2019 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Seattle
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Dudsic, Kira (杜吉娘)
What a journey AID has been! The past three weeks have flown by so quickly, and I feel reluctant to leave. I didn’t expect to make so many connections and grow so attached in such a short amount of time. My teaching group and I bonded from the start, from the very first night we met at Chien Tan.
On that note, the first week at Chien Tan felt very long. It felt like we were always either eating or attending a three hour lecture, from morning until night. The TA’s were all super friendly and fun to be around, and I especially loved my group’s TA! However, I felt that the week was poorly organized as there was a lot of waiting involved in everything we did. For example, the day we met the vice president, we had to wait 45 minutes on the bus before we got off, and then another 30 minutes before the ceremony actually began. In terms of lectures, many of the lessons were slow. Of course, these were mock lessons designed for teaching ESL elementary students, but I wish we didn’t have to name fruits for twenty minutes (during the Creative Teaching lecture). Other than that, the food was good, the rooms were clean, and I appreciate how we got to go to Shi Lin night market twice!

The two weeks at my teaching school, Da-Keng Elementary, were incredible! The staff was friendly, helpful, attentive, and altogether wonderful. The food we got was great and the room we slept in was clean and air conditioned. Although the kids were rowdy at times, they were bursting with positive energy and made teaching feel enjoyable and worthwhile. Each class had its own personality and it was fun to interact with all the kids, not just the ones in my class. It was difficult coming up with new activities to do with the kids, because most of the students didn’t want to play games that had to do with learning. Creating lesson plans felt like a chore every night, but and they never went as planned the next day because we liked adjusting the schedule to fit the interests and needs of our students. Teaching a foreign language in ten days is nearly impossible, but I do believe that programs like this have the power to positively influence young minds in learning languages. I hope that these two weeks have made the kids want to continue to learn English and have shown them that although learning is hard, it can also be enjoyable. I will never forget this experience and can truly say that this has made for one of the best summers of my life. Thank you to AID and Da-Keng Elementary for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Kao, Kona (高雨竹)
I started AID with no expectations at all. I did not have many friends they are doing the program, and since I do not make friends easily, I thought that I would be alone for the upcoming 4 weeks of AID. However, on the first day, I was already proven wrong. Right after dinner, my group wanted to meet up. At first, it was really awkward, but by the end of the night, I already felt like I have known them forever. It was then I realized that AID might not actually be as bad as I had imagined.

The rest of the training week went by before I knew it. I was already used to the daily lectures (long and somewhat boring, but bearable), the early meals with 7 dishes, the group working time, the friendly counselors (Xuannyx!), and the 11:00 PM bedchecks. As much as I was going to miss the solid daily routines, I was more than ready to head of to Taichung and start teaching!

During my 2 weeks in Taichung, Da-Keng Elementary School, I learned a lot of important lessons that I would not have through textbooks. I learned about the cultural differences, the lack of English education in rural area, the different lifestyle of rural area kids, the importance of patience and positivity, the different types of nature that lies within the school area, etc. All of these which I would not have found out if I had not attended this program. I had never realized how shallow my perspective was, before this experience.

Lastly, I would like to thank ALL the organizations and communities that were involved in allowing this program to be so successful. Without everyone's help, I would not have had such a memorable volunteer experience that will forever be remembered in my heart.
Yen, Kelly (燕盛源)
I first heard about this program from my parents a couple of years ago. They would remind me every summer that the year I turned 17, I would be eligible to participate in this apparently once in a lifetime opportunity. I would quietly roll my eyes and Pretend to match their enthusiasm. When this summer finally came, I applied to several other camps and internships. Taiwan AID was the backup plan if I didn’t get to attend any of the other events. Initially, this program was just a way to boost my college resume and spend my summer doing something somewhat productive. After my third week as a part of this program, I now realize how naive I had been. During The first week in Taipei, I met and fell in love with my team, TA, and teachers. I learned how to teach and interact with the students. We grew not only individually, as teachers and as citizens, but also as a team. We learned about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and gradually learned how to work together to tackle the many challenges at Da-keng. The first week of teaching was one of the busiest, most stressful weeks of my life. After the first day of teaching, I locked myself in the shower and cried for half an hour. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to work with my team and that the students wouldn’t like or respect me. These fears gradually wore off and I became more confident in leading the class. I still argued with my teammates occasionally but the fights became less intense and the forgiveness quicker to come by. After the first week of teaching we were all fortunate enough to be able to go to the hot springs for a weekend retreat. The second week was rather uneventful and seemed to go by a lot quicker than the first.

Today we had to say goodbye to the students we had come to love over the past two weeks. I didn’t know that I could care so much for people that I had only known for a short two weeks. I will never hear their childish laughter and taunting, their incessant pestering, their collective yell of approval (or more likely, disapproval), ever again. I got to enjoy all the excitement, anxiety, and pride of being a teacher in two short weeks. I don’t remember ever feeling such conflicting emotions about anything before. The teachers that have been here for the past two weeks, taking care of not only our physical needs but our emotional needs as well— giving us words of encouragement every morning, or a smile of reassurement when the students were especially difficult. Without their support I know I would not have survived these past three weeks.

AID has been one of the most significant experiences of my life. I will never forget the people, places, and most importantly, lessons I've learned these past three weeks.

Yen, Chris (燕盛清)
When first meeting everyone, I was a little more shy and reserved. After getting to know everyone a bit more, AID became more fun, especially since we started hanging out more and spending time together talking/playing card games. I'm glad our group really connected in our first week at jien tan. The food was good, and the rooms were pretty nice. I think some of the events could've been planned out better (such as going to the night market), but other than that, the time we spent at jien tan was very fun.
Da keng elementary school was a very nice famous, and the staff there was all very nice, and was there for our every need. The room we stayed in was very cozy. The students were all relatively nice and well behaved. We didn't get to go anywhere except on the weekend, and we went to the hot springs, which were rather disappointing. However, the time spent at da keng was really fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. thank you for giving me this opportunity to join the AID program. It was a good experience overall, and i am especially grateful for the TA's at jien tan, the teachers at da-keng, and my fellow da keng AID members.

Chiang, Katheren (江思穎)
I am what you would call an ambivert, so while I'm pretty outgoing once I am comfortable with people, I am always nervous when meeting new people. I was terrified the first day when I checked in, because I was going to be alone without anyone I knew for a month straight. Little did I know I was going to meet people that would end up taking up special places in my heart.

My group was a large one. Eleven high school kids, all of whom were a couple months younger than me. As with any group of people, there was always some friction, but our group clicked surprisingly well. The first couple of days, they had no idea who I was so most of them bonded without me. However, as we spent more time together over the next couple of weeks, most of my group became my close friends. Even our pink-clad group leader and the counselors we affectionately called "smurfs" became super important people to me.

I've always loved kids, so I was looking forward to the two teaching weeks. Though we were supposed to be teachers and maybe nothing more, I bonded with my kids and became sort of an older sister to them. A lot added me on LINE and Facebook... Many more asked if we were going to be back last year. Seeing the sort of impact we had on them made the two weeks of late nights, sickness, and hard work so so so worth it.
Tsao, Ethan (曹宇森)
These three weeks have comprehensively been enjoyable beyond what I imagined. In the first week at Jien-Tan, we learned multiple techniques towards managing a classroom environment. First of aIl, I learned that teaching English is more effective through the utilization of fun activities and enlightening pictures to engage the students. Furthermore, the rural environment that many of the kids reside in limit their opportunities towards useful application of English. Surprisingly, I found that lack of motivation towards learning English was simply due to being young, energetic kids. During the training at Jien-Tan, we were taught a few strategies, activities, and examples of lesson plans. However, I feel that the lessons were mundane at times due to the hypocrisy of the teachers in proclaiming fun activities to promote interest, yet lecturing for hour after hour with a powerpoint presentation. Food at Jien-Tan was not bad, but I was unimpressed by the immense amounts of food wasted. Teaching at Da-Keng was not as desolate as I expected. Living conditions could definitely have been worse and food was plentiful and edible. The staff were truly welcoming and had a strong desire to be helpful, going out of their way to ensure that our stay was comfortable. The only complaint I have is the lack of safety design in the building, causing me to slip in water and create large, deep gashes in my leg and a visit to the emergency room. Despite the immense pain and major inconveniences it caused, the events I experienced and the teammates I bonded with was worth coming. Although the students sometimes caused difficulties and were tiring to manage, the connections I made with students were truly unforgettable. I believe that overall, we expanded the english vocabulary of our students, although they could all work on building connections between what they learned in order to more effectively apply it towards new situations, such as speaking. It was tiring managing them at times, but I enjoyed seeing students learn, retain concepts, and have fun. There were difficulties in communication between teachers, but at the end of the day, we were able to work together to effectively get things done. This extended experience has made me respect my teachers more and what they do for me.

Li, Millicent (李家佩)
Volunteering to teach English in Taiwan was an experience that I would have never really anticipated that I would enjoy. I would say that the week after residing in Chientan was much better than the initial week itself. The experience there was boring and mindless and I did not enjoy getting paraded around the youth activities center. Plus, many of the activities we participated in had nothing to do with the actual teaching experience, which was extremely deceptive. Since every school and class is different, it wasn't fair to try to create a plan even before we knew the class and school dynamic. But after the training week at Chientan, hanging out with my students and bonding with my team really helped seal the deal for the experience. I really enjoyed getting to know the students, inspiring them to learn English, and fostering new connections between the other volunteers and me. For one, it was a breath of fresh air that was really different from the things I had done in summers past. And for another, I really wanted to experience Taiwan without my parents, so this opportunity gave me a chance to do what I wanted. Overall, I had great experience as a volunteer teaching English in Taiwan.
Chang , Emily (張瑋淋)
Participating in the AID 2018 summer English teaching program was enlightening and enabled me to create strong bonds with my group, other volunteers, teachers, and my kids. In just a short month I learned how to become a good English teacher as well as a good friend to these kids. This was not only a learning experience for the kids but also for me. I went to Taiwan thinking that I would be giving more than I was receiving, but began to realize that as I was teaching, I was also gaining experience and learning about myself. Leaving home for a month without my parents seemed intimidating; but I have grown in ways I could not imagine, and its all thanks to the people I met along the way. This trip to Taiwan would not be what it was without the people around me. First of all, I want to thank all the blue smurfs and counselors at Hotel Papa Whale for making the month fun; they were able to be strict but also be our friends at the same time. They spent day and night making sure we were safe, having fun, and making sure we weren't hungry. Secondly, I want to thank my group and all the volunteers I met on the way, without y'all I would not have been able to survive through the loads of prep we needed to finish for lesson plans. I also want to thank the kids and staff at my school, they welcomed my group with open arms and made my teaching experience the best yet. I fell in love with my kids and the loving environment that created at Bojia Elementary. Finally, I want to thank the Taiwanese government and OCAC for continuing this program and allowing volunteers from all around the world to make an impact by teaching but also learning side by side with kids in Taiwan. I had two memorable experiences during this trip, the first one was during the last day of teaching where all the kids in my class created a thank message board for us, each kid had written a short thank you note in english and they put it together to show their gratitude for us. The second was when my tour bus (E bus), got second place in the talent show. I remember us feeling stressed and unsure of how our performance would be because we only had a few hours during the hectic tour week to throw everything together. But in the end we were able to work together as a bus and put on a great performance! This was a once in a lifetime experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be apart of a program that brings people of different walks of life together to better the english skills of children in Taiwan.
Chiu, Kristofer (邱品富)
AID definitely has the potential to be lifechanging, for high school or college students, and maybe even for the kids we taught as well. At AID, I met people I would’ve otherwise never met, and I made many good friends that I know I will want to meet again, all in the span of a month.
As for our students, I still feel like they could’ve learned more English, since I didn’t agree with the school’s insistence on using a particular teaching method. However, I did see individual development among the students, like with some of the students, they initially spoke very little, but started participating more as we moved on to the second week of teaching. As a whole we saw the students support each other when someone from their team was up representing them. (This was because our assigned overarching “theme” for the two weeks was teamwork.)
Living in Puli, Nantou was very different from what I was used to, especially since we slept inside a classroom with mattresses on the floor. However, I didn’t think it was that hard to get used to, and being together was enough to take our mind of such insignificant details.
Similarly, with the tour, I feel like the fun was being with friends and other people, rather than the actual places we went to. It’s always the people that make these experiences worth all that much.
Lee, Ling (李鈴鈴)
AID summer 2018 was an unforgettable experience. The memories I made, the people I met, and the life experience I gained will stay with me for life. At first I was not sure how to feel about the program or what to expect. It was quite overwhelming to see so many people all in one place. However as the week passed, I became good friends with my group mates and I also met so many other people from around the world, even my counselor was one of the coolest people I've ever met. The two teaching weeks that I spent in Xiluo were actually two of the best weeks of my entire life. The people in the small town were extremely welcoming and friendly. My host family treated me like I was actually part of their family, feeding me fruits and other yummy snacks everyday. The kids that I met were so cute, I became attached to them very quickly. My team leader at the school always made sure we had yummy food to eat and she would buy us drinks when we were too hot or tired. The principal and dean at our school also treated us extremely well. The TAs at the school have become people I talk to everyday. Although it was tiring to spend every night worrying about what I should teach to the kids the next day and how I should teach it to make it interesting, AID 2018 was worth every minute I spent worrying. The kids were eager to learn english as well as American culture. They would make me gifts and come find me during break to talk to me! It made me extremely happy whether they knew it or not. I came to Taiwan to teach, but I feel as though I've learned more than I would ever be able to teach. I fell in love with the small town of Xiluo, it's people, and Taiwan as a whole. For a month Taiwan really became my home, and the people here became my family. AID 2018 has given me people that I consider my lifetime friends that I will remember for as long as I live. This was simultaneously the most tiring, the most fun, and the best summer of my life. Tour week was tiring, and we didn't always enjoy the schedule whether it be the place we were visiting or how much time we got there. But, The effort put into organizing by the counselors really touched me. These counselors, they couldn't be much older than the rest of us, spent day and night watching over us and making sure we were okay became friends that I will also remember forever. AID has been an eye opening experience that I will never forget!
Lai, Isaac (賴子凌)
When my mother told me that there was an opportunity to gain volunteer hours while also being able to vacation in Taiwan, I jumped for joy. But soon, my mistake dawned on me. I had just sacrificed the better half of my summer to go into some backwater countryside to teach english to some of the most devious creatures under god's green earth. Would there even be wi-fi?

But I won't be talking about that.

I'll be talking about how experience changed me, and how I owe a debt to the souls up on the mountain who made every possible effort to make sure that i had enough water and food. Their eagerness to help me in even the smallest inconvenience rocked me. Inspired by what lengths there were willing to go simply to provide the necessities, I put every ounce of being i had into my teaching, returning to my room late every night exhausted and worn to the bone. And yet I climbed that mountain every morning with a grin. Why? I truthfully didn't know. But I knew that i would never be able to live with myself if I didn't put 110% of myself into helping the kids, i would be nothing short of a disappointment to myself.

TL;DR: 10/10 would teach again
Chen, Jonathan (陳沅銘)
AID 2018 was a great experience for me. I originally was not very excited about the program and what I had read about it, but at the end of the program was one of the hardest things to say goodbye too. The people I had met on this trip will truly become life long family. The teaching experience was also something I would not have ever expected, the children were truly wonders and gave me great joy to spark an interest in English. The kids originally were very shy but as the days went on they brought a new perspective on how they are. Yunlin was a very inviting place to be and I will very much miss that place, the homestay families and teachers were the greatest and and very grateful to have met them. Being with my group for 4 weeks brought us very close to each other, close enough to call each other family. Our teacher Augusta, was very accommodating to us, if it weren't for her our group would have been very lost. Living in a very rural area made it feel like home and made me appreciate things at home, leaving Taiwan was a very difficult thing to do and all the great people I met there too. I will never forget this experience.
Chao, Justin (趙磊)
At AID the people who gained the most experience were not the students, but the teachers. We were forced to adapt to this fast-paced, strenuous program. We learned how to work in a team. We learned to live in questionable, harsh environments. We learned how to tame the rowdiest of kids. Words cannot express the amount of physical and mental stress and labor that we endured. Even though I am unsure how much I enjoyed the AID program itself, I am certain this experience has helped me grow as a person. I owe this program an insurmountable debt for how much I have learned in these short 4 weeks. And I cannot ignore the people I have met through this program. By taking teenagers from all walks of life and mixing them together, I was able to meet some of the most interesting and unique people in my entire life. I will never forget the people I met and the role they played in my growth. Bonds were formed and memories were made. There were good times, and there were many, many bad times. AID was a truly unforgettable experience that has shaped me into a better person that is prepared for any future challenge