2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Maryland
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1 Auckland
Lee, Kira (李愷瑞)
-Children were initially very shy and afraid to speak up during class. They eventually became a lot more friendly and enthusiastic as they became more familiar with the teachers.
-It was hard to tell the difference between the students just mimicking other students or if they actually learned the material being taught. This was solved by calling on individuals and making sure to include enough practice with the words.
-At some points during the two weeks, it became difficult to control some of the students/the class as a whole. Asserting ones authority and emphasizing class rules or calling on the "bad guy" figure in the school kept the students under control.
-The students would get bored rather easily and would rather play. Including fun and interesting games that they haven't played before to practice the vocabulary was very effective. However, sometimes the students would be unwilling to play simply because they didn't know the rules even if the rules hadn't even been explained yet.
-The kids honestly are pretty ruthless towards their peers sometimes. They came up with some creative nicknames to bully other students. This was difficult to prevent, and even after reprimanding them they would sometimes continue.
-Using a points system and rewarding with candy was usually very effective
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Huang, Daniel (黃室偉)
AID changed me in many ways. From making the teaching plans, to teaching the children, to going on tour with my fellow volunteers, I have learned to be more active, more accepting, and it opened my eyes to Taiwan’s landscape, people, and culture. However, out of all the time in during this month, I found that interacting with the children was the greatest thing that I experienced. From pushing them on the swings, to running away from them as they tried to tackle me, to yelling at them during class, the children were the reason that I forced myself to wake up early every day and to go to sleep late making and rehearsing teaching plans. I found from the first day that the children were obnoxious and boisterous, and I was afraid that I would be unable to control them. Although I was relatively right for the first few days, the kids gradually got used to us teachers and were able to listen and respond to our questions, sometimes even enthusiastically. Although there were many days when I wished that they would just leave me alone, for they constantly harassed me and never let me sleep, I also gradually grew to love my kids. So much so that as the day of the closing ceremony approached, I began to spoil the kids in an attempt to make them happy before we had to leave them permanently. Although no one cried during the closing ceremony, I still miss the children that I taught, and messaged them throughout the tour. I will never forget their faces and our times together, and I wish for the day that I can meet them again.
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Su, Michelle (蘇珮儀)
Being a part of AID has made this summer one of the best ones I’ve had. During the first week, I learned a lot of from the speakers, including problems we may encounter while teaching or interesting games and activities that we can use in our classroom. I had the most fun teaching at 北葉國小, and the kids were always very energetic. Since the kids enjoy running around a lot, we planned different outdoor games each day. Although I encountered some difficulties while teaching, I learned a lot from the experience and loved playing with the kids during break times. By the end of the teaching weeks, we all felt very attached to the school and were all very sad to leave them. On the last day of class, the kids left messages on the blackboard, and it made me want to stay at the school to teach them even longer. I am grateful for this opportunity; not only did I learn more about Taiwan and the aboriginal culture and traditions, through AID, I was also able to meet and become friends with many great people who I wouldn’t have met. This experience made me love Taiwan even more than before.
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Liu, Amber (劉一馨)
On the plane to Taiwan, I didn’t know what to expect. How would the next four weeks of my life turn out? As always, I imagined the worst: having an inept teaching partner, not fitting in with my group, and getting a classroom of rowdy and uncontrollable students (if only I’d known how totally wrong this was). Surrounded by strangers on the very first day, I felt really out of place; I’d never gone to an international summer camp like AID before. But with all our shared experiences and quirky personalities, by the end of the four weeks, my teaching group felt more like a family I’d known forever. From the early morning cleanup sweeps with the students, to the endless card games we would play at night, to learning how to survive on only four hours of sleep each night, my time in Taiwan was definitely one of my most beautiful and memorable experiences yet.

The highlight of my time at AID was our time at the elementary school. On the first day of teaching, I was instantly surprised at the respect the children had for us. The students listened to all I had to say and seemed to learn our vocab words quickly. However, as the week progressed, they would get tired more easily, and their attention would wander. Teaching was definitely tiring and annoying at times, but by the end of the two weeks, our classroom felt like a new home. I usually think kids are annoying, but our students were surprisingly cute and likable. On our last day of teaching, I knew I would soon miss Lena’s quiet diligence, Kobe’s undying energy, and Olivia’s taste in music (these were all students in our class).

I’m so happy to have made such amazing memories, and I will never forget the extraordinary people and places of this month.
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Lee, Joan (李潔欣)
Initially, I decided to participate in AID because in the long run I hope to pursue a vocation in politics with a concentration in East Asian Studies. I saw this opportunity, especially as a rising sophomore expected to declare a major in a few semesters, as ideal because I could not only provide a form of community service and improve my Chinese, but also return to a country that I had not seen in over a decade and gain some hands-on experience in my field of study. The food and end-of-the-program tour were also great incentives. So, to say that my main motivation in going to Taiwan this summer was purely altruistic would be dishonest. Of course, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity given to me to be a volunteer teacher and experience something I had no background in. However, I largely went into the program with ulterior motives: one in self-interest and indulgence, and the other in motivation for my future career.

However, once I got to Taiwan, more specifically my school, Lunbei Junior High School, my main objectives started to veer off its original course. I originally saw myself as taking up this volunteer teaching opportunity as a means to advance my personal ambitions and yet upon meeting my students and fellow teachers, I humbled up. Going down to Yunlin, a southern Taiwanese province my friend from Tainan was not even familiar of, was definitely an experience to say the least. From casually living in a temple to showering with white geckos, cockroaches, and bugs that could “rot” your skin as quoted from my supervising local teacher, everything was new. I ate turtle eggs, pig testicles right after I had seen them castrated, black cow stomach; hiked a mountain whose steep grade neared 70 degrees vertical; lost one of my favorite earrings; got flea bites and 20+ mosquito bites in one sitting; had my phone stolen in Taipei; and my packaged cup noodles infested with ants (how they bit through the plastic still remains a mystery). And yet out of all these foreign, uncommon things I associate with my Taiwan adventure, the most notable experience was within the final week of saying goodbye to Lunbei.

Up until then, my two weeks of teaching had been stressful to say the least. 7am wakeup call everyday met a 9am-5pm work schedule in tropical heat and long pants. When the clock struck 6pm meant down time until 6:30pm/7pm when dinner would commence until around 8pm to which, after, two hours would be dedicated to sharing the only two hot showers in the temple. From 10pm to whenever we slept would then be dedicated to tomorrow’s lesson plan and materials which of course would occasionally, no, usually be undermined by the unreliable technology or internet found at school. From four teachers having to juggle 20 students without stepping over each other’s contrasting working styles to trying to explain English words with no equivalent in Chinese like slang or avocados, a mere two weeks felt like months. And yet, by the end I was no less of energy. Perhaps I was lucky with my group in that we all got along better than just co-workers or perhaps the heat, sweat, bugs, and tears had something to do with it, but I got lucky with my group. No matter the person: students, teachers, AID coordinators, other volunteer teachers, and even total strangers all conceived that everyone in my group had known each other for years; that we had been high school or childhood friends because our comfortability and dynamic was too authentic to be construed in a matter of weeks. But that is what I think back on most fondly because despite the days where the air was thick with tension, we were able to deliver to our students, administration, and community.

Many people who go into teaching want the good students: those who are already smart, gifted, quick learners, etc. Many would prefer living in the cities to living in temples or highlands. Yet personally, I believe that if I had been placed in one of those nicer constructs, I would not be leaving this program with as much remorse. Perhaps it was the environment that naturally brought us together, but never had I experienced and been privileged enough to receive the amount of love I did whether that be from strangers, students, teachers, or my own peers. Being invited over to students’ houses, running into them outside of school, learning about their way of living, everything was a culture shock to me. Everything about my students and my supervising teachers was different from what I knew. They lived in a small town where eating out meant eating at a childhood friend’s business and school meant learning up to middle school. My month in Taiwan has been rewarding, invigorating, but most of all humbling. Never have I longed to stay in a foreign home so much nor been willing to give up plumbing, beef, and air conditioning to just stay a little while longer. When I reflect on AID and my experience teaching there is the stereotypical reply of how laborious the task was and how hot the weather was and how there was strife and frustration in my teaching group but we overcame it somehow. But to the only characteristic, truly unpredictable takeaway I have from my trip — one I did not think I would have afterward, is how little a difference I realize separates humans. I found solace and a passionate, loving home in the outskirts of my comfort zone. In the Southern countryside of Taiwan, I felt more at home, more confident, powerful, capable, adequate, appreciated, accepted, empowered, and alive than I have been in a long time and in that sense never have I felt more grateful for the experience.

My time in Yunlin and with AID has made me more aware of cultures and yet less discriminating of these differences. I am an American since the United States is all I have ever known, but now I hold more pride when I say I am of Taiwanese heritage because now I know a little more of what saying that entails. Now since I have seen, in part, what being Taiwanese is, I know what it means. I have lived a little through it, and for that I am proud. AID, in all, has been a privilege and this is coming from someone who is privileged and from a privileged country. Yet still, I find myself in debt to those I have met during my journey who don’t live as luxuriously as I unconsciously do. That realization of dispositions has by far been humbling and still the ability to equally contribute in some way or another is empowering. It may be a while until I return to Taiwan and I still wonder if I was able to impact my students within those finite two weeks. Perhaps they gained nothing or perhaps they were inspired, but at least I, along with my fellow teachers, did something that gave the latter outcome a chance. After AID, the world seems smaller now with less barriers and contrasts. My time at Lunbei Junior High School has made me less pessimistic of people and more optimistic of individual capacities. My time in Taiwan has made my world seem a little brighter and a little more opportunistic; it has become a little smaller and a little more richer and for that, I will ever be grateful.

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Cheng, Ethan (鄭奕生)
AID has been a life- changing experience. When I first arrived at Chientan, I immediately began to miss the comforts of home in America. Slowly however, I began to relax and enjoy meeting other like- minded volunteers. I felt a connection in our purpose and goal to teach students, and this brought us closer together. Once I got to DongRong elementary school, I quickly began to miss friend circle I built in Chientan, not to mention the comforts of a clean bathroom and shower. But these disadvantages quickly went to the back of my mind as I was engaged in group bonding activities (such as card games and movie nights) with my fellow teachers and occupied myself with preparing lessons for my excited students. We also toured Yunlin and Chiayi together, visiting JianFuShan amusement park. Our group quickly became inseparable as we tackled all the challenges of teaching elementary school student. Before I knew it, I was forced to leave DongRong and head to Taichung for the Southern tour. While fun, the tour was a dramatic change of pace from the previous two weeks. I longed for the intimacy and calmness of the quiet DongRong library and the nearby Beigang Township. However, I began to get comfortable in the company of my old Chientan friends and my DongRong group while on the tour of Taiwan. When the entire journey finally ended and I was able to go home, I found myself unwilling to leave Chientan and Taiwan.
It is a cruel cycle: experiencing an unwelcome change, gradually finding comfort and consistency, and having to leave it all in the end. However, in life, this type of change is constantly occurring. As the pain of leaving subsides, I feel more grateful that I received such a unique opportunity, and less regret at its ending. I am indebted to the endless dedication of the counselors, the constant companionship of my friends, and, of course, the eagerness of the students. They taught me just as much as I taught them (hopefully). I feel blessed to have been a part of their daily life and experienced all their joy and innocence, feelings which I have not felt for a long time. This program has taught me to embrace change, however bittersweet it may be, and be grateful of all the unique opportunities that come your way. When the time for goodbyes comes, I often recall a quote from Dr. Seuss; "don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened." It is something I will endeavor to do as I remember the unforgettable 2016 AID experience.

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Pan , Virginia (潘维妮)
“I won't give up, no I won't give in, 'til I reach the end and then I'll start again! No I won't leave, I wanna try everything…” is part of the chorus from our 2016 AID camp song, “Try Everything” by Shakira. I cannot think of a better song to embody my AID experience. Through AID, I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, experience Taiwanese culture, and witness Taiwan’s beauty.
At first, I was concerned about traveling alone in Taiwan, especially because my Chinese is not very good. However, my worries quickly faded as I befriended some fellow AID volunteers on my flight. Ever since, I continued to meet and make new friends everywhere I went. I loved hanging out with my fellow volunteers, and now have friends from all over the US and beyond. In addition, the support, enthusiasm and humor from the counselors made training and tour more engaging and run smoothly.
In Kinmen, I met so many wonderful teachers, families and students. Our teacher/coach Mimi was always there to offer us advice and support and the Hu Pu school director, Rick, always made sure we were safe. My homestay family was so generous, in opening up their home to Katie and I. They treated us like their own daughters, helping with everything from meals and laundry to taking us on nighttime beach trips. I loved getting to know them, and talking with them in Chinese helped improve my language skills. In addition, living in a traditional style house further contributed to the richness of my cultural experience.
But, of all the people I met in Taiwan, the students left the greatest impression on me. I taught rising 5th and 6th graders, and was impressed by their English level. I appreciated their diligence and willingness to learn. My class had a mixture of students, from very mature, to goofy and silly. However, they all meshed well together and made the class a joy to teach. In fact, I often found myself upset on days when students didn’t show up for class. I miss them and really hope that they had fun and that I have impacted them as much as they have impacted me.
In addition to meeting new people, I really enjoyed exploring and experiencing Taiwan. It was fascinating to learn about the history of Kinmen and see old military tunnels and forts. From hiking up Kinmen’s highest peak, to playing in the gentle ocean waves, I enjoyed the adventures with my school group all over the island. In addition, visiting Sun Moon Lake and Xitou Park on the tour gave me a glimpse of Taiwan’s natural beauty.
I loved getting to learn about Taiwanese culture, through engaging activities like aboriginal dancing, painting windlions, and making paper fans. But, getting to know the culture through cuisine was definitely my favorite experience. Every trip to a night or day market was an exciting and delicious adventure for my palate. Like everywhere else I visited in Taiwan, I wanted to “Try Everything!” Thank you AID 2016 for allowing me to gain so many new experiences.

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Finucane, Aidan (洪爱德)
Where do I even begin to speak. At the beginning of the year when I was applying to Summer AID I was extremely doubtful. When I applied for this program I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting into. I knew that my older brother did it; and that he really loved it. However, why would I, a half white/half Chinese 17 year old teenager with terrible Chinese, apply to a program to teach kids English when those same kids would primarily communicate to me with Chinese. Why would I leave all of my friends, commitments to sports, and my job, to volunteer in a country I've never even seen. I was questioning whether it was worth an entire month of my summer, questioning whether I would regret coming.

I'm here saying that I don't regret it at all.

Teaching the children English was precious no matter how infinitely frustrating it was to attempt teach kids who knew absolutely nothing. All the kids were so loving; even though they displayed it in different ways. Some kids showed their love through hugs and crawling all over me, others through notes, others through nagging and annoying me for attention. During the program I would always say I hated the kids, but now all I can do is miss the kids. Some have even kept in touch with me through social media.

While in Taiwan I met so many people and made so many friends that I'm at a loss for words. The experiences that I had and the memories that I hold will last a lifetime. When I look back and think about Taiwan all I want to do is come back and visit. Everyone that I met here showed me kindness and friendship and I hope someday in the future we can all see each other again. It really showed when I was leaving, everyone who saw me when I left can confirm that I broke down in tears. I don't think I've ever cried that hard in my life, I don't think I've ever wanted to stay somewhere that wasn't my home so strongly. It felt like for a moment that Taiwan became my home. So when I said goodbye to everyone in Taiwan, I really meant to say see you later.
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Ho, Aaron (何唯廷)
When I first applied to this program, I was apprehensive about accepting this month long commitment. I felt completely unprepared for teaching students English – heck I could barely teach myself English back at home. I had been a TA for my local Chinese school, but that was nothing compared to the preparation that the teachers did.

Arriving at Chientan Overseas Youth Activity Center, I realized that many of these volunteer teachers were also just students like me, having grown up in the states and having absolutely no clue what to expect. Throughout the training week, I was extremely thankful for having teachers that not only had plenty of experience to share with us, but also spoke English fluently. Although we didn’t have much free time, these lessons were a great resource for learning classroom management tips and bonding with the rest of our group.

Unfortunately, the typhoon this year made for hasty goodbyes from the rest of the volunteers since some groups during speeches to catch trains before the typhoon hit. Our group had to stay another night in the now silent hotel before our plane departed for Kinmen Island.

At Hupu Elementary School, I was surprised at their energy outside of the classroom. We became not only their teachers, but also their trees for climbing, their personal piggyback ride service, and their pillows for sleeping. However, they were hesitant to answer questions in class or participate in activities we had prepared for them. It took a while before they became comfortable with pronouncing new vocabulary, or competing in games, yet we still tried to make it a fun experience for each of them. As time went by (and with the help of an amazing teaching partner @Grace), we learned which activities they enjoyed and used these to help them practice their English.

The memories that I made at Kinmen, from standing in front of a giant air conditioning unit to running around at the beaches in the afternoon, will always be treasured in my heart and I hope to once again meet these kids, maybe even in America!
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Lam, Jeanette (林荺珮)
As I wave goodbye to Ruifang Junior High School one last time, I can't help but smile through the tears watching my students chase our taxi, while crying, screaming our names. I leave this place not only a more experienced teacher and volunteer, but a better person.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been granted the opportunity to teach English in Taiwan through the AID Program this summer. Although I have never lived in Taiwan, something about this place unexplainably makes my heart feel full. I still remember the first day getting to Ruifang after a week of rigorous training at Chietan. There was a typhoon coming through, but nonetheless, all of the school staff eagerly awaited in the pouring rain and wilds winds for our arrival.

We were greeted with famous Taiwanese bubble milk tea and I thought to myself, wow, free bubble milk tea. This place is going to be amazing. However, after a few days, I quickly realized the reason I fell in love with Ruifang Junior High School was not because there was free bubble milk tea, but because the staff and students alike made this place feel like home.

I have had much experience working with middle-school aged students in America, where I have been a camp counselor for years. However, the pre-teens in Taiwan are different in that they are more respectful and have a greater appreciation for their school and education in general. Their love for learning strengthened my love for teaching.

The staff at RJHS were also the most kind-hearted, loving people I have ever met. During the first week of teaching, I came down with a bad cold and heat stroke. However, the director and my AID liaison coach, Claire Shih, wasted no time in taking me to the doctors and making sure I recovered. Also, on the weekends, the teachers were kind enough to take us paddle boarding/kayaking, to KTV, and of course, the night market. Everyone put our happiness first and that is something I could never repay them for.

Last but not least, I could not have made it without my seven co-teachers. I could not have made it through all those late nights in the conference room without their crazy singing and vent sessions. I could not have made it through all those early mornings without their energy and excitement. They were my biggest supporters and the best friends and partners I could have asked for.

Leaving my students, the RJHS staff, and my fellow AID volunteers was one of the hardest things I have done. Although I left with a heavy heart knowing I may not ever see these amazing people again, I left with a sense of fulfillment that cannot be gained elsewhere. In these few weeks in Taiwan, I met people that challenged me, taught me how to be adaptable, and helped me become a more patient person. Although I was here to teach, I feel as though I learned and gained incredible bouts of knowledge and wisdom from everybody I crossed paths with. I will never forget this experience as it has deeply impacted me as a driven individual who strives to help others discover their passion and unlock their potential.

P.S - The attached photo was taken the day my seven co-teachers and I decided to leave the AID tour early to return to Ruifang Junior High School to surprise our students. The day before, our AID liaison and director had come to our program to surprise us and we felt it was only right to give back to a place that had given us so much. The students broke down in tears and ran into our arms the moment they saw us. It was truly an indescribable feeling and my favorite moment.
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Pan, Angela (潘聖華)
Before participating in this program, I had misconceptions on what it took to be a teacher. I used to believe that students had it much harder than teachers, that anyone could easily be a good teacher. The first week was just an introduction to the worm that was to come as a teacher.
During the two weeks of teaching, many of my beliefs were challenged. I worked harder than I have ever before in my school career and was exhausted everyday for two weeks. Teachers have to be more energetic and focused than the students to run the class. A big obstacle was controlling the hyper second and third graders. Without good classroom management, nothing could be taught to the students. There were many times where u wanted to give up and call it a day but my partner and the students kept me going. I found strength that I did not know I had inside me to power through the two weeks of teaching. I knew it was worth all the hard work during the closing ceremony where the students hugged me one by one, thanking me for the two weeks. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I said my last goodbye; the students impacted me in ways I never thought possible.
I am so fortunate to have this opportunity to grow as individual and impact other people's lives. I hope I inspired my students to know the fun of learning English. This has been an unforgettable experience that will forever impact my outlook on life.
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Wang, Pey-Yun (王沛云)
These past four weeks flew by and I can’t believe that it’s already over. The mentors and students at WuFeng Elementary and my A3-2 teammates have grown to become my second family; I will miss them all when I go back to the United States. I had been excited to attend this camp ever since I received my acceptance letter in April and my experience in AID definitely met (and exceeded) my expectations.
The training week at Chien Tan was a wonderful opportunity for my teammates to bond (since all six of the girls in our group were assigned to the same room). Most of the lectures at Chien Tan were helpful, but I felt like all the lecturers talked about the same thing (the lectures were just formatted and phrased differently). What I really liked about the first week was how we had a few hours every evening to meet with our advisor, Ellen, to discuss teaching plans, complete the working journals, and plan the opening ceremony. Since we got so much done the first week, it made me feel less stressed during the teaching weeks.
I taught the Intermediate class at WuFeng Elementary in Changhua along with my teaching partners, Sydney, and Patrick. The kids I taught were all bright, outgoing, adorable, and excited to participate in the activities we had planned for them. Although the teaching weeks were exhausting (we needed to prepare immensely for the lessons and we also had back up plans), I loved every minute of it because some of the students would come up to us after class/write notes to us telling us about how much they enjoyed the lessons that day. During these two weeks, I not only had the opportunity to teach the students English, bond with the students during breaks, but also the chance to tour around Changhua and Central Taiwan on the weekends.
I will miss everyone I met at AID this summer, but it’s reassuring to know that I have a second family located halfway around the world. Thank you, AID Summer, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

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Shen, Brian (沈乃雨)
Over the course of the AID summer program, I learned a lot from my teachers, counselors, and peers. The one week at Jian tan sufficiently taught me what I needed to know to be able to teach the next week. Johann was a very lively and interesting teacher when we actually got to the school, all the staff worked very hard to accommodate us as we had many needs to be fulfilled. I was pretty comfortable in the dorms if you ignore the multitude of bug invasions. The children were nice on the most part. Despite having a lot of excess energy, they were pretty obedient. The break times were lifesavers, and would allow the children to release their energy. I found that I really loved to teach using the blackboard as it gave me much more flexibility over my teaching compared to using the projector and previously prepared slides. Although those were useful in their own ways, using the blackboard was much simpler for me. The children would feel groggy after nap time, which turned out to be a challenge as it became harder to keep the kids focused. The students learned really quickly but would forget the content just as quickly. We had to review many words every day, so a lot of time was spent drilling the words into their heads. Throughout the program, I continued to meet new friends. This experience has made me realize how much fun teaching children can be. I will cherish this summer for the rest of my life and I hope that the children will have come to like English more through this program.
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Lin, Brian (林博恩)
It’s always an amazing satisfying feeling knowing the task you once that was impossible is now behind you. Going into this program, I was excited to visit Taiwan, explore! Meet new people! Despite this, I had doubts. I was unsure of how to approach this daunting task of teaching English to students with no prior teaching experience and mediocre Chinese. It took creativity, endurance, and cooperation to achieve great results at Rui Sui Junior High. I had ups and downs, but the important thing was to learn from my mistakes and improve for the future. I learned quickly that the students were very physical and enjoyed hands-on activities. They knew a lot more English than I had anticipated, so I changed the lessons to be more difficult and thought-provoking. At the end of the day, they enjoyed my activities and learned a lot, as well as developing a new fondness for English that would certainly have been difficult to achieve otherwise. The people aiding us at Rui Sui also did phenomenal jobs in guiding us in the right direction. I’ve met many great people, colleagues and counselors alike, as well as visit many cool places in Taiwan. It is an unforgettable experience, and I would definitely recommend it to friends and family.
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Chen, Grace (陳宓琦)
Beautiful scenery and friendly people are the first things that pop into my mind when I think of Taiwan. Never have I thought I would understand more about the island after attending the AID summer teaching program.
When I first heard about the program, I was really eager to apply because I would have the opportunity to visit the beloved Taiwan again after two years. Even though I wasn’t certain if I would pass the evaluations for the program, I still applied since I also had a passion of helping others. Surprisingly, I got accepted into the program after a long waiting period. I was thrilled.
During the first training week, I learned so many techniques to use while teaching children and the different classroom management ideas. Using clapping to get students’ attention or using an easy slogan was just some the knowledge I gained from the teachers who taught us. Aside from teaching techniques, I met new faces from all around the United States who all shared the same anticipation in the program. At first, my team and I were a bit disorganized in our team projects since we often had polar ideas that weren’t coherent but it was also due to our unfamiliarity with each other. However, that changed during the two weeks we spent in 金門 teaching.
The only knowledge I have of 金門is that it is an island located off of Taiwan’s main island and is closest to China. I know nothing else. When I first arrived in 金門, I was surprised at how small the whole island is and how remote it seemed. The school we were to teach at, 湖埔國小, is located in a small village in 金門, and consists of only 60 plus students. I anticipated the first day of teaching the students English.
Little did I know, two weeks passed quickly by from the first day I started teaching the kids at 湖埔國小. The students started from being reluctant to participate in the activities to enjoying most of time spent with us. From the interactive games we played to dances we taught, the students were always excited and eager. Their smiling faces gave me the motivation to continue teaching them. I am so glad AID gave me to this opportunity to bring the students who live in a small village a taste of a different learning environment and also get a taste of different cultures in Taiwan. Teaching the children gave me a wider prospective on how fortunate I am to receive the education I have and live in an environment where I have many resources for help. Teaching made me learn that the methods of teaching are very important in helping student grow and develop. And I hope I made a good contribution :)

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Tsai, Andrew (蔡浩雲)
“Teaching English to kids in Taiwan? That's going to be so easy though” was the first thought that was in my head when I signed up for the AID Summer program. I had previously mentored other elementary-school kids for robotics, so I thought I knew how to teach and how to keep young students under control. I soon discovered I had definitely overestimated my own teaching ability. Just after the first day, when meeting the kids for the first time, I knew I would have to put in a lot more work than I'd first expected. I was shocked by the disparity in English education even within our teaching group’s region in Keelung; there were students in the same grade but with vastly different abilities in English. Even after grouping the students based on proficiency rather than grade level, we still struggled with making our lessons plans: if our lessons were too advanced, the less proficient students wouldn't understand one bit, but if they were too easy, the advanced students would be bored and disrupt class. Furthermore, finding activities and teaching methods that would be interesting, reinforce their newly-learned vocabulary, AND engage all the students in class was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Learning creative ways to solve such problems with my teaching partner helped me to grow as a teacher, and gave me the experience to relate to and grow closer with my own students. In the end, I realized I would come to miss all of my students, a feeling that lasted throughout the tour and will continue even after I return home.

After my stressful yet fruitful experience as a teacher in Taiwan, I don't think I will ever talk back or give attitude to my own teachers again just because I went through a mere two weeks of what they have to do over a whole year. In addition, I think that this program was and will continue to be beneficial to me because I got to not only learn essential teaching skills along with a lesson in humility, but also improve my Chinese, make friends from all over the world, discover the beauty of Taiwan, and, of course, try all the unique and delicious foods that only Taiwan has to offer. Most importantly, however, AID Summer gave me the opportunity to develop a much deeper relationship with the culture of my parents’ home, a culture that I am now prouder than ever to be a part of.
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Lu, Joseph (呂祖楊)
Assuming the reflection is supposed to be about one memorable moment, I would have to pick one morning from the first week. I believe it was Wednesday or Thursday, at a point where the students already knew us relatively well and were adapting to our teaching styles. We were teaching cardinal numbers that day, and were playing a game which involved throwing a sticky ball at a dial-pad to piece out the word the teacher would say. We started playing about 10 minutes before the period was supposed to end. At first, since I came up with the game on the spot, I thought that the students would be very bored and try to not participate as they had been doing sometimes for the past few days, but as I prepared myself to once again tell the back of the class to pick their heads up, I noticed that they were (strangely) cheering and all having fun. They had so much fun, in fact, that some refused to have their break when the bell rang and the period ended, and wanted to continue playing the numbers game. That was the point at which it finally clicked in my head, how to teach this specific group of kids and let them have fun at the same time: competition and physical exercise. And so after this day, we tried to incorporate some interclass competitions and let the kids go outside and move their bodies while learning, and it was extremely effective, much to our pleasure.
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Hsiang, Conner (向乾元)
The first time that I heard of the Taiwan 2016 Summer AID program was over some small chitchat with a friend during Chinese school. I vaguely remember him saying something about how it was really fun and that I should really consider applying for it. My reaction to it was that this was just some small talk. I just kind of bobbed my head up and down in response and told him that I’d think about it, but I did not actually intend to apply. Little did I know that there would be a time when my parents would tell me that they didn’t want me to spend my last summer before college doing nothing, and thus I seriously thought of applying for AID. Haha, lame reason right? Well, I suppose I also applied because I had some other good friends who were also going to submit applications and because I wanted to go out to my comfort zone and try something I had never experienced before.
Looking back at my first week at Chientan, I can say that I was definitely far outside of my comfort zone. As someone who is pretty shy around unfamiliar people, I didn’t really make good friends with any of the others. Sure I did make an effort to try to get to know some people, but unfortunately, names and people’s faces don’t click with me. Poof! They kind of faded from my memories. Oops. A couple days in, almost everyone had formed their own cliques of good friends while I only knew a few acquaintances. However, things started to change when we were divided up into smaller groups based upon the schools we were supposed to teach at. Working within those small groups allowed me get to know my fellow volunteer teachers and coach better. While I can’t say for sure how they felt, I finally had a sense of belonging. I had a group of friends whom I could open up to and have fun with. I also managed to befriend my roommates and obtained a Taiko buddy. Hooray!
Moving onto my experience teaching at Kinmen, the first thing I remember about it was that within the first 5 minutes of meeting the students, I found myself bound up with some jump ropes. Hmm… probably not the best start as a teacher, but it had broken the ice between them and us teachers. They were not at all shy or intimidated by us. When it came to teaching them English, it was pretty difficult in the beginning trying to decide how to get them interested in learning the vernacular without having them become disinterested. I’m not sure what I expected, but I suppose kids are kids where you go. They like to be mischievous and mess around. They sometimes get into squabbles and cry. Most of all, they love of have fun. In incorporating games into our lessons, we were able to work it out well enough that the students liked our teaching style and actually looked forward to coming to class. I couldn’t believe my ears when the students wanted us to stay and continue teaching them when their school year started. Wow. It was worth all those hours spent into the night preparing the lessons and materials.
My teaching experience was also a bit unique in that instead of living in some sort of dorm like many of the other teachers did at the other schools, we had home stay families. Initially, I was nervous as to what living in the home of one of my students would be like, but all of my worries were unjustified. They were some of the nicest people I had ever met in my entire life. They told me to rely on them whenever I needed, brought me food on a daily basis, taught me new games, and brought me to see a movie. Living with a home stay family was interesting because it allowed me to get to know the local culture better. Almost every night, I would sit down with them and chat, asking about the daily life in Kinmen while they asked me some questions about America.
Then came the day when AID ended. Those 4 weeks of ups and downs, from when I had a little regret joining AID at the beginning to the time when I had a great time with that busload of people in the last week of touring, finally came to an end. The closing ceremony and the goodbyes to friends among the counselors and volunteer teachers alike, it had all finally ended and I was on my way back to my grandmother’s house. I guess I didn’t really understand what the end of AID meant until it hit me that night. It hit me hard. I cried. Realizing that all those people I met along the way and made their way into my heart and that I’d probably never meet most of them again, it hurt a lot. But I guess it goes to show how much they all meant to me. Thanks to AID from the bottom of my heart for bringing me all these experiences.

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