Whitman in China Teaching Program

Job Description

Whitman in China English teaching and intern positions last one academic year beginning in late August and ending by mid-July.Typically WIC teachers are assigned to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in English conversation, writing, American culture, English literature, or business English. The teaching load is 12-16 class hours per week. At Shantou University the English interns are expected to assist with English-language activities, such as a speech contest or English Corner, but do not have a full teaching load.

The compensation, provided by the Chinese university and Whitman College, includes the following:

  • Modest monthly salary to cover basic living expenses in China 
  • University accommodations in China
  • Roundtrip international airfare stipend for travel from the U.S. to China
  • Visa and travel stipend to help cover expenses such as immunizations, visa fees, medical exam, and hotels in transit
  • International health insurancefor year in China
  • Three-day teacher training (mandatory) prior to departure
  • Tuition reimbursement (up to $2,000) for required TESL Certification course and optional Chinese language courses taken the summer prior to departure

University Placements

The Whitman in China Program offers positions at three universities in China:

Each location has a distinct regional flavor. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China, is a city undergoing rapid modernization in a province known for its ethnic diversity and scenery. Shantou is a medium-size port city located on the east coast of Guangdong province near Hong Kong. And Xi'an, located in Shaanxi Province, was the Chinese capital for centuries and boasts many important historical sights such as the Terracotta Warriors.

Candidates offered a position will be placed at a university by the Whitman in China Steering Committee. 

  • Charles 'Chas' McKhann, Professor of Anthropology, Chair
  • Robert "Scott" Elliott, Associate Professor of English
  • Donghui He, Asst Professor of Foreign Languages & Literatures - Chinese
  • Susan Holme, Director of Off-Campus Studies

Conditions in China

The physical environment and infrastructure in China are very different from that of the United States. Some medical and other resources commonly available in the United States may not be available at all in China. Moreover, the conditions in some parts of China, such as air pollution, may exacerbate some medical conditions. If you have a special need such as a physical disability, chronic medical condition or dietary restriction, we suggest you consult with the Off-Campus Studies Office staff early in the planning process so that you will be fully informed of the conditions in China and the resources available to you there.


  • Candidates must be Whitman College alumni and U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents (green card holder).
  • Alumni with degrees in any major including the sciences may apply.
  • A minimum of one year of Chinese language study is recommended but not required.
  • The Chinese universities prefer candidates who have had some teaching experience (even informal teaching is helpful) and/or coursework in how to teach English. A background in literature or other foreign languages is also beneficial.
  • Successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to teaching university-level English, maturity, flexibility, and a willingness to live in conditions that are different from those in the United States.

Application Materials

  1. Whitman in China Application
  2. Statement of Purpose (maximum 3 pages)
  3. Official transcript of your academic work at Whitman. (Request this from the Whitman Registrar using page 5 of the Whitman in China Application.)
  4. Academic Evaluation - Required for seniors only. (Request this from the Whitman Registrar using page 5 of the Whitman in China Application.)
  5. Two Letters of Reference - At least one letter must be from a former employer or supervisor and we recommend that at least one letter be from a faculty member at Whitman College.
  6. One-Page Resume - This should include your education, your employment history, any paid or volunteer teaching experience, and any other information that will help the Whitman in China Committee and the Chinese university officials get to know you better.
  7. One recent ID photo (2 x 3) of yourself.
  8. Legible copy of the photo page of your passport.
  9. Copy of your Whitman Diploma. (Current seniors may submit diploma copy in late May.)

Deadline: November 8, 2013

Submit Application to:
Laura Cummings, Whitman College,
345 Boyer Avenue, Walla Walla, WA 99362, cumminLL@whitman.edu

Direct program questions to:
Susan Brick, Director, Off-Campus Studies, bricksh@whitman.edu, 509-527-5790

Interviews will be held in the middle of December and notification of selection will be made in January.

Successful applicants are required to attend a three-day Whitman in China Teachers' Training to be held in March or April at Whitman College. In addition, all participants will be required to enroll in a TEFL Certification course (either on-line or in person) in the summer prior to departure for China in order to obtain their Chinese work visa.

    All files are in the Portable Document Format (PDF). If you have trouble opening them, try Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Reflections from Alumni

    "Having previously studied abroad in China, I wanted to come back and work in order to gain a different perspective of life in China beyond the exchange student experience. Teaching at Shantou University gave me that experience, and it really was the perfect thing to do right after graduating from Whitman, because I was still in an academic setting but on the other end of it, and got to collaborate with tons of faculty and staff from all over the world, and learn from all of their experiences, many of whom did not start out in the TEFL field! It was truly a great environment to work in and a great position as a recent grad to bond with my students, who taught me a lot about modern Chinese culture and society that I could never have gotten solely from books or the news. My students were bright, respectful (if sometimes not the most studious), and always inquisitive - which made it really rewarding to teach them as a first year teacher. Being given the opportunity by Whitman to have such a unique experience that brought me into contact with so many different people, and the chance to travel all over China (and Southeast Asia!) was truly something very special."  - Cindy Chen '12, Shantou University, 2012-13

    "I have great memories of the energy that comes from teaching a fresh group eager, inquisitive, and idealistic students. I also greatly appreciated the opportunities I had to read student essays and feel like I had 30-40 separate windows from which to understand a new culture. Some of my best memories are of time spent outside the classroom--spending lazy evenings swimming in the giant reservoir near the school and having late night dinners just outside the university gates. The WIC program was fundamental to setting the foundation and intitial direction for much of my professional and personal life thereafter. I remained in China for a total of seven years after the program during which I got married, began a career doing business in China and had the opportunity to see many parts of an incredible country.   I would absolutely recommend the program to other students. If there is one place right now where change is happening on a scale unmatched in the rest of the world, that place is China. I can't imagine a better place to begin an adventure/career/relationship with the rest of the world." - Matt Van Osdol ' 04, Shantou University, 2004-05

     "Many of the best memories involve spending time with friends I made at Yunnan University, in particular the group of young teachers in the Foreign Language Department, including Zhao Wencui. I have fond memories of a pack of us biking out to Lake Dian for the day, followed by a jiaozi (dumpling) party at the home of one of the teachers. The year I taught ('88-'89) the foreign teachers and experts hosted a Thanksgiving dinner to which we invited a number of Yunnan University faculty connected with the Whitman-in-China program. The foreigners brought side dishes, while the guesthouse kitchen staff prepared a turkey Chinese-style, chopped up in small pieces with the head displayed in the center of the platter. I made mashed potatoes for about twenty-five people which I mashed with a fork and kept warm on top of my space heater."

    "The program profoundly changed my career goals and life direction. I had long known I wanted to get a Ph.D. and teach political science at the college level, but I had never expected to focus on Chinese politics, nor be fluent in Chinese and return regularly to conduct research and attend conferences there. I've probably spent about five years of my life in China, including that first year in Yunnan. It is a truly rewarding challenge, one that will open up doors and create opportunities you cannot conceive of before you go. You learn a lot about yourself there - about your ability to tolerate frustration and loneliness, to maintain good humor and good manners regardless of the bureaucratic obstacles you encounter, and to come up with new and exciting ways to teach English conversation. While the experience is sometimes trying, it is also great fun. Every day and practically every encounter is an adventure, if only because of the language barrier. The opportunity to travel and immerse yourself in the culture is priceless, especially if you are (as I was) a recent college graduate with no money and a severe case of wanderlust." - Susan McCarthy '88, Yunnan University, 88-89