2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Toronto
# Center
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4 Toronto
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1 Auckland
Yang, Amy (楊艾)
My time Mudan Middle School was a very enjoyable and heart warming experience. I made new friendships with the students, and made more bonds that I didn't believe that I could have.

After these two weeks I can only hope that the students learned as much for me as I did from them. I personally feels like 2 weeks is not enough time to even begin picking up a language nor enough time to get to know each student well individually. In the future, I hope to continue to interact with disadvantaged communities locally at home, or globally abroad.

I believe that treating everyone with respect is the best thing that can ever be done- and not looking down on anyone because of their upbringing or background. This program has reaffirmed that. Kids are kids no matter where they are and no matter what circumstances they have to grow up in. Like every other child, they need motivation, opportunities and their basic needs addressed so that they can flourish to their potential. I am sincerely going to miss every one of my students greatly and hope to reunite with them one day. I do not know what the future holds for them, or what hardships they may face, but I know that each one of them can have the chance to become someone great.
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Wei, William (魏加華)
AID Reflection
Over the course of the two weeks, we had many field trips that the students enjoyed. For the first week, we went to places such as the Chinese Petroleum Company, and the Kaohsiung Wetlands. The Wetlands Field Trip was fairly successful, but the students were very bored during the introduction speech. Some of the students said that they had already been on the trip several times and that they did not want to go on the trip again. We tried to make it more exciting by talking with the students over the course of the trip and promising exciting activities when the students come back to the classroom. Overall, the trip to the wetlands was fun, despite the fact that the park wasn’t really a wetland.
In class, we play the game “Scrabble,” which encouraged students to learn and form new words by combining letters. The students were fairly eager to play because they would receive points for their words. During the game, however, many students were loud. We tried to fix it by standing close to the students and calmly telling them to quiet down.
We also folded an origami frog, which went well with the theme of wetlands that we planned for today. The origami frog was difficult to fold, but we were able to get the children to fold decent frogs with some aid. The origami took up a lot of time, but the students laughed and had lots of fun.
During spare time, we continued listening to and learning “Counting Stars.” We plan on having the students sing and dance to this song during the final closing ceremony. Most of the students now know most of the song. We plan on having the students learn simple choreography for the song next week.
Today, we did not have worksheets because my computer broke down and the worksheets were on it. However, we were able to do activities that did not involve the worksheets. The Scrabble game took the place of the lesson on Wetlands that we planned on doing and the “Capture the Flag” game took the place of our word search. Next time, we will copy our worksheets to our USB immediately after we finish them to prevent a situation like this from occurring again. Despite the technical difficulties, we had a successful class today and the students enjoyed it.
Overall, the week went pretty well. The students were very nice and they listened to us most of the time. We rewarded the students whenever they answered questions with points. Through the course of the week, the students wanted to participate more and more. Today, the students were very engaged and enjoyed talking with one another (sometimes to the point of being a nuisance with the case of Jessi, Wilson, and Michael). However, they are manageable and listen when I speak to them about their behavior. We gave out prizes to everyone in the class today and gave extra pencils to the team with the most amount of points. We plan on continuing to use the point system over the course of the next week.
Today we used the audio visual room to rehearse for the closing ceremony. We were able to get the kids to perform the song in its entirety without our help. This showed that the students are capable of quickly learning the dance. Since we added the dance the day before the final performance, we were surprised that they were able to perform it fairly decently. We got Michael and Wilson to use the Tambourines to add to the atmosphere of the song. This worked to an extent, but they were not very confident in their playing. However, we were able to get the students to sing the higher octave, which made the song sound better and be more confident. Overall, we prepared the students well for the final closing ceremony.
During the time in-between, we used got the students to make giant paper airplanes. The students made designs on the paper airplanes. We forced each student to write at least one phrase and draw one picture on the paper airplane of his or her group. The two groups then flew their planes. This helped the students build teamwork and cooperation skills. The students really enjoyed flying the airplanes and the TV reporters enjoyed filming us.
The actual closing ceremony went surprisingly well. The students began a little off-key but during the chorus, they were able to sing the song accurately (to an extent). We were really proud of them for all of their hard work. The Tambourines did indeed add to the overall feeling of the performance. The students were very nervous, but they seemed to have enjoyed it. We received applause, which signalled that our performance was not a shipwreck. We were glad that the audience liked our performance.
During the final period, we said our goodbyes to our students. They were sad to see us go, but they were glad that they had a fun two weeks with us. We handed out candy, stickers, prizes, and cards to the students. Many of the students wanted us to sign their cards, and so we did. We enjoyed talking with our students and sharing stories. It’s a shame that we must leave right as our students begin opening up to us. Despite this, we are really glad that we got to know these wonderful students and teach them English.
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Lim , Jie Min (林婕敏)
AID has been a very memorable experience and I am very happy I was given this opportunity. Through teaching English, I was able to discover a passion for teaching. My students were very kind and the school I taught at was not only welcoming but incredibly kind. They always tried to help fulfill our needs and has us a lot of opportunities to learn more about Hakka culture. I am very happy I decided to join this camp and I would recommend it to others who are considering a career in teaching. Although teaching was an amazing experience, I found that the tour was slightly unorganized with too much waiting time between trips. I got a headache that lasted 4 days from all the time we spent outside waiting in the heat. But, the counsellors were really nice and supportive which made the trip more enjoyable and fun. I think my favourite part of the trip was being able to create friendships with my students. I am looking forward to watching them grow as people in the future and will hopefully have the opportunity to visit them again next year. AID has helped me gain new friendships with my teaching partners and I hope to stay in contact with them in the future. This has been an amazing experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering a career in teaching, especially in a foreign country.
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Got, Matthew (葛子謙)
July 23, 2016

The two weeks at GanYuan proved to me my facilitation skills have improved since I was 20. Back in 2013, I was a nervous facilitator and I can see the 2013 me in a fellow teacher. My skills are not perfect and I know what I need to work on (patience), but I can see that I am able to control a group of students and lead activities to talk about a topic I know, without needing to overprepare. My personal goal was to show myself I can do this and I am more confident I can now. Moving forward in my career, I need to be able to do presentations, lead seminars, etc on little notice while exuding confidence and expertise.

Who we are is an amalgamation of our experiences and my ability to facilitate is a product of spending time with Tanyss and Allison at BYTE picking up cues from them. Along the way I have also benefited from the job at the PsA clinic, giving me oral presentation opportunities twice this year. The podcast I listened to this week on mental mapping this week suggests that thoughts that are reactive to situations go between present and past, good and bad. Negative thoughts that are irrational can be countered by a cognitive reframing that involves bringing up past experiences that were similar and have positive results. These two weeks have given me an experience that I can use in the future whenever I need to facilitate.

This experiences highlights the importance of finding strategies that work for the audience and tailoring for them. The clapping to draw attention and points system were the cornerstone to maintaining any resemblance of order. Also, many times it was frustrating when it seemed the students were horsing around and not listening but the real reason was because they didn’t understand the instructions. The importances of communicating and making sure that the communication is clear cannot be overstated. When the students understood how the games worked, they were always a lot more involved. It is more important to try again and find creative ways to explain the concept rather than push along with disregard for the lack of understanding then blame the students unfairly. The relay game we tried on day one was difficult for the students to understand when we verbally explained to them even in Mandarin, perhaps they have never played such a game in the class. However, when we shared our vision of the game by acting it out, they caught on quickly.

The change I experienced in the living situation is also interesting. The first week I played a lot of boardgames at night and would hang out until I sleep but the second week not so much. This is interesting because our group became more connected this second week rather than me shutting off. I still don’t have the answer. Perhaps the first week I felt the need to put more of an effort to get to know everyone and then by second week I resorted back to introvertedness? I also felt lower energy levels during the days in the second week. Was this a cause of my needing more alone time to recharge?

Ultimately, my main goal of doing the teaching abroad program was to get some new experiences that I couldn’t otherwise get doing research in Toronto. While there may have been more resume-geared activities even within Taiwan, I hope what I have done is fairly unique. It is impossible to pen all the cultural intricacies that I have picked up on and transformations that may be happening to me, but if I was to pick one, I see myself becoming more present and accepting of circumstances I find myself in and less needing to control the future and micromanaging small details because if I learned one thing from teaching, the plan is exactly that, just a plan, and so many factors influence the execution.

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Lin, Georgia (林耘非)
My time as a volunteer English teacher in Hualien, Taiwan was an absolutely eye-opening and enriching experience. From being immersed in the lifestyle to learning more about the Hakka culture, it was an amazing time that I wish I could relive. My most memorable moment as teacher was when one of the students started to take initiative in writing sentences, while others were just doing the assignment itself. The task was to draw a picture of Taiwan and write a sentence about where in the world the students want to visit, and while everyone responded with good answers, one student went above and beyond. He asked questions about how to write phrases like “I wish to travel the world”, and I thought it was fantastic that he had such big dreams and aspirations. I was so proud of everyone when they were finished the assignment, but it warmed my heart to know that the children were branching out and wanting to learn more about English and how to communicate their thoughts at a young age. Overall, teaching English to these brilliant, motivated kids who wanted to participate and play and laugh every day was a momentous journey that I will never forget.
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Tsai, Chung Yu (蔡宗諭)
The island of Taiwan was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aborigines before Han Chinese began immigrating to the island in the 17th century. European settlements and the Kingdom of Tungning were established shortly before China annexed the island. Taiwan was later ceded to Japan in 1895 after China was defeated in war. While Taiwan was under Japanese rule, the Republic of China (ROC) was established on the mainland in 1912. After Japan's surrender in 1945, the ROC took governance of Taiwan. However, the ROC lost control of the mainland to the Communists during the Chinese Civil War. In 1949, the Communist Party of China took full control of the mainland and founded the People's Republic of China (PRC). The ROC government fled to Taiwan, but has since continued to claim to be the legitimate government of all of China. Effective ROC jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands, with the main island making up 99% of its de facto territory. The ROC continued to represent China at the United Nations until 1971, when the PRC assumed China's seat via Resolution 2758, causing the ROC to lose its UN membership. International recognition of the ROC gradually eroded as most countries switched their "China" recognition to the PRC. 21 UN member states and the Holy See currently maintain official diplomatic relations with the ROC. However, numerous other states maintain unofficial ties through representative offices via institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Afterwards, due to the One-China policy, diplomats around the world avoid mentioning the Republic of China's official name and instead use "Taiwan", the name of the island the ROC is currently based in, to refer to the ROC. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Taiwan transitioned from a military dictatorship with a one party system of governance dominated by the Kuomintang to a multi-party system with universal suffrage.(Wikipedia, 2016)
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Chen, Morris (陳奕安)
Day 1:
The class was very quiet. We could have encouraged the students to talk and participate more. At some points, some students were talking when they weren’t supposed to but we were able to calm them down by standing next to them or by talking and using eye contact. Some of the games were not that successful because the students didn’t talk as loudly.
We could have done better to estimate the amount of time it would take to go through our activities. We were able to have no left-over time, but some of the activities were excessively drawn-out. In the future, we could try to write the estimated time that each activity would take in our working journal.
The students were most likely shy and afraid to make mistakes. Establishing that this classroom is a friendly environment where mistakes can be made would be beneficial to class participation. In the future, we should work towards encouraging participation and discourage students from poking fun at one another.
Day 2:
The class was quiet during class yet energetic during break time. We took a new approach to harness this energy. We took the 15 students in the class and divided them up into 3 groups of 5 people, keeping them relatively well matched in competence. These groups earn points for participating, with 1 points awarded for a correct answer and another for volunteering to answer a question. Students started to participate more because of this.
We also engaged the students on the topic of food by watching the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, where they hear English with Chinese subtitles to easily pick up the language. Some students enjoyed the movie while others were on the verge of falling asleep.
We also brought the students out to the field to do some outdoors activities. The students seem to find that fun, although it was rather hot outside.
Day 3:
We got the students to listen and sing Counting Stars, the song that they will be performing in the Closing Ceremony. They were quiet at first, due to shyness, so they sang very quietly. But because they know and love the song, after a few repetitions, the students began to sing it more loudly.
An unusual event jumpstarted student activity in the classroom. With the celebration of a teacher’s birthday, the students became more active and sang happy birthday. In hindsight, this probably let the students feel as if though teachers are human too, making them more willing to speak up during class.
Students however, are getting a little noisy in class when they should be silent. This was resolved by having one of the teachers walk over to their seats and tapping their heads if needed. However, if more severe misbehaviours or infractions are committed, it would be best to let the AID coach know or separate the students in the classroom.
Day 4:
Today we tried playing two simple games: the popular hangman game and a game of Morris’s own creation. Both of these helped review the vocabulary that the students have learned since the beginning of the AID program. The students were really engaged. as there is a point system incorporated with the games. The teams were created to be fair by English ability, but one team is emerging as a more competent as the other two, so by modifying the game rules while keeping the consistency of awarding points, the teams’ points are relatively close to one another.
Day 5:
The Wetlands Field Trip was fairly successful, but the students were very bored during the introduction speech. Some of the students said that they had already been on the trip several times and that they did not want to go on the trip again. We tried to make it more exciting by talking with the students over the course of the trip and promising exciting activities when the students come back to the classroom. Overall, the trip to the wetlands was fun, despite the fact that the park wasn’t really a wetland.
In class, we play the game “Scrabble,” which encouraged students to learn and form new words by combining letters. The students were fairly eager to play because they would receive points for their words. During the game, however, many students were loud. We tried to fix it by standing close to the students and calmly telling them to quiet down.
We also folded an origami frog, which went well with the theme of wetlands that we planned for today. The origami frog was difficult to fold, but we were able to get the children to fold decent frogs with some aid. The origami took up a lot of time, but the students laughed and had lots of fun.
During spare time, we continued listening to and learning “Counting Stars.” We plan on having the students sing and dance to this song during the final closing ceremony. Most of the students now know most of the song. We plan on having the students learn simple choreography for the song next week.
Today, we did not have worksheets because my (Will’s) computer broke down and the worksheets were on it. However, we were able to do activities that did not involve the worksheets. The Scrabble game took the place of the lesson on Wetlands that we planned on doing and the “Capture the Flag” game took the place of our word search. Next time, we will copy our worksheets to our USB immediately after we finish them to prevent a situation like this from occurring again. Despite the technical difficulties, we had a successful class today and the students enjoyed it.
Overall, the week went pretty well. The students were very nice and they listened to us most of the time. We rewarded the students whenever they answered questions with points. Through the course of the week, the students wanted to participate more and more. Today, the students were very engaged and enjoyed talking with one another (sometimes to the point of being a nuisance with the case of Jessi, Wilson, and Michael). However, they are manageable and listen when I speak to them about their behavior. We gave out prizes to everyone in the class today and gave extra pencils to the team with the most amount of points. We plan on continuing to use the point system over the course of the next week.
Day 6:
Today, the students went on two field trips: a rescue helicopter tour and a coast guard briefing. Students learned about rescuing forces in Taiwan.
In class we learned the components of a helicopter and because of this, when the students went to the field trip, they were able to name the helicopter components.
We had to talk to one student about his behaviour in the classroom, and the student has improved his behaviour.
Day 7:
Today two students were absent, so we abandoned the idea of dancing for the closing ceremony as there is not enough time to start rehearsing for dances. Students will sing for the closing ceremony.
Day 8:
Today, we practiced singing Counting Stars, the song the students are performing for the closing ceremony. We used a worksheet to test the students to see whether or not they knew the lyrics. We also taught holidays.
Day 9:
Today we practiced in the audio visual room for the closing ceremony. During the rehearsals we added actions and dance moves to our performance. We also added a tambourine instrumental part for further emphasis on the beat.
In class, we learned about various sports and their terminology. We had a worksheet on the different sports and their equipment. We watched a few videos of each sport, including Studio C’s Scott Sterling videos, which the class found very entertaining.
We brought the students outside to play in a water balloon fight. The kids enjoyed that thoroughly.
Day 10:
Today we used the audio visual room to rehearse for the closing ceremony. We were able to get the kids to perform the song in its entirety without our help. This showed that the students are capable of quickly learning the dance. Since we added the dance the day before the final performance, we were surprised that they were able to perform it fairly decently. We got Michael and Wilson to use the Tambourines to add to the atmosphere of the song. This worked to an extent, but they were not very confident in their playing. However, we were able to get the students to sing the higher octave, which made the song sound better and be more confident. Overall, we prepared the students well for the final closing ceremony.
During the time in-between, we used got the students to make giant paper airplanes. The students made designs on the paper airplanes. We forced each student to write at least one phrase and draw one picture on the paper airplane of his or her group. The two groups then flew their planes. This helped the students build teamwork and cooperation skills. The students really enjoyed flying the airplanes and the TV reporters enjoyed filming us.
The actual closing ceremony went surprisingly well. The students began a little off-key but during the chorus, they were able to sing the song accurately (to an extent). We were really proud of them for all of their hard work. The Tambourines did indeed add to the overall feeling of the performance. The students were very nervous, but they seemed to have enjoyed it. We received applause, which signalled that our performance was not a shipwreck. We were glad that the audience liked our performance.
During the final period, we said our goodbyes to our students. They were sad to see us go, but they were glad that they had a fun two weeks with us. We handed out candy, stickers, prizes, and cards to the students. Many of the students wanted us to sign their cards, and so we did. We enjoyed talking with our students and sharing stories. It’s a shame that we must leave right as our students begin opening up to us. Despite this, we are really glad that we got to know these wonderful students and teach them English.
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Dong, Jessie (董曉惠)
Overall, I'd say that the past few weeks were a learning experience. I learned how difficult it can be to put together a lesson plan. I learned how hard it can be for eleven year old students to grasp a second language. I learned about aboriginal and Taiwanese culture.

Although the students were going into 6th grade, their level of English was varied, and for the most part quite low. Some students found writing and spelling difficult. Most could only comprehend very simple sentences. Accommodating to each student's needs was a challenge. In the end, what mattered was ensuring that they had fun. It was impossible to drastically improve their English, and we soon realized that our job was to make them enthusiastic about English in the hope that they would continuing studying it in the future.

The best part about teaching was connecting with the students. A few of my students felt really comfortable talking to us. Knowing that they would remember me, or even keep in touch with me, made the experience worth it.

As someone of Chinese, not Taiwanese descent, I feel fortunate to have spent a month in Taiwan. I really enjoyed exploring the island during the tour week. Most of all, I am thankful to have met the people.


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Keomany, Celene (蔡詩琳)
The most memorable experience during the AID program was the third day during the first week. The first two days felt hectic albeit we had a plan, and this was because it took time to gauge the students’ interests and willingness to participate. Some issues arose, for example, the class was normally noisy and talkative and furthermore, participation decreased when speaking in English became involved. We were able to combat these challenges by developing solutions by assigning them a seating plan (which very effectively decreased the volume levels during teaching time) and making sure to provide a selection of back up games that correspond to the day’s topic in order to increase participation. Day three felt more organized and with these new solutions in mind the day went smoothly with few complaints. I feel that the one piece of advice I would tell someone else who wanted to teach in this program, or any younger class, is to be open with change and to always be flexible with a change of events or plans. Thought, t was common that games or lessons would either finish quickly with a lot of extra time available, therefore, having several plans is a necessity.
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Kwong, Amy (鄺藝兒)
For the AID program, I was unexpectedly assigned to teach middle school students. Having heard from friends about how cute and eager their elementary school students were, I was not completely enthusiastic about my assignment to older students. Even my teaching plan and the gifts I had purchased for the students were designed for younger students. Despite that, I was still looking forward to seeing the students.

Upon my first day of teaching, I was horrified to realize the situation my teaching partner and I were in. The students had a maturity fitting their age, but their English level was that of a young child, especially since they were living in a rural area without adequate resources for English learning. As a result, the students were shy and refused to speak to us or respond to questions. We ended the first day feeling disheartened and pessimistic about the entire program.

By Wednesday, we were at our wits end. The students would listen attentively to our teaching, but they would rarely, if ever, speak. Only several of them would repeat words or phrases, and they would never answer questions. We didn’t know how to engage them, and they seemed unhappy and bored with the program despite our best efforts.

Luckily, our teacher had a solution. The students were all part of the school’s bike club, and the teacher suggested that we go on a bike ride with them in order to bond and to learn more about their perspective as farmers. My partner and I were wary of how difficult the ride could be, but we agreed in order to bond with our class.

Amazingly, it worked! The students were impressed that we were willing to bike with them. They eagerly explained the different plants in the fields and the different methods used to farm them, and we tried to re-explain it to them with simple English. Although the bike ride was the hardest I’ve ever been on, with incredibly steep uphills and downhills, it was worth it to connect with the students in a meaningful way.

For the rest of the week, we took a different approach to teaching. We tried our best to keep the students engaged with projects and worksheets, instead of giving them lecture-style lessons and playing childish games that were too easy for them. It was much harder than our expectations, and it required much more work every night to plan lessons. The students were generally more interested and goal-oriented during the program, and we felt like we were making more of a good impression on them.

From this, I learned the importance of perseverance in the face of hardships. My students were a trying group, and I could have easily given up, choosing instead to continue boring, Powerpoint-based lessons. It would have been the easiest route for myself, and I could have left the students after two weeks of that without any repercussions.

By persevering through the students’ quiet demeanors and adapting to their style, we were able to teach the students more effectively and have a better experience for all. It’s important to work hard, even when it seems impossible. The results are always worth the effort!
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Yan, Janice (顏立昕)
Spending this past month volunteering with AID has allowed me to gain new and enriching experiences that taught me a multitude of valuable lessons. Throughout the weeks, there have been many ups and downs, but regardless of the situation, I always found a way to pull through and find a solution to the problem at hand. The most memorable one was when I lost Duncan, my favourite derpy stuffed wolf. When I first realized he was missing, I frantically dug through my duffel bag with no luck. I then called the hotel we stayed at the night before only to be told he was nowhere to be found. I was absolutely devastated. At first I was convinced I’d have to let go of my beloved Duncan but then I remembered that I should always “Try Everything” so I decided to call the hotel receptionist three times a day in hopes of finding the lost wolf. On the sixth call, the receptionist admitted that they did indeed have Duncan and after a dramatic negotiation, they agreed to ship Duncan back to me. It was the best moment of my life. From that day I learned that you should never give up on your hopes and dreams and that working hard will always pay off.

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Ye, Jimmy (葉宇豪)
This experience abroad has given me an opportunity to teach in a different environment and culture I am not accustomed to. I learned so much about classroom management, keeping lessons interesting and being more engaging to students and peers, and this will help me in my future volunteer and career endeavors.
I was also able to learn plenty about Taiwanese culture, and the tour locations were very eye opening and taught me so much about religion, history, modern culture, lifestyles, environment and customs of such a diverse and unique island. I definitely no longer see Taiwan as just a small island, but a large welcoming community with a rich history and upbringing.

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Huang, Lydia (黄文楨)
Being one of the older participants in AID with some teaching experience as a graduate teaching assistant and yoga instructor, I came to this summer program thinking that I already knew enough about teaching to lead a class well by myself. During the first week of teaching at Gan Yuan Middle School, out of the three co-teachers in my team, I became the most dominating teacher. I took control of how to run most of the periods and often gave instructions to my co-teachers. As we approached the end of the first week, I became exhausted and realized that I was not trusting my teammates. In turn, I needed to practice humility and to release the control that I had over my class and teammates. During the second week, my teammates led more of the classes while I witnessed a variety of classroom dynamics from which our students benefitted.
Looking back on those two weeks, one of things that has impressed me the most about my students were their awareness of cultural trends in other countries, such as in the U.S. and South Korea. I was particularly surprised that my students were fans of the show Adventure Time and knew about the John Cena meme. I was also able to bond with some of my female students who liked listening to Kpop. Despite these interests, I was cautious about teaching them that “in America, people do…” or “in Canada, people like…” as these statements may come with certain colonialist implications or have potential to perpetuate stereotypes. I believe that my co-teachers and I found a good balance between sharing what we grew up with and learning about our students’ interests. My hope for future AID participants is that they reflect on their own cultural baggage as expatriates to gain some awareness of how their words and class content can influence their students.

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