志工感言 (Reflection) >> Houston
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Huang, Carol (黃以柔)
Watching the students, hanging on to the school gates eyes red from crying, I knew these memories we had made here would last us a lifetime. Applying for the AID Summer 2015 Program, I had no idea what to expect. However, after these three weeks, the AID Summer Program has definitely become a life changing experience. From listening to the lectures at Chientan to teaching in the classrooms at DongRong Elementary School, this program has taught me not only how to teach English but how to be a better person. During the first week, the different lectures that were given at Chientan helped to better prepare us for the challenges that lied ahead. Although long and tedious the different activities gave me a better understanding of how to approach the task of teaching English and English education in Taiwan as a whole. Preparing for the teaching demo, I realized the substantial amount of time and energy required to prepare a lesson plan for a day, much less an entire two weeks. As for the two weeks of teaching at DongRong Elementary School, it was an experience unlike any other. From our living arrangements to actually teaching the students, everything and everyone was different and unfamiliar. However, with our coach’s guidance, we became family. Living in the library began as an awkward situation but slowly became a great bonding experience. Waking up each morning to the students eagerly waiting for us, made me feel welcomed and excited to teach each day. In the classroom, although rowdy at times, the students were always very enthusiastic. During breaks, the students would pull all the teachers out to the playground to play games with them. After classes, waiting outside, the students would call out for us teachers to come and play with them. Spending almost all day with these students, they really were family; there was never a dull day. The AID Summer Program is a really enjoyable program. Despite the stress and amount of work we had to put in, I really felt a sense of purpose and achievement.
Shyi, Sandra Iuan (席媛)
Coming in to this, I really just wanted to come and visit Taiwan. I have not been back in so long and this would be my last free summer before I have to start looking for internships/job searching. I thought that this program would be good because I would not be eating time to just vacation, but I would be able to help out. I also really love kids.
Since coming, I realized that Taiwan is humid. There are a lot of bugs. Teaching and planning with others is hard work. But, when I see the kids and their kind hearts, everything is worth it. The kids at Neihu junior high were all so sweet and hard working.
One of my favorite memories was when we met up with some of the students at big city mall. It was Sunday and the kids really wanted to hang out with us. To be honest, I really wanted to hang with them too (more than just having a break and going sightseeing)! While we were there, we went I go play at Tom's world. It was a lot of fun. Plus, it was a good way for them to practice english outside of the classroom. The cool thing was that for two weeks, we presented that we could not speak chinese. So, the kids had to use english to talk to us. Right before we left, one kid used the tickets we earned and the tickets that she had been saving up to buy each teacher a stuffed animal gift. It really touched me that she was so willing to use her hard earned tickets ti get us something.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience that I had with the students. I miss them already!
Lin, Eric (林洛丞)
This AID summer program provided me with countless opportunities to encounter new people and create new friendships. When i first arrived at ChienTan, I instantly made new friends with my fellow roommates. We began doing everything together and slowly got closer and had countess crazy nights where we stayed up late and played fun card games and told stories to each other. As the camp went on, I learned techniques and rules that i should apply while teaching the children. The first week of this camp provided me with the ideas of experienced teachers and it allowed me to feel confident enough to provide the children with fun activities to play while learning english at the same time.
Once the first week of camp was over, we each went to our respective schools and began teaching the students. The school i attended was located in HsinChu and was called Dong Hai Guo Xiao. This rural school opened up its program to children of other schools and i had a great time teaching the children. Throughout the two weeks of teaching, i learned to be expressive of everything in order to help encourage the children to join in on the activities. I hope i was able to positively influence the children and encourage them to learn english on their own time without needing the help of teachers. I am very thankful of the teachers at the school as they provided us with a lot of accessories and necessities. I am glad i was given the opportunity to join this program and i hope i can influence friends and family to join the program. I will dearly miss this program and the friends that i have made.
Chang, Chrong-Der (張崇德)
I learned a lot on this trip. I got to learn about the culture of the residents and experience what teaching children was like. Although they weren't the best group of children you could ask for, each one was unique in his/her own way. It was fun being able to make a little difference in their lives.
Liu, Eric (劉育彰)
As more of an introvert, I applied for AID with some reluctance. I wasn’t comfortable with addressing large groups of people, nor was I much of a people person. Looking back, I’m so glad I was able to partake in this program and meet all sorts of incredibly talented and friendly people (especially my groupmates from A3-5), not only teaching but also learning – about teaching, little children, Taiwan, and pop culture. All in all, an immensely rewarding and enriching experience.
None of this came without a hitch, of course. The first hurdle came with the first week at Chien-tan, where hours of lecture were complemented with whispers promising freedom in the form of Shilin Night Market, whispers that drove a group member up the wall. Literally.
After a tedious week of lecture at Chien-tan, we arrived in Guan Miao.
The people there (e.g. Pastor Wang and the school staff) were so friendly and the environment was very nice – much better than expected – and words cannot express how fortunate I felt to have all the amenities of civilization and relative luxury and not have to worry about cockroaches crawling over my face at night.
The first day came and there they were – 16 cute little second and third graders – and I could already pick out who the troublemakers would be…or so I thought. Actually they were more like Cornish pixies. My previous experiences with young children as a volunteer at museum summer camps (which I forewent this summer, regrettably at the time) couldn’t compare to the experiences with the students here, who were much tougher to manage. There few of the kids knew each other; here all of the kids knew each other – who they liked, who they hated, and containing them was extremely difficult with their boundless energy. By the second week, there was some semblance of order to the class as we figured out how to deal with the kids.
While limited by the predetermined curriculum, the school planned interesting activities in a departure from the typical subjects one might find in a foreign language class and encouraged us to teach more unique words and phrases. By far the most fun were the joint lessons with the Hakka class being held at the same time as AID, with topics such as indigo dyeing, paper umbrellas, and Hakka lei cha. However, such an arrangement made communicating with our first-year students in English much harder, as few of them had the grasp of even some classroom commands. The disparity in proficiency among the students was considerable, and it was clear that some of them barely cared at all. As a result, we ended up using a lot more Chinese than we had anticipated and moved a lot slower through our lessons.
Through AID, I came to more appreciate teachers’ work. From laboring in the wee hours of the night to complete lesson plans and teaching materials to keeping students in line, being a teacher is no easy task, and those teachers who can manage their classrooms well without yelling themselves hoarse have my (utmost) respect.
I’m incredibly thankful for all of the teachers and staff at Guan Miao Elementary, the awesome counselors, my teaching partners Austin and Sabrina, and the rest of my group for making this experience as great as it was. Also the kids, for reminding us of the halcyon days of youth.

Hsu, Benjamin (徐千祐)
Participating in this teaching program has changed both my life as well as my students' lives. When I initially applied to this program, I was apprehensive of many fears on how I would become a teacher in merely one week, if the kids would accept me, and so on. However, upon arriving at Chientan, I felt that my group instantly had a connection, not just among us, but among other groups as well. Looking back upon it, it is quite surprising that we were able to achieve and learn so much in just one week about ESL. The teaching demo proved that we were ready to teach the kids, but also showed just how much effort is required, both in planning and presenting, only ten minutes worth of teaching material.

Going to the Shilin night market was also a blast, especially after being cooped up for an entire week. We got to meet up with the other groups and socialize for quite a while. In the meantime, we also started to ponder about the upcoming two weeks, and how life would be changing quite intensively for all of us. Through it all, the counsellors kept us in line, helped us with our activities, and provided lots of encouragement for us. Our teacher, Queena, initially appeared overly enthusiastic, but we learned that she was and is the best teacher anyone could ever hope for.

When we arrived at Dong Rong elementary, we knew that everything was different. Heading to the nearest 7-11, for example, necessitated a thirty minute drive to the closest town. We worked day and night preparing for the teaching which would begin on Monday. The quietness and serenity of the school was quite different from the hustle and bustle of Chientan and Taipei. We had to prepare also for the opening ceremony, where I had to relearn how to dance for the first time in quite a while.

The opening ceremony was fun, watching other groups perform in addition to ourselves. Personally I would not like to see myself dancing ever again, but we got done with it. After we headed back to our schools, we got to meet our students in person for the first time. They were cheeky, bubbly, and bursting with happiness to meet us. Though they seemed quite rowdy, our teacher deterred them from acting up in our classes. We continued to work each day even after teaching, to prepare the next day's material. As the first week went by, we learned each kid's English name, and their personality. Some stuck on immediately to us, while others needed some coaxing to begin speaking English,

At the end of the two weeks, I must say that this program has been an eye opener. I finally learned just how hard it is to be a teacher in general, with the meticulous amount of preparation needed for each day. I also learned just how amazing it is to have an entire class bond with you so much that they wake up at 5 am and wait for you to wake up just so you can play with them. It is a shame I won't be able participate in this program again, as I would readily do so given the chance. On the final day, not only did the kids tear up as we left, but so did we. In all likeliness, we may never see these kids again in our lives, but only have the memory of changing them through two amazing weeks. Thank you AID for giving me the opportunity to be introduced to such amazing kids, counsellors, and Queena. Education will never be looked at the same way again.
Chang, Valerie (張運齡)
This has been a fantastic opportunity and experience. There's so much emotion and effort that has gone into making these past two weeks as fantastic as they are; much of it has to do with the excellent teacher faculty staff, my fellow teacher volunteers, and mainly the students at my school.
The students all acted with a level of maturity and fun that made teaching them all such a pleasure and joy. It was most definitely one of the most exhausting trials of my life thus far, but something I would never give up. Because of this opportunity and experience -- via all the people and my own personal realizations and growth -- I've come to realize that I would love to return to Taiwan in the near future to continue this English teaching experience.
So thank you all who have made my time so rewarding. I will truly never forget a single moment.
Wu, Sharon (巫尚蓉)
Seeing as I usually spend my summers in Taiwan, I applied for AID in hopes of being able to do something meaningful during my vacation this year instead of just eating, shopping, and sleeping my summer away as I had done each year previously. I set a personal goal of establishing a connection between the big American city I live in and the small Taiwanese town I would be assigned to through interacting with the students and teaching them English. I walked into Chientan Youth Activity Center on the first day of AID without any idea of what to expect, but I walked out of Chientan Youth Activity Center on the last day of AID a changed, fulfilled, and renewed person.
Training week at Chientan was not exactly pleasant for me. As someone who is used to roaming freely around Taipei by herself, I was not accustomed to the strict rules and regulations we were required to abide by. The long workshops, early curfew, and rigid daily schedule left me with little freedom and few opportunities to interact with other volunteers not in my teaching group. However, all of this changed when I departed for Guan Miao Elementary in Tainan City.
Taiwanese people are known for being some of the friendliest in the world; however, in Tainan, I was deeply touched by a hospitality that I had never experienced before elsewhere in the country. The school’s staff was always welcoming and helpful, and I will never forget the entire town of Guanmiao's altruism and compassion toward us. I was also very inspired by the lovely students I had the pleasure of teaching at Guan Miao because, despite living in a small town lacking in English resources and coming from disadvantaged family backgrounds, they never ceased to bring their warm smiles and eagerness to learn from us to school every day. The two weeks of teaching were over in the blink of an eye. After actually being a teacher myself, I gained a whole new respect for all professional teachers. Looking back, I can think of countless times when I felt like I had spent an entire day yelling at my rowdy students or when I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities I had in one day. Despite having completely exhausted my energy by the end of the two weeks, I was reluctant to say goodbye to the students and teachers at Guan Miao Elementary who had taught me so much more than I had taught them.
Additionally, attending this program also gave me the opportunity to make friends with so many overseas Taiwanese youth just like me. After spending over twelve hours a day together every single day for a month, the members of my teaching group and I were able to develop a unique chemistry that allowed us to work together and communicate with one another effectively. We became one big family in which each person played their own unique, crucial role, and the friendship and support of everyone in my teaching group are some of the most valuable things I took away from AID. From exploring the streets of Guanmiao to staying up until 3 a.m. to prepare teaching materials, every moment I spent with them was filled with joy and laughter.
In the end, I was able to achieve my goal of bridging the gap between the East and the West, between the two cultures that make up my own background. I am glad I was able to return to my home country and serve the local children and make a difference by hopefully opening up more doors for them in the future by granting them an English education.

Kang, Jonathan (康慶邦)
First off I’d like to say I am extremely grateful that I was granted this wonderful opportunity to come to Taiwan to teach English. This experience is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The memories and lessons I’ve learned over this period of time have shaped me into the best I can possibly be. These past weeks have truly impacted me through integrity, selflessness, and will. Coming into the program I was nervous about how well my teaching skills and compatibility with my group would be. However, just after spending one day with them I knew it was going to be one for the books. My group and I bonded instantly and have done nothing but grow stronger as a family each day. The feelings I have developed for them are incomparable to anything I have experienced before. From strangers to family members I would risk my life for, I am beyond grateful for them. The teaching experience not only brought us closer together but taught us to overcome any challenges that were presented to us. I knew the kids were going to be a hassle because lets be honest when are kids not a handful. This period of time has taught me to preserver through what ever happens in any situation. It can be fixed with time and careful thinking. The students gave me more than I could ever handle so I am grateful that I had my partner, Tiffany, to assist me. In the end, the kids and I made unbreakable bonds that ill never forget. The screams, tantrums, and unwillingness to learn only motivated me to try to get them to learn even more. Furthermore the hospitality that my group and I received from our schools personnel was more than what we could ever ask for. It felt like home as soon as we stepped onto the campus. It felt as if we were family members visiting from America to relatives in Taiwan. To this day I still feel sad that our time was so short. Those two weeks felt as the teaching experience was only 3 days long. As the tour began, I realized that in order to make the best of the memories I had made were to use them to help me grow into a better person. There are no exact words to describe my experience at AID but I can say this much, It is the best out of the country experience I have made thus far in my life. Once again thank you for the opportunity.
Peng, Sabrina (彭海倫)
I’m currently sitting on a hotel bed in Nantou typing this post-program reflection essay. I’m trying so hard to find the words, the emotions, the love – to describe what I have done for AID and in turn, what AID has done for me.
We just got back from our talent show practice, which is to “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. The lyrics start out with the phrase, “Oh don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me.” In many ways, this has characterized the beginning of my experience here in Taiwan this summer. Every summer, I go to a certain leadership camp in Texas, and after I was accepted to AID, I began questioning whether the trip to Taiwan would be more worth it than the camp I loved so much back home. It was difficult for me to leave my position as a counselor for the summer camp because I knew I had impacted lives there and I was eager to do so again. It was even more heartrending to see the countless Facebook posts and training pictures that I was not a part of anymore. I now realize I was looking through such a narrow corridor – I wasn’t completely willing at first to sacrifice something I loved for something in the unknown. We are afraid of the unknown in that way, but I am now so, so relieved that I was able to see broader horizons in the throes of doubt.
The next line in the song goes, “I said, ‘You're holding back’/ She said, ‘Shut up and dance with me!’” The pre-AID excitement began long before the program even started – our Line group started as soon as acceptance letters came out and we planned pre-AID meet-ups with a fervor that only 426 young adults could muster. Although I’m sure most of us had some hesitation about throwing ourselves headfirst into this new alliance of people from all over the world, I think we ended up just diving straight into the flow of things and gearing ourselves up for an amazing time in Taiwan. The training in Chientan essentially set the mood for the rest of the trip. The eight people in my group – Jackie, Jerry, Sharon, Allison, Shawn, Austin, Eric, and me – were at first wary of our seemingly divergent personalities. In fact, just yesterday, Jackie told me that I was completely different from what she had imagined me to be like. Somehow, though, we learned to trust each other, especially when confronted with the fact that we would soon have to deal with not only challenges between ourselves but also conflicts presented by the kids we would teach. We even coined our collaboration a “surprising yet effective chemistry.” We bonded over the restricting conditions at Chientan (like not being able to step outside the campus) and the unfairness at not winning the Shilin Night Market trip (we participated 150% all the time). We were a true team that was ready to face anything that would be an obstacle.
Our teachers, Christina and Betty, definitely embodied the lyric, “this woman is my destiny.” These two amazing ladies were our guides through the sometimes rough journey that every aspiring teacher undergoes as a rite of passage. You can bet that there were many, many obstacles along the way. Too many, in fact, to count. Christina and Betty were, in this way, our ultimate saviors – the role models who knew how to deal with the drama-filled second grade classroom, who knew how to motivate even the most slothful student, and who knew how to handle the rockiest situations. They were there waiting for us when we got off the bus that first Saturday afternoon, and they were there sending us off when we got on the bus that last Saturday morning. Not only did we get to experience their wisdom and guidance in the process of becoming a true teacher, but we also got to see their “fun” sides and communicate with them our needs, wants, and wishes. Their ideas, praise, and critiques have formed the wealth of the knowledge that I have gained these two weeks that will hopefully help me achieve success as a teacher, should I choose that career route as I move into college next fall.
“Helpless to the bass and the fading light/Oh, we were bound to get together/Bound to get together.” The most quintessential experience of this entire trip was getting to interact with the students in our respective schools. When I was first assigned the job of handling the youngest kids – second graders who barely knew the alphabet – I was, to say the least, apprehensive. Here I was, with no teaching experience at all besides the occasional tutoring job and advice on homework, about to lead an entire class of sixteen kids that I was supposed to mold in their journeys to the future. In the camp that I led as a counselor back in Texas, I was always with the older groups (middle school and high school) because I knew from experience what made them tick and how to deal with their mid-teenage crises. Elementary school kids? There was no way I could remember how I felt as a second grader. This was essentially my greatest fear – that I wouldn’t be able to handle something I had never done before. But plunging into the mystery was the best thing I have ever done. It’s true – at times we were actually helpless to the stress of making lesson plans and the frustration of dealing with our loud and rowdy students. Sometimes, we slept only four or five hours a night and spent the next morning struggling to pull ourselves out of bed to put on a brave face for our students, who would inevitably be ignorant of how much work and time we invested in them. This was coupled with the fact that our second grade classroom had some students with learning disabilities and unhealthy family backgrounds. Ultimately, we had to pull one girl out of the camp due to her tendency to stir up trouble, both verbal and physical. My biggest regret is that although we gave her five chances and she struck out every time, we were unable to give her the education that might have sparked a change in her personality and behavior. She was removed from our class at the end of the first week. Two other kids were particularly challenging for us to work with, as they were constantly distracted and uneager to complete the work we assigned. Contrast these sentiments with the unending curiosity and enthusiasm of the more advanced students, and we began juggling the varied spectrum of students that we were determined to impact. From the formation of lesson vocabulary/activities to preparing the kids for their final performances, we as teachers truly were able to shape the future by bringing something they’d never seen before and might not ever see again – a completely different cultural perspective towards the same common goal of education. Even though I stressed over their palms being too sweaty to stick to the taped star props for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and sometimes grew frustrated with their incessant chatter during “I’m a Little Teapot” rehearsals, I couldn’t help but feel pride at the way the students belted out the lyrics like they were born to rock the stage. Because they are. No matter where you come from or who you are, you can always remake yourself to be whatever or whoever you truly want to be.
The moral of the story is that you can never underestimate the power of love, friendship, and education. Our work here in Taiwan has been done, but its effects will go on forever and ever until the kids that we have taught will pass it on as adults to their children, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, the bonds that we’ve forged as a team will last – hopefully into the distant future when these memories have become shrouded in a fog of hazy past. We owe our lives to these three agents of force, and to AID for giving it to us. To AID 2015, here is a toast to the past, present, and future. Thank you for making my dreams a reality.
Yuan, Raymond (袁和榮)
The two weeks at Matsu teaching English to fifth and sixth grader were an adventure filled with wonder, mutual learning, and incredible discovery.

Teaching was a whirlwind of fun, discipline, and determination. Every night before the day, my partner and I would ensure that our following day’s lesson plan was appropriately structured and geared toward encouraging participation and enthusiasm. As such, we tweaked and modified our lesson plans on a daily basis in order to provide the best teaching experience. We employed a huge variety of teaching methods to generate interest and ensure that we could cover the material most effectively. We generally introduced vocabulary and sentence structuring with power points and reviewed the vocabulary with an active game. In this manner of mixing passive and more active activities, we tried to keep the kids enthusiastic and interested in learning new vocabulary. In addition, we introduced more than mere vocab and sentence structure by discussing culture and international differences. I found that teaching and creating lessons plans proved not only a huge challenge to match the large range of skill level and knowledge of the students properly, but also a challenge most definitely worth taking. I learned the satisfaction of a student fully understanding and utilizing a phrase and sentence structure. I learned the fulfillment of students grasping and knowing full sets of vocabulary to describe important and commonplace scenarios. While at times frustrating, every students’ degree of growth gave me an exponential growth in determination to teach them and ensure their understanding. I discovered and witnessed a development of English from awkwardness and fear of failure to that of confidently speaking and recognizing vocab and sentence structures. One of our students actually got every single question correct on his final post-test examination.

The sights that we witnessed were incredible, breathtaking views that even pictures could not do justice. The time spent with friends experiencing new and beautiful sights will forever remain with me. The food we ate was a departure of even traditional Chinese cuisine and was truly delicious.

Our teacher, Doris, proved an invaluable as both a teaching resource and an incredible guide in terms of growth as an individual. She constantly gave us tips and pointers that made us more effective teachers and educators; yet even more, she was always there to provide support and care for us volunteer teachers. Between Doris and Wayne, we were never in want during our time in Matsu. Together they provided an incredible support network that ensured that we had any and all necessary equipment to best teach the students and provide us with the best experience. Beyond providing necessary resources to teaching and living, the two of them served as an incredible inspiration, as they both displayed incredible amounts of dedication and commitment to the students and us, as volunteer teachers.

Overall, I found that my experience at Matsu, teaching, was a truly unique opportunity and experience. I’ve learned so much from learning Chinese yo-yo tricks to the struggle of creating and implementing appropriately paced lesson plans to even just appreciating the simple joys of life that we so often take for granted.

Chiang, Tiffany (蔣慶齡)
Post-Reflection Essay
Tiffany Chiang

The most beneficial trait man can possess is the desire to learn. Through the Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages program I was able to nourish this quality in both myself and the students I taught. I was able to share the importance of learning not only English, but also about different cultures. The training and teaching experience created a well-rounded program that was thoroughly enriching.

During my first week in the program I learned about a plethora of teaching strategies that I was excited to utilize when I made my teaching plans. Although not every strategy was effective, my hardworking teacher Queena ensured that each of my teammates and I were able to receive the help we needed to successfully complete the teaching plans. This aid from Queena also extended into our teaching period through multiple forms: cleaning the room we lived in, taking us out to shop for ourselves and our students, washing our laundry, helping us create posters for teaching aids and more. These tasks seem excessive for a teacher to accomplish but this truly made a difference in the way my teammates and I were able to focus solely on teaching and presenting the English material to the students. There were no distractions when we worked because Queena cared for all of the other non-teaching aspects of the experience. The actual teaching was a combination of excitement, frustration, stress, tireless work, and fun. There was a heavy amount of preparation to be done before and after class that caused most of the stress and frustration; however, these efforts were well worth it. During class time, the students were engaged and enjoyed learning through these teaching aids. The posters and games that we made created a fun atmosphere that encouraged the students to not only learn English, but that also helped progress the teacher-student relationship. I was able to befriend all of the students in my class and those in other classes as well. These beneficial connections aided in influencing the students to have a positive outlook on the importance of learning English. My class was the youngest and had the lowest level of English which made teaching English relatively difficult when compared to my fellow teammates who had the higher level classes. This meant that most of my original teaching plan had to be modified to accommodate the students’ learning abilities. Despite these issues, I was able to find a system of repetition that worked for my students. In order to keep the students focused I created a multitude of games; although sometimes the constant repetition bored me, I could tell that the students were learning. This progress and term retention was best shown during vocabulary review. It was extremely rewarding to watch the successes of each student as they increased their knowledge of the English language. Although I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this process, my favorite aspect of the experience was playing with and meeting the children. During the breaks my students would pull me out to the playground and request that I play with them. An example of how thoughtful my students are is when they wrote and dreew on the chalkboard nearly every morning to say “Good Morning teacher” to my teaching partner Willie Chen and I. These acts of kindness made it especially hard to leave them at the end of the teaching period. In addition to my students, I also found it difficult to leave all of the lovely people at Dong Rong elementary school that contributed to my teaching experience. Over the span of a brief but memorable three weeks, I created lasting friendships, found a second family in my team, and shared the English language and culture.
Chen, Willie (陳柏崴)
This whole program was overall really great, I've learned that being a teacher is a lot harder than it seems. It takes a lot of preparation and ideas to come up with the best level of education to teach these children. Over the past few weeks, I’ve made a tremendous amount of new friends from all over the US. It’s been such a great experience for me, especially because I haven’t been back to Taiwan in five years until now. It was interesting to see how different the school environment was compared to America. The kids were all really nice and respectful, I’m glad that we showed them a good time for two weeks. Saying goodbye was extremely sad but I know if I ever come back to Taiwan, I’m definitely going to visit them in the future.
As far as training week, it was pretty boring sitting through long lectures, but I did learn a couple various ways that I could use to teach my students. And it ended up being a great learning experience for me. During our week at Chien Tan, it was pretty fun hanging out with new friends on our down time. Getting to meet other people from all over the US and hear about everyone’s lives was really interesting and made our friendships grow closer and closer each day.
Finally, the tour was beyond fun. I made even more friends, and we got pretty close after winning second place on the talent show. I want to thank all the counselors for taking care of us and having fun with us. I’m glad I made so many great memories in this program, thank you AID fam.

Fung, Victoria (馮君穎)
Coming from a Cantonese-speaking family and having never been to Taiwan, I knew the AID summer program would push me beyond my boundaries. I was slightly concerned with my limited Mandarin abilities and wasn’t sure whether I could adjust to an environment teaching junior high school students. However, I was drawn to the challenge. The opportunity to experience Taiwanese culture and meet other motivated students was one I looked forward to. Thanks to the support and friendship of teaching partner Alex and group C1-6, along with the teachers at Mudan Junior High School, I can remember this as the best summer I’ve had so far.
Fortunately, I had previous experience teaching a wide variety of age groups, but I still learned some new techniques during training that could be integrated into my teaching. I especially enjoyed the lecture where we played different card games that could be used to reinforce vocabulary. Knowing how much fun we had playing simple games, I was confident that the junior high school students would also like them. The most useful part of training was probably watching other volunteers’ teaching demos, and seeing how various teaching styles could all be successful.
Shortly after arriving at Mudan, we were quickly immersed into the peaceful culture there. I’ve always enjoyed the classic Taiwanese bubble tea drinks, shaved ice, and beef noodle soup, but my time at Mudan opened my eyes to the aboriginal culture I had never been exposed to before. On our first day there, we walked up the stairs at Mudan Dam and saw the beautiful view of the mountains. We later worked on revising our first-day lesson plans and developing classroom rules.
Our first day of teaching was admittedly rough; however it was definitely outweighed by the following days. Giving a Chinese introductory speech in front of the whole school was nerve-wracking, but fortunately the help from my teammates helped it go as smoothly as possible. I had trouble speaking over the class of twenty students and was concerned when the students didn’t respond to our activities like we planned. Over time though, I learned how to assert myself, which was difficult as a naturally introverted person. In fact, I even did things that were previously uncharacteristic of me, including singing Tong Hua in English and dancing K-pop in the opening ceremony. We picked subjects that the students would be likely to be interested in, such as sports and ordering food at McDonald’s. Following up “Repeat After Me” with word games was an effective way to reinforce the vocab at least in the short term. Although the students might not have learned a lot in a textbook sense, I hope their excitement for learning English during the two weeks will carry on into the future. Similarly, I was inspired by my teammates’ fluency in Chinese and am now more motivated to learn the language.
I don’t think I’ll have another experience spending almost 24/7 with a group of six people, but I’ll always remember this summer as the most fun and enriching one yet. I’m glad I got the chance to take part in a high concentration of selfies, drink milk tea to the point of sickness, and come to enjoy karaoke. I’m thankful for the faculty at the school who took us to a hot spring, Kenting night market, and snorkeling, along with buying us tons of delicious food. As the program comes to a close, I still wonder how my partner Alex was able to make me laugh doing virtually nothing, although the massive cockroach hunt one night was justifiably hilarious. Although four weeks was a bit short to fully explore Taiwan like I wanted, I guess that’s just another reason why I will be back!
Yang, Joshua (楊恩澤)
This has been nothing but an amazing experience for me. From teaching children to touring Taiwan, this program has truly been a testament to the adage “time flies when you are having fun”.
When I first arrived at Ruifang, I had a host of pre-existing expectations and even worries of the school that I would teach at. How were the students? How would the dorm conditions be? Would I be prepared? Would I enjoy the food? Would I have a great time? These were all answered quickly after the first few days staying here.
Starting off with the students, at first I was a little worried about the 9th Grade class that I was teaching. When Andrew, Mimi, and I met the students on Monday, all of the students seemed shy. My suspicions were confirmed after, when asked questions, the students would quietly respond and very few seemed eager or even willing to participate in the lessons. Slowly, however, that problem began to change. As we went through some ice breaking games and introduced ourselves to the students, they seemed livelier and more interested in what we were saying. As the week continued to progress, I could visibly see the excitement and passion in their eyes as we taught; I could see their hunger to learn. Even the quietest of students would muster up the courage to answer questions, and everyone performed terrifically in front of the class when we had activities, such as role-playing. It was so satisfying seeing the students enjoy learning not only English terms, but also American culture as well.
Now while the students were responsive, the teaching lessons did have a few bumps in the road. On some nights, it would take a long time to finish a lesson plan, and we would stay up until the late hours before we went to sleep. However, as the week progressed, it became easier to quickly prepare the material we needed beforehand, and some days we might have even prepared too much that we would need to skim over some extra information that we added in. To say the least, this hard work and preparation was not as huge of a struggle as I thought it might be, and the time we spent was definitely worth it.
For the food and living conditions, I could not be more satisfied. Air conditioning, comfortable beds, morning meals, exciting restaurants, cultural dishes. Anything that I could want Ruifang would have.
Finally, to answer the last question, yes I did have fun, and I am so glad I got to participate in this amazeballs program and take part in this beautiful teaching experience.
Lin, Angela (林雅貞)
I first heard about this program though my houston hakka youth group. My brothers posted this program 2 years ago and they had a blast. They both loved it and kept wishing they could go back again. So this is why I decided to join the program. Apart from the fact that I was also trying this for college and volunteering services while trying to make new friends from other places.
To be honest.. I was not happy with the training that they gave us. Because I thought it was a waste of precious time to getting to know people and creating our plan. It was a little messy at first , and I thought it was useless, but in the end during the teaching the stuff they taught us during the class helped us during teaching. So after the first week we headed off to our respective schools, & I had was not excited. At first I was spekitical about teaching these kids. But they were actually really easy going, obident, and very respectful to us as teachers.
We got close to the children and even if some of the students were very rouwdy, they were very willing to learn and listen to us. However there were still some of the students that we cannot like to fact that they did not listen, or did not want to try. How are they still wanted to be friends with us. One of our counselors said that we are there to be teachers, we are not there to be their friend. However in the end we still became really close. I believe this is the fact that we cannot ignore, especially while we are teaching. We are going to be friends with our students. No matter how hard we try not to. One of the toughest challenges, was having the students retain the knowledge of what they have learned in these past two weeks. About six of my students out of the 15 failed the posttest. This is why I believe that the main purpose of us coming to town wants to teach the students, if you teach them basic English and American culture.
One of the best moments was when we played with water balloons on sports day where all the teachers got wet! It was awesome. ;)I'm going to miss them a lot... they really are great students and willing to learn about American culture and heritage. And we are there to give them the opportunity, which is why I believe this is a great program to have.
Cheng, Timothy (鄭彦傑)
First, I would like to thank the various sponsors for providing me and the volunteers this special experience. Without them, I wouldn’t be here describing my past weeks and my gratitude for them for allowing us to have this. I would also like to thank the counselors for taking care of us for the last two weeks, and helping us stay on task. These past weeks have changed my perspective in countless ways, ways that I will be able to apply to my own life. I learned to take responsibility in the most impossible of situations. I learned to cooperate with people whose ideals were opposite of mine. I learned to think on the spot for ideas that could entertain a classroom for a sufficient amount of time. In the beginning, I doubted the effectiveness of the program. I wasn’t convinced that a group of different people could work together and teach a class of eager minds. However, after the teaching began, I discovered that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We were all ready to face challenges that stood in our way, whether it be personal or work problems, and we focused all of our attention to provide the best learning environment for our students. It was indefinitely one of the best experiences in my life, and I have learned a lot about coping with stress and problem solving. My group and I will forever utilize this memorable opportunity to influence our choices in future endeavors. Thank you once again, for this experience that could not be a bigger part of my life than it already is.
Wang, Emily (王瑄)
Although our journey at Hsinchu's Donghai Elementary began with one of our group members accidentally taking the high speed railroad past Hsinchu to Taichung, this two week period has truly given me unforgettable memories. Before the first day of teaching, our living area was completely taken over by swarms of bugs. We attempted to fight back with large amounts of bug spray and fly swatters- which were originally going to be used for games- however, we lost the war and moved to another classroom. Even though none of us got enough rest on this night right before the beginning of the program, I was sincerely touched when I saw the enthusiasm my group mates displayed and the energy that flowed from them as the opening ceremony began the second day. Through this program, I learned much from my fellow volunteer teachers and my experience here helped shaped me into an individual with a greater sense of responsibility and sharpened compassion for others.
AID gave me the opportunity to reach out to children raised in a culture entirely different from my own and to not only provide English education for them, but also expand my own social boundaries. The time spent at Donghai helped me realize that there is a world outside of the bubble that the U.S. created.
Tai, Katie (戴瑞蘭)
We’ve been pretending not to know Chinese for two weeks. Truth be told, most of our classes would be so much easier we could translate everything ourselves; every time we have to test for comprehension or reading ability, we have to wait for a translator to give instructions so we can maintain the ruse. Whenever the kids ask for something, we have to pretend we don’t know what they want. If the kids haven’t gone home, even our conversations with the teachers and principal (some of whom do not know English) turn into a game of charades or telephone. But even though explaining the rules of Cops and Robbers during PE is almost impossible and I have to get creative to avoid calling myself slow when the kids try and “teach” me Chinese, the challenge is worth it. The kids are learning so much more than they would if they could wait for us to explain in Chinese.

I learn from the kids as much as they learn from me. I get lots of practice at patience, of course, but there’s more to my time here than just learning to manage a classroom. People on the mountain don’t live by the clock. Every day, I’m reminded that there’s no need to rush to the next class when I have a ten minute break; the kids want me to play patty-cake or dance with them. They walk 15 minutes to a swimming pool that is actually a series of small waterfalls; if I climb the rocks, I can see for miles around. The closest 7-11 is 40 minutes away, and the first home goods/personal necessities store is 2 hours down winding roads; if I want to do an activity in class, I have to think far, far ahead or make do with what I have on hand. People start a barbecue in front of their house here and the whole street is invited; at home, the neighbors can’t even see past the fence.

Which is not to say that there aren’t some interesting if less convenient important details to note. We have to keep an eye out for landslides whenever it rains and we need to go down the mountain. Also, rain leads to clogged water pipes . . . which leads to water shortages even while I’m staring at a rainbow.

I hope the kids see English as an opportunity to look into another world from home, instead of as another subject they’re required to learn. Maybe they already do - when we did our interviews, the cameraman asked the kids what they had to say about us. Every one of them said they were grateful we came to teach.
Tsai, Brian (蔡彥傑)
This trip to Taiwan has been an experience I will never forgot. Not only has it taught me responsibility, but it has also taught me that teaching is not as easy as it looks. Preparing endlessly through the night trying to make posters and lesson plans for the next day continued to be a challenge that each one of us had to struggle through in order to teach successfully. In addition, the actual teaching part proved to be quite a challenge as well. It is not the same simply planning to teach students than to actually teach in front of them. The first week of training at Chien Tan prepared us for the initial planning part of our lesson and they did very well to provide us with the resources and knowledge to plan an engaging lesson but in the end it was up to us to prove that we could teach. The first few days of teaching at Dong Rong Elementary School were difficult and the students were reluctant and even confused speaking to us in English. Even simple ice breaking activities including writing the student's names turned into a tedious task of explaining and demonstrating. We realized that what were simple words in English such as: names, family, food, color, etc, ones that we think all American preschoolers would know right away were in reality almost alien to Taiwanese students. Taiwanese 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc graders all grew up in households that spoke only Mandarin or Taiwanese and the language barrier that divided the English language and their native language is extremely difficult to overcome. In the end, we decided that the only way to effectively teach was to make the core of our teaching plan involve teaching the students a few vocabulary words and repeating them until it stuck in their heads. At times it became a mindless task of reiterating the same words over and over until we the teachers were sick of it but we could sigh a breath of relief when we heard the students say the vocabulary without our help. The simple and domestic lifestyle at Dong Rong exuded quiet and peaceful environment where we could get away from the fast pace of American lifestyle. Outdoor activities included playing basketball and track and at night one could eat and talk into the night. Dong Rong was not only an excellent place to educate students in the rural area but also a place where we could enjoy a pace of life dissimilar to our normal ones. The final week tour was truly one of the best experience I have ever had. We went to many place, from the amusement park to making paper fans, this tour encompassed destinations that ranged from ones of historical value to modern entertainment. I especially enjoyed the visit to the aboriginal village amusement park because I was able to go on all the park rides as well as view Taiwanese aboriginal dance I also liked the Dream Mall because it was very similar to the Galleria back in Texas with its familiar levels of shops side by side. This trip was a very special experience for me, one that I will always remember for the rest of my life.
Liu, Andy (劉恩)
The beginning of my experience in the Summer AID program started with awkward greetings and quiet alone time.
I spent many of my time alone in my room and just stared into space, since I wasn't the best at making friends,
but have always dreamed of doing so. As time went on and I started to talk more with my roommates, I began to
learn more about the unique and special volunteer teachers that AID chose. Coming from all places, these new friends
I made had countless quirks and talents that made our journey together memorable. We survived the week long training
session together and traveled to our designated school. When my partner and I started teaching, we realized how
important and helpful the training session was to our daily lessons plans. Honestly, I did not think teaching elementary
students needed thorough planning and devotion. In order to finish each day, improv was needed to keep students busy
and TPR was needed to engage all the students. Teaching students is not all about making them regurgitating
knowledge from textbooks nor singling out a individual student. Each student needed individual attention in order to
fully comprehend the teaching material. However, the challenges I faced never deterred me from giving up. Knowing
the poverty and special circumstances that surrounded the students I taught, I put the needs of my students before
myself by trying harder and working harder than before to make an unforgettable memory. In order to achieve this,
I entertained the students during breaks and helped them one on one when they struggled. Two weeks passed, and
at the end of the teaching part, I felt like I made a impact of the lives of the students. I was changed as a
person and gained irreplaceable teaching experience. It was easier for me to make new friends and I learned the
necessary buttons to push to control rowdy students. After the tears were shed, the goodbyes made, emails exchanged,
I realized as I was sitting on the train back to the tour that my time with my students and friends will be
remembered eternally.
Liu, Jade ()
I have learned that being a teacher is not that easy of an job especially when teaching the lower kids