志工感言 (Reflection) >> Houston
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Ng, Eley (吳宜勵)
Coming from a family that speaks Mandarin at home on very rare occasions, I was nervous about participating in AID, knowing that my Chinese-speaking abilities are lacking. Yet, I felt at home once I arrived at Chientan since there were so many who were either in the same situation or were willing to help translate for me. After training week, my group and I arrived at our school, where we were met with a warm welcome from the staff at Bi-Tan Elementary. These people were so accommodating and polite that we almost overused "thank you". Once we had our first day of school, I immediately fell in love with my students, who were quick-learners and good kids. My teaching partner and I had a great time with our kids, and our group grew closer during our stay at Bi-Tan, which abruptly ended by the end of our second week there. It was so sad to say goodbye to my kids and the staff there, but I was also happy that I was able to friend most of them on Facebook. The tour was a little tiring, but it was so fun to see many scenic spots in Taiwan, learn more about the culture, eat/drink great food, and meet new people. Ultimately, I think of the people I met and the places I saw in Taiwan as the highlights of my AID Summer experience, which was undoubtedly one of the best summers I've had yet.
Chang, Claudia (張芸瑄)
Teaching disadvantaged kids was defiantly a new experience for me. However, at the end of the two weeks of teaching, I have grown to love my students. Tour was pretty amazing as well. I wish that it was longer and you would give us more time at Feng Jia night market and more opportunities to bond with other buses. During the 4 weeks of AID, I learned more about Taiwan's culture and places. Overall, I had lots of fun and made many friends. I hope I can attend AID next year!
Lien, Victoria (連祐誼)
Aidsummer was one of the most unforgettable experiences ever. Even though I’ve been to Taiwan countless times, I was still surprised by the many new places I went to, the new experiences and foods I tried, and the amazing people I met on the way. Training week was very helpful when applied to teaching because of the countless games we learned about and the methods of teaching children. Because I want to become a teacher in the future, this helped me understand teaching in a classroom setting in a clearer light. Teaching weeks were the most fun. Although at times it was difficult getting up so early, my kids and my teaching team made it all worth it. Besides getting closer to my teaching team and being more comfortable around them while joking around, I was also able to get closer with the people at the school. The children at the school were funny and smart and talented. Although they come from a background completely different from ours, they still liked to do the same things we do and were still knowledgeable in many diverse aspects. At first they seemed shyer, but as the days passed they all become more comfortable in the classroom environment. In addition, the school conditions were all better than I expected. The school had air conditioning installed in our rooms especially for our comfort. The environment there was very different than what we were all used to, but it was easy to adjust to it. Furthermore, the teacher loved treating us to frozen treats after a hot day and the food (including the school lunches) were all very delicious. Not only did the school allow us to experience many things such as a Chinese barbeque, biking around the local neighborhood, shrimping, clamming, riding on a raft, and others, we also learned about the local culture as well. For a person who has come to Taiwan so many times yet has never experienced the local cultures of a lot of places, my time at Yunlin was the best. The tour was great, meeting new people and spending time with my group at some tourist spots I had never been to. Although we spent the majority of the time driving and I wish we could congregate faster without having to wait 30-40 minutes for us all to be present and get on the bus, I appreciated going to new places. I wish we could have spent longer at each place instead of driving so much because frankly, 1 hour isn’t enough for a night market and other things as well, but being able to see aboriginal culture and try new things was certainly worth it. Overall, even though I wish the tour was spent more at places instead of on the road or waiting, Aidsummer was such a great experience, making the U.S. seem so much less inviting. If I could, I would love to go to Aidsummer again, but most of all, I hope I will meet the people I met on this trip some other day because they are some of the kindest people I’ve met and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
Peir, Adam (裴一先)
I have been extremely fortunate in these seventeen years that I have been living. I got the opportunity from my parents to come to the United States from Taiwan to live the American Dream. In America, we often take this for granted, and we never truly appreciate what lies in our hands, but in my native country Taiwan, America is a place of opportunity, hope, affluence, and prosperity.
My parents both came from both came from humble roots. My mother lived in the countryside of Miaoli and my father was the son of a soldier in Taipei. They were not the wealthiest people in the world and never even dreamed of having the opportunity to come to the U.S., but through hard work in school and at their respective companies, they managed to pursue the American Dream.
The hardships that my parents have endured to come to America have clearly spoiled me. I attend one of the top high schools in the nation, I have had the luxury to learn piano, cello, Chinese yoyo, and get extra help on academics, and I live in a beautiful home with my own bedroom and car. The vast majority of people in the U.S. as well as in Taiwan and throughout the world can’t even think about having these luxuries and I believe that it’s only fair if I give back to society.
In my opinion, giving back to society is not simply donating money to a particular foundation; it is taking action and responsibility when helping others. Over the past few years, I have become more aware of how fortunate I am and this has been the driving force of my goal of giving back to the community. In the past few years, I have done some activities that relate to my goal, such as assisting the Libraries of Love in packing books to be shipped to Uganda, becoming the Chinese yoyo teacher at the Tzu Chi foundation, volunteering at the Austin Children’s Museum, and playing music at nursing homes for the elderly. This has brought me great joy and happiness, but this summer, I had the chance to give back to where it all started, my native country of Taiwan, and the AID summer program was essential in that aspect.
The AID summer program allowed me to inspire kids. It allowed them to dream big, be ambitious and know that the world is full of limitless opportunities. Many of the kids never knew anything outside of the little town they lived in, and many couldn’t have imagined having the opportunity to travel to America, Canada or the U.K. Personally, it was a gratifying experience that showed me what teaching is all about. It opened my eyes to the other side of the world and it showed me all the untapped potential that are in children throughout the world. My experience this summer with the AID summer program is something that I would never forget and never trade for anything else.

Chung, Alvin (鍾念祖)
I don't really know what to say as the entirety of the program is difficult to describe and discuss. However, overall, the program was downright incredible as each day was packed with activities both entertaining, informative, and life-changing. During orientation week, although the wake-up calls were a bit early, I was able to meet an extremely diverse group of people originating from all over the world. In short, I feel extremely blessed to have met them. Furthermore, the classes during the orientation week were very helpful in dealing with the children and administering the lesson plans (most notably classroom strategies and activities).
Chen, Dora (陳暘)
I can't say out right what this experience meant to me, but maybe if I write about one moment on my trip, it will say enough.

Meet Jack: Small and fuzzy headed, with bug bites all over his legs and a red envelope pinned lovingly on his shirt every day, a trademark that tells me when he goes home, someone fusses over those little bug-bitten legs. Jack is, in most respects, like any other little seven year old boy, down to his brand new big kid tooth.

But Jack is different. You see, some day Jack is going to be Spiderman. I know so because he told me. And funny thing is, I believe him.

During the two weeks that I lived in Matsu, I met many adorable children, but Jack was a character. At any given moment, he was hopping and skipping his way to an undetermined destination. Slam dunk here. Dodged bullets there. Ballet twirls in between, and karate chops tossed in for good measure.

At first, watching him tumble his way down the hall, I was amazed at the capacity of Jack’s imagination. He reminded me of the days when I could spend an entire afternoon running from alligators in the living room or playing a game of pretend orphans and hiding from the warden. I wished that I could go back to the days when I could find a home in my imagination for hours on end.

But slowly, I began to think that maybe Jack wasn’t imagining. Imagination is what we call it, because we’ve grown up. What it really is, though, is hope, unabashed faith that dreams will come true.

I realized Jack was seeing a world that I couldn’t see, because he doesn’t see the world for what it is, nor what it used to be. Jack sees the world for what it could be—a world where he is Spiderman and little boys have no bedtime. A world where bug bites don’t exist. A world where, when he tells me he will miss me, he knows we will meet again.

The last night before we left Matsu, we played one last game of basketball with our students. Jack, up past his bedtime, was running around with us, tangling himself up in every play. As the moon came rising up over the buildings, we turned and Jack howled.

I joined him then. We howled like wolves at a full moon, and I was there. I could see it—my world, this world, for what it could be.
Lien, Christina (連家萱)
I was really glad I did the AID Summer program because of all the friends and memories I obtained. Not only was I able to get a more indepth and unique perspective on Taiwanese cultures and traditions, but I also have made many good friends. I also felt really accomplished when I taught the elementary school kids English, because it made me feel like I was making a difference in their lives. I think in the future, I might try and attend the AID summer program again if I can, because I think each year will be uniquely different because of the people and the different schools.
Wei, Christine (魏君如)
I went into this program sort of just expecting a good experience with kids, but in the end I got so much more.
Basically, during training week, the first day was super awkward, but because everyone was sort of just lost together, making friends wasn't all that hard. Ah, I also want to give a shout out to the BEAUTIFUL PINK SHIRT LADIES who hosted that first opening ceremony/ice-breaker. All those random and seemingly elementary games got everyone so hyped up and loosened up. :) Haha. Training week as a whole was basically a compilation of ENDLESS LECTURES that I originally thought were a waste of time. However, because of the incentives given, our group (WOOT WOOT TEAM A3-6) got really active and participated a lot in the classes and won awesome small prizes. LOL. :D (I think that was when we really started getting close as a group. ^^ You really just let go of yourself sometimes when you have fun. Hahahhaha) Anyways, the lectures themselves (I discovered later) were actually pretty helpful. There were so many games and teaching activities that I took directly from our speakers' lectures. ANYONE WHO'S PARTICIPATING IN THIS NEXT YEAR SHOULD DEFINITELY PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS! As boring as it seems, it's really only boring when you make it boring (especially since these counselors/event organizers try their best to make things fun for everyone, AND you can actually learn a lot from others. :D
At the school, it took a little time to get used to everything, but everyone is nice and supportive of everything you do. Our opening ceremony was a piano piece, a mini skit with a CC Lemon commercial, the Cups Song (that everyone in AID did...just probably not as good as us. Jk haha), High School Musical, and an excerpt from a Bruno Mars Treasure dance cover. It was actually a little shorter than we were supposed to make it (I think), but everything turned out okay. :D
The first day of class was super hectic. (AH, SHOUTOUT TO OUR HELPER TEACHER. OMG. WEI LUEN LAOSHI. WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU). We didn't have enough games/activities/lessons to last us the whole day, so during our lunch break, we were just making up random things we could do in class. We definitely underestimated our class. :O It also seemed really difficult to get along with the kids at first. But in truth, all the kids are super excited to be with AMERICAN (/canadian) BIG BROTHERS AND BIG SISTERS. :) So every little ten minute break we had between classes, we'd spend playing with the kids and slowly getting to know each of them. :) I LOVE MY KIDS SO MUCH. THEY'RE ALL SO CUTE AND ADORABLE. I have to admit, sometimes they got on my nerves (especially when they were being disrespectful), and I had to raise my voice, but our relationship really seemed like a real sibling relationship by the end of those short two weeks. Even to this day we're trying to communicate through FB (though I'm still sort of confused as to WHY THESE THIRD GRADERS HAVE FACEBOOK. GAH. LOL.)
The last week was super awesome. We had a super cool bus (BUS DDDDDDD ;D) with super cool people, and basically we easily became friends with a bunch of them throughout the trips. Taiwan is full of amazing people and amazing culture (and amazing food. yumyum.). Despite the terrible hot and humid weather, and the swarms of mosquitos, I enjoyed basically every place we went to (OMG. TAIWAN SCENERY/NATURE IS SO BEAUTIFUL). We also played this angel/master idk game where we'd have a person we'd try to secretly give stuff to every day. Haha. Ah, I actually don't think I ever told my angel who I was...Awk. ANYWAYS. IT WAS SUPER DUPERLY FUN AND OUR BUS WAS SUPER DUPERLY AWESOME. ;D
MY GROUP. I can't even describe in words how much I love each and every one of them. <3 (GAHH. I'M LIKE STILL CRYING HEREE) Honestly, I feel like I was put in the perfect group. We were all so willing to get hyped up and so willing to help each other. ;) SHOUTOUTS TO EVERYONE FOR BEING THE BEST OF THE BEST. ;D I will forever miss our endless selfies, our random insults to each other, our sassiness, and GAH. EVERYTHING. Hopefully we'll be able to get together again in Taiwan and maybe visit our kids again too! ;D MAY WE HAVE A DAY ONE DAY WHEN WE ALL GET TOGETHER AND TAKE MORE SELFIESS.
Really. SHOUTOUTS TO EVERYONE IN THIS ORGANIZATION WHO HELPED TO MAKE IT SO AWESOME. All the counselors worked so hard every day, sleeping so little and getting scolded for our behaviors. :( I hope all of them felt our appreciation for them!
THIS WAS A SUMMER I WILL NEVER FORGET. I hope to do the program again (hopefully I'll have time for itt. D:), for all the friendship, memories, and experiences I've made, seen, and had.


I miss AID. So much.
Liu, Andrea (劉修彤)
As far as life-changing experiences go, AID Summer 2013 would be at the top of my list. I’m sure more than half the people that attended this year checked “Forced by Parents” when asked why they came. I can count myself as one of them. When my mom first suggested that I apply, I was appalled at the idea of spending a whole summer in Taiwan attending a camp, not being free to shop all I want and eat all I want. As my date of departure neared, I desperately checked the AID website in hopes of finding some insight of my living situations for the two teaching weeks. When I saw that I would have air conditioning and a toilet seat, I silently rejoiced. However, I still expected hardwood floors to sleep on and freezing showers as my daily companions.
Upon my arrival at Chientan Youth Activity Center, I was slightly disoriented at the amount of American Asians that were there. However, it was easy to make friends since everyone shared a common American background. Training week dragged by slowly but when the day finally came for us to be shipped off to our individual schools, there was a tangible cloud of anxiety in the air. Haunting questions swirled through my mind, “What if I’m not a good teacher? What if the students hate me? What if the students don’t listen to me?” I watched as each group of volunteers on my bus was dropped off at their respective schools. When the bus stopped at Bi-Tan, the principal and other teachers were there waiting to welcome us. Though everyone was shy at first, we quickly became comfortable with each other and even befriended the school staff. The first few days we spent in anxious preparation for the first day of school. When the first day came and went, we were dead on our feet. The kids were energetic and talkative beyond belief. Though that first week went by slowly because of our weariness, we learned to cherish our students. One day at a meeting, the teacher that was there to help us informed us of the living situations of some of the students. Many lived in single parent households and the majority of their parents worked long hours to raise their family. Their living situations were difficult, and yet, these children still managed to come to school every morning with smiles on their faces. Oftentimes, we tend to lose our grips with reality and fail to realize the different backgrounds of those around us. It is common to see people take things for granted, such as air conditioning, clean water, and healthy meals. I quickly came to realize that obstacles are not what define you, but rather your attitude in the face of your obstacles. I know that we came to Taiwan to be teachers, but the students were also teachers in their own ways. They taught me to never take things for granted and the priceless value of a positive attitude. On the last day, the students came to school bearing gifts for us. Even the students that could not afford to buy us anything, offered us pencils from their own pencil bags and stickers that we had given to them as rewards. Despite the little that they had, my students’ generosity taught me another valuable lesson. When it came time to say goodbye, I could not bear to see my students go. In two short weeks, I had come to love my students so very much and I wish I never had to say goodbye. I can only hope that I have made as much a difference in my students’ lives as they have made in mine.
Though many people believe Taiwan is called Formosa because of its beautiful landscapes and scenery, I truly believe that it is so named because of the beauty of its people, the people whose spirit and laughter will forever stay in my heart. Thank you AID, for the cherished memories, the unforgettable experience, and the people that make this world a better place.

Chen, Lillian (陳禕婷)
AID Summer 2013 humbly began as an international learning experience but ended up as an unforgettable journey, one in which lifelong friendships were forged, a bond that connected teachers, students, and counselors alike from coast to coast. Though very much strangers the first few days, my group members quickly evolved from a team that was assembled by assignment into a family in the truest sense of the word. Our teaching time together at Ma-Guang Middle School were full of late nights staying up to edit and review our lesson plans, days scheduled tightly so as to fit in everything we wanted to teach our students, and weekends spent exploring the province of Yunlin with school officials. Peter, our teacher, was both the enlightened mentor and compassionate father figure we needed to hold our group together and encourage us to bond with our students. The students themselves were something, from the most rambunctious of the group to the quiet studious one to the eager to learn or the not so eager to learn, each one contributed to the program and made this the success it was. Every single one of them was unforgettable. When it was time to go on the Southern Tour, there were many bittersweet moments, many of us missed our students and the TAs and Peter. However, like the saying goes "Make new friends, but keep the old" - That was what we did. It was impossible to not befriend our fellow bus mates and our new counselors, who were very sweet and attentive. There were so many amazing places that we were able to go to, so many sights to see, that singling one out as my most favorite would not be fair. All I can say is that each place we visited was a memory made, and that cannot be compared with anything. Coming back to Chientan for the last leg of our tour hinted that the end of our time together was near. The Closing Ceremony far surpassed the Opening One in every way possible. Tears were shed, hugs and numbers exchanged, I can assure you that thousands of photographs were taken - photographs that symbolized the camaraderie ignited by a single, meaningful experience that will last forever in our hearts. On the last night, I chose to stay up until the sunrise to talk with my friends in what little time we had left. This was one of my most treasured and beautiful moments from the trip. Although Facebook will keep us connected as much as possible, it is very saddening still that we are now apart and have gone our separate ways. However much that I miss my friends and students, AID allowed me to be part of a family and to experience Taiwan fully, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Lee, Catherine (李依霖)
Before this I had previously already been to Taiwan numerous times in the past, so I was hoping for something new with this experience. AID met and exceeded all of my expectations. Even though being in the country side surrounded by vast fields of crops as well as tons of mosquitoes and other nasty insects isn't my definition of fun, the entire teaching experience definitely exposed me to many new situations and taught me a lot about patience and teamwork. The kids themselves were cute, mischievous and could be quite a handful. I had never realized just how tiring teaching could be! Nevertheless, that feeling of accomplishment and pride when our kids remembered and recognized the vocabulary that we taught them was worth all the time and effort. All of the team members were really nice and friendly; the bond that we forged during the four weeks of the AID program will always hold a special place in my heart.
Wang, Tiffany (王延浩)
I really enjoyed AID. In the beginning I was really hesitant and homesick because there were so many people and I am very shy around people I do not know. However as the weeks went buy, I started getting closer to my groupmates,kids, and even our caretakers. The kids' attitudes were inspiring to me. Even though, they were less fortunate and even came from broken families, they always came to class with an enthusiastic nature. They made me smile everyday, even thought they tired me out. I will never forget them or the many friends that I have made through this program. The volunteers, counselors, teachers, and kids are really one of a kind. I'm really glad that I participated in the program. Not only did I learn about teaching, but I became more in tune with the Taiwanese culture.
Chen, Howei (陳皓威)
I thought this program was great because I was able to meet new people from all around the world and interact with people of all ages and cultures. During my experience, I realized the importance of adapting my style of communication to fit the needs of people who speak different languages. My Chinese improved a lot over the course of 4 weeks, especially after interacting with the students and my host family. My host family and my teaching group became like family to me, and I am very grateful to have them in my life. The tour was interesting, although I would've preferred if we could spend more time in each location with less people to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Overall, I think I had a great experience, and if I had time, I would do it again. The relationships I established with the people I met in Taiwan have been priceless and will be cherished for the rest of my life.
Yeh, Travis (葉晉嘉)
For AID, I was assigned to Matsu, a small, Taiwanese archipelago that is literally swimming distance away from China.

Matsu was beautiful, and the souls of the people there were even more so. In our two weeks at Beigan, the smaller of the two main islands, we were welcomed into the tight-knit community. One of my fellow teachers summed it up nicely: in Matsu, people were “either relatives, classmates, relative’s classmates, or classmate’s relatives”.

But our time spent in class was, for me, a completely different story. My partner and I taught the “middle-level” class of mostly 3rd and 4th graders. I felt like we had been given the unpleasant gray area: our kids were too old to be cute, but too young to appreciate learning. Instead, our students were apathetic, and a bit too confident in their own abilities.

The biggest problem, however, was bullying. It broke my heart to hear some of the things that they said. I learned about an entirely new level of frustration: watching my students verbally rip each other apart over the most minute acts and not being fluent enough in the language I’ve grown up with to explain to them why they should stop. To tell them that their words cut deeper than just the crushed look and tears on their classmate’s face.

Coupled with the fact that we had to stay up past midnight every night working on curriculum for the next day (making PowerPoints, writing worksheets, creating activities..), teaching English was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. But it was worth it.

I’ll always remember one day in class when we played a basketball-related vocabulary review. In the game, students were divided into two teams and had to correctly answer questions in order to pass the ball and eventually shoot. The ball came to Ian, a student who had always been a little slower than the others — much of my time in class was spent kneeling next to him and having him repeat words and sentences after me while his classmates moved on to harder activities. The other team celebrated; his team groaned in disappointment. I clicked a button, and the PowerPoint showed a colored piece of plastic.

“Ian, what is this?”

It wasn’t as dramatic as those moments on TV. You couldn’t hear a pin drop; the other students had already given up and were either anticipating their turn or lamenting their loss. But, out of the cacophony, a quiet answer, a small declaration, arose:

“This is a ruler.”

I nodded. His team erupted in victorious cheers; the other team cried in disbelief but applauded their friend anyways. Ian took the ball, shot, and scored, all while holding his usual, expressionless countenance.

By the time two weeks were over, we had managed to get our students to cooperate enough to work and play without fighting (we were helped by the school’s dean, a kind man with the ability to strike fear into the kids’ hearts with his very presence). And as our students performed in the closing ceremony — our class’s act was a rendition of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham”, complete with illustrations on construction paper — I felt proud. At the end of it all, despite the scolding, despite the long nights, despite the stress, I’m glad to have taught that class.
Ling, Selena (凌桂環)
Before I knew about this program, my friend was gibbering on and on about what a great experience he had doing this program. After some thought, I decided to apply to this program since it seemed like so much fun. And I am glad I did.

The first day I walked in Chientan, I knew no one, and the last day I walked out, I had created so many good memories and wonderful friends that I will never forget. The first week at chientan everyone was running around trying to figure out who was in their group and introducing themselves. I had never been around so many friendly and open people that were just ready to become close best friends. I met my teaching group and little did I know that I would get so close to them. When I first found out that we were all living together in a house, I was wondering how that was going to work. We woke up every morning to someone playing music and went to sleep really late doing teaching plans. We would also discuss about our lives as they were all open to talk about anything and they were just as excited for teaching kids as I was. Some of them were more talkative than others, but I got to know all of them well. Teaching with them for 2 weeks was an amazing experience. I was assigned to a middle school in Si Taipei, and honestly, I was kind of worried how my kids would be since they were slightly older. My teaching partner was British, so it was fun trying to figure out the differences between American English and British English while teaching the kids. In the classroom, we'd argue about what the right way to say "tomato" or "zebra" was and the kids would just laugh. At the end of the 2 weeks, I was sad to say good bye to my students and some of them cried. I got used to them calling me teacher or Miss Selena but I had made each of them like my little brothers or sisters. As we left the school I remember the many memories I had made.

Next was tour week. What can I say about this. It was absolutely amazing. At first I was a little disappointed being assigned to central tour since a lot of my friends were on southern. However, I quickly made more friends on the tour and made amazing memories. I loved our bus and all the counselors on there. (Go Bus A!! haha) Creating a talent show with the many talents that we had on our bus was a little challenging but quite fun and we got to know everyone a little better.

Overall, I cannot believe this program is over. I have made amazing new friends from all over the country and from Canada and the UK. This program has also shown me how privileged I am to have the things I do have and I will never forget everyone who made this program unforgettable for me. :D
Lin, Samantha (林怡君)
I first heard about the AID program from my cousin who had attended last year. When I was accepted into this program, I was beyond ecstatic. Over the next months, I put in a lot of time and effort into developing a teaching plan that students would enjoy. At Chientan, I found out that all of my teaching plans needed a lot of revising and editing. With my teaching partner, we tried to gauge the students' abilities based on what the teacher said, but we were unprepared for what Bi-tan had in store for us.
Eight girls, myself included, were assigned to Bi-tan elementary school, a school located in Chiayi County. When we first got there, my first thought was that it was in the middle of nowhere. Across from the school was a rice field. The whole setting seemed very picturesque. I still remember the opening ceremony, where all the students' faces were turned towards us, some excited, some bored, some indifferent. I was really nervous meeting our students, but it turned out that I was worrying for nothing. Our students seemed excited to be Teaching the students turned out to be a lot of hard work. By the end of the day, I would be so tired out from everything that had occurred that all I would want to do would be to go back to our room and sleep. After class each day, all of the girls would get together with the principal to discuss any difficulties we had with our classes, bonding over the happiness and annoyances we had throughout the day. Each night I would revise the plans for the following day, after learning more strengths and weaknesses of our students. The two weeks flew by. Before I knew it, it was time to leave. It was moving seeing how far each and every one of our students had grown so much. At the closing ceremony, I could not believe that our time was over. Tears were shed. Ironically, the troublemaker of our class was the one who shed the most tears. These two weeks with my students had opened my eyes to the world of rural Taiwanese students. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to teach to Taiwanese students. If I ever have the chance, I would be honored to come back again.
Sung, Tracy (宋翠怡)
AID was the truly the happiest and most rewarding experience that I have ever had. I usually am really nervous in new environments and the first day at AID was no exception. I was rooming with five other girls in my group and it was extremely awkward. However, we soon warmed up to each other and became extremely comfortable with each other by the end of training week. Training week was a combination of fun and awkwardness. It was fun to learn all the techniques and different ways to teach the children. However, it was also awkward because the techniques used in Taiwan are very different from the techniques used in the states. After training, we were sent to our separate schools. Most of the people in my team had never been to AID before, myself included. When we first got there, there was a welcome team and they treated us all the dinner. They were so nice to us and seemed genuinely happy for to be there. It felt extremely nice to be welcomed so warmly into a new place. The next couple of days, we trained and rehearsed for the opening ceremony. Although our opening ceremony was not extremely well prepared, the children generously applauded and welcomed us. The first day of class was extremely awkward because none of the students were comfortable talking to us. However, by the end of the week, we were joking with the kids and poking fun at them. It felt like we were all one big happy family. As the two weeks passed, our teaching group became extremely close and comfortable with each other, along with our students. On the last day, when we chanted our group chant for the last time, my teaching partner and I broke down in tears, as did our students. We could not believe that this was possibly our last time being with the kids. We treasured those moments greatly and we still talk fondly about our kids today. After saying our goodbyes, we were finally on tour. The tour was fun, but busy, but we were all happy to see the sights of Taiwan. However, our children and the good memories we had were still fresh on our minds. After tour, we had the final closing ceremony of AID. When they played Vitamin C's song, everyone broke down in tears and we just had a massive group hug. During this time, I realized that we would never be able to go back to how things were in our school and with our team. This whole month in AID had passed by so fast and I can say, without of doubt, that it had been the happiest and most carefree experience I have ever had. I am so glad I had the honor to be a part of this program; I not only had the opportunity to see the sights of Taiwan and teach such adorable children, but most importantly, I was able to meet a group of people that have become so close as family to me.
Wu, King-Hur (吳慶和)
In a few hours, the campers will be crying their eyes out. In a few minutes, the sun will be rising. In a few seconds, I could be fast asleep. Time is of the essence. I struggled to put my final sentiments into words so that I could transcribe them onto paper. My month in AID summer has passed by incredibly fast, and in a few hours I will be saying my goodbyes to people that I seem to have known my whole life. With each person, I had a specific reflection – moments that I will never forget. All together, they form my reflection of my summer in Taiwan.
Starting from the very first day, I managed to make myself known to all 350 campers along with all the counselors. The fame kind of comes with having the name “King” and the audacity to introduce a girl you recently started talking to as your queen. And just like that I’ve made my way through all the awkward introductions. I was now “The King”, swept up in the enthusiasm of the program with no time to dwell on whether I would enjoy this experience or not. The following week was filled with me being called on to perform embarrassing tasks by the counselors. I still remember the second day with strangers dressed in pink polos streaming down the aisles looking for “King”. I was taken aback; what could they possibly need me for? It was too early for me to have gotten myself into any trouble. Before I knew it, I was up on the stage leading a group of hundreds of people in singing “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, a song that I didn’t even know the lyrics to.
Training week felt like it took forever, although it seems quite short in retrospect. With the three hour lessons, we were brought back to our pre-summer days of schooling – each of us coping in our own way when we could no longer focus. A quick glace around the room could bring sights that ranged from girls looking for split ends to volunteers watching the second hand of clock tick away the seconds. But while we were quite listless from the long lessons and languid from our jetlag, we were diligent when it came to the teaching. We spent long hours working on the details of our teaching plan along with choreographing our opening ceremony dance. Our dance practices took up many of the breaks that we were given. Before we knew it, we were being shipped off to teach English at a place we’ve never been before.
To delve into my experiences teaching in a way that would allow a reader in understand the full extent of my joys and frustrations would be next to impossible. Through this program one begins to truly comprehend what being a teacher entails. Clearly it’s not for the glory; it’s not for the fame. It’s for the opportunity to utilize magic, powers that lie deep within. With some time and a few simple words, a teacher had the power to transform. For two weeks, I now had this sacred gift. The first day is a scary day for any teacher. It is filled with unforeseeable obstacles. In the atmosphere thick with unfamiliarity, I attempt to gauge the situation. The natural thing would be to start with introductions, so I do. All was going well until suddenly, the wheels I have set in motion decided to stir up a commotion, a quiet commotion. It was Cindy’s turn to introduce herself, but she remained in her seat. Fists clenched and mouth sealed, her eyes never left the ground. I turned to the next student since I didn’t want to make a scene. In the process, I managed to trip over a chair. My ears detected a faint sound that was barely distinguishable – a suppressed giggle from Cindy. I quickly learned how to let go of my dignity and make a complete fool out of myself. Several nicknames were endowed upon me, such as the “old grandpa who can’t tie his shoes” and “big white riding hood.” Within a few days, Cindy was truly a transformed student. She still struggled with some of the words, but she was singing and dancing with the rest of her classmates.
To hear of or witness such a phenomenon is one thing, but to be the cause of such a transmogrification is completely different. There are no words in the written language to describe the excitement and pride that one experiences from knowing he truly made a difference in one of the world’s future leaders. Throughout this camp, I have met many people that I will never forget and built many bridges that will never be broken. Together we have constructed a home and created a family. If it is true that home is where the heart is, I’m afraid my heart has yet to make it back from this experience.

Shang, Amanda (向永純)
My experience with AID Summer was like no other. Blinking back the thick layer of tears building in my eyes, I looked to the room of sniffling, teary-eyed students that had become my family, and I realized how much I treasured our time spent together. Never in my life did I imagine it would be this impossibly difficult to separate from individuals that were once strangers. The time spent with students in the countryside has made me appreciate life’s simplest pleasures, some of which went unnoticed until now, including the genuine smiles of the kids, the heartwarming feeling of being called their role model, and even the endless disruptions of the troublemakers. To explain how special the students are to me is a difficult task. I shared a connection with each of my students, and each had his or her own impact on my life. My students are my inspiration. Their dedication and curiosity in learning the American culture motivates me to expand my knowledge of the world. Their willingness to try new and unfamiliar things has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and actively explore new possibilities. This enriching experience has opened my eyes, changed my way of thinking. Seeing people with different backgrounds and experiencing their cultures, hearing their stories, has become my lifetime ambition. One day I hope to study and work abroad and encounter people of diverse backgrounds who challenge me to approach situations with different perspectives.
Taiwan now has a special place in my heart. It it no longer a foreign country to me. It is home.

Shih, Linden (史建偉)
This program has been one of the most insightful and wonderful experiences I have ever had. I came into the program not knowing most of the people around me and worried about how I would handle my students. However, by the end, everything changed. My students became my children, and my friends became my brothers and sisters. Teaching those students from the country side has definitely opened my eyes to the part of the world that I am not familiar with. There are so many less privileged kids in more rural areas that have just as much talent and promise as the rest of us. I discovered this and realized how important my visit to Neihu Junior High was. I was not only there to teach them English but also to open their eyes to the outside world the same way they have opened mine. Some of them have told us that they want to visit America but probably wont have the financial support to go, so I did my best to bring America to them. There will not be enough space to express all of the feelings and lessons I have learned from this trip so I just want to say thanks to this program for giving me this opportunity and thanks to the children at Neihu Junior High for all the love and fun. As for the friends that I made during this trip, they will never be forgotten. We did not just merely live together. We learned to survive together in an unfamiliar environment. We encountered giant spiders and cockroaches that we've never seen before and carried giant bottles of water to our dorm to brush our teeth and wash our faces. The lack of internet also blocked us from the world that we used to live in putting us in a cave where all we had was each other and our students. Thus, we created lasting bonds that I will remember and cherish forever. So all in all, thanks for the friends, thanks for the memories, and thanks for AID.
Quan, Harmony (關奇好)
I cannot believe it has already been two weeks. Time really flies when you are having fun. During my stay at Mu Dan, I really learned a lot. I did not know what to expect when I arrived at the school. At first, I was not used to all the insects that surrounded this place. When I was told I could not kill the spiders around the house, I literally thought “great.” I hate spiders with a passion. However, after staying here for two weeks, I started getting used to seeing spiders, flies, ants, and even lizards in the house. To my surprise, everyone here is really nice and considerate. I do not feel like an outsider here. I almost feel like Mu Dan is a second home to me now. It was fun teaching, planning, and hanging out with the people I met here.
Before I arrived at Mu Dan, I remember how nervous I was to have to teach 9th graders after being told how rebellious they are at this age. I know because I was once in middle school, too. When I first stepped into the classroom, I was expecting the kids to play tricks of some sort or to run around like crazy animals. However, to my surprise, the kids were not as bad as I expected. During my week here, I started to see the different side that these kids have. During teaching, they are quiet, but, at break, they are quite active with their peers.
However, in the beginning of teaching I often got frustrated because there will be a few kids who will not listen or cooperate with us during our lecture. It did not help for the fact that my Chinese was not that good either. It was not easy for me to interact with the kids because of the language barrier. I also remember how I got discouraged during the third day of teaching. The students were starting to get restless and bored as me and my partner went through the PowerPoint. I remember when I saw their faces just looking like “When is this going to be over?” I did not even know how to continue on to the next period. I asked myself if it would be better that the kids are crazy and hyper during class or stay silent like dolls? I guess to me being quiet is better but I really wanted the kids to enjoy learning and get more involved with us. I was a little disappointed in myself but my teammates cheered me up by saying it is just the third day and that it will get better and it did.
During the lesson planning hours, my partner and I always stayed up late trying to come up with new activities or games to make learning more fun. It was not an easy task to plan for our lesson each day as well as balance with outside school activities.
During the first week I was here, I remember how I could not wait till the day was over. It felt like I have been at Mu Dan for a month when it only has been a day. However, this second week definitely went by really quick. The lesson planning got easier as each day passed. I even started to become more attached to the kids. I love hanging out with them during break and after school. It was fun getting to know these kids as well as the teachers here.
In closing, I am really thankful for AID for giving me this opportunity to come to Mu Dan to teach and the Principle of Mu Dan for letting us stay at his house. No words can really describe how I feel right now. It has been so wonderful meeting everyone here. It is also quite painful to have to say goodbye. The sad part is I do not even know when we will get the chance to meet again. I really hope that someday our paths will cross again

Vong, Bryan (王立穎)
I was completely surprised by how everything ran in AIDSUMMER2013. I thought that I would just be teaching children for two weeks. Instead, I realized that this experience was also teaching me more about myself.
' During my week at Chientan, I was taught to be a good teacher. There were many other volunteers in this program. I was placed into a group of six people. We all got along together and worked together to perfect our school’s opening ceremony. The whole environment of the first week helped me experience new things. I was placed for the first time in a room with five other people. My teaching partner and I also had to prepare many different presentations for a lot of people to see.
Finally after the first week, my group and I were transported to Jiu Fen Elementary School. During my whole time at Jiu Fen, my group and I had so many adventures. Literally everyday was an adventure for us. On the first day, I showered in a public shower room for the first time. Every day, there was at least some new scary creature we had to deal with. In total by the end of our teaching weeks, we had dealt with ants, large spiders, praying mantises, flying cockroaches, moths, and rats.
My time spent teaching English to the children was interesting. This was my first time actually teaching anyone anything. My teaching partner and I had a few problems during our weeks teaching. Almost all the time, there were many students who would not willingly participate in any activities. By the time we finished teaching, I think they were more willingly to participate than when we first taught them. I learned from the two weeks I taught my students that you shouldn’t be too strict with your students. However, you should also not let your students run all over you. I also had to come up with many fun activities for the students on the spot.
The time I spent in AIDSUMMER2013 was very enjoyable. Time went by so fast. I learned so many things about myself and about my students. I will always remember the memories I had with my group, teachers, and students from AIDSUMMER2013.

Kao, Jeremy (高正競)
Coming into AID Summer, I had no idea what to expect. Even though I had been accepted by the program, I didn’t know if I was truly capable of teaching kids English. I had ended Chinese lessons long ago, and even though I conversed with my parents in Chinese, I didn’t feel confident in my ability to speak in pure Chinese to actual Taiwanese children. When I arrived in Taiwan a week before the camp started, the extent of my shaky Chinese was evident as I struggled to converse with my aunt in Chinese. I felt embarrassed any time she switched to English, and I knew I had to make an effort to speak Chinese better. During teaching week, some of my worries were alleviated as I began to work out a plan on how to teach my students English. The evening planning times were very helpful and were a nice escape from the hectic presentations during the day. I wish there had been more chance for initial icebreaking with my teaching group, as I felt like in the beginning everything was all work and not fun (e.g. no casual conversations). Teaching week was exhausting but at the end of it all I felt much, much better prepared for teaching. I feel like it was a waste to do a whole two-week lesson plan before I even came to camp, because as I was doing the initial lesson plan I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. After just the first day of training, I felt much better about writing a lesson plan and was aware of what to teach the kids and what they already knew.
Teaching week was definitely not as tiring or harrowing as I thought it would be, but it was still mentally exhausting and I faced many unexpected challenges. I really enjoyed being away from the huge atmosphere of Chientan and just exploring Jiu Fen with my group during the weekend before teaching began. It was during that time that I really began to feel closer to my group and felt like we were actual “friends” rather than just assigned teaching partners. I also felt comfortable creating our opening performance at the school and didn’t feel rushed for time at all. One cause of concern was the living quarters, as they along with the bathrooms were bug-infested. I have a fear of spiders and insects, so the first few days were fairly stressful for me. However, I soon grew accustomed to the bugs, so it didn’t end up being a major issue.
During the actual teaching weeks, I enjoyed teaching the children for the most part because I loved seeing how much English they already knew and would learn. I was a little frustrated that what we taught them never seemed to “stick”, despite us incorporating a review period into every day. It seemed like if the kids knew something, they knew it because they had been taught it before, not because we had taught them. Because they were first graders, they also tended to run through activities really quickly, which put pressure on us to always overprepare each day. Unfortunately, even with our overpreparation we had to sometimes make things up as we went along during the day. The kids also didn’t seem very reactive to English songs, which we had hoped we could use as a teaching tool. Overall, though, the kids were all very pleasant and fun to be around, and they were obedient and participated excitedly in the games we developed for them. Their energy seemingly has no bounds, and they were always excited about learning, especially when we made it entertaining. Even though I am not convinced the English knowledge we taught them will stick, I hope we inspired in them a spark for learning the English language and culture with our presence and hard work.
After the completion of the camp, I do have some suggestions on future improvement. I feel like I didn’t really bond with my teaching group until the actual teaching weeks, which gave me initial worries that we weren’t going to get along well. While we did play icebreaker games on the first day of training week, those were games as a huge group rather than in our smaller groups. I feel like some icebreakers or games in a small group setting would help to alleviate some of the initial awkwardness I had interacting with my group. I also felt like that during training week, we were treated like children. Although I see the purpose for the “bed checks”, I didn’t like that we had a mandatory bed time, especially one as early as it was. After all the working during the day, the bed checks gave my group little time to talk with one another or just had fun – we became so focused on working. It wasn’t until teaching week that we had more freedom and were able to just have fun with each other.
Lin, Jessica (林怡瑄)
Coming to AID Summer 2013 was an experience that I will never forget. I was first introduced to this program by my Chinese school principal. My attention instantly was attracted to the idea of returning to Taiwan and possibly going to places I have never been to. At first, I was a bit nervous flying to Taiwan by myself, and teaching a foreign language to young children was something I would have never thought of doing. The idea of being in charge of these young children’s education was quite frightening. I had no idea what to expect, and taking part of this program with people from all around the United States, Canada, and UK was mind-blowing. I knew some people a little bit from the Facebook group, but l was never one to meet people easily. Once I arrived at training week, I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly everyone is here. It was easier to meet others and make friends than I expected. I am grateful for having such a wonderful counselor, Curry, and teacher, Christy. They were always willing to help us with everything no matter what it was or when we asked. The teachers and presentations during training week were especially helpful and helped guide planning and ease my nerves for teaching. I honestly could not have asked for a better teaching group. Each of us contributed our own special qualities and weirdness to join as a great group. Spending these past four weeks together, we bonded so much and have so many inside jokes. Everything from climbing Keelung Mountain to searching for rats to singing silly kid’s songs has made us grow closer. I will seriously miss all of them and hope to keep in touch with them back in the US. Teaching the children at Jiu Fen Elementary was probably the most stressful yet rewarding experience. To watch the students eager to learn and participate everyday was just amazing and encouraging. There were struggles along the way including unintentional injuries among the kids, especially since they were first graders, and complete re-planning of our lesson plan because we underestimated our students’ abilities. Despite these challenges, everything worked out perfectly fine. The students and faculty of the school were extremely appreciative of our teaching and went out of the way to accommodate for us. The first grade class was the most attentive and obedient, and they were adorable as they were always so excited for stickers and prizes and would always want to hang out with us. I could not have asked for a better class or group of students. Jiu Fen is a beautiful city and being able to truly embrace the culture and beauty was amazing. I will miss everything about this trip – the people, the places, the culture, the food. If possible, I will definitely reapply next year. Thank you everyone for making this an unforgettable summer and lifetime experience.
Sung, Justin (宋嘉文)
This program has taught me a lot. I have grown more mature and responsible. I wish to come to this program in the future. Furthermore, I have associated myself with people with different backgrounds. Even though we have various capabilities, I have learned to work well with them.AID has opened my eyes. Although I was sent to a school with bad sanitary and troublemakers, I have changed to fit with my accommodations. At my last few days of teaching, I struggled to leave my school. The students and teachers shared a bond like no other. I was even more surprised when the students who were troublemakers gave me a hug and were balling their eyes out. I thank you for this opportunity and I hope to come back again.
Chang, Cindy (張揚晏)
I had a great time at AID summer. It gave me a new experience and opened my eyes to new things. I met a lot of people and made great friends. The workshops at Chien taen really helped me learn about teaching. The elementary school I went to was amazing. I met nice teachers and great students. I taught them English but they also taught me a lot. I learned more about Taiwanese culture, I got to improve my Chinese, and I connected to my students. The tour was also great and I enjoyed seeing more of Taiwan. Overall AID was a great experience and I had a good time.
Corcoran, Sean (李德祥)
This trip has been amazing for me. I feel like I have learned so much from my experience in Taiwan. The training week taught me how to be a kind an patient teacher. Then, the teaching weeks made me appreciate all of the hard work my own teachers have put into my own education. Finally, on the tour, I saw all of the beauty and culture Taiwan has to offer. Because of all of this, I really want to come back to AID Taiwan next year. Thank you everyone for making my experience here so enjoyable.
Ma, Eric (馬顥銘)
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I learned a lot from these 4 weeks spent in this program. I learned that it is not easy being a teacher. The teacher must work and rework their teaching plans over and over in order to ensure that every one of the students is able to learn. Both the slow and the fast learners. I have gained new found respect for my teachers as i have experienced a little of what they do in order for us to further our education. Furthermore,i enjoyed teaching my students. Most of them were eager to learn more English and were very attentive. It was fun both playing games and working with my students and i will miss all of them very much. I hope that in the future we can meet again and that my teaching helped them in some way. All i can say now is thank you to both my students and the teaching staff of AID for giving me such an unforgettable experience.
Wong, Brandon (黃士高)
When I first came to AID, I was scared. This would be my first time away from home and in a foreign country. My Chinese was not the best. I could barely carry on a conversation. When I arrived at the airport I was greeted by other teenagers speaking English. During the opening ceremony it was a little daunting because it was carried on in only Chinese. I wasn't sure how much I would be able to understand. After that was the teaching lectures. I was glad because they were carried on in English. It started to ease my fears. It was kind of hectic not having enough time to plan our teaching plan. We had to stay up late to finish them. We didn't get enough time to talk with our groups about the teaching plan, opening ceremony, and any other preparatins that needed to be done before teaching. Then came the actual teaching. The first week went by slowly. We had underestimated our kids. They already knew all the stuff we had placed in front of them. The little stuff that they didn't know was sucked up in a matter of seconds. We couldn't come up with enough activities to occupy them. We ended up playing some games that were from the U.S. such as Ninja, Heads-Ups Seven-Up, and Dodgeball. The typhoon came during the end of the first week. The principal personally drove out to the city and got candles and batteries for us. The next day we were moved to the teaching staff's house, because the teacher's dorms that we stayed in, were flooded. They took us to KTV, out to the night market, and even to go see a movie. The second week was a blur. It involved getting ready for the fruit market and the closing ceremony. The closing ceremony was a success and I felt that the kids were even more inspired to learn English. The tour week was the best though. Our bus bonded like a huge family. We became really close through teasing and making fun of each other. The places we toured were amazing but the thing I will take away most from AID would be the friends that I made. I thoroughly enjoyed AID and would do it again if I could. I am definitely going to apply again next year and hopefully I will get to see all these amazing people once again. Thank you AID so much for the time of a lifetime.
Wang, Evelyn (王怡)
Before I arrived, I never really considered how much work, energy, and time would be expected of me. I didn't really realize I would be standing up in front of a twelve student class teaching and interacting for 7 hours, but it has been the most eye opening, life changing experience I have had.
Training week was definitely more tiring than I had imagined; however, looking back, it truly built a strong foundation for me to teach. The example games, lectures, and group interaction allows me to be successful the next two week. It was the first time I met my teaching partners and fellow AIDers, and the training week at chien tan allowed me to bond with them even more.
The next two weeks were the most pivotal for me in the Summer AID program. I interacted with 12 great, diverse students who lived in an area without very much. And after staying in a house with 8 others, one working shower, two sinks, many bugs, and a flooded room after a hurricane, I can say it made me appreciate what I have.
When it came to the kids, they may have taught me more than I taught them. The respect they show and their loud laughs and the memories we made has made this trip worth it. I will not forget my class for a long time. I appreciate the chance to bring them a little piece of America when they typically don't get the chance to experience very much.
Tour week has also been incredible. The heat has been exhausting, but being able to travel with my teaching partners has been awesome. In hindsight, I am so excited I decided to do this program. I have met so many incredible people and made so many unforgettable memories.

Lin, Jasmine (林瑞芸)
I was never particularly excited about teaching English to small children, but I think it was a relatively fulfilling experience regardless.

It was a lot of work, and I found myself thinking about how I was constantly, endlessly exhausted and couldn't wait for the next break or when school ended for the day. Many times the students would be rowdy and uncooperative, which only added to stress and exhaustion.

But at the end of the day, I found that the students were incredibly smart, eager to learn, and very affectionate. They learned vocabulary words and phrases with unbelievable speed and enthusiastically immersed themselves in our activities about culture. After class, they were happy and playful, playing basketball with us or leading us on bicycles to their homes or helping us fill water balloons. Though exhausting, I found their company wholesome, and I very much wish that it was the same for them. After all, I redefined my purpose of being here not for myself, but for those kids who are incredibly bright but may not have as many opportunities to show it. I hope they got the best of the two weeks, because if they did the endless hours of stress upon tiredness would be worth it. I wouldn't mind doing it again.
Chao, Dante (趙可謙)
I would never have thought that the summer before my senior year would be spent back at school, on the opposite side of the classroom. But as this wonderful experience comes to a close, I realize that this program wasn't about just teaching, but about making new family and friends, exchanging cultures, and making a change in both the kids and ourselves. This was one of the best summers I have ever had.

The first week, we all got into Taiwan and Chiang tang, where we met our teaching group, our soon-to-be family. Over the whole experience, we really got to know each other and went through so much together: staying up late at night working on the next days teaching plan and just talking, exploring the various shops and stalls of the night markets, living together, surviving the typhoon together, and just watching movies, playing Jenga, playing with the kids, and also 4 pics 1 word and Shot Zombie. Just this one month seemed to bring us together like we have known each other for years. My family was awesome and I am so glad we met and got a chance to hang out. I would love it if we all hung out again! The night of the typhoon we all got together in the living room surrounded by candles, that the dedicated and kind principal went out to buy for us in the raging storm. The staff at our school were wonderful, doing so many things for us and even offering their homes to us when we lost power up in the mountains. There is no way to completely thank them and we are humbled by their generosity.

At our school, Yzu Yo Elementary in Taichung, we were located in a village ten minute walk from one end to the other. No 7-11! But we soon realized that hanging out and playing with our 40 kids at the school was the better experience. The kids were rowdy, getting into fights everyday, but in the end, it was really hard to leave them. In the future I would love to go back and visit them. Generally, the teaching part went pretty well for us. The kids listened well for the most part and really tried hard to learn, especially during the class competitions we had like drawing/writing relay or Jeopardy. If things got out of hand, we could always threaten to call the teacher and or supervisor. Stickers were really important as well. Tell them to do something and mention stickers, they will all be going at it. This was how we kept the room...clean, had participation from the class, and kept order. The Fruit Market our school did was also a huge success. The kids really enjoyed buying fruit in the fruit market we set up for them and most of them used English. One of the best things to do was have the last two periods of the day to be Group time. Usually one period was Culture while the other was Closing Ceremony or Fruit Market. It was a great way to have a fun and relaxing thing to do with the kids while teaching them about some American culture. A great way to end the day. Some things we did were make s'mores,play dodgeball, have a movie day,and make ice cream sundaes. We also taught all our kids the Cup song and some of them got really really good at it, so we had all of them perform it for the Closing Ceremony. It was really fun!

During the weekends, we had the chance to come down from life in the mountains to the city where we experienced the night markets, KTV, shrimp fishing, and the movies. During the southern tour, we got to see so many different parts of Taiwan and also met our extended family of Bus 2, with our awesome counselors. It was a wonderful week of hanging out with your teaching family, while also meeting new friends of your bus. Everyone really bonded, especially after our talent show and our bus became a wonderful place to be. Spending the nights at a different hotel or hostel each night with different roomates was a great way to meet new people, even if that one hostel had eight people in a room...

The Closing Ceremony was a great end to the program. After the certificate ceremony and pictures with the Minister of Education, my teaching group had the...wonderful opportunity of going up on stage and talking about our teaching experience for ten minutes... We had just learned about this the day before and we were panicking (Speech in front of 400 people), but it turned out really great! I love our group! The final powerpoint was saddening, but also filled with happy memories made over the past month. This truly was one of the bestest and favoritest experience I have had.

This unforgettable experience seemed timeless, but it all passed in a blur and I wish that all of us will keep in touch and maybe hang again someday. Thank you everyone! Ohana!

Chen, Yang (陳孟陽)
These weeks at AID Summer Volunteering has been a great experience that helped me learn both as a teacher and as a person. I was assigned to Jiu Fen Elementary at New Taipei City. I went into this program with a grand vision to teach the children everything I know about English. The first week I got into Jientan, I started to realize the great amount of planning that goes into teaching, especially with the weekly plans and teaching journals. However, the days of classes at Jientan helped me learn the different ways to get through pans during class, whether it is through games and songs or through different classroom management techniques. These were very helpful in coming up with lesson plans.

When I first arrived at Jiu Fen Elementary, I was awestruck by the amazing view up in the mountains. Next came the eye-opening moment of our first dodgeball game with the kids at Jiu Fen. During the days at Jiu Fen Elementary, the AID counselor and the faculty at Jiu Fen were very supportive of our teaching and were very hospitable. I also got to connect very well with my fellow AID teachers. During these weeks, we planned lesson plans together, played card games together, and shared the different stories of what happened during class. At Jiu Fen, we also encountered many surprises, such as flying cockroaches, gigantic spiders, and even rats! However, it was still a great experience that helped the six of us teachers bond, as did the typhoon. During these days, we had great fun playing cards and eating hot pot at the school with our councilor.

In Jiu Fen Elementary, I also learned a lot from the students. We learned how to play Taiwanese dodge ball from the kids as well as different rock paper scissors games. Even though sometimes it is very difficult to teach the kids, they still accomplished a lot in the short two weeks we have. The class was able to keep on track with the plan we have given to them. What amazed me the most was the closing ceremony at Jiu Fen. During the time that we practiced, they improved a lot every day, and at the closing ceremony, they were able to sing the songs in English without any words projected for them to see. From these kids, I learned that nothing is impossible as long as we put forth the heart and effort to it. And these kids accomplished just that.

Sheu, Justine (許兆婷)
Even from the start of the program, I was always unsure as to what teaching was really like. It had always been something I’d been curious to try, and when given this daunting task, it seemed impossible. There seemed to be so many different rules and games to play, and an endless stream of imaginary problems that could occur. After just one week in training at Chientan, the task had grown even more impossible, making me nervously wait for my first day as a teacher.

When I got to the school, some of the experiences turned out to be vastly different from what I’d expected, others as just as unexpected as I’d expected. Students – as adorable as described – would be mischievous, wandering around during classes and reluctant to listen to the teachers during class periods. My teaching partner and I even after two weeks experienced miscommunications in instructions and also occasional disagreements in the classroom. The teaching itself proved to be stressful, and making plans for the next day always difficult. Keeping kids interested and in check quickly became my personal concern, as my plans for teaching became driven by what would make the students continue to participate in class. On top of that, having to teach in Chinese, not my native tongue, made teaching a little harder. Despite these problems, the two weeks passed too quickly for my liking, and before long it was time to let the students go.

This was also a time of many firsts – first time away for a month, first time teaching, first time being put into a completely new environment where the language was one I was not used to. Luckily, my experience at AID has not created any negative first impressions of these experiences. Through all the after school time we had, I bonded quickly with my other group members, and our stay at the school and all the time we shared definitely drew us all closer together. The students, through their constant want of games and stickers, were eager to learn and in the classroom would complete the tasks that we set out for them. Because the students’ English levels ranged from good to none and were lower than we expected, we faced many difficulties in planning lessons. But despite their tendencies to drift off in class they were still willing to listen and eagerly learned all we taught them. In the US, I had used as little Mandarin as possible but I soon found that if I was willing to use it as much as possible here, I could improve my abilities.

Overall, I found that this was an amazing experience, not only in terms of giving me the chance to try something new, but to also learn about a culture I’d never had much time with before. The program gave me a chance to explore new opportunities, in both foreign places and those familiar but unexpected.

Ren, Linda (任凌萱)
Drop after drop they stream: the memories, the struggles, the glee. I cry these tears out of joy and grief. AID 2013, you will always be a part of me.

Taiwan AID is truly a phenomenal experience. I initially believed that this journey to teach was based on one objective: service. I was wrong. Taiwan AID is comprised of much more. My experience is epitomized by one word: family. The compassion and support shown to us by our student counselors and group coaches were equivalent to that of a sibling or a parent. After spending the inauguratory training week, which was meticulously planned with lessons that provided valuable insight and teaching techniques, with the aforementioned, my hesitance and fear for the upcoming teaching weeks were washed away with Taiwan’s intermittent rain.

I was stationed at Fenghu Elementary School in Miaoli with my beloved teaching group. There were eight of us, four boys and four girls. Our friendship blossomed during training week, but it was during the two teaching weeks that it truly bloomed. During our very first night in our house in Miaoli, we decided to bond through a horror movie. Needless to say, we had never been closer. As time progressed, we became a family as we faced the challenges of living in the foreign conditions of rural Taiwan and, overall, enjoyed spending time in each other’s company. The relationship I developed with my teaching partners is one that I will always treasure; they are my family.

The teaching weeks that ensued were not without their challenges. We learned on day one that our students were much more informed than we expected. After an afternoon’s lesson, we had covered everything that we had planned to teach for the entire two weeks. My teaching partners, now a smaller subdivision of three out of the eight group members, ended up designing our lesson plans the day before class to prevent mismatched pacing. By the end of the two weeks, the teacher and student relationships had developed into sibling bonds. On departing day, my tears flowed incessantly as we bid farewell.

Tour week: fun activities, beautiful scenery, and lots of new friends!

In conclusion, the Taiwan AID experience is worth the struggles and tears. Not only did I gain valuable insight on the life of a teacher, but I also formed bonds that I will cherish and reminisce upon for years to come. If possible, I would re-live this experience with the same AIDsters in the same conditions. All in all, Taiwan AID was a fun-filled and memorable trip. Plus, there was free food.

P.S. Don’t forget your mosquito repellent.