2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> New York
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Lee, Patrick (李思漢)
While a hard floor mattress may not be the best place to write about my aid experience, it’s late and I’m too lazy to move. First and foremost, summer aid and teaching English have been unforgettable. The time I spent here has been one of many firsts, both positive and negative. My experience is one of surprise homesickness, team bonding, and an emotional rollercoaster surrounding one Pokemon related iPhone application. Looking back on my two weeks of teaching, I can say, for a fact that I have learned a significant amount about myself and my limits and this journey will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Returning to Taiwan has almost always been an annual vacation wherein the whole family packs their bags two or three days before and rushes to the airport hours too early. One of watching the latest movies on the plane and trying to get the perfect amount of sleep to fend away jet lag. One of visiting relatives and staying mainly in Taipei for maybe two weeks. This trip has veered sharply from the standard. At the point of writing this, I have been in Taiwan for more than a month, with my parents and sister being out of the country for 2 weeks. I stayed with 7 semi-strangers (eventual great friends) for two weeks. I rode a motorcycle (without a helmet don’t tell my mom), I wore polos and long pants for 8 sweltering hours a day for 2 weeks, and I have taught English to Taiwanese children with little prior english knowledge. I thought originally that this trip would be an absolute blast with it being purely positive but this trip has been arguably better than that; I have learned how to take care of myself, I have learned how to deal with difficult people; I have learned how to deal with myself; I have learned how to adapt better in order to amend my own mistakes. These life lessons are priceless and I am glad that the ride was not as smooth as I had expected.
One thing I thought I knew about myself was that I would be ok with strangers, that I would away from my family. While this was true most of the time, I learned that the stoicism I thought I had against homesickness and such feelings was not as solid as I had thought. This independence also was far more flexible that I expected, with more freedom than I had ever been able to take advantage of prior. I was able to become great friends with the other teachers that went to Guan Miao and this tradeoff of homesickness for close friends was absolutely worth it.
My fellow teachers were all fantastic. Working with the youngest group, Team Little Bears, posed challenges but my incredible co-teacher Sabrina was amazing. We were called “too strong” but I think we were bearly able to prop each other up, each supporting the other in a fine yet risky balancing act. We had to deal with challenges like a child with learning disabilities, students who were extremely new to chinese, and a student that came halfway through the program but we weathered the storm. Even with the struggles we faced I found the teaching part of my job to be great. Being able to connect with children so eager to learn and being able to teach them was truly special. And speaking of children, there really is nothing like getting tackled by 12 third graders all screaming that they want the point their teacher promised them if they could capture “Mr. Bear”.
Other than dealing with the difficult people, the worst thing about the Summer aid experience has to be the super delayed release of Pokemon Go. The wait has been painful.
Teaching this summer has been great and I enjoyed the overall experience even with the ups and downs. This has not just been the resume booster I had expected, teaching english has been unbayleafably exceptional for experiencing new things and introspective about who I am as a person. Even with the mountain of summer homework that remains undone because of this, I have no regrets pertaining to this month in Taiwan.

Bi, Joyce (畢嘉佳)
Overall, my AID summer volunteer experience was extremely enriching and satisfying. Through the brief but productive one week training period, I was able to meet a variety of fellow volunteers who had different backgrounds and different perspectives on life, as well as share my ideas with others. The training was interactive and engaging, and helped me feel less anxious about the impending responsibility of becoming a teacher. Through our nightly preparation sessions, I was able to get to know my group of volunteers, who I now consider among my closest friends. Our working journals and lesson plans created with the english teacher from our school, as well as the lectures and lessons by various Taiwanese english teachers eased some of my anxiety going into the two weeks of teaching.
Nevertheless, I still felt anxious going into the two weeks of teaching. I was extremely nervous about meeting the students on the first day of teaching, and was pretty shy approaching them. However, the students were extremely warm-hearted and I quickly became comfortable with all of the children. Although teaching still proved to be a struggle, I quickly learned to adapt to the daily schedule and grew to appreciate sharing my knowledge with the children. I also became very close to my teaching partner, and appreciated the new perspectives that both he and the students taught me. Over our two weeks of teaching, I got to know our students immensely well and was reluctant to leave them after the closing ceremony.
During the tour, I was able to bond with my group, and meet with fellow volunteers and share our teaching experiences. I had a lot of fun exploring the specialities and beauties of Taiwan with an extremely friendly group of volunteers.
Yeh, Steve (葉日中)
Participating in the AID Summer Volunteer English Teaching program was one of the most memorable programs I have been a part of. At first, I was quite reluctant and hesitant in joining this program as I was unsure if my Chinese language abilities were enough to teach elementary students. I had experience of tutoring elementary students at my local library, but as it turns out, it is quite different from teaching in Taiwan. Training week was important in that I got to know my teaching partners and the other members who had been assigned to my same school. I taught at Dong Rong Elementary School in Yun Lin County. Our accommodations were to sleep in the library! At first, that felt unfair as other members who were going to teach at other schools were living in hotels, resorts or with host families, but as the weeks went by, living in the library allowed for me to feel closer to the community and to the students. My school was surrounded by rice fields. There was a plethora of animal life in the school, from bats to geckos to toads! Eight members, including me, shared one shower so that was sometimes pretty tough when I lost rock paper scissors and had to go last, but that still is another memory that will stay with me. Teaching the kids was an experience like one other. My teaching partner and I set up a lot of games in accordance to the learning of vocabulary so the kids would not be bored. We ate lunch with the kids and talking to them allowed me to learn more about how their way of life was. Out of the four weeks, I can definitely say the two weeks of teaching will forever stay with me in my memories.
Yank , Isabelle (福藝娜)
The AID summer program was an amazing experience. It gave me the opportunity to do things I would never have done otherwise. The kids were so adorable and always gear to play games and learn English. I met some amazing people as well. I loved my group and the school I was assigned. This program is definitely worth it and one-of-a-kind.
Huang, Perry (黃培睿)
I never doubted for a second that teaching would be a challenge, but doing it yourself for two weeks is the only way to truly understand the definition of "challenge." Chinese society highly values the importance of teachers, so I knew that this would not be a light task that I can breeze by with a half-hearted mindset. Nevertheless, I understood that I would emerge from this challenge as a more capable person. Little did I realize that I would get much more than I bargained for.

During training, we were informed about the basics of running a classroom, as well as many minute yet crucial details to effectively maintaining order. Even if the lectures became trite after days of listening, the degree of preparation was clear enough for us to understand what was expected of us in the classroom. However, one of the most important concepts necessary to teaching well yet not taught during the week of training was chemistry among the volunteer teachers ourselves. Without mental cohesiveness and an aligned thought process, we volunteer teachers cannot achieve smooth collaboration in the classroom. But other than the others in our teaching group, I was able to make friends with other people.

Another important aspect that we learned was the relationship between the teacher and the students. In preparation for the teaching demonstration, we has to learn how to not only comprehensively teach a lesson but also to make sure the students remember the lesson.

When it came to the actual teaching, our execution of lessons wasn't as difficult as we thought, since the students were still generally obedient. However, we began to realize that we would need to be able to generate some spontaneous materials, since we often ran out of review activities to use. Even as someone who is not the best at public speaking, I learned plenty from teaching the students.

As time went on, the students became slightly more disobedient, and discipline became a constant issue. On the other hand, we began to form more personal bonds with the students, breaking the barrier of a student-teacher relationship, and more of a friend-to-friend relationship. Considering the rural location of our school, a warm and comfortable feeling overcomes me when I am able to take a walk through town and see students in my class cheerfully greet me.

I am grateful for all the time and energy that everyone has put forth for the sake of this program, from the counselors to the school principal and supervisors.
Shih, Alice (石安華)
Excited and nervous, I walked into the dorm room at Jiantan Youth Center after saying goodbye to my dad. I was not ready to meet and stay with people who I had never met in my life. What if my group mates are unfriendly and hard to talk to? What if they don’t want to talk to me? All these negative possibilities overwhelmed me. Upon opening the door, three girls were in the room unpacking, and I greeted them. At the moment, they seemed intimidating and hard to get along with. However, after getting to know them, I learned that they were all friendly and welcoming, so were the four other members of the group.
The first week of the program at Jiantan taught me a lot of teaching tips. When I first saw the weekly plan online, I was extremely confused and stressed. The weekly plan was a form full of blank boxes and I had no idea where to start or how to start. However, after a week of training and few hours a day of planning, I knew the topics I wanted to teach and what activities to include. Furthermore, I learned many useful tips on how to get along with little kids and see things from their perspectives. I also met a lot of great people from different parts of the world and learned interesting cultural differences between the states.
The beginning of the teaching at Dongxin Elementary school was challenging. My partner and I had the beginner level, which the kids in our class barely know any English. We had to adjust our teaching style so that they could understand us. At first, my partner and I had a hard time comprehending if the kids understood us, so we used bilingual during our classes to make sure that the students were on the same page as us. Furthermore, we arranged the seating so that the more advanced kids in our class could help the less advanced kids. Another problem we had was creating a teaching plan so that we won’t run out of materials to teach. The first few days, my partner and I always took hours to make one teaching plan. But after a while, we learned the pattern of creating a teaching plan and we created teaching plans easily and quickly. We also learned that we should incorporate more pictures and emphasize more on phonetics for our beginner kids, as spelling was one of the major problem that they had. Throughout the two weeks, we included a lot of interactive activities and story times and the students enjoyed them.
One of the most memorable moments during the program is the aquarium trip with our kids. The day before the aquarium trip, we taught students several vocabularies of ocean animals. We assigned an action to each vocabulary and played charades to familiarize the students with the vocabularies. At the day of the trip, the students were extremely excited to visit the museum. They were amused and impressed by everything they saw, and they dragged us everywhere with them. We took them around the museum and asked them to act out the vocabularies we taught them when we came upon the sea animals.The smile and laughter of my kids made me realize that our efforts were actually making a difference, and they were actually learning from us. It was one of the memorable moments because we bonded with the kids and it motivated me to try even harder to make the classes fun.
Another most memorable moments during the program was when the kids finally opened up to us. During the first few days of the program, my kids were extremely shy and quite. They were afraid to speak english and participate in class, and they seemed confused all the time. However, after constantly complimenting and encouraging them in class, they slowly opened up to us and participated more. That also made me feel like my efforts were worth it because the students were slowly gaining more confidence. At the end of the program, all the students were eager to participate and were not scared to speak English to us, and that was one of the goals I wished to accomplish. Their eagerness also showed how much they trusted us and enjoyed our class and how we did make a difference.
Lastly, I am extremely glad that I applied for this program and decided to come to Taiwan to teach kids. I am thankful for our friendly school staff, our counselor Jamie, our resources, and our kids. Without all the help, I don't think my teaching experience would’ve been as great as it had been. I’ve learned so much from this program that can’t be described with words. I’ve learned so many interesting cultural differences from other participants, I’ve learned to appreciate the resources we have in the state as a lot of Taiwanese rural schools don’t have them, I’ve learned to get along with people I’ve never met in my life, and I’ve learned the importance of education style on students’ learning environment. I will never forget the relationship I have with the students and I will never forget the experience I gained from this program. Thank you AID!

Yang, Ellen (楊家毓)
Having little experience with teaching and equally little skill with Chinese, I came to AID genuinely not knowing what to expect. In turn, I have been so pleasantly surprised by the experience and all that I have gained from it.
It has certainly been more intense than I might have imagined it to be. Training week at Chien Tan shook me awake to that reality when I realized I had to plan a full day of engaging lessons for the kids, minding the language barrier. As it so happens, creating fun, yet effective learning activities for the students is much more difficult than it sounds. The training week schedule is also demanding, as my group often worked on lesson plans until curfew and had to wake up early for another long day of lectures. Ironically, I credit this (and the lack of stable wifi) as the reason our group grew so close. We had to work together to accomplish our goals and survive the craziness of training week, which made us much more prepared to take on teaching at Guan Miao.
Teaching also presented its own host of surprises. The children were much more rambunctious and understood less English than we had thought, which meant we had to rethink how we explained almost everything to them. Many times, we ended up scrapping our lesson plans the night before to adjust to what activities the students responded to. Being an AID teacher is a unique role unlike that of a typical teacher in that during break time, you get the opportunity to connect with your students on another level. The students were still there to learn, but it was also a different experience in terms of the teaching styles.
Teaching to a variety of levels within one class can be frustrating and I can’t pretend that I’m exactly sure how to successfully do so still. Within our class of 12 students, there was one student whose skills were clearly more advanced than anyone else in the class. While most of the others were at the same level, there were some below and it was be difficult to gauge how said students are doing without setting aside individual time to work with them. Also, teaching in a smaller area such as Guan Miao meant that it was not uncommon for us to run into students outside of school. It made the camp feel like a closer community. As teachers, we became close to our students, getting to know their lives and understanding the culture of the area.
As a whole, my experience at Guan Miao is one that I’ll always hold dear. The school faculty made such great efforts to make us feel at home, accommodating our every need and then some. They do an excellent job and all their hard work certainly did not go unnoticed. From the two teachers who helped us navigate teaching to the directors that planned our weekend activities, everyone welcomed us with compassion and enthusiasm. AID has been a thoroughly exhausting and challenging month, but a very rewarding one at that. It’s an experience I will certainly never forget.

Wilson, Emily (威霓文)
Applying to this program was probably one of the best life choices I've made to this date. I was reluctant to apply at first because I didn't want to spend an entire month away from my friends with little to no communication. When I was finally accepted from the waiting list I wasn't sure how to feel, but being in Taiwan I was grateful to have been accepted. Being in my mother's home country was an experience I will never forget. Not only were the people there amazing, the culture was definitely one to remember and cherish.

I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up and coming to Taiwan to teach English was a way to cement the idea in my head. It made me know for sure that teaching is something I want to do for the rest of my life, no matter how bad the pay may be. Being able to see the progress each of the students made in the short two weeks that we had was such a fulfilling and gratifying experience for me; it filled me with such joy knowing that they had learned what was being taught and remembered it all. The students that I interacted with will forever be in my memory and cherished for all that they have taught me.
Chang, Zoe (張庭瑜)
AID Reflection

I had many expectations coming into this program. I thought that this event would be extremely organized, that we would know exactly what our duties are, when they are due, where we should be, etc. Just before taking the plane to Taiwan, I experienced my first instance of miscommunication with the program: I had no idea that the teaching plan was due June 22nd. I know now that the due date was present on the side of the page, but it was not made very clear. Therefore, I panicked and needed to rush to finish it, resulting in a product which did not accurately reflect the amount of work I had wished to put into it. Later, this plan was not even looked at. When I got to Chien Tan, I did not know where to go or where to sign in and the counselors did not know either. This became a common trend: we would constantly ask questions about what we needed to do and when by, but unfortunately the officials in pink shirts were as clueless as we were. We were given very little information about pretty much everything, but the areas where such discussion is most needed is regarding what we needed to prepare for to teach. This includes the opening ceremony, the teaching plan and working journal, and other materials. For one, we had very little time to complete everything and my group and I often had to stay up later together to finish our assignments. We received many lectures and only one or two were actually useful. All the others were repetitive. This is not to say that the speakers were incompetent or unimportant; rather, many just repeated the same thing. The only useful lectures were the ones which detailed games to play with the kids and attitudes and behaviors of Taiwanese children. Even during those lectures, we had exercises to create posters that we did not end up learning from or using during teaching. I do not like to say that something is a waste of time; I believe that everything has value. However, we really could have used this time to prepare materials, talk to our teacher, and prepare our opening ceremony. There was time to write the teaching plan and working journal and we quickly realized that the teaching plan we created before was completely useless. The teachers already have certain activities planned and we did not know the ability of the students. Similarly, when creating the teaching plan and working journal at Chien Tan, we spent a lot of time stressing and worrying especially because we did not know the due dates and were confused at the format of them; they seemed to contradict each other’s format. I did not expect to have this much stress and was even wondering if the entire program was a good idea because I was in a constant state of confusion and anxiety at getting my work done correctly and on time. I like to put a lot of effort into everything I do and not knowing much about the teaching plan and working journal as well as the students and school schedule made them very difficult to do. I wish we had more information. Overall, the living conditions and food were more than ideal. We were treated well and I could not be more pleased with where we lived and what we had for each meal. That being said, the entire program was organized very poorly, and this made the experience at least at Chien Tan very intense. I was worried that I had made a mistake coming here, especially because the summertime is usually my time to calm down from the school year. I expected to work hard and I did. I did not expect to stress as a result of not having proper and clear direction from the program. Throughout all of this, I connected with my group and we got very close. We all agree about the issues with organization and the unnecessary pressure caused by confusion and in all honesty, for the first week, bonding with them was the only worthwhile experience.
I figured that things would be better once I left Chien Tan and eventually I was correct. However, there were other complications. For one, my luggage arrived later than the others and I was panicking in the airport because no one, even the officials at Chien Tan, could tell me where it was. I was not upset about the possibility of my luggage being missing because in all reality, clothing and money can be replaced. However, I believed that this event spoke to the disorder that surrounded the program; I was not the only one who had missing luggage. When I got to Taitung, it was sad to see the destruction and wreckage caused by the typhoon, but the school and hotel were all very hospitable and welcoming.
At the start of teaching, we ran into immediate problems. The school wished for us to only speak English and tell the students that we do not know how to speak Chinese. We quickly realized that this was impossible. The kids did not understand a single thing we said no matter how slowly we talked or how many gestures and example movements we used. As a result, not only did they not connect with us at all the first and second day, but they also withdrew and seemed uninterested, or did not listen because they did not know what we were saying. We voiced our opinions but the school was very adamant against speaking Chinese. Since my partner and I were teaching the youngest group and they seemed to be overwhelmed and confused the entire time, we decided to speak Chinese to explain. The students completely changed: they were attentive, excited to learn, and we could finally begin to form a good relationship with the kids. One very moving event was when the kids that we had originally believed to be troublemakers or poor listeners began taking notes and asking us to translate Chinese into English. Of course I wanted to respect the wishes of the school but I also felt that my partner and I should teach in the way that we feel is best for the kids. Out of everything, the teaching the kids was the best part. It was difficult at times as some students try our patience and do not listen. I learned that we must always be adaptable as some games work and some do not and some lessons are boring or too difficult. I also learned that we must be more reasonable as we have forgotten what it is like to be a kid. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend why they talk after being scolded for it or act younger than they are, but these actions are things I recognize as myself having did when I was younger. Actually teaching was the best experience because I think there is something so important about being an inspiration and an influence; to make a child feel better is the best feeling in the world. There was an instance where one of my students was yelled at harshly for taking out a ball, and in my opinion, although I know I am still not an adult and cannot understand, I feel as though she was yelled at too much. Unnecessary things such as “how were you raised” was said. I comforted the girl because even though I acknowledge the teacher’s ability to yell at students, I believed that at that moment the girl was my student and only I was allowed to discipline her. I do not know if anything that I did worked, or if it was the right thing to do, but I feel happy in knowing that I have a particular style that I believe kids respond to well and even if there are flaws in it, it is my own. There were other problems with miscommunication that were frustrating, especially because we were not monitored during the teaching, which was nice, but then teachers would get upset with us for not doing something a specific way, despite not telling us. This happened often and even though everything worked out in the end, there were times where we would feel as though the teachers of the school were not giving enough information, and were not present enough to pass judgements on what should be done. Regardless, the experience was very rewarding to be teaching the kids and of course we were treated well. My group specifically worked very hard, late into the night to prepare for class the next day so it was a little odd to hear that other groups only had to prepare 30 minutes when we prepared for hours. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun even if it was a lot of pressure. I know we were told that the kids would not learn much in two weeks, but I feel like we still made progress. I was just really worried about their education and well-being which I think caused a lot of stress on my part.
Overall, I really wish that every part of this program could have given me the same happiness that actually teaching did, because the teaching is the most important aspect. That gives me the indication that it was not the teaching that made me upset, but rather the fact that my expectations about the program were not met. It is incredibly overwhelming to be in a confusing and chaotic situation, especially this far away from home. I think there are definite improvements that should be made to the program because I really did not like the feeling of thinking I had made a mistake joining this organization. Not only that, but I understand that the communications were down because the website was not working. Basically, I know that in life I will experience this kind of stress and I have to learn not to break down over it. But I do want the program to be better so that others can focus on what is truly valuable and important: teaching kids.
When I got on tour, of course I loved traveling around Taiwan and visiting all the famous sites and markets. However, I experienced the same confusion and pressure as I did the first week. There was again a lot of miscommunication. For instance, I did not know that laundry was not going to be available because the email with the list of things to bring advised bringing detergent for tour week. Additionally, that email suggested four sets of casual clothing, which is not enough to last the week without doing laundry. Oftentimes during the tour, there are so many random and far away events planned that we can only have an hour or thirty minutes in one place. We end up sleeping on the bus and then not getting enough sleep at night. We waste a lot of time with lining up and giving instructions, and basically trying to be perfectly organized which ends up causing a lot of chaos and confusion. I think that by the end of the trip my opinion on it changed. Yes, there was a lot of miscommunication to start but in the end it was a lot of fun. I spoke to the counselors about the rules and I understand why they exist; but some are confusing and detrimental. For instance, we cannot eat until everyone is present but those that are late, especially to breakfast, are never punished while the rest of us wait more twenty minutes to eat. We are then rushed when we eat.
Taiwan is very important to me and I do not regret coming here. However, usually I never want to leave and this year I am very eager to go home. I am really worried that this experience will leave more bad memories of Taiwan than good ones. I understand that I have a very biased and extreme viewpoint because I had a difficult year and did not expect to stress out during the summer. I learned a lot from this program and formed relationships with new friends that I hope I will be able to keep. This was an unforgettable experience and I learned about myself as well. I hope that improvements can make this experience the best it can be, especially because I noticed that some complaints from previous years are the same that I am making now. Thank you.

Leung, Nicholas (梁仁凱)
Young, Valerina (楊夢瑶)
Teaching the children of Da Nan Elementary School was a challenging but very rewarding experience. I had the privilege of bringing bright smiles and fresh knowledge into the young minds of my class. The challenging aspect was being trained to teach the bright, young minds at Chien Tan and before and after class started. For instance, the teaching plans of my teaching partner and I had to be repeatedly revised and redone. Nevertheless, when put into effect, it provided an organized order that brought my mind solace throughout the day because it kept everything running smoothly.
Another great challenge was adjusting to the living conditions that the school provided. I had to switch from my comfortable, twin sized mattress to the hardwood floor of the auditorium stage in the school. The trips to the bathroom were true nightmares because back at home I only had to fear the dark of my imagination, however, in the school, I had to fear gigantic beetles, scary looking bats, and other hideous atrocities that I once could never imagine seeing in New York City. I also had to change the way I used the bathroom since the school only had squatting toilets. The hundred forty mosquito bite scars on my arms remind me of the wilderness of my surroundings.
Despite it all, it was all worth it. Nothing can describe the joy in my heart when I walk into the classroom and the first thing I see is an eager student seated, ready for the day, before me. No words can describe the feeling of euphoria I get when a student tells me that the lesson is "fun" and hearing the right answer from that student on the lesson material. Personally I feel that the children have made more of an impact on me than I have on them. They have shown me resilience, perseverance, the innocence of youth, and also the beauty of their culture. Wonderful memories have been engraved in my head of each an every moment teaching these children. From learning the vocabulary of peanut butter jelly sandwiches, to laughing at the Wiggles Fruit Salad music video, to playing red light green light one two three with transportation vocabulary, I truly hope I have gotten my students to enjoy the English language. They are remarkable, each and every one of them. I truly hope that in the future I can see how they've grown up.
Shih, Sabrina (石宛霑)
At first I joined AID just because my parents forced me to. They wanted me to spend my summer productively helping others. So I applied to make my mom shut up and because I had nothing better to do with my life. When I found out I actually got into the program, I realised that I didn’t know what to do. I have taught kids before in an afterschool class at my elementary school, but I found them to be little devils and I had a little PTSD flashback moment. Thus, when I arrived at Guan Miao Elementary, I was expecting the worst. However, when I showed up I was immediately greeted by a ginormous bear hug from a mini human being. She gave me the long-lost motivation to teach again. I looked down and smiled and I asked her english name. She mumbled two syllables and when I asked her to spell it, she told me that she didn’t know how. She didn’t even know the letters of the alphabet in 4th grade. From then on I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, but for once in my life I actually wanted to do it. The other students flooded in and sat down immediately with attentive eyes. They changed my perspective; not all kids are little devils. These kids knew the importance of education from a young age. Even though I was supposed to be the role model, they were the ones who showed me how to teach again.

I also had my doubts about Guan Miao. I knew other people were sleeping on the floor without AC so I thought it would be a struggle to adjust to the new way of life. I was completely wrong. The people at Guan Miao welcomed us with warm smiles and put up with all of our petty problems. They gave us all we needed and really made us feel at home. 主任 became like a father to all 8 of us. We are basically like a flock of little ducklings following him. We little ducklings also became closer. We got to know each other really well because we were forced to deal with all of each other’s problems since we were confined in a room with each other. To think about leaving them when the program is over creates an empty feeling in my stomach.
In summary, although I was not originally excited about the program, I am grateful for all the opportunities it has given me. I was able to appreciate the satisfaction of teaching– of being able to impact the future of so many children in just the span of 2 weeks. I am also grateful for all the friends I’ve made no matter how derpy they are and for experiencing the rich Taiwanese culture with my new family.
Kuo, Erica (郭勵萱)
Signing up for AID Summer Program is probably one of the best decisions I have made so far. Teaching kids, especially younger ones, was something that I have never done before but the one week training program helped. However, I was slightly disappointed in the fact that there was no wifi at the youth center and that it seemed like none of the counselors knew what they were doing. Even during tour week, I can still feel the uncertainty from them. Furthermore, the website being down for almost the entire duration of the camp was a little disappointing. However, other than the AID experience, volunteering at Guan Miao Elementary School was worthwhile. Although it was a challenge to keep the students motivated, the students were wonderful. Everyday was tiring though as there needed to be constant modifications to the original lesson plans as my partner and I slowly got accustomed to students' abilities and and interests. Additionally, the staff at Guan Miao was great and took us around tainan personally during the weekends. We got to eat tons of food and roam freely around the streets anytime after school hours, unlike at Chientan Youth Center. I was completely satisfied with the school I was assigned to and will miss teaching the students English and just their presence in general. I would highly recommend this camp to anyone even if they think teaching is not their forte as I wasn't good until I started teaching. People can learn how to teach but they can't learn experiences so do not worry about whether or not you can potentially be a good teacher but enjoy the worthwhile experience and learn along the way.
Chia, Esther (賈上儀)
During this trip, I was able to learn a lot about how to teach and how to manage a classroom. The first week in Jian tan allowed me to learn from experienced and professional teachers because they taught us different tactics and techniques to teach children English in a fun way. For example, I was able to adapt games such as hit the word, chain spelling, and other games into my lessons to teach the children effectively. The lessons also let me brainstorm my own ideas such as altering around the world flash card games, four corners, and role plays that the children also enjoyed. My two weeks at the camp were very meaningful because even though I went there to teach the children, I was able to learn a lot from them. They taught me about how to be patient and to be flexible during every day's lessons. For instance, many of the lessons my teaching partner and I had planned were rather simple but when I pre tested the students, they turned out to have a larger knowledge of English than I expected. Thus, I had to alter my plans so that they were more advanced. Spending time with the children was very enjoyable because they were so eager to learn and had a lot of fun in anything they were doing which encouraged me to teach every day. I was also able to create close bonds with everyone in my group as we shared fond memories during the teaching time and in our own free time as well. On the last day of the camp, the children were so sad to see us go and kept saying they would miss us too. This made me feel happy in a way because I knew I was able to have some sort of positive impact and encouraged them to pursue learning English in the future. I also learned a lot about culture, explore new places, and experience new things while making good friends along the way. Overall, my experience during the AID program was a very positive and meaningful one.
Chang, Catherine (張家琪)
I did not know what to expect when I first arrived to this program. I only heard that it would be fun; my family friends participated a couple of years ago and seemed to have a good time.

The first week was tiring. I was in my room for most of the day, but I still felt drained by the end of it. Meeting new people, adjusting to a new environment, and being separated from my family for the first time in my life was exhausting. Luckily, my roommates were all nice people and we all got along.

The two weeks I spent teaching and living with my group mates were full of surprises. I was not expecting to be living in the school, and I was not prepared for the amount of bugs that wandered inside, either. I also happened to be teaching the rowdiest class, and trying to get them to settle down was extremely difficult. I also figured out that I really wasn't suited to be a teacher at all. My voice was quiet, I was never energetic enough, and I always felt too tired to try to play and bond with the kids.

Even with the many setbacks, there were many fun parts that I will remember for a long time. I grew close to many of my teammates and our teachers that helped us along the way. I got to experience living in a more rural area, and got to meet many cute kids. It was tough, but I think my group’s experience was truly unique.

The program still gave me many headaches so I'm not sure if I'd do it again if given the chance to change my decision. I don't regret joining, though.

Wang, Carol (王衍薇)
Teaching students English at Ren He Elementary School was a very touching and rewarding experience. Although my students were essentially all the children of tea farmers that lived in the mountains, they were also very similar to the children of America. They were very eager to participate in new activities and have fun with us teachers. One of the biggest challenges was keeping the class' interest in activities though. We had to constantly revise our lesson plans because students reacted to activities differently than we had originally expected. We always needed to have a list of different activities on standby so we always had something to do in case the students got bored. We also had to gauge how well the students understood the material in case we had to review it later. They would recite it easily at first but then forget by the end of the day. I've been a counselor at an academic summer camp before and the kids I taught were different from the ones I supervised at my camp. My students were incredibly hardworking and disciplined. They were also very pure, and loved having fun with us teachers. One of my favorite moments was having my kids diligently perform a traditional tea ceremony and offer me tea. That was a touching moment that I will remember forever. I was so happy that I got to experience the culture living on the mountains and eating with the rest of the staff like a family. Although they could get a little rowdy sometimes, they always knew their limit and I was proud of all they learned by the end of our two weeks.
Kao, Austin (高毓彥)
As I listened to the constant drone of the engine, I sat in my seat sulking. Coming to AID had not been my first choice for spending my summer. However, my dad did not want me to waste my summer at home, so I was now in an airplane bound for Taiwan, a country full of mosquitoes and unbearable humidity. My friends had all told me about how I would have fun and make tons of new friends at AID, but their words failed to shake my feelings of apprehension. I did not know it at the time, but I was in for a surprise.
Upon my arrival at AID, I met my roommates for the week of training. There was Gilbert, a tall, chill boy from Michigan. There was Corey, a talkative Floridian who sported a weird haircut. There was Nathan, an uptight New Yorker with strong moral convictions. There was Andrew, an analytical Virginian who loved most things Japanese. Finally, there was Henry, a smart Washingtonian who liked to socialize. Throughout the week, we watched action movies, ordered squid pizza, and shared jokes with each other. We also developed an obsession for a game called Resistance, constantly staying up at night just to finish a game.
Aside from my roommates, I also met my teaching group, which, besides myself, consisted of Nathan, Corey, Andrew, and four other girls. Those girls became etched into my memory as Alice, the energetic one, Shannon, the chill one, Emily Harvey, the fashionable one, and Emily Care, the smart one. My group endured boring lectures, lackluster meals, and unstable Wi-Fi for a week together before getting shipped off to the city of Keelung for our main purpose: teaching English.
My school group exhausted ourselves teaching English. Students got out of control easily, and maintaining an energetic state for five hours felt impossible on some days. Luckily, my partner Shannon and I worked well together. We accommodated ideas from the other during our planning, took turns explaining concepts to students, and improvised games and lessons with our leftover time. When my group wasn’t teaching, we chatted over FamilyMart dinners, watched Star Trek movies, and tested our wits in Chinese chess. We went into the city with the staff of our school, becoming close friends in the process. When our teaching service finally ended, we held an emotional closing ceremony in which staff and students cried and said our goodbyes.
All too quickly, the rest of the AID program unfolded. First came a weeklong tour around central Taiwan. I found it not only interesting to explore new places, but also great for reuniting with old friends and forging new ones. However, the final day of the program inevitably arrived, and I found myself wishing for another day or week just so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye. Unfortunately, time’s cruel march forced me to hug and wave my friends goodbye, then board my plane headed back to the US.
Now that I am back in the US, I can confidently say that my month-long trip was worth the effort. I had gained valuable experience about meeting new people, teaching others, and learning about Taiwanese culture. I had developed personal bonds with many people in the AID program, particularly those in my school group. Many say that there are no bonds that are stronger than family bonds, but I beg to disagree. I have gotten to know Nathan, Andrew, Corey, Alice, Shannon, Emily Harvey, and Emily Care far better than I know my family in Taiwan. We have formed bonds that I believe will last a lifetime. I have a newfound appreciation of the AID program, both for the experiences it has provided me and for the friends I was able to connect with through it.
Cheng, Edward (程君凱)
Overall, AID was quite the unique experience. Training was extremely dull and boring and failed to adequately prepare us for the challenges to come during the two weeks of teaching. The lectures were to long and not being able to leave Cheintan at all was torture. For the two weeks of training, it was hard and excruciating planning out each day's activities but the students seem to enjoy each and every one of them. I like the freedom given to us in making our schedules and I will miss the kids immensely. For the Southern Tour though, I thought the locations we were taken were boring and horrible. The schedule was off and the counselors seemed to have no idea what was to happen next due to lack of communication. I only had fun because I was with my friends and the counselors in Bus E (Arissa, Polly, Kelly) are funny and just fun to be around. I would like to come a second time just to teach students though.
Melici, Miranda (孟芳萱)
This experience has absolutely blessed my life. It has changed who I am as a student, a teacher, a friend, and most importantly, a person. Becoming a teacher and mentor for the students at tu Niu Guo xiao made all the preparation and hard work worth it, the second I saw their smiling faces. Learning how to be a teacher for a week, with all the workshops and classes and more was grueling, if not exhausting, but it was also a great way to prepare, and I feel that without it, I would not have Been able to actually teach the kids at the school much English. The teaching for 2 weeks was too short of a time, in my opinion, but in the end, I really feel like I made an impact on their lives. And the tour was wonderful!! Traveling Taiwan, even if most of the places I had been to before, was so incredibly fun and entertaining. I loved AID summer, it truly was the greatest experience!!
Wang, David (王俊為)
This program was an amazing experience. Honestly, it was much better than I expected. The first week at Chien-tan was tiring and overwhelming, with all the classes and creating lesson plans. Wearing only the green uniform did not help. I did not expect that so much work and planning happened before the actual teaching. It made the actual teaching seem much worse than it was. When my group finally arrived at Alishan after the typhoon, I was a bit nervous about how the kids would react to us. It didn't help that during our opening ceremony the kids had no reaction to it. But my worries were assuaged when the first thing the kids did during break was drag me outside to play with them. The next two weeks of my life was one of the most exhausting and fun weeks of my life. Every day was a new adventure, as kids this age are extremely hyper and random. This energy did not exactly help all the time in the classroom when we were trying to teach. The kids would sometimes not pay attention, but just calling them out would get them to focus again. When they were focused, they learned very quickly, although the two weeks we had was not enough to teach them. Overall, teaching kids English was an amazing experience and the time should be extended to a month for an even better time.

10/10 would recommend this program.
Chen, Hao-Yi (陳顥宜)
I had always enjoyed teaching when I first became a Teacher’s Assistant at my previous Chinese School. When I found out about this program I was very eager to apply. Many of my friends had done it the year before this and only had good things to say. Well here I am continuing that mindset by saying: AID was the best few weeks I have ever experienced and would love to do it all again. At first I had thought I would be teaching at an elementary school and because I have experience with kids this age I was very excited and had lots of ideas planned. I soon found out that I would be teaching at a middle school in Miaoli. I was surprised and a little scared. Some of my cousins are middle schoolers in Taiwan and I had interacted with Taiwanese middle schoolers. Due to this I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to capture their attention and make the two teaching weeks worthwhile for them. But, after only a few days of teaching I soon realized that all my fear was useless. The kids at Miaoli were vastly different from my imagination. These kids were very energetic and were all excited to be taught by us. Although I was told not to speak a word of Chinese until the closing ceremony, I was still able to joke around with them. During breaks the kids wanted to interact with me and my teaching partner and used the white board in the classroom to do so. I was very touched by this. They knew I “did not know” Chinese but still found a way to try and talk to me. Through these two weeks I learned a lot and truly enjoyed every second of it. I hope in the future I will get another opportunity like this to teach kids English. Not only did I achieve my goal of wanting to expand my teaching experience, I also met some truly amazing people. Sumer 2016 participating in AID will always be the best summer I have every experienced.

Foung, Jessica (馮于静)
The AID program was my leap of faith. Falling on the summer of my senior year, AID became the biggest commitment I had. It was the last summer before I'd never see some of my high school friends again, and the first summer before the big transition to college, so I knew that this program would call for sacrifice. I put my game face on, held my breathe and jumped.
As soon as I landed in Taiwan, I longed for my little town back in America. At Chientan, there would be tests of patience, so I had to pick and choose my battles. As I began to break little by little, I felt alone and worn. I wanted to quit. But I didn't.
I arrived in DaGuan Elementary school, where the teachers, the students, and the TA's expanded my horizons. I concluded that "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going", and that there may or may not be times to catch your breath.
I would be remiss in saying that I did went through this experience cowering in fear all the time. Instead, I discovered a new kind of life source in the children I taught, in the close relationship between teacher and TA, and under the care of the teachers at Da Guan. There was more to the little world I knew in East Brunswick, New Jersey. But most of all, I was able to discover a newfound craving for more experiences in the coming months. I developed hope for college.
Shao, Jessica (邵國芬)
I’ve always liked learning languages too. I went to China in the summer after my freshman year of high school to start learning Mandarin with NSLI-Y, and went to Hawaii with STARTALK to continue Mandarin in my junior year. I picked up Mandarin again in college by entering the Chinese Flagship program at Hunter College. It is an intense program, but I learn a lot about Chinese language and culture. Moreover, I learned that I liked teaching language too. My first experience in teaching English was very informal. I was in Japan as an high school exchange student, and my classmates had questions about their English homework. They all came up to me and asked me for help. Because there were so many students, I decided to go up to the front of the classroom and helped them. I had a lot of fun for those short ten minutes. After that, teaching English has always been in the back of my mind, but I never thought I would get a chance to do it. In the summer before my freshman year of college, my friend went to Taiwan and participated in AID. I have never heard of the program before, but he lived my hidden dream of teaching English to younger students. However, because my Chinese program keeps me very busy during the summer, my only chance to participate in AID was before my junior year started. My friend did not tell me much about the program, only that he taught English at an elementary school. He said the program was a good experience, and that he surprisingly enjoyed teaching English. I was super excited when I got accepted to the program. When I got to Taiwan, I was relieved to find that my teaching partners were similar to me in the fact that they were calm and very friendly. However, during the week before we all departed I didn’t think I would need to do so much work like prepare lessons, prepare teaching demos and long hours of training. It was tiring and sometimes I felt like it was unnecessary. I don’t like to have things too structured because it doesn’t seem very natural to me. Improvisation, I feel, is more natural and the children would enjoy it more knowing that the teacher is also creative in their own way. But obviously I had to go through with the planning and work at the beginning of the program. I was tired and I felt like I was in high school all over again with the rigid schedule and the constant team-work building activities. It took a lot of energy out of me, and at the time, I didn’t see any benefit to it other than building friendships with my teaching partners who felt the same way I did. Also, I was not aware that we were all teaching in remote schools, so the atmosphere was going to be totally different than I imagined it would be. I was super exhausted by the end of the training week that I wanted nothing more than just to sleep for a week.

But the day finally came when we all departed for our schools. I was assigned to NeiHu Junior High School in Hsinchu. I have only been to Taipei, and the limited research I did was that Hsinchu City was known for its technology. So, I didn’t think our school would have any problems. Little did I know that I had forgotten that we were teaching English to kids in remote schools. The first thing the staff showed us was our room. We were all misled because the pictures AID had of the school showed beds. However, what we were supplied with were flat mats on the floor. Instead of blankets, we had towels. There were “friendly” creatures at night like cockroaches, praying mantis, beetles and giant spiders. The good thing about this room is that there was air conditioner. Although Hsinchu is also known as the “windy city,” the temperature and humidity was more intense than Taipei.

We had a few days to plan the first week of class. Our director wanted us to complete our weekly plan and working journals. We were rushing to finish, but that first day came quickly than we realized. It took a bit to get the kids involved, and we even had a game with all three classes. I knew right away that there were some students whose English was super good, while others were pretty okay. They were very afraid to speak out, but overall they seemed excited to learn. We weren’t allowed to speak any Chinese, so it was difficult to communicate at times. I was jumping around all day trying to get the students excited. At times I made them laugh, but at other times they stared at me like I was the weirdest person in the world. Overall, the first day was definitely fun but exhausting.

I won’t go through a day-by-day reflection, but I will highlight some of the important things that I learned, how I felt during the entire teaching program, and the overall treatment we received from staff and students.

First, with what I learned is that it was hard to be a teacher. Not in the sense where making plans and making sure the material is suitable for the students, but when in the classroom, it is very difficult to be constantly active. However, the kids were very eager to learn. The were very encouraging and willing to learn, so it made the job easier. The dreaded “silent classroom” did hit us at times, but there was always a way where we would be able to switch things up with a game or a writing activity. It also taught me that teaching is really fun, and it brought out the child in me again as I connected with my students. Their eagerness to learn and dedication to study inspired me to work harder when I return to college in the fall.

Second, my feelings were a mix of nervousness, excitement, anxiety and unconfidence. It was definitely a strange mix. How was I supposed to teach middle schoolers? They always have a stigma about them being rebellious or awkward or in some sort of phase. However, I had to remind myself that these were not American middle school students. It turns out that the Neihu Junior High students were so open and intrigued by learning English. They loved games that sparked competition, and they loved to be creative. The students made me feel at ease and more relaxed about teaching. There was a huge language barrier between us, but they always worked hard to express themselves. The students really made me love going to class everyday, even if I barely got any sleep the night before making lesson plans and writing journals. At the end of the program, I felt more confident in myself because the students showed so much appreciation and love for their teachers.

Third, I want to express the treatment and struggles of the program. The biggest struggle I had with the two teaching weeks was the relationship between us and our director. All of us had very different opinions on how to deal with teaching than she did. We were more improvisation-based, while she wanted a detailed plan of everyday laid out. Every day after class, we would have a meeting about how the day went and information about the next day. Our director would always say that we needed to do working journals and constantly refine our weekly plan. However, we really did not see why she was so strict about it. Moreover, we were not allowed to go outside of campus. We were stuck at the school for eight days before the weekend finally came and we were allowed to leave the school. I understand it was for safety reason, but I couldn’t help but feel trapped like prisoners doing work all the time while other volunteers from different schools had the opportunity to go out every day after classes. Being twenty years old and having the freedom of going out taken away from you is very frustrating. The tension continued to rise when our director would also not inform us of anything until the morning of an event. Interviews, video recordings and other important events were told to us the morning of, which really did not go well with us. One prime example was when we took a trip to a science museum, and our director told us at the museum that we were switching classes and teaching a different group of students. This not only was messy for us, but for the students as well. The students were not prepared for a new teacher, and did not really respond well to the change. They were respectful and engaging, but it was obvious that they did not like the sudden change. My teaching partners and I did not like the last-minute change. It made me feel super underprepared and disconnected from everything. Communication was a huge issue for us. She would not tell us anything during our after-class meetings, and then LINE us later in the day just when we thought we were done with our work that we had to do more. She would constantly ask for working journals that we already did, and want updates on everything. It was like she had no confidence in us even though the students constantly gave us support and enjoyed our lessons.

Despite all our frustrations with not being able to leave campus, constantly having to do work after class while knowing other volunteers are our having fun, and the lack of communication with our director, the one simple thing that made AID enjoyable for us was our students. The students were the highlight of the program for me. They were shy and unconfident at first, but with some pulling strings, bribing with candy, and competitive games, I really got to know each one of them. Each of them grew so much in personality and their English skills improved tremendously. They were more confident in speaking and wouldn’t shy away as much when they were asked questions. They would always tease me and make fun of me, but it was all in good nature. The boys in the class really liked me because I have a strong interest in manga, anime and video games. The girls in my class really liked my teaching partner because she loved K-pop and could do the dances they do in the music videos. But each student really grew on us, and every single one of them was so sweet and amazing. They made me laugh every day. They warned us in the beginning not to get too friendly with the students because they can begin to act out, but for us, being friends with the students really benefited us because they were much more engaging and were more likely to participate. Although they are our friends, they knew the line between teachers and students during class. However, during the break, they had no trouble throwing sticky balls at me or scaring me with bugs they found. It was a relaxed but educational environment that really benefited the students. Even the students in different classes would come up and try to talk to me. During the closing ceremony, all of the students wanted to spend as much time together with us, but unfortunately our director did not want them staying around the school for so long. Our goodbyes felt too short, but I will always remember each one of them.

Overall, AID will receive mixed reviews from me. The lack of communication and overall messiness of administration stressed me out a lot, but the love and happiness that the students gave me made me forget all of the frustrations. It was definitely a new experience for me. I finally got to live my dream of teaching English. Although it was not to what I expected it to be, I wouldn’t say that it was a bad experience, just something that I know I will remember forever.

Liaw, Justina (廖詠恩)
Coming to Ruifang Junior High School, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Even with a whole week’s worth of training at Chientan, I still felt very nervous. We learned so many different tips and ideas on class management, games, and lesson planning, but I could not help but think that if the students were not receptive then none of my efforts would get through. Yet, my team and I still worked our hardest to prepare for the upcoming two weeks implementing games that would encourage the students to speak and practice their English, as well as stay engaged in the topic. I hoped that our efforts would shine through our teachings and reveal to the students that we really wanted to bestow upon them our knowledge of English.
The first day of class arrived in a flash. I learned that the first day was a really insightful experience. My team and I were able to observe the students and their different skill levels in English and also see if our planned lesson outlines were well crafted for our students. We found that most student’s problem was that they were too afraid to speak English and was embarrassed to make mistakes and pronounce words wrong. So, we began to adjust our lesson plans and games to encourage oral practice as a class.
Throughout this whole week, I have gotten to know a little bit about all my students. They are all very obedient, full of spirit, bright, and caring individuals. I’ve learned that by opening up and sharing to them about my experiences, life, and culture they begin to reciprocate the same kind of familiarity and sharing. Also, by conversing with them and building a relationship with them, they desire to communicate with me more and more, so hence they will speak more English. But since they know I can understand some Mandarin, they sometimes just speak Chinese to me. I think from now on, even if I understand what they are saying I think I am just going to pretend I do not know what they are saying so that they’ll try their best to translate what they want to tell me in English.
First and foremost, I hope that with the remaining week I can pass on to them knowledge in English. But, just as important, I hope to instill in them a desire to improve and practice English, as well as a curiosity in the English language and American Culture. With a curiosity in American culture, it will be easier and more interesting for them to learn and practice a language that they seem to fear speaking.
All in all, I am glad to be able to teach my students and spend time with them outside the classroom. On top of me teaching my students, my students teach me as well. We seem to be having an exchange of culture, lifestyles, language, and experiences. They also inspire me to be a more caring and dedicated student. I am their teacher but a few days ago I was just a stranger to them, yet they treat me like I am someone really special and they are very respectful in the classroom. They’ve represented Taiwanese people well. I can only hope that I can encourage them to continue being who they are and to accept challenges- not be afraid of them.
With one week of experience already, I felt like I was ready to tackle the next week of teaching. Yet in some ways I felt like my teaching was still the same but in other ways I felt as if my teaching definitely improved. Lesson plans for this week that had the same structure as the previous week’s went really well. We learned to predict the timing for each activity more accurately when planning lessons as well as adjust what we taught to the skill level of our students. Our teaching transitions were a much smoother process and the students seemed to be engaged in what we were teaching. This week as compared to last week, we had a lot more interactive, hands on teaching, which fell into newer territory. So after the first two lessons, we were able to adjust our plans accordingly.
I really enjoyed this week's itinerary. All our lessons seemed to be very relevant to the student’s everyday life. Although learning about gold panning and the gold mining history in Jinguashi was not as relevant it was still different and very interesting to bring the students around and learn together. Also, the topics that we taught this week was fun to teach and the students enjoyed it a lot- especially Master Shifu.
An area in teaching I think that I can improve on is focusing on a theme throughout a lesson plan. I had taught a lesson planning on movies because I realized a lot of students didn’t really know the English names of American movies. My lesson plan was focused up until the last activity- not that it didn’t follow the movie theme but the activity could have been improved to help the students learn more. My last activity of the lesson was to listen and watch short movie clips where students will pay close attention and I would ask them questions about the clips afterwards. The questions that I asked were random just to test the students’ listening skills but what the questions could’ve been related to was keywords of maybe something I had taught them previously.
Overall, I think this week of teaching went really well. We showered the students with lots of visual and learning materials such as posters and worksheets. With the camp coming to an end, all I hope for is that the students were able to learn to not be afraid to speak English and that making mistakes is the way to success. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to teach such bright and motivated students. Furthermore, I feel blessed to have been able to come to Ruifang- a place that is so welcoming and warm and loving. I will never forget my experience here at Ruifang Junior High School.

Liang, Nathan (梁雨瀾)
Now that I’m back in the states with the program already behind me, it feels like I’m writing a eulogy for my life that ended in paradise. My experiences this past summer have without a doubt, been the best in my life.

I came into the AID Summer 2016 program expecting to learn how to better teach young children, and that I would develop into a more patient, mature and understanding individual—in whatever form, at least a better person. After a month of training, teaching and touring however, having both enjoyed and endured experiences of every nature, I know I have gained so much more—aside from weight—from and for my life.
The first week at Chientan was difficult for me and others because of the packed and rigidly maintained schedule, as well as the depth and length of the lectures reminiscent of high school work days. However, learning so many valuable classroom skills and techniques from dedicated teaching professionals motivated me to, in turn, teach the children with the same enthusiasm and effort. Moreover, within only the first week I was exposed to an almost entirely foreign culture and allowed to interact with people of all different backgrounds: in a short span of seven days, my perspective on society broadened exponentially as I viewed the world through a unique lens with every new encounter, every new friendship. Surrounded by a larger, more inclusive and very intelligent community of people, my naïve partial conception of the real world was replaced by a clearly defined and astounding understanding of the world at large not furnished by my humble life in upstate New York. Armed with the resources and knowledge to begin teaching any English students at Dongxin Guoxiao in Keelung, leaving Chientan was nevertheless a bittersweet parting. Despite the assurance that I would see all of my friends again during the tour, a sudden break in routine that scattered all of my fellow volunteers across Taiwan reminded me that eventually I would have to face the painful permanence of many last goodbyes.

I remember distinctly what unfolded on the fateful day when our family of 445 volunteers was reduced abruptly to a group of eight. In the brief fifty minutes stretched out to a lifetime we spent en route, I recall the only real conversation we had being a heated argument I instigated concerning the unpalatable texture and taste of a soft cranberry pastry filled with savory cream cheese. We sat in a tight group on a nearly empty bus, feeling deflated and isolating ourselves across a gaping chasm of ten or so chairs from the school coordinators who had arrived to ride with us to Keelung. Keelung? What was that place anyway? I had never even heard of the city until my mother described it to me—a port city where it rains, and rains, and…rains. Now it means so much more to me, of course.

Feeling anxious, we all arrived with an unnatural jumpiness. I could sense a marked apprehension in every question and reply we made during our first meeting with the principal and her daughter. Regarding the living conditions, I can see in retrospect that we were actually relatively well off, provided with the option of using miniature toilets or a squatter, shifting hardwood floorboards as mattresses, and hundreds of cockroaches to cuddle with. In reality, despite these drawbacks, we had a washing machine, great lighting, and an extremely overpowered air conditioning system (there was a huge debacle every night about how to set the A.C., and on the first night I woke up a record six times before I gave up trying to use my blanket as a mattress). But best of all, I was always met with smiling faces and (for the most part) good humor, by not only my group members, but also from all our supervisors.

Of course it now seems that my two weeks of teaching flew by in a flash, but I am sure that it all began slowly enough. Our original plans collapsed somewhat after only two or three days, as my teaching partner and I had to readjust our methodology to conform more precisely to our low-intermediate level English class. But, the students were fine with our best improvisation efforts. The kids enjoyed and frankly rather needed review sessions and games much more than learning new material, but handled the latter just as well. I was taken aback by the stellar behavior of all my students, and their enthusiasm in learning anything we threw at them. Only after talking with other volunteers after the two weeks were over did I realize how phenomenal my students really were. In time, I struck a balance with teaching in Chinglish, and my TA who was far more fluent in Mandarin than either my partner or me helped tremendously to bridge the language gap when we tried to explain complex directions. My kids always remained positive and willing to cooperate, so that even teaching soon became the part of the day to look forward to. Still, break time was the most enjoyable—I made sure to interact and joke with the kids as much as possible, and very soon I found that I needed them as much as they wanted me: so playful and funny, they were like the little brothers and sisters who I never had. There was one boy who always purposely guessed waaadermelun or oktupuz whenever we played hangfish (our kid-friendly hangman) no matter how obvious the answer was. Then there was the boy who came up with the catchphrase, “Kentucky, so yummy!” (which was later painstakingly converted to “Kentucky, no yummy, KFC, so yummy!”). And then there was the girl who always wanted to play with the rubber ball we used for teaching, and who always grabbed onto my shirt and followed me everywhere I went. I loved all eleven of them so much. On the last night, I stayed up past 3 AM, fighting sleep to write meaningful notes in the notebooks we were gifting to our students and to fold a paper fighter plane for each of them.

On the final day of teaching, I drew a portrait for each and every one of my kids before they all said goodbye. For once in my life, I genuinely wanted to turn back time, to relive every precious second I had spent with my students. I was stung by the bitterness of our final separation, and so resentful of fate that I even considered whether or not forming attachments to my students had been worth the emotional trauma to be suffered in their absence. Obviously, teaching them was priceless, but I am not sure if I would be able to teach another class in the same way, for leaving them might be too painful. I was not the only one to feel so much heartache, however. I recall sitting on the stage with the rest of the volunteers, giving our last remarks before the closing ceremony proper, and then hearing the muffled sobs of one of my students. I walked over to comfort her, and returned to my post deeply saddened. But then later, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of another girl, the one who always grabbed my shirt and wanted the ball, saw her wiping tear after tear with small balled fists, and for the first and only time in my life I felt my heart break. I felt at once so helpless and so devastated that instinctively I rushed off the stage to hug her, to tell her and all of my other precious students that it was going to be alright, and that I would come back next year to see them. When all of my students left later that day, it was I who was in tears.

Having experienced so many highs and few but extreme lows during the first three weeks of the program, the tour passed as a blur to me. By the last day, I numbed myself to the emotions that I saw poured out by so many of my fellow volunteers. It had already been so rough an emotional rollercoaster.

But, even with so much loss, I cannot fail to underscore the great success of this program. Yes, through practice I became a more skilled teacher. And yes, I became a better person. But more importantly, the children’s innocence, confident individuality and optimism changed something deeply in me, renewed my faith in the potential for good in humanity. And as I was caught time and time again unsure of whether or not to look forward or backward in time or if I could do both at the same time, I learned that living, real living, means living in the moment.

To AID, to my kids and my teaching partners, and to Taiwan, thanks for everything.

Huang, Ashley (黃艾瑄)
Participating in th AID Summer program has brought me a unique and unforgettable experience that I am so fortunate to have had. Of course, there were ups and downs throughout the month, but the two weeks with the children were definitely the most fulfilling. Our director at Wu Feng Elementary, Ian, let us in on a secret: during teaching, we were essentially just playing and having fun with the kids, and incorporating English when we could. What mattered more than simple drilling of vocabulary and grammar was the exchange of cultures, and the nurturing of an interest and passion for learning within kids that live all the way across the world from us. Throughout the experience, our group grew to be great friends amongst ourselves and with the children, which ensured that each day was filled with laughter and good memories. A one month program, which seemed daunting at first, flew by, but I think we really made the best of it.
Chang, Lillian (張立)
Coming into this program, I really had no idea what to expect. I had no experience at teaching and my Mandarin was mediocre at best. However, following the first week I already had a group of friends that I was comfortable with. What I think AID does best is that it brings together people of all different background but mostly share a similar story of Asian heritage. Given that the area I'm from is a predominantly white demographic, I'd never really connected with people on a cultural level. Meeting people that finally understood my stories and how I grew up was eye opening.
Not to mention, traveling around Taiwan allowed me to develop an appreciation of where I come from. Both of my parents grew up in Taiwan and this was the first time I was really able to understand their pasts after having seen the country in which they lived. When we went to Beipu, it really made me appreciate how comfortable my life was and how many things I had previously taken for granted. Yet despite all the hardships these kids faced, they were still so energetic and happy that it was incredibly heartwarming. Even though teaching English in an engaging manner was challenging, I definitely feel like it taught me what it means to be a teacher and have the patience to work with each child on an individual level.
The tour part of the program was probably my favorite because of the diversity of locations that we went to. I've been to Taiwan before but never really ventured outside of Taipei. The tour made me feel like I really sampled all that Taiwan has to offer and made me want to come back more to finish exploring what we saw bits and pieces of.
Overall, I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this program because of how many incredible individuals I met, from fellow volunteers, to counselors, to kids, they all helped me connect with my Taiwanese heritage and see Taiwan for how beautiful it is.
Mei, Justin (梅宗廷)
In general, the 4 week AID experience had its ups and downs. There were many unforgettable moments, but not without some bumps in the road.
The most memorable and helpful part of the training week was the lectures from Trevor. Not only was he entertaining, he was also the most helpful when it came to preparing for teaching. His tips and advice were crucial and I integrated them directly into my lesson plans. For example, as an icebreaker, I used the “Ask Me Anything” tactic. We also had to practice teaching a lesson, which was helpful. One thing that I would change would be to break up the working time during the evenings. The 3 hours of lesson planning after dinner was physically and mentally exhausting.
There were some incredible moments during the two weeks of teaching. It took a few days for me to warm up to some of the students, and for others it took 10 days. One thing is for sure, though. All of my students were incredibly smart and courteous. The greatest moment was probably when we played a game that I thought up of called Basketball Relay Race. They enjoyed it so much, and it gave me the incredible feeling that they were actually learning something. During lectures, I would reach them the English vocabulary word, and then ask them how to say the word in Mandarin. This made the lectures more interactive, and as a bonus, I learned a lot as well. The most bothersome thing that the volunteer teachers had to do was the pretest and the posttest. The design of the pre/post-test is not reflective of the students’ English proficiency. Since each group of class teachers makes their own test, it is not standardized in any way and the students’ ability cannot be accurately gauged. It also cuts into a lot of teaching time in this 2 week program. Part of 2 days out of 14 days need to be dedicated to these tests. The test should test more comprehension. Also, the test should be made by the administrators and not the volunteer teachers. They know the curriculum better than us. Students should take the pretest before the camp starts and the posttest after camp.
The tour of Taiwan during the last week was a little disappointing, as there were a lot of people. A lot of time is spent idling around and waiting. Waiting for everyone to cross the road, waiting for everyone to get back from free time, and waiting for everyone to get back on the bus was inefficient. If the tour had more groups and less people per group, the activities can be completed earlier and the volunteers and coordinators get more rest. Speaking of rest, the last week of the program should be more relaxing. The time preparing and performing the talent show was a complete waste of time. While at time entertaining, the talent show was mainly for the entertainment of a few higher level officials. The volunteer teachers spent so much time already in the beginning of the program preparing an opening ceremony. Many of us have a wide variety of talents like drawing that can’t be seen in a talent show. People with those talents are left to “dance like monkeys” and feel embarrassed on stage. Please remove the talent show from the last week of the program. For the people interested in the program, consider planning a tour with a smaller group or with your teaching group in order to get a better experience of what Taiwan has to offer.
I would like to thank all the coordinators for guiding us for the first and last weeks. We liked to complain that the counselors were pushy and tough on the rules, but it is understandable. They had to be responsible for around 400 volunteers during the tour week. I am sure that is incredibly stressful and exhausting. Yet, most of them are awake before us and go to sleep after us and are excited to see and help us. Let it be known that you are all appreciated. It was an incredible experience volunteering for AID and the friendships that I made with students and my fellow teachers will never be forgotten.
Chen, Michael (陳立仁)
While there was no singular event that I could say was the highlight of this entire trip, I
recognize that the sum of the parts was what ended up being very valuable to me.
Interacting with such friendly and welcoming young students was a completely new
experience for me, and being able to teach them something valuable made every
moment in the classroom worthwhile. I once again came into contact with the concept
that lost sight of so long ago — innocence. It was thus a very refreshing experience for
me to see the smiles on the students faces, their laughs, and the enjoyment they would
have both during class time and during breaks. All of them had such a unique energy
and eagerness about them and were very welcoming, genuinely interested in us
teachers and what we had to learn. Undoubtedly, this experience was most definitely
one that holds a strong, lasting place in my heart. While I feel I wasn't the best teacher or
the most motivated, I still hope that I could have and continue to have a lasting, positive
impact in my students' lives in the future.
Jiang, Brook (姜天潇)
AID Summer was quite an interesting experience. I had a great time working with my team to teach students at Heping Elementary. At first, the students were not receptive to our teaching but they begin to appreciate our presence there as the first week ended. As a teacher, I taught them english but most importantly I brought a new, innovative spirit to their summer break.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I worried a little about what was to come. After all, I was not prepared to be around so many people at one time. Everyday was tiring, getting to know other people. However, I got closer and closer with the rest of my team. We were very loud and participatory during orientation. That made the lessons more fun because we were actively engaging with the lecturer and other volunteers.

Teaching has transformed my concept of education. I always thought that teachers did not have a lot to do but now I see that they are actually very busy every day. In order to prepare for teaching, I had to work with my teaching partner and plan different kinds of activities to excite the kids. I also had a lot of fun going to the events that the school planned for us. I enjoyed the new experience.

The tour was a great week full of adventure, because this is the first time I have visited Taiwan. I feel very happy to explore different parts of Taiwan with a bunch of new friends. I believed that the tour week was a little overpacked. We did not have too much time to relax but I did like that we were given a broad view of certain regions in Taiwan. It was exciting to visit some of the attractions in a new land.

In conclusion, I had a fun and great time in Taiwan teaching kids English. I never thought of myself as a teacher, but now I feel happy to be around children. Visiting Taiwan will always be an unforgettable experience. I would be glad to return to beautiful Taiwan and visit the amazing people at my school.
Huang, April (黃宇晨)
A mere month in this program exposed me to so much of the world I would otherwise never have experienced. From a new village to new living conditions to new responsibilities, my encounters in this past month have definitely helped me grow as an individual.
Although I expected teaching to be every bit as difficult of a task as it turned out to be, going through the challenges first-hand made it all the more real and exhausting. Never before did I realize each second of the school day had to be meticulously planned out, with multiple backup plans prepared in case of any timing misjudgment. As students, we expect our school days to be smooth, fruitful, and engaging. This expectation is realized by teachers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that all problems are patched up seamlessly while also keeping up a calm persona for an appearance of control and confidence. I also never took the time to consider the humanness of teachers. All the times I was tired, unhappy, or frustrated in class could have easily applied to my teacher, who unlike me was responsible for the education of a classroom of students and had to hide any negative sentiments—whether they pertained to the classroom or not.
Another area of personal growth for me was more unexpected: returning to a more natural life. As a privileged first world child, I’ve grown accustomed to relying on the latest technology in my everyday life. It was not until I uprooted myself to spend two weeks in Ruisui Middle School’s dormitory that I realized just how little I actually need. Each day it seemed that we lost another “necessity”—a bed, air conditioning, running water. Yet, each day we learned to simply live without it, and by the end of the two weeks I felt stronger and more resilient to my environment. Indeed, food and water really is all you need to live.

Chen, Jennifer (陳澤霓)
This program has taught me a great deal about managing children and introducing English as a foreign language. I had so much fun not only teaching and running a classroom of little kids, but also meeting and getting to know the many people who I shared this experience with. Teaching the class wasn’t easy but it was worth the effort I put in because I knew that at the end I had made English enjoyable for the kids. By the last couple of days, my students started showing up early for class because they were so excited to learn. Overall, I had an amazing time during this volunteer program.
Hsieh, Justin (謝杰凱)
My experience here at AID Summer 2016 has been absolutely life changing. I was originally planning on coming here to have the opportunity to teach english and explore Taiwan but it realized it was much more than that. This program has taught me to be more confident and work cohesively with others. It has shown me that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. From the first week of training to the last week of touring, AID has been full of memories and lessons I will cherish forever. The incredible people that I met during the program have become great friends of mine and will surely remain in the future. During the first week the program was definitely more stressful and hectic than I expected. I learned much about teaching and the culture of Taiwan. However, I wished it was more organized. One the website was down for pretty much most of the program so information was hard to get around. Also, during some sessions I did not feel like I learned much because of a disorderly presentations. Overall, I feel like the first week can be improved with more planning and discussion.
The two weeks I taught in GuanMiao were fun, stressful, and instructive. I taught fourth and fifth graders who had basic english and could understand little. They could speak and write well but not read and comprehend. During the two weeks my partner Erica and I taught everything from American Holidays to Basket Weaving with our main focus of vocabulary and sentence structures in mind. We implemented interactive fun games as well as enjoyable activities. My coach for the school was strict but very caring and instructive. I felt like I learned much from her but there were times when it got really heated and confusing with her instructions and suggestions for teaching. My class overall improved much over the two weeks and became very interested in learning English. Many of them I believe will become very successful in the future. Through my two weeks there I learned to become a leader, organized individual, and collaborative person. I learned to communicate more effectively and improve my chinese as well. My experience here at AID will be unforgettable and inspirational.
Huang, Emily (黃正芳)

To be honest, after studying and not doing well in college for what seems like a long time, I started to forget the reason I had come to my dream school. I forgot what my dreams were and what I truly wanted to achieve. I was losing hope. However, meeting the students in Neifu Junior High gave me the motivation to strive not only in school but in life again. My class was very respectful and they looked at us like we were superstars. With their outlook towards me, I decided to work harder to deserve the respect they are giving.

Most students in Taiwan are very respectful of teachers. I do not get a lot of respect normally, so it felt great to be with such mature and obedient students. I am usually childish and do not know if I can be a cool teacher, but I was glad I was able to be comical during class by being active. Since we lived in school, it would be very exciting when the student lurked around our room just to take selfies and hang out. I felt so special. During class trip to the Big City and Science Museum, I was able to take work with a smaller group and develop a stronger relationship with the students. On the last day being with them during the closing ceremony, the students have revealed that they had made cards and a ten-minute video dedicated to the six teachers. It was very touching. I wish the supervisors extended our time together. It was not the best, but I was really glad to see them perform the dance taught.

Chen, Jeffrey (陳澤雷)
When I first started this program, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I could get by without being able to read traditional Chinese -- I had forgotten most of what I learned in Chinese school, and I had only learned simplified characters. After a few difficulties in the beginning, though, I found teaching to be a very memorable and enjoyable experience. The students were very fun to teach and to play with during recess time. I also became very good friends with my teaching group. I am sure that AID will be an experience that I will always remember.
Liang, Deric (梁珛琛)
I spent my two teaching weeks teaching at Hot Springs Elementary School in Taitung. From this experience, I expected to gain confidence, volunteer hours, and a better sense of myself. Many of these expectations were fulfilled, but many others were also completely contradicted.
One way that my expectations were fulfilled was that the kids could prove to be quite difficult sometimes. I taught the lowest skill level of kids, so it was hard to communicate with many of them; one kid did not understand any English whatsoever. This was hard for me to deal with, since my Chinese abilities are not spectacular. Thankfully, my teaching partner was very fluent in Chinese. In addition, the kids could be very insistent on getting their way. For example, one particular kid gave me a hard time because she would ask for plenty of unreasonable requests, and then fake cry every time she did not get what she wanted. I dealt with this by ignoring her, but looking back on it, I feel like I was a little mean. My brashness also came through when the kids would argue with each other, as I ended up yelling plenty of times at them. However, I realize that my actions were uncalled for, and I feel that I have learned more about temper management. This experience has met my expectations in the hours I have gained and the life skills I have learned to be confident.
However, many of my expectations were not met. For example, although I knew that there would be a lot of stress during the teaching weeks, my group had disagreements on how to prepare for classes. Some group mates wanted to do quite a substantial amount of work, but me and a few others agreed that it would be better to create games and be flexible with our teaching. The amount of stress and the amount of teamwork needed to get through the two weeks exceeded my expectations. Teaching was also quite difficult, because we needed to come up with many activities to do in order to keep the kids engaged; they become bored a lot easier than I thought they would. There was also a lot of unnecessary pressure from the higher-ups in the school that made the experience less enjoyable. Many of them kept telling us that what we were doing in our classes was not good enough, especially regarding the closing ceremony plans. However, none of these teachers were clear on what they expected, and none of them were in the classroom to tell us what we should fix. This led to a large amount of last minute adjustments to plans. This pressure also caused us to work for approximately six hours each night on plans, instead of resting and taking advantage of the hot springs at the hotel. Although I had been let down in these aspects, I have learned more about what teachers have to go through and how to gauge workload for various tasks.
All in all, this experience has met many of my expectations and fell short of them. However, I am grateful for this experience because I have gotten a chance to help out kids in need and to make a small difference in the world. I have also learned how to work with others, and have learned about myself.
Yang, Raymond (楊睿孟)
Starting out, I was not sure about teaching kids. I know that I am not a very amiable person and that I prefer quiet and order, two things kids definitely are not. But over the course of the past 2 weeks, the kids in the class definitely changed my mind. They were definitely very rowdy, but they were also very responsive to instructions. I could tell they were very eager to learn English, which made the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. It is a lot easier to teach students who are engaged and willing to learn, since it is very difficult to persuade a kid to pay attention to what they are not interested in. Making the lesson plans was very difficult, since we know they are not elementary school level, but the material they need to learn is. It was always a challenge to balance the difficulty of what we can teach with material interesting enough to hold their attention. Teaching the students was fun though, seeing the lesson plans work or fail, learning from the previous ones, and adapting to the students reactions. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed the past few weeks, and I will definitely miss the students and friends I have made. Will definitely try to keep in touch with everyone.
Wilson, Isabella (威霓玉)
My experience in Taiwan has been unlike anything else and one I will cherish forever. The AID program gave me the opportunity to explore the country my mother grew up in and discover my culture.

When I first saw my school was located in New Taipei City relief washed through me. Further exploration into its location revealed to me my school was in the mountains and the closest 7/11 was a 40 minute drive away.

Arriving at the front steps of You Mu Municipal Elementary School, I was filled with dread. Branches cluttered the ground from the typhoon, bugs flew at us one after another, and there was no escape.

The first day of teaching the children was horrible. I remember the stress of dealing with children who would not listen as well as a physical altercation. Teaching gradually got easier as the week passed as I had become familiar with the children and their ways of learning.

Teaching the children at You Mu was incredible. Though my school’s location was not ideal, the children were wonderful to work with. It was really refreshing to be at You Mu, where we slept in sleeping bags on the library floor and had outdoor showers because it reminded me of how privileged I am.

Being at You Mu made me a stronger person for it taught me how to better endure. It also helped me face my fear of bugs. Teaching made me realize the incredible hardships teachers go through and made me fully appreciate all my former teachers.
Kao, Eileen (高愛林)
When I first went into the program, I didn't expect to have any lasting or meaningful memories since this seemed like it was a program that anyone who wanted to sign up for could get into. Coming out this program though, I think that I can definitely say that AID is a very career and friendship changing program for me. Arriving at Chien Tan, I didn't know what to expect since I was rooming with 3 other girls and it seemed that I would have to wear a uniform everyday. Within a matter of hours though, I grew close to the girls in my group/room and several other students who were also teaching in the region that I was in. Although I found learning week to be absolutely tedious and there are many teaching tactics that I disagree with that AID seems to promote, I got through the learning week with the help of my wonderful new friends. The hundreds of restrictions that AID seems to have made it also a bit hard to tough through the first week though since I am a college student who is able to take care of myself and these restrictions seemed next to pointless. I assume the restrictions were there mainly for the younger high school students. Teaching in Huwei was such a wonderful experience though. Yunlin itself as a town is so rich in culture since the food is great, there are many cute little spots to see, and the people are super warm hearted. Steven, our teacher provided us with all of the resources and knowledge that we would need unlike the training week which I do not feel like prepared us at all for the program. The students were very shy at first to meet all of us volunteers, but they grew to really love us and we love them too. The most important thing that I really learned from teaching the students in Yunlin is that you really don't get a choice in who you decide to teach. Our classes all had mixed levels which meant that we would have to tailor lessons so that all kids would at least learn something from our lessons. The students were all very eager to learn at the start of the second week of school. Our school also brought us to many different places nearby such as Chimei Museum which really helped showed me even more parts of Taiwan. I think that teaching without AC though was really a learning experience and I think it was great just to see the different lifestyle that a teacher would have teaching in Taiwan. Overall, I think that I had an amazing time teaching Chungder Middle School and because they treated us so well, I definitely plan to visit the school my next time in Taiwan. The tour I think though would've been much better had there been less stops since we would be able to spend more time at each point.
Lam, Sophia (林焯然)
Hey everyone! My name is Sophia Lam. I’m from Long Island, New York. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have been given to participate in this AID summer program this year. It has been a pleasure to meet new people and spend my summer with everyone in Taiwan!!! Getting started on the first week from orientation, opening ceremony, preparing lesson plans and working journals, classroom activities, teaching demos, group discussions, and competitions for teams that get to go to Shilin Night Market was itself an unimaginable experience. During the following two weeks in Beipu Junior High School, I have made many everlasting friendships and bonds with my students and my teachers. Taipei and Beipu are beautiful, wonderful, and spectacular! I’m glad to experience the truly unique culture of Taiwan. I learned how to make Hakka cloth, Hakka straw, and Hakka food (vegetable buns). The weather was really hot, but I had so much fun regardless. Exploring Hsinchu County, going to Big City, learning how to brew tea, and visiting many more night markets are just some eventful activities and places I have been to. I love my kind-hearted family and really appreciate them for taking care of me for two weeks. Two weeks flew by way too fast. I am forever grateful for all the memories and laughter. Saying goodbye so many times to so many people this summer was the hardest and saddest part. Last but not least, the Southern Tour with Bus D was extraordinary. The perfectly planned itinerary is worth noting. Attractions and places such as Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, Dream Mall, Aboriginal Culture experience in Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village, and Feng Chia Night Market were fascinating. The changing of hotels every day during the tour was an interesting experience as well. I will miss drinking bubble tea every day, going to seven eleven for the air conditioner, eating fruit ice pops and the unforgettable smell of stinky tofu. This program has given me the opportunity to challenge myself to speak out and to learn to be more independent. It’s been a great long summer month full of indescribable experiences. I have learned lifelong values and hope to visit Taiwan again!
Lin, Angela (林芷萁)
This summer I attended AID summer 2016. This has been an amazing experience and I would go back in time just to live it again. Seeing about 450 other students who were just like me was overwhelming. Although I did not get to meet everyone, I became very close with my own group. I taught at Dong Rong Guo Xiao at Yunlin. I loved every second of it. The kids showed up happy and eager to learn. They quickly sucked up all the information we threw at them and turned it into their own. We had a closing ceremony at the end and I was happy to teach them a choreographed dance and the cup song. We had so much fun dancing and singing. Living in Taiwan was a whole other experience. Between the 8 volunteers and 1 teacher, we had to share one shower. Every night the contests and games we played to be the first one to shower made it so much fun. Every night we prepared the next day’s material. As a group, we shared ideas that different teachers used in their own classes. When the teaching ended, we were quickly pushed to a bus to start our tour. The tour was so much fun. There were a few locations that were slow paced but some places had breathtaking views. Sun Moon Lake was breathtaking. The pictures we took there were amazing. The aquarium we went to had penguins, sharks, seals and many other fishes. The aboriginal theme park we went to showcased a lot of culture while including fun rides. The dream mall we went to was truly a dream mall filled with endless shops. Miramar was so big and I wish we got to stay longer. Overall, I loved everything about AID summer. If I had the chance I would go back to Dong Rong to visit everyone!
Yam, Aaron (任偉恩)
I felt that my experience here with AID Summer was extremely fun and educating at the same time. The first week at Chientan was great in that we were able to meet people from all walks of life and bond closely with them through the teaching seminars and at meals. The two weeks at the assigned school was awesome, but short lived. Initially the children were too shy to participate in class and refused to talk at all. Gradually as we talked more with them and got to know them on a deeper level, they opened up to us inside and outside of class. They are all very eager to learn, but because of the different style of teaching they are used to, it took a long time to adjust to. However, soon after adjusting, their progress in English grew exponentially. Unfortunately, the program was too short and the teachers and students had to part ways before they wanted to. It was hard saying good bye to the students I have bonded so well with over the past two weeks. The tour week was also very fun. I was glad to have seen so much of Taiwan that I never would have expected to see. Once again I was able to meet more people from the program and bond with them. Thank goodness for the schedule otherwise we would be stuck in one place for the whole day. The counselors during Chientan and the tour were really nice and open to casual conversation. Because of this, the trip was even more enjoyable. All together, the AID program was fun, safe, and extremely memorable!
Lee, Harrison (李猷)
After training at Chientan and being sent to my host school, I was anxious to begin teaching at first. It seemed like the students did not understand anything I was trying to say, even if I spoke the simplest of words. I was worried that they would find the lessons and activities boring. I realized that just being prepared and maintaining an energetic attitude contributes a lot to my effectiveness in the classroom. Eventually, not only did the students begin to respect me, but I began to develop unique bonds with every one of them. I realized they would take me seriously if I followed through with my statements, which would maintain both order in the classroom and our relationships. I wish we could teach them more English, because I truly believe that the students are eager to learn. During my time teaching the children, I was looking aiming to not only teach them English, but also show them that the world is so much more colorful and free than just piles of exams and boring textbooks. Teaching the students made me realize how truly great it was to be fluent in both Chinese and English. Because I have a working knowledge of both languages, I have been able to help more young people than I would have otherwise. I hope that through my passion for teaching, I have opened new doors for my students that they will be willing to exploit in the future. Perhaps one day, they will become competent in English, and accomplish amazing things. I will truly miss them all and am looking forward to staying in touch with them for the years to come.

Overall, AID 2016 changed my life in ways I never imagined. It is so impressive how much everyone has accomplished during this short month. But what is even more amazing, is the amount of love we all found for each other. I remember the first day when we were all strangers. Then there was yesterday, when all 450 of us cried together, not willing to leave. Throughout this time, I met people who I know I will never forget. I found friends that I know will always be there. And as for my students, I'm so touched that I made a profound impact on their lives. And even if we're on opposite sides of the globe, somehow our bonds will bring us back together one day.
Thank you AID for blessing me with this experience. I am forever grateful.

Yeh, Jewel (葉祖兒)
At first, this program was not what I had expected it to be. I have done programs like this and it had been with small groups of people. Honestly, I wanted to back out of this program because it was so strict and made me feel locked in a cage. After, I met really nice people and they made me feel included and it didn’t feel like a cage much after.
After being assigned to a school, I didn’t know what to expect. Not only did the school surprise me but, the people and the kids gave me so much love. I am so happy that I was assigned to 大南國小. The teacher, directors, and principal were so nice and made me feel like I was part of their family. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to lead us through these tough days. We stayed up late making lessons, finish writing working journals and reflections, and having to discuss the games and activity we should include in our lessons. I have learned to have a lot of patience, not just with the kids and with the people I work with. I am so glad that I was paired with an awesome teaching partner and had worked with such amazing people.
Coming here and now, leaving here gives me all different kinds of feelings. The feeling I got when I came was that I wouldn’t like it but, close to leaving here, I feel so connected with the people I work with and have so many memories I don’t want to leave. Thank you for giving me these experiences and I am so glad that I got a chance to participate in this program.
Chen, Shannon (陳其華)
Coming into AID, I was looking forward to the tour more than teaching. However, these past three weeks at Chientan and Guan Miao Elementary have been truly unforgettable and life-changing. Being a more introverted person, I was a little nervous about meeting my group, but they turned out to be the funniest and greatest group of people I have ever met.
The first hurdle was the week at Chientan. There were hours upon hours of lectures and many rules that had to be followed. Fortunately, my group was able to bond over the common struggles of training week.
When we finally arrived at Guan Miao, it was like reaching heaven. We were immediately greeted with warm welcomes and smiles. The amount of generosity that they had for us truly touched my heart. The school staff was always willing to help us without hesitation.
My partner and I were fortunate enough to get the more well behaved class in our school. I was surprised by their willingness and interest in English. They always came into class with smiles and open attitudes toward the lessons and games.
Saying goodbye to everyone in Guan Miao was heartbreaking. It was not until we completely left Guan Miao that I realized how much I would miss it. Although I may never see any of them again, I will always remember the impact that they had on me.
Tsai, Annie (蔡安妮)
“We are family” echoed in the auditorium of Chientan Youth Activity Center during the AID (Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages) opening ceremony and resonates with me today. Through the four-week program, I gained a precious family who helped me grow and explore my Taiwanese-American identity. Coming into AID, I was both excited and nervous as I did not have much teaching experience. The week-long training at Chientan and teaching workshops prepared me well to teach at Ruifang Junior High School in New Taipei City.
AID encouraged me to “try everything”, a motivational phrase reinforced by the program’s theme song, and experiment with different teaching styles and techniques. My teaching partner and I had to modify and reinforce our lesson plans that we created during training week as we found ourselves with extra time in class and students at different English levels. It was challenging to manage the classroom at times, but with the help of my two wonderful teaching assistants, my teaching partner and I came up with incentives, such as a point system and candy, and fun call-and-response ideas, such as “great white shark; please be quiet” and “attention; one, two,” to obtain the students’ attention. From playing interactive games in class to making sticky Rice Krispies to performing a dance to “Fight Song” at the closing ceremony, I was proud to see the students’ improvement in English and their higher marks on the post-test. Over the two weeks of teaching at Ruifang, the students overcame their shyness and grew into confident individuals willing to participate and interact in English. Not only was I teaching the students, but also the students were teaching me Taiwanese culture and language. Besides discovering my love for Taiwanese music, I strengthened my bilingual abilities and impressed Ruifang locals with Taiwanese greetings and phrases taught by my students. The students inspired me to be more confident, to maintain youthful energy, and to stay curious. Exchanging different cultural experiences and creating lasting memories together helped Ruifang Junior High School students, staff, the other seven volunteer teachers, and me become a tight-knit family.
Teaching English in Taiwan not only allowed me to give back to the community but also to experience and learn about Taiwanese culture. I enjoyed living in Ruifang and getting a taste of rural Taiwan. The various Ruifang High School field trips around New Taipei City and the one-week AID tour exploring central Taiwan showed me the breathtaking beauty of Taiwan. Thanks to the wonderful sponsors, I was spoiled with a variety of Taiwanese delicacies everyday, ranging from steamy mantou to beef noodles to mango shaved ice. I am very grateful to have spent my summer in Taiwan with the talented volunteer teachers, Ruifang Junior High School, and the AID guidance counselors and staff. Whenever I see a rainbow, I am reminded of Ruifang Junior High School’s rainbow-shaped structure, my AID family and friends, and the challenging and rewarding experience of teaching.
Chang, Newstein (張新石)
Wow. I cannot believe how invaluable this experience was at AID. See, I’m majoring in Education, and this program has taught me the very lessons that are essential to becoming an effective teacher.

I learned my weaknesses. I thank AID for this, because those who don’t know their weaknesses can’t improve at all. I learned my weakness in teamwork; I struggled in having patience and easily reconciling with my teaching partner. I also realized how ineffective I was at classroom management. Instead of keeping my calm, at many points I lashed out in anger at my students in a stern, merciless tone. There are many more to list, but the point is: I am so far from becoming a good teacher. This is a lesson that is necessary for teachers, because if they don’t ever realize they need to refine their abilities, they will not become better.

Despite the shortcomings, AID has also taught me the precious value of teaching. Boy, did I miss my students when we had to leave! It was a heartbreaking moment to finally say goodbye; the connections were established between the teacher and the student; the love was created; a relationship was born. Seeing the kids improve and finally get something right, or learning more about them and how valuable each child is and their education—that is what teachers reap after sowing in many hours of late nights, eye bags, and gallons of coffee. Teaching is a well-worth-it career.

Teaching notwithstanding, I had a blast going on the tour and creating bonds with my peers. The Ruifang Junior High School team especially grew very close to each other, and I am grateful that AID let us meet each other. Aside from my group, I met really amazing people that I know I will be missing after the tour is over.

If there ever is a piece of advice I could give to AID, it would be this: the camp counselors can just be a little more lax during the tour; we aren’t war criminals. I very much appreciate the care that you have for all us volunteers, but we could use just a little more freedom.
Also, for the 500th time, please work on the Wi-Fi :)

Cheng, Chelsea (鄭詠詩)
Everyone’s experience is different. I happen to find the two weeks teaching at Neihu Junior High rewarding and life changing. I learned so much about the Taiwanese culture and I definitely appreciate teachers in a whole new perspective. The first week had us prepared for the worst, the teachers made us believe that these kids would be uncooperative. It was the exact opposite, we had kids introducing themselves before we even started the two weeks. There was six of us and three classes of around 15 students, two in each class. Your impression really does matter on the first day because it really does shape the way your class acts for the next two weeks. Each class scarily matched our own personalities in a way. One class would be wild and rowdy, another class would be calm and quiet and our class was quiet but outgoing. There is a large workload for those with older students. There were seven periods, each 45 minutes long. Each period is a challenge because you can go through a powerpoint in 20 minutes and games maybe 10 minutes. There is a lot of improvising and a lot of backup worksheets, activities and powerpoints in case there’s time left over. Right after school and the meeting with our supervisor, our group would just go back to the room and sleep. Our living conditions were not the best, we slept on the floor in one of the rooms, we had to shower in the principal’s office and there was a TON of bugs but it really matters which school you’re placed in. At night, the school looked like it’d be a perfect set for a horror movie. Despite all the workload and the living conditions, the kids really do make a difference. We were barely bothered by it once it came down to the students because they’re all that mattered to us. I’m actually really surprised to how much we bonded with the students in two short weeks. The last day was the absolute worst, the faculty members did not give us any time after the closing ceremony to say goodbyes. We had to leave the school and have our lunch with the faculty members. We were all whiplashed by the way they handled our goodbyes and I think our group would all agree to ditch the lunch and just hang with the students if we were given a choice. The two weeks teaching at Neihu Junior High was truly an impacting experience.

Lien, Anching (連安晴)
When i first arrived at Jian tan in the beginning of July, I really did not know what to expect. Last year I had come to taiwan on a missions trip with my church to teach English in Jia Yi and truly enjoyed the experience. I was able to connect with the children and teach them a lot. This year, I was happy to have been able to do the same at ping tung with my group. I learned a lot not only about the cultural background of Taiwan but also he aboriginal roots of Taiwanese natives. I had the opportunity to teach at timur elementary school where the majority of the students are of aboriginal descent. I was also touched by the childrens eagerness to learn English despite not having any prior exposure to the language. they were extremely eager and seemed to enjoy every second of the classes. I was also happy I was able to serve as a role model for them and inspire them to learn more English. Although the time we spent with the children was short and we may not have covered a lot of material, they were learning every second of the two weeks we spent with them and also had fun. Our group mainly used games and activities to teach in order to keep the kids engaged and we found this to be the best method. For the kids, it was a different experience from their usual classes.
Tair, Alison (邰双荃)
My time in this summer program can be described with one word-- unforgettable. I will be the first one to admit that I was absolutely petrified to leave for a month to a foreign place and be forced to live with absolute strangers, but little did I know that those strangers would become my best friends. After instantly clicking with my teaching group, I felt reassured of my potential as a teacher and abilities as a fellow volunteer. We were such a spirited group and I was so fortunate to be paired with such amazing people-- each one gifted with a unique talent, each one offering different pieces to our family-like puzzle. The teaching portion of the program was definitely a highlight. I couldn't have predicted how much little 8 year olds would actually impact my life. Yes, I lashed out at times to get them to listen but for the most part, their smiles and adorable laughs got the best of me. I couldn't help but get attached to these kids-- I wanted them to learn, to be inspired, to want to travel the world, to crave intellect, and to wonder and remain curious. Although they may not retain every single vocabulary word, I can confidently say that we gave English a new connotation, where it's not something textbook and tested but something viable and life changing. I'm going to miss seeing the kids faces when we say the word "game time" and especially miss their expressions when we say "lunch time," but what I'm going to miss most is the simple endeavor of waking up, teaching a class, and ending the day with friends while creating the next day's lesson plan-- it has been an incredible ride and I can only hope that I will be able to experience something like this again.