Who can apply for the Ameson Year in China program?
- In order to secure a Chinese work permit and participate in AYC, all participants must:
- Be a native English speaker with a passport from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Republic of Ireland or New Zealand
- Have at least a completed Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) before departure
- Be able to pass a criminal background check
Is teaching experience necessary to participate in the program?
- There is no prior teaching experience required, but any experience with or demonstrated interest in teaching, tutoring, mentoring, or working with children is a plus! If you have two or more years of professional teaching experience, please make sure to let us know when you apply as you may qualify for other Ameson programs designed for experienced teachers.
Do I need to speak Mandarin?
- AYC has no Mandarin language requirement. While knowing some is certainly helpful, many of our participants begin AYC with no Mandarin skills.
Is there an age limit?
- We encourage college graduates of all ages to apply. The Ameson Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
I am not a U.S. citizen - can I still apply for the program?
- AYC currently welcomes applications from qualified native English speakers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
I have not completed my Bachelor's degree - can I still participate?
- Unfortunately not. Our program requires that all applicants have at least completed a Bachelor's degree before final placement. This is a requirement by the Chinese government in order to obtain a work visa with AYC.
How competitive is the application process?
- AYC is selective but not competitive; while we do not cap the number of participants each year, all candidates are carefully screened and assessed during a thorough interview process to ensure we are sending only the most qualified Educational Ambassadors.
What do you look for in a candidate?
- Ideally, we look for candidates that have experience (or strong interest in) traveling/ studying abroad, learning about other cultures, working with children, teaching, mentoring, and engaging in educational & cultural exchange.
What does the program start and end?
- The program typically starts with an in-person orientation in Shanghai at the end of August. The Chinese academic year runs from early September to late June with a break for Lunar New Year in February.
What will my expenses be?
- Participants will be responsible for the upfront costs of their plane ticket to China, passport fees (if applicable), and visa fees (including a background check, physical exam with a physician, and visa application). The flight allowance of 7500 RMB (around $1100 USD) will be given to each participant upon completion of the program. Once in China, participants will have a monthly salary of 6000 RMB (around $900 USD, before tax). Schools will provide housing and potentially meals during the school week if you live on campus. Otherwise, food will be your primary living expense once in China.
Do I need to pay for TEFL training and certification?
- Nope! AYC provides comprehensive training that culminates in a 120-hour, internationally recognized TEFL certificate. The TEFL training consists of two parts: online and on-site. The online portion will be completed on your own time before you leave for China. On-site training occurs in China as part of your orientation.
Does Ameson provide reimbursement for my visa?
- No - all visa-related costs are the responsibility of the participant. However, the residence permit that foreign teachers are required to obtain once they arrive in China will be either reimbursed or paid for by your host school. They will assist you with securing it once you arrive.
What does the provided health insurance cover? Do I need to purchase my own coverage?
- First and foremost, you should consult your physician about your specific health concerns before deciding whether or not to participate in AYC. Our partner schools provide basic health insurance. These policies are suitable for generally healthy people who may become sick or experience an accident while in China. They do not cover preexisting conditions or complications that may arise from a preexisting condition. If you have a preexisting condition or believe you will require additional medical care while in China, we recommend supplementing your school's insurance with your own international coverage.
How does the flight allowance work?
- Each AYC participant that completes the program is given a flight allowance of 7500 RMB (around $1100 USD) at the end of the program. The flight allowance is not given until successful completion of the program in order to maintain the contract between AYC and the participant. If you decide to leave China before the end of the academic year, you will forfeit your flight allowance.
Does the AYC program allow me to qualify for student loan deferral?
- Ameson is unable to provide student loan deferment for AYC participants. We recommend that you contact your loan servicer for more information about receiving a deferment or forbearance in your situation. Click here for more information.
Will I need to pay U.S. taxes on my income?
- Upon request, host schools can assist participants with procuring any necessary tax documents. Be sure to plan ahead for this while you are still at your host school as it will be much easier than if you have already left the country. You can find additional important in this blog post by AYC alumna and current Program Coordinator and Liaison, Jilli Leonard.
WORK PERMIT / VISA APPLICATION
What documents do I need?
- Upon acceptance, you will be given information on several documents required for the work permit and work visa process. The list below covers the basic documents required; however, please be aware that additional documents may be necessary due to visa regulation changes.
- Current resume
- Diploma (an unofficial transcript should be submitted if you have not yet received your diploma)
- Valid passport (click here for information on how to apply for one)
- Multiple copies of 2x2, passport-style photo
- Physical Examination Record (to be completed and stamped by your physician)
- Background check (from a local police station)
Do I need to apply for my work visa in person?
- Your options for applying for a visa are to apply in person or to have someone else apply on your behalf (i.e. family member, friend, visa service). You cannot mail in your application directly to the Embassy/ Consulate. If you are someone you know is unable to go in person, you will need to use a visa service like this one, which will then apply at the Embassy/ Consulate on your behalf.
Does my work visa expire at the end of the school year?
- Yes. Your work permit and resulting residence permit your school provides you will expire at the end of the school year.
Can I book my plane ticket before I receive my work visa?
- We strongly recommend against purchasing any ticket that is not fully refundable (or, at minimum, changeable) before you physically have your visa in hand. Unforeseen visa issues, though rare, may delay your entry into China and require you to arrive later than expected. Although we understand plane tickets will be pricier to purchase closer to the date of departure, it will cost much less than if you are stuck with a nonrefundable ticket that you are unable to use.
LIVING IN CHINA
What will my apartment look like?
- There will be variation in apartments from school to school, but in general, all apartments will:
- Be located on or very close to your school's campus (walking/ biking distance, at most)
- Have basic furnishings (ex. bed, clothing storage, table, chair, washing machine access, etc.)
- Have standard cooking equipment
Will I have a roommate?
- Some people will be placed at a school with one or more other participants. In those cases, participants are occasionally housed together. If you have a roommate, that roommate would only ever be another AYC participant, and you would each have your own private bedroom.
Does my visa allow me to travel throughout China and to other countries while participating in AYC?
- When you arrive in China, your school will assist you in getting your residence permit. The residence permit is multiple entry and will allow you to enter and exit China freely. You are encouraged to double check visa regulations for the other countries that you plan on visiting.
What is religions/ religious freedom like in China?
- Foreign nationals are free to practice their respective religion in China as long as this does not include proselytizing.
What is internet access like in China?
- Wifi in China is very prevalent - most public transportation and public spaces have it reliably available. Internet in China is heavily regulated by the government, which means you will not be able to access Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other sites directly. You will need to download a VPN (virtual private network) before leaving if you plan on accessing these sites while in China. You will quickly learn that China has a variety of its own versions of these sites, including WeChat, Youku, QQ, Weibo, and more (and you may even end up liking them better!)
Will I be given Chinese language instruction?
- "Survival Chinese" language lessons are provided during your week long orientation in China. We will also provide weekly, group-based online language instruction throughout the year. Many participants take the initiative to find additional language learning opportunities such as asking their school for a tutor, finding a language partner, or informally chatting with people in the community.
Does the program arrange social/ cultural activities for participants?
- In addition to the group orientation, AYC will arrange periodic activities for participants. These have historically included a winter holiday party, end-of-the-year celebration, group dinners, and more. However, we encourage participants to plan additional outings throughout the year on their own. Past participants have planned weekend visits to each other's cities, hikes, visits to popular tourist sites, and international group travel. Get creative!
HOST SCHOOL PLACEMENT
How does the placement process work?
- Placement in a host school is coordinated by Ameson's working partner in Shanghai, the Ambright Group. Your placement will depend on the needs of our host school, but we will take your preferences into consideration whenever possible. Placement often takes several weeks as we take great care in matching participants with schools to ensure a good fit. While we welcome your preferences, please be aware that we cannot guarantee placement with any specific city, school, or age group.
Can I request a specific type of school, age group, or location?
- Although we cannot guarantee specific placement, we try our best to find a location and type of school that fits your preferences.
Can I be placed at the same school as a friend that is also participating?
- Although we cannot make any guarantees, we traditionally have been able to accommodate these requests.
How are host schools selected? What kind of schools are they?
- We select host schools each year based on demand as well as provincial visa requirements (some are more complicated than others) and where we have had successful placements in the past. The schools we place in are public schools primarily in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
What will my work schedule be like? Will I have to work weekends? Will I get holiday breaks?
- Participants will spend approximately 20 hours per week teaching classes and 10 hours per week working in the school community (ex. leading a book club, helping coach a sports team, holding office hours). You will generally have a Monday-Friday work schedule, with the only possible (and rare) exception being a weekend make-up class in the event of certain public holidays. China has a number of public holidays where your school will not hold classes. The biggest break will be for Chinese New Year, with most schools giving between 3-5 weeks of vacation. Exact holiday break schedules will vary from school to school.
What age will my students be?
- We place primarily at the middle school and lower high school levels, though we have a few elementary schools as well. The majority of participants will teach students 10-15 years old.
What steps does Ameson take to ensure an EA's safety?
- Ameson values the safety of each and every single participant that comes through its program and seeks to ensure their safety, their regional placement liaisons is available to help address any situation that an EA may occur in their transition and with any cultural differences. Further, in every school there is a coordinator who assists EAs in all matters, including living, social, educational, and questions on safety. Ameson provides all EAs with medical insurance to cover their stay in China. Furthermore EAs are encouraged to enroll in S.T.E.P. (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), if they are a US citizen, or a safety traveler program from their own country.
Who should I contact if I feel that my safety has been threatened/compromised? (Or who should my first line of contact be...)
- If it's a school issue, please contact your coordinator directly and/or one of the Ameson staff members. We are more than happy to assist you, but cannot assist you effectively if any situations are not shared with us. Enrolling in a national safety traveler program, your embassy will be able to assist you if there is a national emergency.
How safe is my placement city?
- EAs are placed in second and third tier cities, meaning they have very low crime rates and many perks of city living. Each placement city has hosted EAs before and their treatment has been superb. Also, China has strict drug and gun laws in comparison to various countries.
How well are foreigners treated?
- Foreigners are treated quite well for the most part. Most have enjoyed the honored guest status, receiving invitations from different families and locals to partake in national and local cultural events. However, in many of the cities foreigners may receive celebrity-like fanfare, this means that with many of the perks many foreigners also experience staring, individuals taking photos of and with them, and requests to endorse products or places with photos. For many people this is their first time interacting with foreigners and most of them do not know what is appropriate. Overall, foreigners have enjoyed their time in their placement cities and in neighboring cities.
How are women treated?
- While China has progressed further in areas of gender equality than many other countries, we must remember that China still has remnants of a patriarchal society. So, please keep in mind that not all actions are inherently rude but may be relics of a past and not reflective of the future they are trying to achieve.
How might the current global political climate affect my experience as an EA/foreigner?
- Over the past few years, we have not seen any negative affects of global politics affecting foreigners or EAs. AYC is an educational and cultural engagement program and as such is far removed from political affiliation. You may be asked to participate in comparative discussions of world politics, but you are not required nor have to engage in any of these discussions. Most Chinese nationals are happier to just interact with native speakers, they seeking to improve their English, so their primary focuses will be to improve their knowledge of the world through active communication.
Will I meet other participants before I go?
- Ameson will invite all participants to a Facebook group over the summer where you all can meet each other, ask questions, make plans, etc. We will also ask everyone to download to app WeChat and create a large group chat on there. Finally, there will be a send-off reception held in Washington D.C. in late summer for participants and their families that are able to attend.
What is the relationship between the Ameson Foundation and the Ambright Education Group?
- The Ameson Foundation (headquartered in Washington D.C.) and Ambright Education Group (headquartered in Shanghai) have a strategic partnership where Ambright acts as in-country support for programs in China and Ameson does the same for programs in the United States. The main distinction is that the Ameson Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, while Ambright has its own commercial ventures independent from Ameson. AYC has staff in both offices that work in constant collaboration.