian, New Day cares for special needs orphans from around China.
With a heart to touch the lives of orphans with medical needs, New Day began modestly in 2000, caring for six orphans who needed minor cleft lip and palate surgical repairs. New Day initially cared for them in a couple of apartments, and built a 21-bed facility now known as New Day Foster Home soon after.
As New Day's reputation spread to more orphanages throughout China, it received more requests for children to come to its facility. Children at New Day benefit then and now from medical care at some of the top hospitals in Beijing. To better meet the needs, New Day expanded its Beijing facility in two ways: First, it began placing children with caring foster families in its local village. And in early 2008, we launched a healing home to give life-changing surgeries and recovery care to more orphans.
Since the Foster Home’s founding in 2000, New Day has been privileged to
touch the lives of hundreds of children throughout China. New Day's work
simply would not be possible without many people around the world volunteering their time, resources, and expertise to help our children
experience hope and healing.
If New Day sounds like it might be a meaningful opportunity for your family, please contact us for more information. Also, for more information about New Day, and links to its great blog and Facebook page, please click here.
Planning a Trip to China
How might you approach a trip to China? Chinese Now! would not make these arrangements for your family, but we are more than happy to offer suggestions and get you started. A sample itinerary, including a visit to New Day, could work like this: (1) transit, to arrive in Beijing, and stay there for one or two days to get over jetlag and do some initial touring; (2) travel to New Day (a minivan can be arranged through New Day), about 90 minutes on day three, for an eight to 10 day stay there, doing more touring in and around Beijing over a weekend; (3) travel to another China destination, perhaps one of our favorites such as Hangzhou, Kunming, or Chengdu, for two or three days; and (4) return home. Total travel time would be 14 or 15 days.
By the way, the purpose of this trip would not be language study, but New Day would be happy to arrange daily one-hour Chinese classes while you are with them, and whatever your level of proficiency in Chinese you will find that your appreciation of the language grows through time in China.
We would be delighted to help you think about a trip to China and to introduce you to New Day. You might find your life is changed through the experience!
One Family's Story
"Our family of five arrived in Beijing in the middle of the night. We were hungry, long on tempers, short on sleep – and our boys had long since communicated that they were not super excited of our plan to spend the next two weeks living inside and volunteering our time for the New Day Foster Home.
We'd be living in a volunteer apartment facility, adjacent to the foster home rooms and classrooms – down the hall or across the courtyard from other volunteers and staff. My wife and seventh-grade son were slated to spend time with New Day's babies. My fifth-grade and third-grade sons would be with me in the toddler wing.
Over the course of fourteen days – after sharing a gazillion graham crackers and apple slices, feeding bottles to little ones, building block towers (and blasting them down!), working out puzzles, pushing strollers in the garden, sitting and sitting and sitting with babies, giving/receiving long-needed son haircuts, playing basketball and tag, and strolling here and there through town to staff apartments and dinner spots – we left New Day as a wonderfully rattled family. One son even wept as he said his goodbyes.
We likely had a very small impact on the lives of the children in the New Day family. Still, the experience of being grafted in to a community that is doing the hard-yet-simple work of daily Love had a profound impact on our family.
We're so grateful to now be a part of the New Day family."
- Jim & Suby Wildman and family, Falls Church, Virginia
© 2013 English Now! All rights reserved. Images of Washington, DC, by Jack Haefner Photography. Other images by Visual Mart/Image Zoo/IPNSTOCK, Andres Rodriguez, Yuri Arcurs, wayoutwest, and PcitureBuff.