2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Los Angeles
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Chiang, Catherine (蔣馥安)
When I was first admitted to this program, I was a bit conflicted since I was also recently given a spot in summer school. In other words, I had two choices: attend summer school with my best friends for six weeks, which would also clear up my senior year schedule, or go to Taiwan for the majority of my summer vacation to see distant relatives, teach English, and meet a scary amount of new people. But now that the program is drawing to a close, I can confidently repeat a hundred times that I would not have wanted to spend my summer doing anything else. The first week at Chientan was rather exciting for me as my three roommates were awfully nice and although the four other boys in my teaching group were a bit awkward, they were nice in their own way. The lectures and lesson planning sessions were rather tiring but I had seven new friends to help me through it all. When I arrived at Guangfu Elementary School, I was hesitant about the living conditions, especially after our teacher specifically told the girls to “walk in pairs to the bathroom,” but the warm-hearted welcomes I received eased most of my doubts. The two weeks teaching at Guangfu passed by rather quickly and by the last day, I was a bit sad to leave. Granted I did give my email to all seven of my students if they wanted to keep in contact, but the fact that I would not be there next Monday to teach them was a bit upsetting. Tour week served as bonding for my group and I while we toured Taiwan and experiences various aspects of Taiwanese culture. I’m extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to experience what I can say has been the best summer of my life. From playing Uno with my students to eating waffles with my teaching partners and from folding origami tanks to walking 600 meters for two scoops of ice cream, I will never forget all the lovely memories I’ve acquired this summer.
Tsui, Andrew (崔彤)
I taught at ShiuanShin Elementary in Chiayi. Teaching Taiwanese students English really influenced my emphasis on education. The fact that some of the students didn't know any English when English is becoming such a prominent language in the world worried me. It became apparent to me that more volunteers like us need to help the students learn English so that they may be relevant in the future. Some difficulties that I ran into while teaching were the lack of communication skills and lack of retention of the material taught. Overall, the kids and the school's service were nice and welcoming. I will never forget the friends I made and the smiles we shared.
Hsiao, Eileen (蕭偉玲)
The first day was quite an experience. The opening orientation was very well done and everything fell into place. However, the day progressed slowly due to the lack of preparation. This was most likely due to the alteration of the daily schedule in which we were not informed of. As a result, the entire day was run through improvisation.

Then came the first day of teaching a lesson. The class went by quickly due to the fact that we were well prepared with all of the lessons and the activities throughout the day. Because of the sticker incentive and the fact that the day was all planned out, the students participated more in class, allowing the day to move along swiftly.

Unfortunately, the class gradually became less connected and uninterested in the lessons that we had planned to teach them. After some thinking and teaching, we realized that the lesson plan itself might have been wrong all together due to the fact that the activities prepared and the videos showed did not fit their age group nor their interests. This prompted us to make new lesson plans so that the students would enjoy learning English.

After many trial and errors, we had finally established a class pattern that had effectively taught the students the necessary materials. Not only that, after several days of teaching, we had finally found the perfect activity that the students enjoyed playing in class: Bingo. We quickly took this to our advantage and made this an integral part of the lesson by having the students practice spelling and saying the word orally throughout the game. Overall, the entire teaching period was a game of trial and error in order to find the perfect teaching methods for the students.
Lee, Steven (李海文)

The AID program was and will definitely be one of my biggest memories. Not only did I make close bonds and friendships to the other volunteers, but I also got extremely close to the kids that we taught; when it was time to say goodbye, an inumerable amount of tears were shed, many well-thought out presents were exchanged with love, and hearts ached. Working with the AID counselors was also a memorable experience, many of them were people that I looked up to or loved to hang out with.
Training week, although it included lots of hard work, was an incredible time. Each afternoon we trained using different ideas and mentors, and each night, spent time constructing a teaching plan and an exclusive lesson that would have to be presented to one of the teachers: a test. However, through the times of hard work, our group and roommates always had time to have fun together; day by day, our bonds strengthened as we found common interests, quirky talents, or exchanged funny jokes.
When our training was over, we were transported to our assigned schools and temporarily seperated. Although an intimidating experience at first, we soon found many friends that relaxed the mood. We also found that our training was very adequate amd that we were well prepared to become teachers. Little did we know that the next two weeks with the kids would be one of our most memorable experiences that highlighted the AID program.
The feelings developed between us and the students were strong to say the least, and in no time, two weeks had flown by and it was time to say our goodbyes. In these two weeks, I definitely learned more than just how to construct a teaching plan, or how to get the kids’ attention during class; in these two weeks, I learned how to communicate with kids, a skill that would be much more useful in life. On our last day at the school, the whole class broke into tears even before lunch was served. Tugging at our heart strings, the kids helplessly cried in groups, alone, on the floor, and even under the tables. While trying to comfort them, I realized that not only could this be the last time I see these beautiful kids, but that I have not yet expressed my love for these behaving and unique children. I hugged every one of our students, and a few times even almost shed tears in front of them.
The last week of AID was great fun; although cramped on a bus for lots of the time, we were cramped with our friends and that was all that mattered. Seeing so many different parts of Taiwan was definitely memorable and enjoyable, but being able to do it with the other AID volunteers was what made it so special.
Throughout this program, I learned many things - not just how to teach kids English. I developed many friendships that can endure the test of time and distance, thanks to the convenience of the internet. One of the most memorable and heartfelt experiences in my life, AID will always be an everlasting memory that draws tears from my eyes.

Reflections from week 2:
Students keep speaking Chinese in class (while playing Rat Slap).
Everyone is still struggling with the “No speaking Chinese” rule.
People are still speaking Chinese.
Students didn't want to dance anymore. XD
Lee, Brian (李宗翰)
The AID program was a really nice way for me to get to know more about Taiwan and interact with kids at the same time. During the program, I suffered through numerous classes at Chientan that were HORRIBLE. My time at Chientan was filled with class and music. Nothing else. After getting to Yunlin, we looked around at the school for a while, and went to the host family’s house. This house consisted of 3 stories, 1 bathroom (ON THE FIRST FLOOR), and 2 rooms (for the volunteers) on the THIRD floor. As if making trips down 2 flights of stairs just for the restroom wasn’t enough, THE HOST FAMILY DAD SMOKES INDOORS!! AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, HE SMOKES IN THE BATHROOM WITH THE DOOR CLOSED, SO WHEN YOU EVER USE THE BATHROOM AFTER HE SMOKES, YOU’RE BASICALLY DYING. This brings up another point: the bathroom. The bathroom is about as big as a bathroom stall. It’s bug-infested; the toilet seat, floor, and walls are ALL covered in bugs. The bathroom is also located under the stairs, so if you’re 5’10” or taller, don’t even think about taking a shower standing up; you’re going to have to squat or even sit on the floor. So leaving Yunlin for tour week, I probably have bugs in my body and second-hand smoke. Tour week was decent, we were rushed from place to place which was both good and bad because we were either spending less time at a boring place or being rushed in places with fun things to do. All in all, this program was nice except for the second-hand smoke and potential bugs in my body.
Huang, Thinley (黃榆絜)
The first week of the program was filled with tedious lectures, strict rules, and lots and lots of rice. I was annoyed, for I didn't understand why we had to wear long pants indoors, wake up when the sun rises everyday, or attend tedious, 3-hour long lectures that I felt were quite useless at the time. However, as soon as we started devising lesson plans, I realized that everything that the lectures had taught me were important elements that I could implement in my lesson plans. Though the lessons had appeared to be quite lame and useless initially, they turned out to be extremely valuable.

Initially, I felt confident that I was going to be a gray teacher, but after the complicated lesson plans, I was unsure of myself. As the days drew closer to the first day of teaching, I grew more and more nervous. Would the kids like me? Will I be able to teach them effectively and well? Once the first day of teaching arrived, I was nervous beyond words, and the day progressively worsened as I soon realized that the lesson I had prepared was much too simple for my kids. Learning from this experience, I spent the night poring over my notes from the first week's lectures and revising all of my other lesson plans. Although it had cost me some valuable hours of sleep, it was all worth it when I saw that I was actually adding to my kids' knowledge the next day.

One of the most memorable day during my two weeks of teaching was the day my teaching partner and I taught our kids about festivals and customs. For that particular day, we prepared a joint trick-or-treat party with the other classes and a piñata for the kids to experience different customs first-hand. The kids started the day with looks of confusion as they walked into the classroom, which we decorated with typical Halloween symbols, such as pumpkins, bats, and spiderwebs. Their eyes lit up as they decorated the blackboard with more objects associated with Halloween, and they could barely contain their excitement when they discovered the plans of the party and the little bags of candy of candy we had prepared for the trick-or-treat party. Though it had been extremely exhausting and difficult to make the Halloween decorations as we had ran out of supplies, I felt it was all worth it as soon as I saw how happy and excited my kids were as they ran to different classrooms, enthusiastically shouting "Trick-or-treat!" before they even reached the next classroom's door. Though my kids were exhausted from running around after the little Halloween party, the mention of a piñata soon got them up and running again as they swung at the colorful horse with all the strength they could muster. Although I had always wondered why teachers would willingly go through all the trouble to prepare lessons plans and teaching materials for kids who often don't even pay attention in class, in that one moment, I realized that no matter how annoying or tiring it may get, teachers have the best job of all, for they have the chance to significantly impact both a student's mind and life in ways one could never imagine.
Peng, Jarrren (彭靖倫)
Throughout these past few weeks, I taught and learned so much more than just a language. I met many different, interesting people who helped me expand my view of the world. I also got a chance to learn more about Taiwan and my Hakka heritage. At Meinong Elementary school, we were only allowed to speak English to the students. This made teaching and communication extremely difficult, especially among unmotivated students. The other teachers and I worked hard and persistently to explain concepts and vocabulary through gestures and pictures. Once we overcame the language barrier, we began to bond more with students and we learned a lot from each other. Towards the end they led us to amazing restaurants and attractions in the small town and in return we answered questions they had about the United States and our backgrounds. I also had a chance to bond with my fellow volunteer teachers. Spending over 12 hours a day with them, we talked about many topics ranging from student issues to dating advice. We grew extremely comfortable with our new family, and I will forever cherish my memories and connections with them. Overall, this wonderful teaching experience taught me many things, greatly expanded my social network, and allowed me to see the beautiful country of Taiwan.
Wu, Lydia (鄔希雅)
Starting from a very young age, I have loved teaching kids and exploring new places. This program has given me the chance to do everything I love. I have had many close friends who have been part of this program before and they have all told me how amazing and memorable this program is. I am also planning on majoring in Education in college so this program would have been a great start to teaching in the future. This summer was one of the only summer where I was free to do whatever I wanted and I am extremely happy to have made the decision to join this program.
I have been teaching since I was very young, but it was always very short classes or just once a week. From planning to teaching, it was way more work than I expected. Nevertheless, I had so many fun and memorable memories that made up for all the hard work. It was amazing to experience how different Taiwan’s schools and students are from America’s schools and students. Throughout the two weeks, I have grown so close to other team members as well as students in a way I never have. Besides just teaching, there were also many fun experiences like the tour and going out on weekends exploring Taiwan. Despite how hot the weather was, the night markets and the many tour sites we’ve been too were extremely fun.
I am extremely thankful to have been part of this program. I have made many new friends and memories I will never forget through this program. I will definitely miss this program when I go back home.

Wang, Sean (王貴新)
Before participating in this program, I was unsure if I truly wanted to spend one month in Taiwan teaching. After all, I am entering my second year of college, a time when most of my peers are already interning or working on their future plans. But instead of looking for internships or summer research programs, I decided to apply for a teaching program.

But after that month of teaching, I am glad that I decided to stick with this program. In three weeks' time, I was able to meet many new friends and learn valuable life lessons, from everyone's different life experiences.

This was a truly life-changing experience.
Ro, Annie (羅以寧)
To be honest, I don't think I had any expectations for this month at all before coming here, or even while I was applying (on a whim, because my sister sent me a link); I didn't really even think about the fact that I would be teaching kids, that I would be teaching English - I simply classified this block of time as "Taiwan" in my head. But from the beginning, even in Jiantan, this experience has been incredible.
As an incoming college freshman, I'm preparing to make a "major life change" soon. But I think coming here and meeting so many people has been almost like a preview of what's to come - being away from my home, my family, and the friends I've grown up with, I've not only become close friends with people from all sorts of places, I've begun figuring out who I really am.
I was assigned to Lishan Elementary School as a part of a team of 8, and taught the intermediate level class with two others in my team. Lishan is a place that seems out of a dream. It's known for being the highest (altitude) elementary school in Taiwan (at least, I think that's what our teachers were saying... Chinese skills still leave something to be desired haha), and no matter where you turn there is a gorgeous view of impossibly green mountains rising up into blue skies filled with clouds so defined you feel like you can reach out and touch them.
Our class, being the one in the middle, had a huge range of students - from first graders suddenly brought along by older siblings or cousins to incoming sixth graders who definitely thought they were too cool for us at first. There wasn’t an optimal level of English we could teach because of this, but two of us would teach the vocab and the third would help those falling behind. We also had a ton of troublemakers! But we loved them perhaps all the more for their mischievous ways. I wasn’t just a teacher, I was a counselor; arguments broke out on the daily even between the best of friends. We noticed that our students loved to tell on each other, which was both hilarious and depressing because we’d have to mediate until both parties apologized to each other… often ending in tears from the person who told on their friend. Our teachers told us the kids liked to do that because they thought they would gain favor with us. They were also extremely competitive. Playing games was essentially the only way we could get them to participate willingly in learning! Another thing that stood out to us about our kids is their love of music and how they could watch Youtube videos forever, whether it was Chinese pop, Korean pop, or American pop. Ultimately, our kids’ English skills were pretty lacking from the beginning and I can’t say how much they’ll remember, but they seemed to really enjoy their time with us, and that’s what counts. I remember in Jiantan when we were listening to presentations, one of the teachers told us bluntly that we really couldn’t teach all that much in two weeks, but we could definitely make good memories with the students, that would encourage them to keep pursuing mastery of English in the future.
The fact that 450 people all applied for, were accepted into, and made the decision to come here and teach English continues to amaze me. I hope next year's program is just as successful and that it can be a blessing to all the volunteers, counselors, and students that participate, just as it was to me.

Chiou, Lilly (邱荷)
Today is my last night in Taiwan. I came over here to teach English to middle school students and am leaving with a new appreciation for teachers. It was unlike anything I could have imagined. The students here are so different from students in America. They are so polite and well mannered and they are also very reserved. On the first day, almost no one would talk and it was always hard to have students volunteer or participate in front of the class.

Before this, I never understood the pressure and responsibility it takes to lead a class. We were in charge or our own teaching plans with almost no guidelines so it was up to us to think of ways to make learning English fun and interesting. My teaching group stayed up late each night doing our lesson plans and preparing for the next day. But I sincerely think that all the hard work and lost sleep and 15 minute naps during lunch were worth it for me to be able to meet, teach, and hopefully encourage these kids to continue learning English. A lot of them reminded me of myself when I was younger; they are all still so innocent and so full of hope and dreams.

This journey to Taiwan was more than just a visit. It was a chance to meet some extraordinary students, a chance to get to know my parents' homeland better, and a chance to truly make a difference. I am forever grateful of the opportunities AID has given me.
Lai, Savanna (賴美嫺)
I've been in Taiwan for 2 months now and I've cried three times: one, I pulled a back muscle from sleeping on wooden boards; two, I said goodbye to my Taiwanese family; three, while wiping away the tears of my kids.

I'm so glad to have been able to bond with my 7 臺南後壁國小 (Tainan HouBi) sisters and my amazing teacher slash drag mother Cloudia Cheng. I will never forget staying up until 2am watching RuPaul's Dragrace while peeling off our face masks and taking about our lesson plans. And I wouldn't forget the infamous orange electric flyswatter that we bought at 家樂福 that saved us from mosquitos and other unnamed insects and protected our precious food stash that we kept in the middle of our cute bed circle (which undeniably attracted the ants to our room in the first place).

But the best part of this trip would have to be the kids and the teaching. I will never forget walking into class everyday and telling the kids, "Good morning class," with them replying, "Good morning teacher." The kids are all so interested in learning that they are able to take in so many vocabulary words in a day. The more I got to know them, the more they started to open themselves to English. But the thing that made me smile the most was that the kids would stay around us until 9pm every night whether it is just going to 7-11 or to a nearby boba shop because they want to be there. Thank you Kelly, Andy, Mary, Mark, Jolin, Kim, Mandy, Coco, Sammi, Jason, Dora, Sam, and Cindy for being the best students ever and for making me smile and cry. And thank you to my favorite TA's Eric and Lori for helping make class easier.

AID Summer was a whirlwind of love all around.

Liu, Tiffany (劉容秀)
In the months coming up to this program I didn’t expect much. College acceptances, senioritis, college orientation; there were other things to worry about. I thought it would be leisurely and generally, just fun. While I know most people would agree that our first week at Chientan weren’t exactly the best, looking back now at the program as a whole, from our very first weeks to our last few days, AID Summer has been much more than just the word fun.
For one, it has been exhausting. I know some groups who got used to having 3 hours of sleep every night. I got used to around 6 to 7 hours of sleep, a typical school night.

It has been eye opening. Working with other people is hard. Going on this trip has showed me that people are so, so very different. That there will be things I will never understand about what another person does or says, and that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. We’re all too different, equipped with various perspectives. From my time in DaGuan Elementary School, I learned how best to work in a team. I’m especially grateful to my teaching partner, Michelle, who allowed us as a team to work so well. From her awesome teaching ideas to the way we seemed to communicate with each other without really saying anything at all, teaching with her was smooth sailing.

It has been rewarding. The two weeks we spent at our elementary school taught me so much more than I could have expected. From the TAs, to the teachers, to the students, and everyone associated with DaGuan Elementary School, we were treated with the best care possible. It was difficult to leave such a supporting group, to see them waving their hands as we drove away in our bus. We were gifted with their kindness, hard work, dedication, and time. And though we only stayed with them for two weeks, the day after our late last night’s shenanigans of Chinese B.S., teaching Allen how to play League of Legends, and Tetris, became a bittersweet day.

But most important, AID Summer has been a trip full of lessons. I learned from our TAs and teachers to be more generous and selfless in everything that I do. When the TAs got up extra early so that we could enjoy breakfast at 7:30 a.m. or when our teachers stayed overnight with us since the security guards were gone that night, I knew that I took advantage of the kindness gifted to me every day. I learned to take after the kind people who took care of us so well.
From looking forward most to the end tour week to wishing we could teach for a third week at DaGuan Elementary School, this summer in Taiwan has given me both good and bad things, both of which I will not regret.

Lee, Tammy (李甜蜜)
The AID Summer Program has truly been a memorable experience. This month flew by; I couldn't believe a month could go by so fast. During this program, I created new friendships and made countless memories. When I first arrived at Chientan, I was a bit scared as I didn’t know anyone in my teaching group. But, my fears were quickly alleviated when I met and immediately became close with my roommates, 5 other girls who were in my teaching group. We started to do everything together, and I will always remember the endless shenanigans and crazy things we did at Chientan, the teaching weeks, and the tour. The first week at Chientan went by slowly, as it composed of tedious workshops on how to teach English to elementary school children. There wasn’t much freedom during this week on training, as there was a rigid schedule each day consisting of long workshops and an early bed check. After this grueling week, our group, A2-4, headed off to Neiwan Elementary School in Miaoli County.

The people (BB 老师, 主任, and the rest of the staff) at Neiwan were so welcoming and friendly, and I will always remember their generosity and hospitality. The adults at the school, especially BB 老师 and 主任, cared for us 6 volunteer teachers very well. The school itself was very pretty. We lived in a kindergarten classroom at the school; although we slept on the floor with mattresses, it was still very comfortable. The food at the school was delicious, as every morning breakfast would be delivered to us by 阿姨 and she would also cook us lunch and dinner. Teaching the students was very memorable as well. My teaching partner and I taught the intermediate class, which consisted of 20 cute 4th and 5th graders. On the 1st and 2nd day, they were very shy and hesitant; but by the third day, the students really opened up to us. I played with them during break time; it was so cute how the students would pull us teachers out to the playground to play games with them. I would play basketball with the boys and play dodgeball and "大风吹” with the girls. My partner and I would also chat about random things with the students at break. During classes, my partner and I used a variety of techniques to teach them, such as games, worksheets, flashcards; we also made simple snacks related to the lesson taught that day. When the last day arrived, I was very sad that I had to leave the students, and I knew that they were sad as well. We made unbreakable bonds with the kids, and I will forever remember the two weeks, which only felt like 3 days, at Neiwan Elementary School. Our time with the kids was so short and I really wish that we had more time with them.

The last week of AID was a tour of Taiwan; I went on the Southern tour. The tour was very exciting and fun, even though it was very rushed at points. Our counselors for the tour were amazing; they caring, patient, and were very enthusiastic whenever they introduced us to each destination on the tour.

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in AID. Thank you AID for giving me the opportunity to introduce me to my students, and for giving me the opportunity to meet many new people. I will truly cherish every single memory and moment in AID. This summer has definitely been one of the most memorable and fun summers of my life.
Bor, Deborah (柏珮妤)
Usually over the summer, I would just attend summer classes and be preoccupied with my academics. However this year I was given this great opportunity to participate in AID (Assisting Individuals with Disabilities) and be able to give back to a community as well as gain some perspective and experience something new. It was tough at first with the compacted schedule of training and planning lesson plans for two weeks. Yet all the effort and time that I put in was all worth it in the end as the students were not able to learn new words and phrases to use in English, but also enjoy doing so. Having been a student myself, I never did truly understand what my teachers went through, but through this program I gained some insight into what being a teacher feels like and how despite all the turmoils and challenges that come with teaching, seeing your students excel and apply what they've learned is truly the greatest payoff.
Yee, Candace (余美忠)
The AID program, in short, was fun yet challenging. One of the best aspects about the program is that it brings a lot of different people, from both America and Taiwan, together. It not only introduced me to seven other people, who became my best friends, as well as school administrators, teaching assistants and young students. Although our time teaching was short, it was definitely gratifying to see a change in our students confidence and English speaking skills over the couple weeks we taught them. In addition to this, teaching at Hou Bi allowed me to get to know my teaching aids and administration really well and allowed me to spend more time with my students in and outside of school. Having a wide variety of English speaking skill within one classroom proved difficult, but over the course of the two weeks, I learned how to adapt lesson plans to meet the capabilities of the students, and at the same time, to challenge them. The program was also fun. During training week, I got really close with those who were teaching at the same school as I was, and during the central tour, I met so many other people who were on the same bus. The tour gave me the opportunity to explore different parts of Taiwan, and at the same time, I got to experience it with some of my closest friends. All in all, the program taught me how to solve problems within a classroom, such as creating a lesson plan on the spot, and it also showed me the unique cultural aspects of Taiwan.

Personally, teaching at Hou Bi Elementary was the highlight of the entire program. All eight teachers shared one room, so we all got to know one another extremely well. The administrators at Hou Bi Elementary seemed to know each student on a personal level and did not hesitate to provide us with tips on how best to improve our students' English. Furthermore, we had the help of two additional teachers in our classrooms which allowed more attention to be allotted onto each student. In the afternoon, the teaching assistants would keep the students busy with outdoor activities and dancing. After school, all eight of us would meet at the administrators' office and discuss any problems we had with our students, and this meeting really gave us all time to reflect on our teaching and how we could improve. Outside of teaching, Hou Bi Elementary administrators were kind and very accommodating. They would often ask us what we wanted to eat and would let us go to the night market for dinner. The school administrators also took us around Tainan county on the weekend and during this trip, we visited several temples and natural landmarks. And lastly, one of the best aspects of teaching at Hou Bi was the fact that the town of Hou Bi was quite small. Many of our students lived close by, and many times, we would have dinner with them at the night market. This familiarity with our students, along with the amazing administrators and TAs we worked with, made teaching at Hou Bi an incredible experience.
Chen, Alina (陳品蓁)
Saying this summer was amazing is an understatement because by far its been the best yet. The memories made and the people I met has changed me into someone who is willing to try everything (HAHA). I can't express enough how thankful I am for being chosen to be a volunteer teacher for this program. I was able to experience both Taiwan's busy city life and the peaceful rural areas throughout this summer. Creating relationships with my students allowed me to explore a new side of trust. These kids were relying on me to teach English to them. It was touching to see how willing they were to learn this new language and how much they loved learning. Although teaching was a joy, the weekend activties was a cherry on top. During my two weeks, I was able to river raft and ATV for the first time! The adrenaline was unforgettable. I also loved experiencing the aboriginal culture through dancing and crafts. I can keep typing, but this would turn into a book.. To future volunteers, savor your time in this program because you will never be surrounded with the same group of people again in the beautiful island of Taiwan. Thank you AID for everything :-)
Lin, Jonathan (林建廷)
Jonathan Lin
Post-Program Reflection

When I applied to join AID Summer, I really had no idea what I was putting myself into. Some parts of the application coincided with the most stressful parts of junior year, so I didn’t put much thought into the program until school was over and July was approaching. In the weeks leading up to AID, I was nervous with anticipation of what the program would be like. Would teaching be more stressful than learning? What would the living conditions be like? How were the people?

All of my questions were answered in the first week. The living conditions were better than expected, learning how to teach was slightly annoying, and the people were awesome. I’ve met so many more people that live in SoCal than I would have had I stayed in the US for summer vacation. Quite honestly, the people I’ve met are almost like family now. I cannot imagine a life outside of this one, as I’ve already forgotten what life at home is like. My group members and the people I have encountered are so close that it seems like this place is home away from home. Thank you for such a wonderful experience, AID!
Chu, Megan (朱沛維)
I am kind of sad that the program is over already. The four weeks went by so fast, especially the two teaching weeks. I really got to connect with my students and I am so glad that I came to AID Summer and met them. The first week of training and the tour week was kind of stressful for me because we were constantly being rushed and given time limits. The schedules were also very tiring. We had to wake up early every day during the training week, and we had to wake up even earlier during the tour week. The training week was mentally exhausting because we had to listen to a whole day’s worth of lectures. During the evening we had to work on our own teaching plans until bedtime, and we were already exhausted from the day’s lectures. The tour week was even more tiring because we had to wake up earlier and there was barely any free time. Many people had to sleep on the bus because the schedule didn’t allot enough time for us to sleep during the night. However, I think getting the chance to meet my students was more than worth all of the stress. I think AID Summer is a great program in that it gives us the opportunity to make connections with children in Taiwan. I think that through teaching them English we are able to form a special bond, and that bond encourages the students to learn English with more determination than they normally would. Regarding the teaching portion of the program, I have no complaints. However, I believe that AID Summer treats their volunteers all as if we were 16-17 years old, which is the age of the youngest volunteers. It is great for those who are 16-17 years old to be taken care of and watched over; however, many of us are already living on our own or surviving alone in college or our jobs. It is very pressuring for those who are older to be treated as underage. It would be much better if the AID website could be more organized and go into more details about the program. I know I was very confused when I first arrived because I didn’t know the schedule for training or what we had to bring. The AID website should either give more information about the schedules and what to bring list or specify that we “Don’t Panic” because after the first day of training I realized we didn’t have to bring or prepare anything other than our rough teaching plan. If I were to do this program again, I probably would not go on the tour because we got very little time to tour each place we went to. Yes the places we went to were all very fun and scenic, but we never got enough time to fully enjoy each place we went to. I felt very pressured by the meeting times and very tired from constantly travelling and spending long hours sitting on the bus and walking. I loved the teaching part of the program, but the training week and tour week were lower than my expectations.
Hsia, Aria (夏敬寧)
When I first signed up for AID, I was very nervous about meeting my group mates. I was worried about making friends with the people in my group and living with seven strangers for four weeks. However, after the long hours of planning during the training week, we soon became very close friends.
Although I have lived in Taipei for a few years, I have never visited a school in the countryside. These two weeks in Shihu have been an amazing and unforgettable experience for me. From the first few days of stress and nervousness to these last few days where I cherish each minute with the children, I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to be a part of this program. The first few days were challenging because the children were very shy and too afraid to speak up in class. But with encouragement and coaxing, they gradually warmed up to us. Soon enough, they were pulling us on the ground to sleep with them during nap time, and clambering all over us during break.
I never expected to become so close to my group mates within such a short period of time. After a long day of teaching and playing with the kids, we always take a break in our room and talk about what happened that day. It’s a time for us to relax and reflect on the day and discuss our teaching plans for the next day. It’s become a tradition for our group to watch a movie every night before bed, after we finish the day’s work. It actually doesn’t feel much different from a two week long sleepover.
It is hard to believe that these past few weeks are finally coming to an end. I have become very close to my students and group mates and I am so thankful for the teachers that have supported and guided us along the way. I hope the children enjoyed these two weeks as much as I have, and remember all the fun times we spent together.

Shih, Brian (施政安)
Taking part of AID has changed my entire perspective on life. First of all, throughout the past four weeks, I learned to appreciate Taiwan, the people, and the culture, which I used to have trouble doing having been separated from this country since birth. Secondly, I came to a realization of how I am truly privileged to live in California. Upon arriving at chientan, I thought the living conditions were horrible. The drains smelled awful, and the food was bland. However, after arriving at Shan Ding Elementary School, my eyes were opened to a harsh reality. The mosquitoes, the cockroaches, the spiders, and the lizards were only minor problems. The usage of squat toilets, the sharing of one shower between ten people, and the lack of air conditioning took my once privileged, ignorant self and transformed it into a more tolerant, empathizing individual. After meeting the children, bonding with my group, and hanging out with the college students, I no longer cared about the mediocre living conditions, since at that point, Shan Ding Elementary School became my home. I looked forward to seeing the children each morning, enjoying lunch with them, and playing games with my group of friends. By the end of the two weeks at Shan Ding, I was sad to say goodbye to not only the children but also the school. While bidding farewell to my dearest students, my eyes were filled with tears, knowing that I would most likely not have such an experience again. After the two weeks at Shan Ding, I can honestly say that I now appreciate the smaller things in life. A pillow on the bed and a real shower room are enough to satisfy me, as upon returning to chientan, I noted the wonderful living conditions which I once perceived as mediocre. Overall, the experience at AID was life changing, for not me but also the students. I now understand that I am indeed privileged to live in a nice area like California. More importantly, though, I now realize that happiness can be found everywhere, even in Shan Ding Elementary School.
Cheng, Ruyuan (鄭如願)
For the entire month I was away from my home in California, almost everything was unlike how I expected: my roommates, students, and experiences. Once I saw that I was assigned to Hualien on the AID summer website, I assumed that I would be living in the mountains of Hualien, carrying a water bucket on my head, and wiping sweat off my forehead as I swatted at bugs. Despite all these physical difficulties, I imagined myself to be an amazing teacher, going over vocabulary that the students absorbed like sponges. I knew that English was one of the most difficult languages to learn, but I still wanted to kids to be able to hold a short conversation by the time I was finished teaching.
First, when I arrived at Jientan Youth Center, I was overwhelmed with how many teenagers were actually living in the building. My steps into the building were followed by shock of how many people were crowded around the elevator. Once I got to my room, I met roommates. They were shy at first, like me, but soon they really wanted to socialize with everyone. That was one of my biggest obstacles of the program: making friends. I did not particularly enjoy being enthusiastic and friendly towards people I met because I felt fake. After a while, I figured out how to genuinely make friends by just being myself. A whole week of Jientan food and bed checks could not have gone by more slowly. Unfortunately, a typhoon was happening around Hualien around the time of when my group needed to departure from Jientan. I could not stand being in Jientan a second longer than what was necessary since I began feeling uneasiness, similar to claustrophobia, from being stuck in Jientan for so long. Thankfully, our teacher took the chance that we would not be caught in the typhoon and we took a bus, subway, and taxi to Hualien.
Hualien was as beautiful as I expected, and we were able to stay at a comfortable bed & breakfast, instead of a dirty classroom. I was very grateful for that. The true purpose of the whole trip came soon after arriving at Hualien. We had to plan great classes so that the students could learn English and have a piqued interest in the language. As I was making teaching plans, I inputted many lessons for the kids, expecting them to be super excited to learn the complex language that English is. I was assigned to teach the lower level class, which included children from grade 3-5. Apparently, I soon learned, the kids had no interest in English. They were extremely reluctant to learn it, probably since it seemed useless in their eyes. My partners and I did our best to create fun classes to engage the students. The kids did like the games we planned, but they did not have clear understandings of the English vocabulary they were taught. Or the students easily forgot the vocabulary definitions. Either way, despite our efforts, I feel like the students did not get much out of our teachings, although they did enjoy playing with us.
If I ever had the opportunity to do this program again, I would definitely take it. It is not because I think that I would make a huge difference in the kids’ lives, but I just like being with children in general. This experience has made countless memories that I still recall fondly.

Hah, James (夏文緯)
Coming to aid I expected to jump into the teaching straight away. However to my surprise, there is a week period for us to get to know our teammates and learn how to deal with young students. Everyone was pretty open and the team got to know each other pretty quickly. After I was done with the training I was ready to jump right into the teaching. The school to no surprise was not equipped with the best living quarters. We still received blankets, pillows, and bed mats. There were many bugs since the school has a thriving ecosystem of its own. We were like a feast to the mosquitoes and home intruders to the spiders and geckos. At first intimidated, we were soon used to the critters. Just when I was ready to teach eager kids. The kids however were more energetic than I thought. They yell, run, scream, and had short attention spans. Some even cried and argued against each other. Class management became our first priority. After establishing rules and objectives, a recipe for successful teaching was enacted. We sang to warm up and added various games and activities between lessons. We even got support from the college students in Taiwan. For the weekend we went to the beach and biked around the district. Although it was hot and grueling, the experience was fun. For closing ceremony, our kids sloppily sang For The longest time. They were having a great time singing such a difficult song with so little time to practice. When it was time to leave, they all signed our shirts and left their emails or Facebook usernames for us. Tears were shed, hugs given, and goodbye was said. We even became very close with the college students through many bonding experiences. The last week was extremely fun yet tiring. Early morning and late nights mean lots of activities but less rest. However all the adventures are worth it. In the end I realise that AID has given me much more than just a learning experience. It caused me to grow socially, physically, and emotionally.
Tang, Justine (鄭仰晴)
Being in Taiwan these past few weeks was an unforgettable experience. I went to Taiwan having a vague idea of what to expect from this program, and I had a lot of anxiety of how I was going to manage the students. Prior to this program, I never taught middle school kids, so I had no idea what it was going to be like. Through AID program, I was able to learn about the Taiwanese culture and the people. Not only was I able to learn more about my culture, but also give back to the kids and people in Taiwan. The first week went by extremely slow. At Chientan, the lectures were a bit helpful for me, but not entirely when I taught my students. However, since the first week at Chientan, I was motivated and excited to see the students.

Throughout my time at the designated middle school, I realized it was hard to be a teacher. All eight of us, American volunteers, constantly thought of new ideas and worked with Taiwanese volunteers to create cheerful and fun learning environment for the middle schoolers. The first week of teaching was difficult since a majority of the students were shy. However, with time and patience, most of the students would talk nonstop. The first week went by a bit slow; however, the second week went by like a flash. After two weeks of teaching, I came to love my kids, and I did not want to leave them. Leaving them on the last day was difficult since many of the kids had tears rolling down their faces. The kids taught me how to be patient, understanding, and most importantly, how to be a good teacher. From the students, I learned that teaching is not necessarily based on books. Students are more eager to learn when there are games and incentives. The two weeks flew by faster than how I would have liked. This experience has not only brought me memories with my students and students outside of my class, but also memories with new friends, both Taiwanese and American friends.

Memories of teaching at the school were some of the most stressful, yet exciting and happiest times I’ve ever been. While leaving MaKuang Middle School, I felt that my group had become a family and were leaving our home behind, where we created so many memories. I’m so grateful to have spent the month with the people in my group from living in the school counseling office, showering in the principal’s office, shrimping, being attacked by mosquitoes, and etc. I would not want it any other way. The school, MaKuang Middle School, welcomed us with open arms and brought us to many places in Yunlin. I am forever grateful for the school, the teachers, the parents, and the students for making this opportunity possible. This summer coming to Taiwan is definitely different compared to my other Taiwan trips since I am able to make a difference to younger children. In the future, I hope to visit the school and the students.

Last but not least, thank you to AID for everything! Thank you to C3-3 for being the best group I could ever ask for! ☺
Chen, Christopher (陳恩弘)
Over the last four weeks with this program, I have gotten to know many of my fellow volunteers and made countless new friends. Having the opportunity to go to DaHu Junior High to teach English was a very rewarding experience. In the past, when I visited Taiwan, I would stay in busy cities, so it was a nice change to get the opportunity to experience parts of Taiwan that were not as busy. Since this was the first time that I had ever taught a class, I was very worried at first, but everyone was very welcoming and helpful, which made preparing a lot easier than I expected. At DaHu, we were told not to use Chinese to communicate with the students, which made teaching the students very difficult at first, but we were able to find different ways to teach the students. The students were all very well behaved, and although they were initially quite shy, they eventually opened up to us. Everyone at DaHu was extremely welcoming and treated us very well, helping us with any problems that we encountered. Overall, I am extremely thankful to have been a part of this program and to everyone at DaHu for everything they did for us during the two weeks we taught at the school. These four weeks have been an amazing experience. If I were given another chance, I would gladly sign up for this program again.
Ewalt, Erin (高伊婷)
I have always had a hard time deciding what I want to pursue as a career. Artist? Engineer? Author? The choices seem endless, but as I grow older and learn more about myself, it becomes easier to eliminate options. I hate math, so no engineer; my art needs a lot of work, so no artist. However, education was always an option I considered to be a possibility. This program was definitely a crucial part in helping me learn more about myself and my options in careers.
Training week was a standard affair, with lecturers I liked and lecturers I could not bring myself to pay attention to. Classes were about 3 hours long in length, with 3 blocks a day, and this became very tiring. Some free time was given, which helped me to adjust to the new schedule and prepare for classes and working time. I had no problems being a student in this time.
Teaching was anything but a standard affair; I had to dispose of most of my preconceptions of teaching within the first 5 minutes of the first. I did a majority of the preparation for the first few days in panic and nervousness, working myself into a frenzy, and the first lesson was a still complete disaster. The kids were silent, none of the activities we chose for them to play elicited any reaction and the gaes never lasted as long as we had planned. That first class period was filled with many awkward silences that nearly had me in tears with frustration. My teaching partner and I somehow managed to adapt and the rest of the day went somewhat better. We couldn’t wait for our hour and a half of lunch break.
The teaching only became easier from then on out, as we slowly learned the names of each of our 15 kids and their matching personalities, the games they loved to play and the games that we would definitely not be playing ever again. But with that improvement came more difficulties. Living with a host family has lots of perks, but free time is not one of them if you have active families. Staff meetings were followed by badminton with the family kids, dinner, then either another outing or more badminton until 10 or 11 at night. It was fun getting to know a group of 30 people, but it left myself wishing that there was more time for me to sit down and thoroughly write reflections, create PowerPoints, and adapt lesson plans. Flexibility became the word to live by in the 2 weeks of teaching. And by the second week, I had learned to be much less uptight regarding lesson plans and to just do things as I went and relax a bit more. The second week of teaching was not as engaging, since we were becoming more used to the occurrences of school life, but it had its perks in that I enjoyed myself more in that time.
Leaving our host families and the kids was probably the hardest thing that I did this entire trip. Watching a majority of them cry as they hugged and kissed me made me want to stay at 大村國小 and teach forever. I truly understood in that moment the sacrifices teachers make for all of their students and I knew that while I love to help people, teaching would never be something I could so wholly dedicate my life to. Saying goodbye to children I taught for 2 weeks was hard enough, how would it be for students I had taught for 9 months? Despite this somewhat pessimistic revelation, I am happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience of teaching and the tour week as well. Yes, AID has its ups and downs, but the overall experience of bonding with children and people your age from all over the world, learning much more about yourself, and embracing the culture of another country truly makes up for the programs shortcomings. I can think of no better way that I could have productively spent these 4 week than here in Taiwan.

Schluper, Emily (艾莉)
Participating in AID Summer 2016 was everything I expected and more. My older brother took part in this program 2 years ago and still (to this day!) will talk about how much this experience has influenced him. I am happy to say that after partaking in this experience, I know exactly what he means! Not only do you make lifelong friends, have a ton of fun, and learn about the history and culture of Taiwan, but you also significantly impact the lives of underprivileged students. I am in awe of the generosity and genuine kindness the people of Taiwan have for nonnative people.I was especially impressed with the selflessness of the host family I stayed with at Dacun elementary school in Changhua County. The people from the school that I went to were extremely welcoming, the children I was able to teach were bright and respectful, and the memories I have made in two short weeks have been unforgettable. Taiwanese people are incredibly courteous and welcoming and have made tour week absolutely seamless. I would like to thank all the teachers, counselors, and fellow peers for making this program possible and contributing to my fond memories of this trip.

My favorite part of this experience was the teaching itself. To see the small and shy children open up to me over the course of two weeks was inspiring and joyful. I still remember the very first day of class, where the nerves were creeping up on me and the anxiety was overwhelming. My students were almost all female, and the hesitancy to participate seemed like a huge challenge. But as the days went on, the students went from fearing to speak at all to wanting to spend every second of their lunch break telling me stories and asking me questions. Everywhere I went, I had a stream of students following me, taking turns to hold my hand. I only wish I had more time so I could spend time with each and every student to create a friendship that they can use to motivate them in their schooling. My main goal in impacting these students was to create a lasting impression that, in 10 years, the students would still remember and use to urge them to continue their language studies. I also hope that in 20 years, the students will still remember me and be able to say that I made a positive impact in their lives.

What made teaching even more fun was the quality time I would get to spend with my teaching partner as well as the other student volunteers at the same school as me. I grew close with each and every one of the volunteers and created lasting and joyful friendships and memories. One of the best moments of every single day would be when the students would have their lunch and nap and we would get to sit in the air conditioned teacher lounge and tell funny stories about our students and discuss what our afternoon group activity would be. It is almost upsetting to me that school systems in America do not establish afternoon nap time. After school, however, would sometimes be even more exciting as our group’s host families would often get together and plan fun activities for us, such as bowling, karaoke, and going to night markets. It got to the point where we would all be exhausted day after day, not just from the teaching but also from the exciting activities we did each night! I also loved playing badminton with some of the boys in my class. It gave us something to bond over (especially since they were so outnumbered in class!).

In conclusion, I have learned an immeasurable number of things during this experience: about teaching, about Taiwan, and about myself as a whole. I’ll never forget the incredible students I had, the fantastic school I went to, and the generous families I stayed with. Thank you AID Summer 2016 for the memories!
Lo, Josephine (羅佳芬)
Honestly speaking, this past month has been “Tailit”. From meeting my down-to-earth teaching mates to the incessant students screaming like no other to my constant yelling, it was a month filled with crazy laughter. I remember meeting the students of 山頂國小 (summer camp..we are happy oh yeah!) from Kaohsiung, hoping to teach the most obedient students ever. Turns out, they were the most rowdy students I’ve ever met and my two whole weeks of endeavor passed slowly. At least until I look back and realize the two weeks of teaching that drained my soul quickly grew on me. I fathomed that though the students were out of control most of the time, meeting their naïve eyes each morning was probably the only reason that kept me going. Witnessing their uncontrollable side simultaneously their inner enthusiasm about life leaves a bittersweet feeling in me because it seems as if life can be so carefree. Also, the student’s love for human interactions and English language makes me feel like the two weeks of internal struggles were worth it. I can say that although I taught the students English, they have taught me more than I expected to learn from a class filled with third graders.
Su, Michelle (蘇芳庭)
Coming into the Summer AID program, I thought I knew what to expect. My sister had been through the program and told me a little bit about it, such as meeting new people or the intensity of the two weeks teaching English. However, coming to this program was so much different than from I expected. I didn't expect that the new people I met would become very close and important friends to me for life. I also didn't expect that the intensity of the two weeks of teaching were forgotten by the love for the children.

In the first week of the program at ChienTan, I really didn't want to be there. I felt trapped in a building, wearing the same tacky green shirts and long pants every day, being with other people that weren't familiar to me. With everyone else in the same gloomy mood, my team was not able to get to know each other as well, making teamwork and cooperation a little difficult. When my team was finally sent to our designated school, DaGuan Elementary, things began to change. Our teacher noticed something off about our team chemistry in a matter of days and decided to have a meeting about it. That night, everyone got personal and we really began to open up to each other, even some tears were shed. It wasn't immediate, but our team began to be more comfortable with each other, starting off by playing card games late into the night to going on adventures at night with the TAs of our school. Our struggles of working on our lesson plans in the first week were not seen in the second week as our team began to open up to other teaching partners and share our ideas. This strategy was much more efficient as we did not have to stress to think of new ideas.

My teaching partner and I worked really well together and had an unspoken system worked out. While hearing about other teaching partners' conflicts, we would just be silently working on our next day's lesson plans. We worked using Google docs and Google PowerPoint because we could both working on it at the same time. Even with the amount of time and effort that was put into the lesson plans, it was still very enjoyable teaching the children. Our class had 4th-5th grade children with various levels of skills in English and various types of personality. My teaching partner and I thought of many different games, activities, worksheets, and crafts to keep the children interested and learning English. There was even one day where all the four classes combined to have a movie day in the school assembly room. The children had to learn how to buy movie tickets and popcorn in order to enter. The last day of the camp was bittersweet. I was glad to see how much there English improved, but it was heartbreaking to leave all the children.

These past few weeks have definitely changed me as a person. My eyes have opened to newer and more different perspectives. My experience as the first time in Taiwan has absolutely been a great one. Thank you Summer AID!

Lin, Yi Hsuan (林怡璇)
Looking back, this has definitely been the most memorable summer I've ever had. Filled with new friends and unique food, I never want to let go of the memories or the things I've learned.
I went to a primary school in Taoyuan named Ba Li. The kids, at first may not have seemed too interested in English, but as the days wore on, they became more focused and driven. On the last day, they all came up to a line to give me a final hug goodbye, and I had never felt so touched in my life that I was able to impact them so much. In fact, it was unexpected because I thought there was so much I could have taught better, but if the children felt satisfied, then so was I.
But teaching the children, I realized how much I had to focus on individual learning curve, because I had always expected the children to learn the vocabulary faster than they actually would. I also learned how much planning it took to create one day of plans, and then the flexibility it required when things didn't go as planned. I definitely respect my teachers a lot more after this summer!
During tour week, the counselors were very nice and tried their best to be accommodating to our many demands. I admire and miss them so much, now that I'm reminiscing about AID. All in all, it was a great experience!
Guan , Amanda (管依然)
This experience was incredible. Sure, the food wasn't the greatest and the sessions felt tedious. Our school's living conditions came as a shock too. But teaching the kids made the hard work worth it. I've never seen flying ants so large, mosquitos so plenty, but also kids so eager to learn and so sad to see us part. It rained a lot at our school, and we'd hear thunder. After we taught the weather lesson, every time we heard thunder, a whole bunch of them would yell, "Teacher, thunder!" It made me so happy that they had learned something. Honestly, I learned so much from the kids: patience, diligence, and how to have fun even in school (as bad as it sounds). I wouldn't trade this month of learning and teaching and fun for the world.

Also, the picture is of me teaching the kids. It's precious.
Leung, Jocelyn (梁毓芸)
When I first came to Taipei I was very, very nervous. I had no teaching experience and I wasn't sure if my Chinese was good enough to communicate with the kids. What if they didn't listen to me? What if they didn't see the importance of learning English? In the first week at Jian Tan, former English teachers shared their experiences, giving Powerpoints on suggestions and tips on how to teach kids who were reluctant to learn. This made me feel much better.

When I actually went to Zhutian, it was much better than I expected. The kids listened to me when they realized I was willing to improve my Chinese along with their English. They loved to hear things about America, the world-famous place they had never been to before. On the first day, I struggled with how to make coherent lesson plans; I had to balance what I wanted to teach them with their changes of mood and what they were willing to learn, which meant a lot of improvising when they quickly got more bored or excited than I expected. Having a partner helped a lot because two teachers gives a lot more authority than only one.

I actually don’t think they learned a lot of English, since it was only two weeks. But I think seeing teachers not much older than them of the same culture, but who had grown up in the US fascinated them. They’re impatient and restless now, but I hope when they grew up they will remember our dedication and understand how to flourish in a bilingual world in which English and Chinese are the globe’s most dominant languages.

Chow, Abraham (周柏瀚)
This experience in Taiwan is a trip I will never forget. At first, I was very nervous since the last time I visited Taiwan was when I was only in fifth grade. I felt I was not ready for changes. I kept being skeptical about whether I would fit in with others. The Youth Center we first stayed in was so crowded that I felt overwhelmed. Meeting with my group members did not start out in a comfortable way. We would simply say something every five minutes, and it would be back to everyone minding their own business. That all changed when we went to the school we were assigned to. Lishan Elementary School, which was the highest school out of the other schools, was the place where we would eventually form a strong friendship with each other. Since there was no internet and computers, we were forced to socialize and do other activities that didn't involve technology. The result was that we would spend lots of time with each other, talk with each other more often, and we all wanted to be happy in your two weeks in the high mountains of Taiwan. We worked together happily and in a way that encouraged all of us to do our best. After coming back from Taiwan, this is my most memorable trip so far.
Chang, Austin (張書瑞)
Chang, Austin (張書瑞)
My teaching experience at Guangfu Elementary School was one that I will never forget. During this process not only did I gain experience in teaching, but also learned to work together as a team.
The two weeks of teaching allowed me to recognize the struggles and responsibilities a teacher would have to go through. Throughout the two week period, my teaching partners and I would stay up late in Class-E to finish up our teaching plans for the next day. We would go online to create PowerPoint, crosswords, word searches, and jeopardy games; as well as making vocabulary flash cards. During this time, I was put up to the test of working with other people by incorporating their ideas with my own to make a good solid lesson for the children. We had many conflicts amongst each other; however, it not only forced us to communicate to one another, but also strengthened our bond.
All in all, the experiences at Guangfu taught me how to be a better student by being a teacher. I improved on my public speaking skills and conflict resolving abilities. I really thought that teaching students would be the hardest thing in the world to do, but after the two weeks it was not that bad. The best feeling in the world is when the students try their hardest and it motivates you to be passionate and energetic and teach with the best of your ability. This was a great opportunity and I know I will visit my students and school in the near future

Su, Emily (蘇幼瑄)
AID Summer was an amazing, life changing experience. I was able to create new, lasting friendships, teach adorable students, and travel around Taiwan. The first week at Chientan was a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about different teaching methods. It helped with getting used to the new environment and bonding with our group members. The two weeks spent at our school were two weeks that I'll never forget. I got to spend the time with close friends at a school in the mountains. We were assigned to Lishan Elementary School, an assignment that we were very fortunate to get. The air was very clear and not humid, there weren't any mosquitoes, and the area was breathtakingly beautiful. The kids there were very enthusiastic and full of energy. Teaching them was very exhausting but also very enjoyable and fulfilling. The teachers and guards there were very helpful and welcoming. The people in the community were all very friendly and open. We all had a great time and enjoyed everything we did there, from teaching the kids to late night card games to long, yet scenically beautiful hikes on the weekends. Tour week was another opportunity to meet new people while exploring Taiwan and learning more about the culture and history. It was lots of fun being able to look around museums, enjoy the scenery, and go shopping with friends. Overall, I'm extremely grateful I was given the opportunity to participate in AID Summer 2016. I'm really thankful for the administrators and counselors who helped put together this activity and watch us throughout. It was indeed an experience of a lifetime.

Liu, Doris (劉憓潔)
Throughout this entire program, although I do admit that I did not volunteer myself to come here but by the will of my parents, I’ll admit a few good things came out of it. I learned to actually like kids and taking responsibility to teach them English.
First, I want to reflect on my experience at the youth center. The hotel rooms were very comfortable and nice but besides that they was a lot that I didn’t expect and did not feel comfortable with. I did not expect the wifi and the signal in the building to be that bad because although I get that there are a lot of people, they are also youths so I would assume that they would make sure the wifi is strong because everyone in our generation depends on wifi. I also didn’t know that we were never allowed to leave campus except for that one time when we got to go to the night market for an hour and to Taipei Main Station for a few hours. I did not expect the super long class sessions of three hour intervals and three of these each. The classes did not help me in any way because not only was I teaching the most advanced class, I was also almost falling asleep and not feeling well because of the food at the youth center. I did not like the feeling of being trapped inside that building for an entire week with super long classes and bad wifi. It made me go a little crazy for a while.
Once I got to the elementary school I was assigned to, I was at first uncomfortable with the entire environment. I was uncomfortable to eat anything at night because we would have to use the bathroom that was full of bugs, both alive and dead. Also, anything outside of our room that we slept in, including the sink outside to everything else just didn’t feel comfortable. I have a bad habit of being a bit too picky and liking to have things the way I want it to be. Slowly, but with the stubbornness I have, I had to work to enjoy and get used to the environment a little more. My experience of teaching was pretty nice because the kids were pretty cooperative and they listened to us.
Now, to the MAIN POINT, I would like to reflect on my experience of teaching kids and interacting with kids. My past experience with kids have never been good so that is probably why I never liked kids before. After this volunteering experience, I found that kids can really be cute and cooperative and will listen to you most of the time; you just have to find a way to get them to listen. These kids have turned my experience of kids from bad to good, like literally an almost 180 degree turn on my opinion of kids. Meeting these kids was the biggest thing that made my experience in this program the best it could be. It really helped me grow and change from bad to good perspectives on many things. Now, I am much less afraid of bugs and learn to tolerate and get used to not as clean environments. This has also helped me appreciate what I have even more back home in Southern California.

Hsiao, Emily (蕭雅如)
My short time as a volunteer teacher for AID Summer 2016 has been an unforgettable adventure that has taught me not only how to teach, but also how to be more independent. When I first arrived at ChianTan Activity Center, I was nervous because it was my first time being away from home by myself, and did not have much experience with younger children. How would I make friends? What if I got sick? I continued to worry as these questions ran through my mind. However, when we finally started training, I was overjoyed to find that everyone was incredibly welcoming and willing to help. The counselors and the teacher from my school, Guangfu Elementary School in Cigu, were so accommodating and concerned about our well-being. Upon arriving to my school, I was shocked to find that my class only had two students! It worked out excellently because I was able to give each of them individual attention since they both needed help learning the fundamentals of English. Teaching has left me feeling enlightened; it has taught me that learning truly is an amazing process and that children, while quite difficult sometimes, are a blessing. The kids would greet me everyday with enthusiasm and warm smiles on their faces. They would approach English with energy that I have never seen before. While teaching left me exhausted and frustrated at times, the rollercoaster ride was without a doubt worth it. Knowing that I have taught them something, even though it was as simple as colors, is a reward in itself and makes me feel privileged to have nurtured their love for learning a new language. Not only have I learned the value of teaching, but also the value of friendship. My group has essentially become a family to me. We ate together, we slept together, and we grew together. Every challenge we conquered together and every game we played showed me that family can come from anywhere. While I am glad to finally go home, I cannot help but feel nostalgic of my days teaching at Guangfu Elementary School. I genuinely could not have wanted to spend my summer break any other way than with the bright students I have met at Guangfu, hard working counselors, and my new family. Thank you for making this invaluable experience possible!
Yang, Jacolyn (楊婕綺)
The first week of the AID Summer Program was already an eye opening experience for me. I’d never really had the chance to see or meet anyone who wasn’t from California. Being in the same room with 400+ people who had the same common goal as I did made me realize that we all probably have the same asian heritage childhood. Like, going to Saturday Chinese Schools, eating Dimsum with your huge family with a bunch of random ah yee’s and soo soo’s that you have to pretend to know. And especially the good ol' red pocket hong baos. It felt as if even though we all come from different places, we are all one big asian family.
When we went to Hou Bi Elementary School, my perspectives on customs were even more transformed. Something I’ll never forget is the students clean the bathrooms. The first morning of teaching, while brushing my teeth, I was greeted with little students carrying mops and brooms. Toothpaste foam all over my mouth, I managed to say a “Hello” to them. Then, they started scrubbing the bathroom floor right next to me. Obviously, I was a little surprised at first and felt that my privacy had been violated. But after two weeks of this morning routine, I realize now that I appreciate the diligence of the students here in Taiwan.
The two weeks of teaching my students went by too quickly. I regret not appreciating the time I spent there more. The second day of teaching, my students and I had already become Line and Facebook friends. They had already started to “sah jiao” and get all clingy with me. It was cute and nice but then they started to use their cuteness to get away with everything, like not learning the material. This became a problem for not only me but also my students. As a teacher, it was hard for me to balance the playful and fun factor with the respectful adult figure that I had to be. However through the days, I managed to become a peer teacher; someone who would deduct stickers off your chart if you were talking in class but would still also pick up your Line Video Call and ask you what you ate for dinner.
Also, side note, 10 year olds LOVE tattoos. I brought tattoos as prizes for my kids and they were a hoot. Students I didn’t even know would come up to me and ask me for one. Being with a bunch of little kids for an entire day was really energy draining, but it was all worth it.
Though there were struggles in teaching, the rewards were so fulfilling. From my students’ blank stares on Day 1 to crying faces and lots of selfies on Day 10, I have seen so much growth in my class. I already miss dancing with them to Yokai Watch. And anticipating the "Good morning teacher" when I walk into class every morning. I feel like a mother. Speaking about mothers, (quick note),our instructor, Cloudia lao shi was literally our mom for the past three weeks. She fed us, did our laundry for us, and watched Rupaul’s Drag Racing with us. I want to say that she has been the most chillest and also caring instructor ever. She gave me her flannel to wear when I was sick and made lime juice for me! I’m not even kidding, there were some times when I was about to call her “Mom”. So thank you so much for everything lao shi if you are reading this!
Anyways, on the bus ride leaving Hou Bi, I realized how important we are to them. We are probably one of the few people that they have ever met that are connected to the English language. In Taiwan, kids don’t have much of an opportunity to actually speak English, especially in a rural town like Hou Bi. And since we, the teachers, have been one of the few only links that ties the kid to English, I wonder if they will think about us whenever they get the rare chance to speak English.
I am truly thankful for this experience. I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met, all the places I’ve been, and all the lessons I’ve learned. And also all the great food I’ve eaten. I’ll never see a green polo the same way ever again, and I’ll hopefully never have to smell the pig feces at Hou Bi ever again. But I’ll always remember this summer and the memories I’ve made.

Thank you :-)

Yu, Jacqueline (喻曼婷)
Jacqueline Yu
At the start of the AID summer program, I felt nervous about moving around to a lot of new places with seven other strangers for four weeks. I was told that the elementary school in the countryside would be very different from what I was accustomed to, and it was true. The adjustment period took about a week, and was very uncomfortable, but after it was over, I grew to love the school as well as the people in it.
The training week at Jian Tan was different from what I imagined it would be. I thought it would be all work with no down time. However, many trips to fun places were scheduled for us, like the Shiling night market and the Taipei main station. My roommates and I were also given quiet time when we could do what we wanted to, and most of our free time was spent playing cards. I learned how to bridge cards and play UNO! Also, I grew close to my roommates quicker than I normally open myself up to people. Spending basically all 24 hours of each of the 7 days of the week with these people has made me more comfortable with them than with people I have known for years. We fight like siblings when we steal each other’s food and comfort each other when we are homesick. As for the lectures during training week, I felt that they were hard to sit through, because each lasted 3 hours. Although they were interesting, I do not think that they helped prepare me to teach at the elementary school, because my lesson plans completely changed once I started teaching.
Teaching at Xi Hu Elementary School was definitely one of the most interesting things I have ever experienced. Being a tutor, I can confidently say that a tutor and a teacher are 2 completely different things. While a tutor instructs 1 to 2 students for around an hour, a teacher instructs at least 10 students for not only class time, but also after school. Even after school ends, a teacher is expected to be a role model, because their students look up to them. I warmed up to my kids very fast. They were all very funny and energetic. My groupmates did not like their kids all that much, but I like all of my kids and really enjoy spending extra time with them. At first, my students were quiet and shy, but once my confidence as a teacher grew, I found that their confidence as students grew as well. I also felt that teaching progressively became more tiring. I started out very peppy and became more toned down as the days went on, but his does not mean that I put less effort into my lessons. In fact, I think as I gained more experience I was able to teach better, because I knew what the students responded to. Tomorrow is going to be my last full day at Shi Hu Elementary, and I already know I am going to miss these last 2 week of my life at this school. I have grown very attached to some of my students and the school itself. It is colorful and homey and if I had the chance in the future, I would definitely come back and visit.
The past 3 weeks have came and went by slow and fast at the same time. Sometimes I felt as if the program would last forever and then I think of times like now when tomorrow is the last day and I feel as if there is not enough time in the world for me to spend with the kids and explore the area. Coming into the program, I had no idea I would make life friends or be attacked by bugs when using the restroom or feel like a kid when I played with my students, but these unexpected aspects are what make this program such an adventure. So much has been packed into such a short time, and I know that as cliche as this may sound, this program really is a once in a lifetime experience that I could never forget for an infinite number of reasons.

Tsou, Brittany (鄒承瑾)
I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program. It has been a most rewarding experience, and I am so glad to have spent my summer teaching English and learning more about Taiwan.

The first week of training was helpful for me because I have not taught a foreign language class before. It was fun to work with the rest of my team to come up with lesson plans and class material for our students. Sharing our thoughts and ideas with other groups was also inspiring because everyone had creative ideas that could be incorporated into our teaching.

Despite of the preparation, transitioning to the school environment was more difficult than I expected, especially with experiencing my first typhoon the weekend before our classes began. I was pleasantly surprised that my seventh graders already knew their alphabet, which made it easier for us to teach English vocabulary. However, getting the students to participate was challenging because they were initially extremely shy and would not volunteer to speak individually. We did draw upon various teaching and classroom management strategies that we had learned during our training, including using popsicle sticks to have more effective class participation. Furthermore, changing activities every 15 to 20 minutes helped keep the students engaged throughout the 45-minute class period.

In addition to teaching English, I learned much more about the Taiwanese and aboriginal culture. I shared with the students about what it is like to live in the United States and how I learned to speak Chinese, and I found out that most of them live at school and come from very different backgrounds because most of them are raised by their grandparents while their parents are working. It was fun to spend time with the students during breaks and after class, from playing basketball to learning numerous hand games. Learning about what music they like to listen to was also very rewarding because we were able to sing an English song together for the closing ceremony, and I accompanied the students on piano.

Time passed by so fast, and it was very difficult to say goodbye at the end. I have become friends with many of the students on Facebook and hope to stay in touch.
Liu, Rachel (劉羽綾)
AID has definitely been one of my most amazing summer experiences so far. I was nervous going into the program because I didn't have any experience in teaching and I had also never been to Yunlin county, where the elementary school I was assigned to is located. But all my worries went out the window when we left the super boring training week in Chientan and arrived at our school, Wen Chang Elementary. The teachers and staff greeted us with warm smiles and our host families cheerfully welcomed us into their homes. The students at school were enthusiastic to learn and our host families treated us to delicious food, and trips to the night market and movies. Throughout the two weeks not only did I get closer with my students and host family, but I also got a lot closer with my group members as we became more comfortable around each other. Leaving the school after the two week teaching period was extremely hard because the hospitality shown by the students, teachers, and families, really touched my heart and I was not ready to say goodbye. After the week of hectic touring and running around Taiwan, I could not believe that four weeks had gone by and that the program was over. I was reluctant to say goodbye to the camp counselors and my amazing group members who have been with me since day one throughout this entire journey in Taiwan. AID summer has been an unforgettable experience and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to participate in this program.
Lee, Eileen (李心凌)
This AID Summer program was a great opportunity for me to experience what it was like being an English teacher to foreign students. In exchange, I was able to practice my mandarin whenever I needed to translate. I found it exciting to share American culture and food to motivate the students to work hard in learning English. My main goal was for them to be able to communicate in English (if they were to ever visit America or any other country) because English has become such an universal language. Also, I wish for my students to TRY EVERYTHING!!!

Not only did I get to connect with my students, but I also formed strong bonds with my roommates. I guess when you put six people together in the same room for four weeks you will usually get some new friendships out of it. Even though all six of us are incoming college freshmen, we were fortunate enough to find out that we live rather close to each other. So you can bet that there will be A2-4 meet ups in the near future! ;)

A week of a tour of Southern Taiwan was a great and fun way to end AID. While I got to take in everything that made Taiwan so great, I also made even more friendships with other volunteers from my tour group. In addition, my counselors for the tour were the best counselors anyone could ever ask for. They were kind, engaging, especially caring, and it never seemed like they were too tired to take care of us. I would definitely go on the tour again, but at a slower pace. Hehe.

Last but not least, I will always be eternally grateful of AID for arranging this program to allow thousands of other volunteers and I to build long-lasting friendships, overseas teaching experiences, and exposure to Taiwan's beauty. Although organizing this program every summer and winter can be an extreme hassle at times, I want to encourage the AID team of Taiwan to not give up and to keep this program alive! Attending this program is one of the most memorable events in my life and I hope it will be just as, if not more, unforgettable to future volunteers. Thank you AID!!! <3 :)
Bryce, Marquessa (柏向姸)
My time at Meinong Elementary School described in one word would have to be impactful. Not only was I able to experience something I never thought I would have done in my lifetime, but also I proved to myself that I am capable of living away from home with little issues. Training week was probably my least favorite week, as the same with many others. But for the following two weeks I spent in Meinong, it was the best experience of my life. When we arrived to the school, we knew we would be sleeping in the library, but we were expecting some sort of mattress or cot to sleep on. Instead, we spent the first night sleeping on the hard, laminate floor with only a tiny pillow to support our heads and a thin blanket that we had to use either to cover ourselves or to soften the floor we were laying on. The next day, the people there were kind enough to go out and buy us each thick comforters for us to use as makeshift mattresses. On the first day of school, we were all eager to meet the children, but the children could probably have cared less. Over time, they definitely started to grow fonder of us and us fonder of them. I saw them as the siblings I never had. I was so proud of how much they learned in such a short amount of time. Even when none of us could find the right words to talk to each other, charades worked almost all of the time. On the last day of school, the teachers and all of the students were driven or rode their bikes to a local public swimming pool. I only packed a bikini with me, but I didn’t let that stop me from playing with the kids like it did with the other female teachers. In masses, the kids attacked us and tried jumping all over us. As annoying as it was, I let them do it because I would regret not having one last bonding experience with all of them. Fortunately, this wasn’t the last time I thought I would see all of them. We actually met up with a few of our students later that day at the local 7/11 after the principal treated us out to lunch. We were driving back to the school when we saw a bunch of the kids hanging out waiting for us. Then, we told our teaching coach, who was driving us, to stop the car on the side of the road. We all dashed through the cars, shouting our kids’ names, and they did the same back. That wasn’t the end of our day there, though. Since it was the day of the night market, my teaching partner and I made plans to meet up with three of our students there. At the night market, we walked around for an hour and a half eating and playing games. I wanted to do something nice for them, so I bought each of them a ticket to play a game. After we said our goodbyes to the kids, my teaching partner and I walked back to the school and I started to bawl my eyes out. I wasn’t ashamed. I developed a close relationship with them, and I saw them as my younger siblings who needed guidance in life. During tour week, I could not stop thinking about them and wished I could go back. Even today, I constantly tell my family and friends that I want to go back. In the meantime, I still keep in contact with only a couple of my students, but hearing that they miss us and want us to come back, is enough to motivate me to study and work hard to afford to go back. This was truly a memory that I will cherish forever.
Chen, Kaylynn (陳凱齡)
Spending two weeks teaching at Houbi Elementary was the most incredible experience and I never thought I would ever leave the school gate teary eyed.

I'll definitely miss walking into the classroom to be greeted by smiling faces and a chorus of "Good Morning!" Although the kids were rowdy and at time exasperating, they were always excited to learn.

Thank the heavens for 香茅油, electric fly swatters and a very selfless teacher because without them, I would not know what to do. Besides teaching, spending time with Cloudia 老師 and the rest of my teaching crew on the library floor was unforgettable. From screaming at one AM because of a cockroach sighting to binge watching seasons of Rupaul's drag race, spending time with Cloudia 老師 and the rest of my teaching crew on the library floor was unforgettable.

I am so thankful for everyone at HouBi, especially Cloudia 老師 and all of my Class B kiddos. I know you'll all grow up and do amazing things.
Liu, Natalie (劉柔廷)
The two weeks I spent at Hou Bi Elementary School was a very eye opening and unique experience. During training we learned methods to manage the classroom and to make learning English effective and fun; however, actually teaching the students was much more different than I expected. The students were not very enthusiastic about learning English, but they still gave their best effort. I realized being a teacher was much harder than I thought. I taught a class of third and fourth graders who were only beginners in English and many of them could not write the whole alphabet correctly. We taught them easier vocabulary such as family and colors and incorporated many games and videos into our teaching plan to make class more fun. One of my best memories with the students was a two day water games competition in the afternoon. It was a great way to stay cool in the heat while having fun. The students really enjoyed the games and each team performed their own energetic chants. At Hou Bi I was exposed to a different lifestyle. For example, the kids are able to bike around the village by themselves. Every Thursday, there is a night market and some of our students would follow us on their bikes and we would eat dinner together. I’ll never forget the delicious food we ate every day. I’m very grateful for such a wonderful experience this summer.
Hsieh, Kevin (謝凱文)
The past month in Taiwan was absolutely rewarding. From the first week at 劍潭 to the last days of the tour, AID Summer 2016 was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Before the program even started, I was extremely nervous and I was screaming in excitement when I found out that I got accepted into the program. Although I've been to Taiwan many times, this trip was the first time where I would travel by myself hoping that I would even end up at the right place, and luckily I did. On the very first day, I among many other volunteers were rushing to get checked in and I coincidentally bumped into Lisa, one of my amazing group members. During the first week, I learned that I was part of B1-2 and bonded with my group through various meals, lectures, and moments of designing lesson plans. After the one week of repetitive training passed, we finally got to go to 嘉義 and headed towards our school 宣信國小, the place we would live for the next two weeks. I was assigned to teach Class A (the smartest class) and I loved every single one of my students. Playing the part of a student for the 17 years that I have lived, it never came across me that teaching elementary school students would be such a difficult task. Although I bonded with all 12 of my students, they were loud and hard to control. Aside from teaching, our two wonderful guardians (Justin and Jason) took us to many places around Chiayi including but not limited to Daiso (to get prizes for the students), Shabu Shabu, Wenhua Night Market, and Alishan. The overall experience at AID Summer was amazing and SHOUTOUT TO Owen, Andrew, Henry, Nora, Lisa, Thinley, and Colette. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. In this past month, I ate an assortment of delicious night market foods, viewed the beauty of Taiwan at Alishan, but most of all, I made a difference in the lives of many Taiwanese kids who were always passionate to learn English.

To the future AID applicant, the only advice I can give you is to definitely apply! I never regretted one single moment during the entire program and there is no other place out there that will offer you this experience. Embrace this opportunity to not only meet people from different areas across the United States as well as Canada, but also get to experience a different realm at your assigned school in Taiwan!

Chen , Owen (陳冠宇)
A month before this program started, one of my closest friends asked me whether or not I was ready for the journey throughout Taiwan. I responded, saying that it was just a summer program, and it wouldn't really be a journey. Looking back, this experience is has definitely been a journey for me.

Throughout this program, I've gained so many friends that come from all over the world; whether it be England, New Zealand, New York, or my home state of California. It has opened my eyes about how many people come from the same home country of Taiwan. I've made so many memories such as playing ping pong with our school's military duty TA's , or cycling across ChiaYi with my group mates. I'll always remember that weekend trip up to our principal's house in Alishan, or the late night runs to the next-door stinky tofu stand. It's what brought everyone (including our TA's) closer together, and thats why it was no surprise to me that my group was crying on the last day.

But it was without a doubt teaching the kids that will dig the deepest into my memories. Their smiles, laughs, and silly comments will always resonate somewhere in the back of my head. Teaching the kids and seeing them slowly learn and progress through our lesson plans successfully has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. You could see their faces light up whenever we announced a new game of trashketball, or when the hangman was one leg away from defeat. Many of my kids want to keep in touch after the program ended, and I'd gladly do so. They've left such a deep mark on me, and I hope I did the same. I'd like to thank everyone who helped make this program possible for people like me. Without it, I would have definitely had one really boring summer.
Ho, Jennifer (何雪宜)
At the beginning of the AID program I was extremely nervous about meeting new people and having to speak Chinese since I’m shy and and typically not very outspoken. But this program really allowed me to open up and become very close to not only my group but my students.
As for the training week at Chientan, it felt really unorganized. I thought we would be learning more helpful things and be put right to work. However, it seemed like we just spent a whole week learning about things we already knew. There were only a few things from a couple of lectures that were helpful for when I taught elementary kids. The lectures were just repeats of one another and were very hard to sit through. But even though the planning of events of felt unorganized, I think the schedules of things were well thought out because of the break times given. Also, we were given the chance to go out and have fun so that we would not have to stuck in the place the whole time. The time allowed me to get closer to the girls in my group and we became like one big family. One upside to this program is how close you are able to become to the people in your group because I will definitely miss them a lot. I’ve opened up and done things that I have not done with some of my closest friends back home.
For the actual teaching part of the program, it was a very hard at the beginning. It was only because the kids I had were extremely rowdy and did not want to listen half the time. Overtime, I learned that the kids really respond well to interactive things such as games and competitions. It felt weird to be strict and stern with kids but it was the only way for me to get them to pay attention and learn. Even with all the troubles, I still grew very attached to my kids as they were super cute and always happy even when I yelled at them. Some kids even stayed after school till five and sometimes even later to hang out with us which was really sweet and nice. All the kids were very entertaining and fun to be around. It’s cliche but not only did I get to teach kids english but I got to learn more Chinese. I know because every time I said something wrong in Chinese, I would get corrected and laughed at by the children. Our group lived in a classroom at the school and at first all of us were very concerned and angry that we had to live there but after a while, it let us grow closer and it was very convenient to go to class or eat breakfast because a lot of us would not wake up on time. The school has grown on me, bugs and all.
The last three weeks have been an adventure, something I have never experienced before.I never thought that I would make such close friends and be so attached to my students. It was exhausting and felt like it would never end but it will be an experience I will never forget.
Nguyen, Colette (阮微)
Days before I started the AID summer program, I was miserable. I was recovering from food poisoning and all I could think about was all the opportunities I'd miss out in America. But after these past 4 weeks, I've realized how many more opportunities I've been given here in Taiwan, from the AID staff, counsellors, and my teammates.

To be honest, I was really nervous at the beginning of the program because I didn't know anyone and I had no idea who I'd be spending the next month with. I was the most inactive person in my team's group chat, and I didn't know if we'd get along or not. The first week of training at Chientan became progressively fun, as my group mates slowly grew closer and more comfortable with each other. We'd play cards, work on teaching plans, and do everything else together. But it wasn't until we got to our elementary school that we became a real family.

At Shiuan Shin Elementary, my teammates and I didn't know what we were doing most of the time. We tweaked our teaching plans at the last minute or made something up on the spot for the kids to do. I know it's not the most ideal way to teach, but we taught our kids to the best of our abilities, giving everything 1000%. We were able to relate to our kids and get them involved in activities.

The kids in my class were very quiet and respectful in the first week of teaching, which made things easy for me and my teaching partner. But by the second week, they were out of their seats, yelling at my partner for another chance at Hangman while I stood there laughing. Even though I wasn't able to communicate with my students as much as my partner did, I did feel a connection with the kids. The day I wasn't feeling well and had to go rest, my partner told me that our students wanted to visit me to see how I was doing. I didn't realize how much of an impact I had made on the kids until that moment. I was so thankful for my students, especially those who gave my partner and I gifts, because it really showed how much the students appreciated us. I learned so much from our kids, and I hope they learned just as much from us.

Not only did I connect with my students, but also my teammates. We've spent hours practicing our dances for the opening ceremony, working on teaching plans, playing Mafia, celebrating my teammate's birthday, and so much more, together. I can strongly say that I'm lucky to have been placed in such a fun group and to have given the opportunity to be in this summer program.
Wang, Henry (王承智)
When I was accepted to the AID Summer Program, I was not that optimistic. I was afraid that it would be difficult to fit in and that I would not be able to live a month without my parents; however, when I arrived at chientan and met my group mates, my whole perspective on the program changed. I became close friends with most of the people in my group and realized that we had a lot in common. Once we had to start working, my group worked well together and we were able to efficiently get the work done. When I arrived at Shiuan Shin Elementary School, I was also afraid because I knew teaching the kids would be a daunting task that required a lot of responsibility. The first day of teaching was especially difficult because I couldn't gauge the English levels of the children; however, as the days progressed, teaching got easier and the kids became more comfortable with us. I thoroughly enjoyed this program because it provided me with experiences that I had never had before. I also met tons of new people from around the world and made some unforgettable memories with them. I truly appreciate this opportunity that AID Summer has provided me with, and I would love to have the chance to do it again.
Yu, Alvina (俞柔安)
Coming to AID, I thought this would be one of the adventures where you forget everything and everyone promptly after - one that's forgettable. however, it wasn't soon after that I realized that couldn't be farther from the truth. Through AID, I have met many amazing people whom I am glad I can now refer to as my friends. The students whom I was led to believe we're little terrors ended up to be one of the hardest people I found to leave, and some of the people I will miss the most. The struggles I faced ended up being great challenges I learned from, and hopefully grew as a person from.
Teaching at Meinong taught me the value of hard work, and reminded me of the importance of teamwork. Being away from my family forced me to gain independence, and helped me to lean on myself more, and rely on others less. The students taught me how to learn passionately, and put my all into everything I do because even while learning English was a struggle for them, they didn't shy away from the difficulties of learning a second language.
Leaving AID, I hope to have made an impact on the students, and I hope that they will be even more excited to continue learning English, regardless of how hard their road ahead may be.
Sfetcu, Jocelyn (史贾琳)
Starting from the beginning, I didn’t know how I would feel about this program. I have never particularly LIKED children, nor have I ever wanted to teach them. Knowing that this was a rare opportunity, I signed up anyway.
The first week was excruciating. Hours a day of classes teaching us how to teach kids, I already was stressed before, but this made it worse. I didn’t know what to expect so I expected the worst.
Initially, I was very wary about teaching. Though the school, staff, and students welcomed me with open arms, and made this an experience that I would never forget. My students stayed patient with me, and I with them, and helped me learn that teaching truly goes both ways.
A specific example that I remember was on the last day of school. During the closing ceremony, as I gave my speech to the kids, I began to cry. I never thought i could care so much for my students, but they excelled these two weeks, showing that English isn’t just an academic study, but rather a fun, experience that should be cherished. My students wrote me lovely thank you cards, and I felt more appreciated than I had ever have before.
We later had our annual water balloon fight. There was a specific troublemaker boy named Ron, who bullied other students and teachers, and was very disrespectful. During the fight, rather than throwing water balloons, or pouring water (all activities that cause no harm), he decided to throw water BOTTLES at me. My students were immediately at my side, defending me and in the end Ron had to thoroughly apologize to me. This experience meant so much to me, knowing that I have made enough of an impact in these children's’ lives, that they defended me in an instant. I was so touched, because I never expected that out of teaching English, would come respect and an experience of a lifetime.

Wu, Jocelyn (吳珮綺)
My summer with the AID program is one I will never forget. It surpassed my expectations. My friends told me how fun it would be but it was more than fun. My group is amazing and they’ve become my family. The people I got to meet were all very nice and the students were something else. In the first week I did not know what to expect for training. It was slightly boring with the lectures but the activities were fun. The activities and class time got me closer to my group because it was like our bonding time. We got to go to Shilin night market as a group which was great because we had to leave a day early and didn’t get to go to the scheduled Shilin market the day before everyone left.
One the bus ride to our school we karaoke and it was pretty nice. We had a lot to bond over our first night because of a spider, cockroach, and lizard situation in our rooms. The students were really hard to deal with on the first day. They were loud, rowdy, and hard to calm down. We had college students in our classroom and that helped with dealing with the kids. The kids eventually got better as we started to get to know them. They really liked listening and speaking in Taiwanese. They probably thought we could not understand but we could. The kids needed to review a lot. When we asked them questions they had bit of trouble but they were only 3rd graders. They really enjoyed playing outside even when it was crazy hot in the afternoon and they were already sweaty. By the last day I really felt like I would miss them even though they weren’t the greatest students. I learned a lot from them and I hope they learned a lot from me too.

Chung, Connie (鍾如言)
Volunteering overseas was one of my bucket list items, so I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer as an English teacher in Taiwan these past three weeks. The program presented me with its challenges, and with those challenges came numerous bouts of lessons and self-realization. Ultimately, I fell in love with my three-week roller coaster ride, and I feel so thankful for everyone I've met and spent time with.

I hope that I have made a positive impact in the two weeks that was spent with the students. My class was a mix of 7th and 8th graders, which was a bit challenging to teach because the difference in their english capabilities was very noticeable. Finding a balance for the two grades was the most difficult aspect of the teaching.

I've certainly learned from my students. The most important takeaway from them: find joy in the little things in life. During their free time, the students had fun with any object they could find, from a pencil to a mini toy figurine. It was amazing to see how easily amused and energetic they were. TheAs we grow older and enter into the real world, we often get so caught up in trying to survive through all of the societal and social media norms that we often forget ourselves and our inner child.

This experience was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you, AID Summer 2016, for helping me fulfill a dream and for blessing me with this experience.
Sun, Jo Ann (孫自恬)
Before this trip, I literally didn’t spend any time with children. Naturally, I was afraid that my students would hate me and be turned away from learning English simply because they disliked attending my class. There was also the additional possibility of leaving a deep psychological impact on the children to worry about when interacting with them, so I was really nervous during training week at Jian Tan Youth Activity Center. The information taught in the training sessions didn’t help much because it was mostly just common sense. Anyway, it turns out that there’s only one essential piece of advice one needs to know—pay attention to the students and make them feel acknowledged.

I can say without a doubt that I miss my students the most out of everything else in this trip. There’s something inexplicably beautiful about children’s naivety; they’re so pure-hearted and honest in their opinions, it inspires me to be more open about how I feel. Observing these 9, 10, and 11-year-olds’ social dynamics for two weeks taught me how personalities are shaped and developed continuously, especially by experiences in youth. Aside from (unintentionally) psychoanalyzing each student’s character traits, I really developed a motherly, emotional connection to all of the kids. They expressed more affection than I’ve ever experienced in my life; they begged me to play tennis with them, to play violin for them, and to help them with any problems they had in their classes. They voluntarily asked me personal questions and wanted to know everything there was to know about American life, which honestly surprised me a lot. I’d figured that they had been forced to go to summer class, but the principal told us that the students came here of their own free will.

About the actual experience: training week felt like forever, and it seemed like a waste of time. The only interesting part was being able to meet new people, and I definitely regret not networking enough during that first week. The two weeks of teaching were, in retrospect, a complete blur. I remember staying up late watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and movies on Netflix, biking to 7-11, and trying to exterminate cockroaches and ants in our room. Sleeping with 8 other people on the floor of a library was really fun, and the shower schedule was surprisingly easy to manage.

The tour so far has been almost overwhelming; we travel to so many places every day, but we only get a short amount of time to explore each stop. It kind of feels like there’s no context or reasoning behind visiting these specific sites, and I wish I understood the significance of the places we’ve been going to so I could fully appreciate them.