2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Atlanta
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Li, Kevin (陳可凡)
The program overall was a lot different than I expected, in a good way. The first week at Chientan was not that great. The schedule seemed to tight and the lectures seemed excessively long. The information from the lecturers were only sometimes useful. It would've been nice to have realistic expectations of what teaching would be like before we arrived at our schools. At my school, Jhongyun Middle, Coach Nelson and his family were warm and inviting. They took care of us and made sure we were comfortable with our living conditions. The kids at Jhongyun Middle were well behaved and enthusiastic to learn English. Teaching went relatively smoothly overall.
Huang, Justin (黃揚理)
- [ ] I heard about this program through a lot of others who have done this as well. They said it was all fun and didn't tell me how much work went into it . First week was exhausting having to wear long pants and green shirt everyday when it was super hot was hard. Then we got to go teach for 2 weeks the accommodations were alright but we didn't have any transportation. Had to walk 20 mins to and back. It was also super hot when we got to the school I would have been soaked already. It was different to teach in this kind of environment. No AC just open windows and fans. It was very hot bugs were everywhere got bit by mosquitos a lot. Probably the most walking I've done in 2 weeks ever. The kids learned a lot different then Americans do. They take notes of everything . They worked so hard. They didn't ask for pictures they asked for signatures which was different . Then we went on the tour. We went to a lot of different places a bunch of museums. At chitou there were so many bugs and no AC. We then went to jinshan and had to sleep in a 8 person room was not very comfortable. I saw a bunch of different things and ate a bunch of different things at this tour. It was very fun and I was able to meet a lot of different people that came from completely different backgrounds . Whoever does this next just needs to know that it's not all fun and you actually have to work before you get to do anything fun. It was a fun experience though .

Chen, Sydney (陳郁美)
I never thought I would be so happy to hear the word “Teacher”. After teaching in Chiayi’s Liou Jiao Primary School for two weeks, I learned that being a teacher is a lot more enjoyable and stressful than I had thought. When we first began to make teaching plans with our partners, I thought it was crazy that we could actually become teachers. During the presentations we attended during the first week, I learned a lot about teaching methods. When one of the presenters told us, “NO GRAMMAR!” my partner, Eric, and I had to change one of our days’ teaching plans.
The first Monday of teaching came too early. I had a detailed plan prepared, but I didn’t feel ready. After meeting the students for the first time Eric and I found out that our students were much faster learners than we had expected. We had to alter most of our teaching plans from then on. I realized that teaching has a lot to do with confidence, adaptability, and, more often than you would think, improvisation. The students were also all very different from each other. Some hardly spoke. I felt like getting them to speak was like coaxing a cat to come out from under the couch. In the end, the most useful thing I learned was that kids really like bingo and Jeopardy.

Li, Jay (李沃濂)
Teaching was difficult, yet so fulfilling. I definitely have a greater appreciation for the work teachers put in to get quality results out of their students. To say the least, the teaching experience was challenging. Between the large range of levels of English and discipline, it was certainly tough. Some students were receptive to the lessons and others didn't. Johan, our training week teacher, told us that we shouldn't expect that much English being learned in a short 10 day teaching period, but rather focus on making a lasting impression on the kids and their inspiration to pursue English learning and expand their worlds. The best moment for me was getting to hold a barbecue for the kids and immerse in their indigenous culture; simultaneously our teachers created an interactive lesson and expanded their vocabulary and tools of English language. It was satisfying to see the children grow in their path of English learning, and it was a little bittersweet saying goodbye to the wonderful children.
Wang, Emily (王從琪)
AID 2016 summer has given me an experience filled with ups and downs. I met many wonderful people during this program who I've come to trust and love during my week at Chientan and during teaching. However teaching at my elementary school was filled with many difficulties. The students clearly didn't want to learn or participate in games and activities and constantly asked when breaks were. The skill levels between some students were too large and many eventually lost interest in the class. The living conditions could also have been better. There were many bugs inside our room, and the bathrooms were unsanitary and had an odor. Also the overall organization of the AID program was very unorganized this year. However I am still glad I participated in AID this summer and have made many memories that I'll never forget.
Xu, Grace (徐璐璐)
Teaching at Liou Jiao Elementary was truly a wonderful and eye-opening experience to interact with the children and gain insight into Taiwanese culture. As we were teaching Class A about their ABCs, the childrens’ faces lit up with curiosity and excitement as they began to grasp the fundamentals of learning the new language. The two weeks living at the school was truly my favorite part of the program because it taught me the essentials of preparation and pre-planning for interspersing powerpoint lectures with fun review activities. One main challenge that my partner and I faced was that we had difficulty adjusting to the wide variety of English levels in the classroom; for example, some children were familiar with several vocabulary words already, while others were struggling to remember their letters. My main goal during teaching was to ensure that all twelve of the children understood the core parts of the lesson, and we accomplished this by providing extra tutoring the struggling students and creating worksheets for children to practice handwriting and naming basic nouns. In particular, the games were helpful review tools because they created a fun, competitive atmosphere for the children to practice their English skills that they gained during class, such as Hot Potato or Bingo. All in all, teaching the children allowed for me to learn some traditional Chinese characters along the way, and I hope to keep in touch with my school and the incredibly supportive faculty and staff.
Bantukul, Aliya (李厚安)
AID Summer has been a great experience. I’ve made new friends from all over the United States and from Canada. The first week was really boring because the teaching sessions were just saying the same things over and over again or were just really boring so I found it hard to pay attention. Also, the lengths of the sessions mad it really hard to pay attention to the information given. I also wished we were able to go off campus because we were often bored after the teaching sessions at night and didn’t know what to do. If we had been able to go off, we would have been able to go to the night market which was very close to the center. However, the next two weeks were better because we were actually teaching and also had more time and more chances to go off campus. The teachers and students were also great and very helpful. The tour week was okay. Most of the time was spent on the bus and the music was really annoying because it was the same few songs playing on repeat. However, the places we actually went were mostly fun, but I wish that we had more time at some plaes such as the night markets and danshui.
Drun, Abigail (莊涵郁)
All in all, I greatly appreciate the chance to have this experience. The two weeks teaching has been one of the most rewarding moments of my life. Meeting and getting to know the children of Tainan's Shulin Elementary School is something I will never forget. However, that being said, I wish that I had been better prepared to teach. I wish that the week at Chientan had prepared me better and taught me more activities to do in class so that classes wouldn't become repetitive. Other than that, I loved my school and the opportunity this program provided me.
Hui, Aaron (許穎濤)
The AID summer program has been absolutely transformative, from the training week, to the teaching week, to the final tour week. The training week, as expected, was absolutely grueling and exhausting, but the best time I had during this program was probably the teaching weeks. The teaching weeks were amazing. The school was beautiful and the kids were absolutely adorable. I also got to learn a lot about teaching in general, such as how to manage classroom time effectively and how to maintain the interest of kids in order to create a learning environment. The activities we did with the kids were absolutely memorable. We got to bake cookies, weave baskets, make sandwiches, and play sports with the kids while teaching them the vocabulary involved in each activity. One interesting thing we found out about how the kids learn English is that most never learned phonics. They do whole language learning instead. One of the things we focused on is teaching them phonics, such as teaching them the sound of "er" or "ing" and having them combine phonetics into the new word. Teaching aside, being with the kids was so much fun, they were incredibly sweet, even the kids with bad behavior. I will forever hold Guan Miao and the AID program in a special place in my heart.
Zhang, Athena (張思緝)
Although I had taught children in the past, lesson plans were always planned by other people and it was in a setting close to home. There was usually no goal other than distracting children for a couple of hours as their parents went off to work during the summer. The AID Summer program gave me a different opportunity, one that was filled with purpose and independent growth. I was terrified of the responsibility of teaching children for two weeks according to the lesson plans I had created in a country I had never been to before.
These four weeks I have come to be more appreciative of the privileges I had in the United States and have a personal connection to the country of Taiwan. In Taiwan, the people are very conservative with electricity. AC is a privilege not a right and lights had to be turn off when we left the room. It made me realize how often I wasted energy in an energy rich country.
I learned that Taiwan is very distinct from China from its deeply rooted aboriginal culture to its vivid nightlife and tasty snacks. Although I am a picky eater, I stuffed myself with octopus balls and fried mushrooms, foods I would never try at home. I tried in the spirit of everyone else trying foods and, in the process, I have become more open-minded and removed the idea of “exotic” from my vocabulary.
I have also learned that quality is better than quantity. Looking back at my lesson plans, they were aggressive planned with an underestimation of review time and an overestimation of the children’s retention. I had a lack of experience and little understanding of children at the time. However, as the teaching days went by, I realized I had to slow down the pace and increase the time I spent loving the finer details. I had to laugh with the children, to play with the children. I would say silly things like “Doesn't the word ‘crocodile’ sound funny? Cro-co-dile..” and the children would laugh, never forget the word again. I had to learn the finer details: Abby’s fast paced chatter, Ian’s doe eyes, Mark’s chipped front tooth, Gordon’s energy. By the end of the two weeks, the children’s eccentricities became a permanent part of my life and leaving them has been like losing a part of myself. Thank you for such an irreplaceable experience and a chance to fall in love with so many beautiful souls.

Wu, James (吳傑杰)
These past two weeks in Ruifang went by so fast! It seems that just as I had settled in with the people, the area and the job it was time to go. Preparation for in-class lessons about various topics such as food, talent and postcards/letters/e-mails had become routine. I feel I have improved my creative, logistical and organizational skills because of teaching. Field trips have also helped broaden my horizon. I have grown as a leader due to being responsible for children outside of school. As I leave Ruifang, I cannot help but miss my students. Not only have I taught them, but they have also taught me. Thanks to them, my Mandarin has improved (just a bit) and my eyes have been opened to new parts of Taiwan and new aspects of Taiwanese culture. Because of this cultural exchange, I feel Ruifang Junior High School's students are more so my friends. I will dearly miss their laughter, singing and dancing. Thanks to their hard work, our closing ceremony was a success! My dad, mom, grandma and little sister even came to visit and were quite impressed with the performances. I had a lot of fun participating in the dragon and lion dance! After the closing ceremony ended, the children gave all of us gifts they had secretly prepared. This gesture made me love being their English teacher for this summer even more! Their willingness to learn and their enthusiasm for practicing have truly made an impression on me.
Bian, Veronica (卞樂怡)
Who knew that teaching children would cause so much pain and so much pleasure? It was genuinely a wild two weeks teaching elementary school students English in Alishan; from straining my voice yelling, "1,2,3, eyes on me!" to dancing, singing, and laughing with the kids in the closing ceremony, I never thought I would miss Alishan Elementary and Junior High School so dearly.
I clearly remember the first day our group(B1-6) arrived on campus and was shown our student dorm rooms--I was completely shocked; we were living in a remote location, were stuck with squatting toilets, and were deprived of stable wi-fi. Honestly, I thought I wouldn't be able to survive in such a rural environment. The only thing that kept me going through the days was the Alishan children who were quick-witted, energetic, diligent, and somewhat naughty. Although the students had some difficulty learning English so quickly, I knew they were very willing to attend summer school to attain more information about a very useful language. Their broad knowledge about pop music surprised me, and their love for Justin Bieber and One Direction amused me. The kids' never-ending energy and liveliness definitely made me frustrated at times, but I still enjoyed watching them bounce around the classroom walls like wild animals. I definitely learned that teaching is not only a stressful job, but also a very pleasing task because children always misbehave and lose focus, but knowing that I was able to relay my basic knowledge to children effectively, I was satisfied with my efforts.
I feel very blessed to have obtained the opportunity to give these children a meaningful education that would hopefully impact their lives, influencing them to continue to ameliorate their English skills.

Hong, Nora (洪兆安)
This trip was definitely a challenge for me, but I still learned a lot while I was here. All the people I met during this program were extremely kind and friendly and I made lots of friends that I wouldn't have met without coming to AID. In regards to the teaching, there could have been some improvements such as not telling the students attending our classes that the classes were mandatory and providing more training on how to handle misbehavior in the classroom. The organization itself was also a bit discombobulated this year and hopefully the program will be able to fix the issues of miscommunication and technical issues before the next session. The teaching experience for my school wasn't as positive as the other groups as well (dirty sleeping area, bug infestation, sickness, overworking, disrespectful children etc.) so it would be great if before the next session of AID, the organization could prepare certain schools better before the volunteers arrive. Other than those issues, the program was a lot of fun and I made some good memories with the people here. I hope the next group of volunteers will have an even better time than I did!
Lo, Edward (羅力明)
Upon the classroom platform, I hesitated before pronouncing the Mandarin word for snow, “Xue.” My students instantly reacted and corrected my pronunciation, because the neutral tone signifies blood while a descending tone means snow. The two-week teaching component of the AID program allowed me to cultivate a better sense of cultural identity. In spite of excessively onerous rules and curfews for older participants like me, interacting with my middle school students was lively and spontaneous. Having my Mandarin Chinese corrected almost daily reminded me that I have much to learn before I can accurately discuss Taiwanese culture. The level of respect expected from students was an outright interesting way manage students. I began to understand why I was raised to respect my parent’s final word, and why I was told to do chores at home for no tangible compensation. When I asked my students to do an activity, they always separated themselves by gender. I noticed that this behavior was a reflection of more conservative values. When I met new people, a handshake or a hug was not necessarily the norm. Even my biandang at school taught me much about my food preferences! I appreciate OCAC and AID for strengthening my cultural identity this short period of time.
Wahlers, Katherine (黃建掄)
The time I spent teaching was great. My students were well behaved and very competitive between the two genders. My favorite part of the this experience was being with my students and playing different games with them. They taught me how to play a different version of hide and seek. My worst favorite part was having to learn to get along with people who dislike you. Something I learned about is the perspective of my teachers. Everyday my partner and I spent a lot of time to prepare the lesson the next day. Also the other teaching groups would often fall asleep working and wake up early to finish. I feel like I can relate more with my past teachers when they get lazy. Even at the very end I had a great time. My students even cried durring the closing ceremony. It was a new thing to me to have a close teacher student relationship. I remember one of my friends in elementary school saying that hanging out with teachers was being desperate but that is not the case here. I loved my students and had a great time even if I would never do this again. Something I felt could be improved on is the amount of freedom teachers have at the first week of camp. Many volunteer teachers are used to a lot more freedom because they are in college. Some people want to leave early or not even come because of the lack of freedom. However, there was been an improvement and everyone listens to what we say. I had a great time teaching in Taiwan. The kids were great and so were the people at the school. The rest of the program was below average but the councilers were great.
Wei, Jennifer (魏芃嫒)
AID Summer Experience Reflection

Ever since I got into the program, my parents repeatedly emphasized that they hoped the coordinators placed me in an isolated, technologically disadvantaged area. They said “You need to know what bitterness tastes like. You only know what sweetness tastes like, and you just indulgently savor it.” When I told my parents that the coordinators placed me in Alishan Elementary and Junior High School, they chuckled and exclaimed “Yes! You’ll appreciate the little things more, and my god. Alishan is such a gorgeous area.” Boy, were they right.

However, the ride up to the school was a nerve-wracking experience, with the treacherous, slippery roads due to the notoriously feared Category 4 typhoon. My teammates and I were all tired from the long commute from Chientan to Alishan – walking to MRT to bus to car – so the sight of the dingy and buggy dorms didn’t help with our moods. I remember trying to stay calm and collected while my friends freaked out and shivered over the dilapidated bathrooms, but I was silently crying. The adaption to the new environment was utter culture shock. I took eternally stable Wi-Fi, clean sitting toilets, and convenient transportation for granted while the people in the mountains perceive that as the city life and luxury. I was nauseous with home sickness.

“Let’s move onto more important things.” I said to myself. I had many more days to survive and appear put together in front of the kids.

I never thought I would get excited for the first day of school, but minutes and hours before the first day of school, my heart and stomach fluttered with excitement. The kids were so eager to learn and responsive, although they did have their moments. One of the biggest challenges wasn’t ingraining the many vocabulary words into the kids’ minds, but it was taming their disengagements and short attention spans. To resolve this, the other volunteer teachers and I told them to stand up to stretch or entertained them with videos pertaining to our lessons. Even though the kids did not know everything, they had the energies and lithe abilities to retain information, which led them to know about 50 vocabulary words such as famous landmarks and Taiwan’s trading partners.

I learned that the process of teaching English is not about aimless and shallow repetition, but TPR or total physical response, visualization, and break down of wholes. For example, one new vocabulary word required a few pictures and syncopated syllable practice along with constant repetition in different ways in order for the kids to unequivocally not forget it. Learning new material requires the knowledge of the ins and outs of the content and context of it.

Despite all of the struggles of discipline via yelling and “bad cop” treatment, the kids changed me to be a more playful and less uptight person. I’ve inspired them to get out of their little bubbles and learn more about the world around them, and they’ve inspired me to appreciate youthfulness, nature, and the keenness to retain more.

Time was evanescent in this case. The weeks felt like days, and the days felt like weeks. But despite the ephemerality, I learned lifelong maxims: Laugh it off with friends, and life will be okay. Look past the little things and appreciate the little things. Be adventurous. Explore. But most importantly, have fun.

Chen, Rachel (陳宣穎)
The 2016 AID Summer program is an experience that I will never forget. Beforehand, I was not too worried about the actual teaching, but rather meeting other volunteers in the program. I am a rather quiet person, so the idea of meeting new people that I would have to work with for the next four weeks was exciting, yet daunting. I had done some work as a teacher assistant at my Chinese school before, so I was feeling up to the challenge to teach rural Taiwanese kids English.
The first week of the program was the hardest. Getting to know groupmates, meeting our teacher, attending lectures, and constantly preparing lesson plans took a toll, and I started feeling a lot of pressure. What if I could not manage students during class? What if my partner and I were not able to carry out our teaching plans and had to improvise? What if I failed? The apprehension of having to deal with classroom management and adapt me and my partner’s different pedagogies to fit each other deeply worried me.
During my first day of teaching fourth and fifth graders at Jhutian Elementary School in Pingtung County, these fears came true. The opening ceremony was postponed due to rain, and we spent the first day improvising from class period to class period. The kids were extremely rowdy, and the Chinese teacher had to constantly step in to help us manage them and have class. The students would never do work until given a time limit or yelled at. We barely made it through the pretest. The class quieted down a bit once we started teaching vocabulary, but there were still students who would not participate and would play with random classroom objects. By the end of the first day, we had a pile of confiscated items, and I never wanted to go back again to teach. The students in my class tried many cheeky things to test our reactions over the first few days, including cursing in English, yelling loudly at each other across the classroom in Chinese, and pretending to not know any English. As the days went by, classes gradually improved, and we were able to figure out which activities worked best to teach lessons, and adapt to the differing levels of English in our class.The kids especially enjoyed competitive games and word searches. Every afternoon, we would gather different classes together and play large group games, like musical chairs, duck duck goose, and capture the flag. Students warmed up to us and became very friendly, and even with certain off days during which the class would never be quiet and listen to us, teaching became more and more routine.
As the end of the teaching weeks approached, I became very sad to have to leave the students. I had fun bonding with them during breaks and playing tennis after school. On the last day, many students cried during the closing ceremony. It was touching to see how far we had come since the first day of class and how much they would miss us. I will always remember the weeks spent teaching them, playing games with them, and learning about their lifestyles. I found myself wishing I was back at the school with the kids instead of touring Taiwan the week after. I will value the time spent at Jhutian and the adventures I had there forever. If I could have changed anything though, I probably would not have had the kids realize up front that I could speak Chinese. Although it did help me bond with them more, they did not speak as much English as they could have, even though my teaching partner could not speak any Chinese. I am confident that I made an impact upon these students culturally, but I am not so sure academically, since we only had a short time together. I only hope that they are able to learn more and better their English as they grow up.
Chiou, Tyng-Sheng (邱廷生)
At first I didn't know what to expect in terms of teaching because I've never had any teaching experience. I had a thought that the students might not listen to me when I'm teaching. However, after seeing how lively the students were my confidence increased. Starting the basics of ABC to simple phrases, the students were really able to pick up the lesson that we were trying to teach them. From not knowing what the alphabet is to being able to identity multiple words, seeing their improvement was really rewarding. Because of the teaching experience, we teachers really bonded together as one big family. Every recess the students would always come around with me and we chatted and played. I really hope they continue studying English and best of luck to them.
Chen, Erica (陳瑜廷)
At the beginning of the AID program, I didn't know what to expect in terms of lifestyle for both the training week and teaching weeks. Training week was bearable for me and I'm especially glad that I wrote all my working journals because it made teaching in the next two weeks a lot easier. While many people complained about the living conditions and food, I thought it was bearable even with the long classes during the first week.

When I first got to the school, I wasn't sure how the next two weeks would go since we were living in the kindergarten classroom. In the beginning, I was paranoid of bugs and sanitation because I wasn't used to the living conditions in Taiwan. I also thought I would only teach the kids for two weeks then leave but I actually created relationships with the students that were both in and out of my classroom. The teachers and staff were also extremely helpful and caring for the eight volunteer teachers. During the closing ceremony, we all had to make short "speeches" and I was he first to cry. Before I knew it everyone was bawling which worsened when the kids sang three goodbye songs for us. We ended up becoming friends with the kids and teachers on Facebook so we could communicate with each other after the program. Everyone treated each other as family for those two weeks and I feel like they actually became a second family for me.

During the tour week, I got to spend time with friends that I made before the program actually started and during the training week as well as friends that I met on my bus. I wish we could've spent more time together but I'm still really grateful that I got to meet everyone in AID.