2017 AID Winter
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Houston
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Lin, Michelle (林瑞芝 )
Joining AID was definitely one of the most inspiring and life-changing programs that I have ever participated in. I know this is a very big statement, but it is one that I can say definitively. Being a part of AID was like being plunged head-first into Taiwanese culture, something both a little unfamiliar and yet so familiar to me at the same time from living with my Taiwanese parents in a predominantly white community. Teaching with AID has taught me so many different things, not only how to teach English to Taiwanese students in remote areas but also how to listen and be patient and understand students who come from a completely different lifestyle... There are so many things that I’ve learned that are truly inexplicable to those who ask, and those attributes are the things that I think truly matter.

First and foremost that I have to mention are my students and my school. Leaving behind my school and the amazing teachers and staff at Dannan was one of the hardest things that I have experienced. I will miss not only my A 班 of energetic young students but also the many students in B and C 班 that I’ve come to grow close with during after school and break times. These kids are the kids that helped me experience many new Taiwanese activities that I‘ve missed out on as a Taiwanese American, such as 陀螺 and yoyo and bamboo dance, as well as many primary school experiences that one can only ever find in Taiwan, such as the family-style lunch and the way we take our shoes off in class and have assembly. Even though I was the teacher, it’s easy to recognize how much I’ve learned from my own students.

Beyond being a teacher and learning the responsibilities of having students and people who depend on you to step up and take the lead in classrooms, I also learned from and bonded closely with my teaching partners. It was an amazing experience to listen to and live alongside other Taiwanese Americans who share so many of the same sentiments and cultural awareness as I do. We definitely became very close and will hopefully be able to see each other back in the States. I cannot think of any other group that I would have wanted to be with than my A2-1 group, a group with which I shared many inside jokes and fun teaching moments and just really got to talk to and learn about. I will miss them very much and I am so grateful that there is a program like AID that brings together the many of us Taiwanese Americans, young people who often times feel displaced in the States and set apart from classmates despite growing up in the culture that we try to be a part of, in a fun and quick-paced program like this one.

Tan, Dustin (譚欣成)
I'm not sure exactly what reflection you all want so if you want the working journal reflections please feel free to let me know. For now I am submitting a reflection of my overall experience.

The training week was satisfactory but i believe there was an ineffective use of time when it came to presentations and the activities associated with those presentations. Although I do give a thumbs up to the bonds it built.

The two weeks of teaching was great!!! Our teacher, along with his wife and daughter, made the living experience wonderful and unforgettable. The students were well behaved and always wanted to learn; although I am sure that a lot of what we were teaching was simply review from a different person than their traditional teacher. Once again our teacher was great!!!

For the most part I had a terrible experience during the tour but this is mainly because I am used to traveling independently. Although when I take a step back the counselors did a great job and the tour was very well planned. The living condition was both good and bad but I'm sure you all know that. Lastly, I wish there was more free time.

Random note: try to have wifi more available at Jiantan Youth Center.

In conclusion, there were ups and downs but that is inevitable. Thanks to all the staff, administration and counselors (especially Arissa, Eric, Echoooooo) for giving me a once and a lifetime experience.

Dustin Tan
ID: 2422
C-3-2 (team A-3)
Yeh, Joy (葉加恩)
Joy Yeh
Reflection Letter

Coming into the AID program in Taiwan was like a baby bird preparing for its first flight. I was falling into foreign land head first, and for the first time, I left the county I was so accustomed to for my parents’ native country. Arriving two weeks prior to the program allowed me to spread my wings and feel the ground beneath me. Because after all, Taiwan isn’t as different as I imagined.
You can say I’m a pretty adventurous person, but stick me in a plane for 15 hours and hope for the best will really test my limits. It’s a little scary at first thought, flying across the world, especially traveling outside the States for the first time. However, when I was greeted by friendly smiles and warm welcomes, anxiety slowly faded away. The atmosphere at AID was lively and energetic; there were over 450 people which consisted of high school, college, and even graduate students who all shared at least one interest: to aid individuals with disabilities.
I’ve always wanted to take part in something bigger than myself, to help in ways I can impact other people’s lives. And by being able to teach English to schools that needed assistance the most, I, along with numerous others, had done just that. My group and I were stationed at Yude Elementary School in New Taipei, and I am grateful for everyone who showered us with love and care while we were there. I feel like the teachers (us, the volunteers) and the headmaster worked an unspoken bargain: if we worked hard to educate their students, they would treat us for a gourmet dinner or a weekend full of adventure packed activities. Nevertheless, both parties were satisfied.
The three week teaching program allowed me to open my eyes and to appreciate my own teachers from home. A lot of hard work, tears, and dedication goes into teaching students. Even after preparing for two weeks made me exhausted. It was truly heartwarming to see how much our students appreciated us at the end of the two weeks. Their eagerness to learn more was infectious, and it reminded me how I should also have a child-like attitude when it comes to learning.
After teaching for two weeks, AID took us on a one week tour around Taiwan. I was able to do, see, smell, and taste the beautiful culture of Taiwan and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. I can now proudly say that I ventured in my parents’ native country and had an unforgettable experience.

Tseng, Jocelyn (曾佳舲)
I never really liked kids, mostly because I saw them as fragile and irritating, and after this experience, I have to say that not much has changed. Only a handful of kids stood out to me as good students, and although we tried our best as teachers (B2-4), a lot of mistakes were made prior to our appearance at Tainan's Shulin Elementary School.

1) AID shouldn't have put 8 girls together in a group put in these conditions: a school that had never participated in the program before that had a school undergoing renovation.
2) The principal shouldn't have introduced us as "姐姐" and should instead have referred to us as teachers; I feel like we didn't get the respect we deserved because every student just saw us as older sisters.
3) I feel like since this school was put on the map for the first time in this program, we were way too under prepared. Many schools in Tainan that weren't Shulin were much better off in terms of preparation, and their volunteer teachers got to go on field trips constantly. This is more understandable to have not been an opportunity for us at Shulin since we lived in the middle of nowhere, but in terms of preparation, we went in blind. All the hard work we had done before AID and at Chientan was absolutely useless (I taught 4th and 5th grade, and their level was too advanced for this) and went down the drain. We pulled many late nights scrambling for the next lesson plan.
4) We should have split the kids by fluency rather than grade level. Honestly, I don't know if this is a problem with AID or our teacher, because he just assigned us grade levels, and the level of all the students in our class varied heavily.
5) Shulin made it required for students to attend--this should change. Don't force people to join a program they don't want to, because they'll act out, and this negatively affects the students that DO want to be there.

However, even though our group members all got sick and cried at least once and we lived in the home of a bunch of cockroach poop, by the end of the teaching period, after the closing ceremony, I found myself tearing up a bit. Some of the kids were precious to no end and I wish I could have spent more time playing and less time teaching with them. Overall, I guess AID wasn't as bad of an experience as I thought. Things could stand to be a lot more organized, but it's the first year underneath new higher ups, so mistakes can be forgiven.
Deng, Marcus (鄧聞達)
As a volunteer teacher at He-Ping Elementary school, my experience was one of both tiring and fun. Exhaustion was a result of dealing with the troublemaking kids everyday, but the same resulted in creating many enjoyable moments. Not one child was a model student; they all forgot the vocabulary taught a day ago unless the teachers strongly hinted at what the word was. Fights occurred relatively frequently, and indoor recess was almost always led to a destruction of a toy or a loud bang on the drums in the classroom.

However, I was rewarded with laughter and smiles in each class. When the kids listened, questions were met with enthusiastic responses. When the students did not know the answer, humorous responses were provided, ranging from "papaya" to "banana" to "marker." The children really enjoyed the activities the teachers planned, such as the grocery scavenger hunt to the zoo visit to an all-school activity day. When class ended, certain students always came to visit with the teachers, resulting in interesting conversations as the student and the teacher struggled to overcome our language barriers.

After the two week program ended, I was sad and happy to see the students go. Sad to see some of the better students go, sad to see some of the cute kids go, but happy to see the troublemakers who ignored class instructions go. I enjoyed the two week teaching period, and the experience was unique and rewarding.

Harnold, Jocelyn (哈婕琳)
Jocelyn Harnold
2016 July 28
AID 2016
Every morning, the first thing I heard as I walked to my classroom on the third floor was "啊, 老師來了. 快點跑." These words would then be followed by several squealing children rushing past us to "pretend" they were waiting for us quietly by the locked classroom. This small series of events occurred every day of the teaching week without fail. While this little morning call and the rest of my students' crazy antics were definitely annoying sometimes, these little gestures soon grew on me. The same happened with AID. AID definitely grew on me as I became closer to the other teachers in the same program. As we bonded over the stress and excitement of teaching, I felt myself becoming more comfortable with not only my fellow teachers but also myself. My AID experience was definitely not all rainbows and flowers. I faced several challenges in both my teaching and personal experiences. During the course of the two week teaching period, I had to constantly change my lesson plan with unclear instructions from our guiding teacher. As a result, my teaching partner and I always stayed up until the early hours of the next day in order to reconstruct a teaching plan that would cater to our student's curiosity and English level. However, now that it is almost over, I feel a little sad because this experience gave me a chance to establish a family like relationship with my whole group. Over the course of this month, I learned how to trust 7 other strangers with my feelings and frustrations. I am honestly thankful to this program for giving me a chance to not only inspire others but also let others inspire me.

Pan, Amanda (潘曼達)
Amanda Pan
28 July 2016
AID 2016

“老师会说国语呀?” Amidst the chaos of the first day of teaching, games, and introductions, I heard surprised students whispering to each other, “Teacher Amanda knows how to speak Chinese?” I remember this hitting me as a strong reminder of how important it is to have the ability to communicate in Chinese because with this advantage, I was immediately able to bond with the students as well as gain their respect. I found it silly that the students would think that a Chinese person couldn’t speak Chinese, but sadly I soon discovered the truth in their thoughts. Many of my peers, who are also American born Chinese, have no ability to utilize the Chinese language, which greatly inhibited their ability to communicate with colleagues and students. With this month in Taiwan, I was able to not only teach extremely smart students the English language, but I was also able to learn from them and improve my own Chinese skills. Within the short span of two weeks, my class and I were able to become a small family filled with learning, laughter, and love.
As my first time in Taiwan, I was exposed to many new cultural experiences, and I was very nervous at first as I adjusted to the different environment here. With the help of teachers and peers, I was able to assimilate quickly and fit in with everyone else. Since my parents are from mainland China, I learned many new terms used in Taiwan like “番茄”instead of “西红柿”, “塑胶” instead of “塑料”, and “汤匙” instead of “勺子.” After the two weeks of teaching, all my students added me as a friend on Facebook, and they made sure to constantly update me about their lives, which allowed me to learn about their daily lifestyles filled with cram schools, private instrument lessons, and dance practice. Through all of it, they are able to balance house chores along with homework and many other responsibilities. In addition, the tour week after teaching let me travel all around Taiwan, and I was able to experience more of the rich history and culture of this country.
Through the program of AID, I’ve been able to meet amazing people who share the same passion as me. We all love and cherish the time we had teaching our kids, and my group and I have definitely grown into our own little family. Bonding over late night singing sessions, frantic lesson planning, and exciting adventures, we have formed a very tight-knit bond filled with inside jokes and unforgettable memories.
Before this program, I was already a pretty energetic extrovert, but after this whole experience, I’ve come to realize that I’ve become even more open-minded and outgoing. I used to not dance at all in front of other people, but with the help of my little 5th grade class, I made my dancing debut during the school’s closing ceremony, and I found that I really enjoy and love dancing. During the tour, I was chosen as one of the bus leaders in charge of the talent show, and I ended up teaching a hip-hop dance as part of our performance. I would’ve never imagined that I would be learning dance, let alone teaching it to others. However, our group ended up winning first place in the show out of thirteen total groups, and I couldn’t have been happier and prouder of my team.
Overall, AID has truly been a remarkable experience that has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person. I didn’t think I would ever dance, but now I love it; I didn’t think I would ever like working with older kids, but now they’re the most exciting group to work with. All my students have become my good friends, and I hope they successfully pursue their interest in the English language, while I continue to develop my creative thinking, dancing and singing, teaching, and leadership skills that have all been successfully inspired by my teachers, peers, and students at AID. B class best class!

Chang, Daphne (張葦瑄)
AID was not only a teaching experience but also a learning experience. These past weeks had its equal share of both difficult and fun moments. The first day of teaching really taught me to be flexible with students and how much new material the students can retain. My partner and I prepared our first day of class to be slow and review of simple phrases and topics. Once the day was over we realized that our students’ English levels were much higher than we originally suspected. However, at the same time, our students had a hard time understanding when we didn’t speak in Chinese. There was both a language barrier and also the students’ English proficiency varied highly throughout the class. My partner and I had to spend every night past midnight writing a new lesson since our students learned at a quicker pace than we expected. As a result, we had to come up with new activities on the spot to keep them occupied. The first week we had difficulty getting the students interested in the games and activities we planned for them but, after we tested new methods of teaching, the students started responding more. By the end of the first week our students were visibly happier and we could see the progress they were making in both speaking and reading English.
During the second week of teaching, we felt more prepared to teach every day. The students were no longer scared of answering questions or raising their hands to write the answer on the board. However, the kids taught me more than I taught them. Through talking to my students I was able to understand the culture here and appreciate my personal heritage more.
I enjoyed AID very much. It allowed me to interact with many children through teaching. As a result of this program, I was able to grow and learn more about myself and the culture of Taiwan. I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity I was given because it allowed me to give back to the community my family came from. My time at 育德國小 furthered my love for helping others and improving myself. I was able to meet many wonderful people and students.
In my two weeks at 育德國小, I had to work through many difficulties such as understanding instructions from our supervisors, learning how to keep elementary school kids interested in English, and overcoming a language barrier. Although we had to struggle through many long hours of planning, I am glad that I was given this opportunity. It gave me a new appreciation for my teachers and superiors at school. I admire how hard they work to keep learning fresh and interesting. Teaching English in a different country is truly a new and once in a lifetime experience.

Wang, Audrey (王楷棻)
The past two weeks of teaching has been the most enlightening and touching experience this summer. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know each student personally, and helping them feel excited about learning English. Although their English skills varied widely, from passable English to basic ABCs, I could see each student earnestly participating in class. Their enthusiasm for this program gave me the confidence to grow as a teacher. As their English gradually improved, so did my ability to instruct. I really appreciate AID for giving me this opportunity to not only learn more about my heritage, but also spread knowledge to more isolated parts of Taiwan.

I taught the oldest class in an elementary school in Pingtung. The students were all extremely shy at first (as I was warned), but I was incredibly surprised by how quickly they warmed up to me and my teaching partner. They enjoyed learning English through games, as would any child, and friendly competition between the boys and the girls made every student more determined.

Most of the trip passed without any obstacles; however, there is one suggestion I would like to present. One of the members in my group was a vegetarian. While I take no issue with her diet, it would be more efficient to have all vegetarians teach at certain schools. Not only would meal preparation be much easier for the schools, but all the teaching groups would be more close-knit. The vegetarians would always be isolated during mealtimes, and I feel that I had less time to bond with her than I had with the other members.

Wang, Daniel (王德瑞)
These past two weeks have been truly a blessing for me. Being at Taiping Guo Xiao was honestly one of the best and most worthwhile experiences I have ever had in Taiwan. At first it was a bit difficult when coming up with activities for the kids but eventually we found what they were interested in. I have learned what it takes to be a effective and fun teacher in the classroom as well as building a close, personal relationship with the kids. Our teacher, Sophia was extremely helpful to us in the classroom as well as just an amazing person overall. She made sure that we were well taken care of and really loved us very much. I couldn't have asked for anything else except for more time spent with the kids. I hope that these kids have been deeply impacted in a positive way with our visit to their school. Overall I deeply appreciate the opportunity to attend this program.
Lee, Erica ( 李孝芸)
Erica Lee
Yude Elementary - Class C
July 20, 2016
After what felt like a year, but in reality was only 10 days of teaching, I already have a sense of nostalgia attached to our experience. I know that I’ll miss our students the second we leave the school: they’ve wormed their ways into our hearts and daily routines. The improvement I’ve seen in their English in the last week and a half, and the augmentation of their attention spans and participation have been amazing to see – I guess it’s a “you can’t see from the outside in” situation, but I never realized how heartwarming it is to see students grow, or how something as simple as learning a few vocabulary words can feel like leaps and bounds.
Moreover, my perspective has been broadened not only by the students, but also by the people I’ve been able to work with. I finally understand the struggle of having to work within the bounds of the hierarchy that bind an organization, and the connections that form between co-workers. The ever-present pressure of deadlines was mitigated by the fun conversations we had while we worked, and problems we encountered were far easier to solve through teamwork. However, because of this, everything seemed to speed by. Everything, from my time management to social skills, have been sharpened by our everyday experiences, but my flexibility has experienced the greatest volume of growth as literally nothing ever went as planned.
Despite the brevity of our visit, my lasting hope lies within the students as I hope that they retain or reference some of the material they learned in class, and can remember something that liked about camp. My exposure to Taiwan and Yude during my time has AID has evinced a new love of teaching and the Taiwan, and I hope that I can come visit Taiwan in the near future.

Chu, Eric (朱景弘)
This past month has been an extremely rewarding experience for me as it was the first time for me teaching, ever. I often found myself lost at times in class as several unexpected things popped up. I tried to make sure that I prepared for anything but I met a lot of problems along the way. It was certainly a really big challenge but ultimately, a rewarding experience. I am quite surprised at the organization of the program. The managing of several hundred teenagers was extremely well done and the accomodating of preferences.

A major part of this great experience is working with my team. I was skeptical at being able to coordinate a working lesson plan with 4 other students who did not have any teaching experiences but we synergized very well.

The tour was great. I'm usually exploring Taipei myself but this tour really opened my eyes to the rural countryside and the aboriginal cultures.
Lee, Yunting (李昀庭)
The opportunity to teach children in rural areas in Taiwan through the AID program really opened my eyes. I was able to see the multi-faceted cultures of Taiwan, including the Hakka and the different Aboriginal cultures. The tour of Taiwan during the last week of the program was filled with interesting activities such as sightseeing old streets with many years of history, making paper fans, visiting the night market, checking out the different exhibits at museums, and trying scrumptious Taiwanese cuisine.
It was truly an honor to have taught at Meinong Elementary in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Although I was the teacher, the kids definitely taught me a lot as well. Because we were only allowed to speak English to our students, my teaching partner and I were met with different challenges every single day; these challenges revealed that these kids definitely have a mischievous side but I could tell that they were also very kind and innocent. They were actually really fun to teach due to the lack of smooth communication because it made a fool of everyone, and it was fun to laugh at our mistakes and learn from them. Everyday was very tiring but also extremely rewarding and I'm truly thankful for the experience.
AID has definitely changed the way I see children and increased my love for teaching them. I am extremely glad to have participated in AID because without this experience my summer would not have been complete.
Yu, Albert (喻治元)
This trip has been overall very meaningful. I was able to meet with a bunch of talented and friendly people and form a special bond together with them. Over the course of this trip, I realized that English wasn't just another class for Taiwanese children, it is instead a pathway for them to leave and venture into the outside world. Education is not about the grades and rankings but rather the opportunity for these native Taiwanese children to see the outside world. I think this program is very meaningful to the development of the children of Taiwan but to us volunteers as individuals.
Zeng, Anya (曾楚茹)
My experience at AID has been unforgettable and one of a kind. While I was apprehensive about making friends at training week as well as my teaching abilities, the connections I made in the first week and at Taiping Elementary School will forever be precious to me. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to not only teach in the mountains but also to learn about this beautiful country.
As mentioned before, the friendships made on this trip were the most impactful and memorable component of AID. Peers were always fun and supportive during training, teaching, and touring week. The only regret I would have about the volunteers is not being able to meet more and spend more time with them. The counselors throughout the whole program were always so friendly! Even though their instructions may have come off as overbearing, every counselor I met ultimately cared about our fun and safety. Sophia, B1-5’s lead teacher, taught us so much more than how to teach elementary school kids. Her heart for the kids shone through in our diligent preparations and one on one assessments of the students. Above all, the kids’ love for the teachers and earnestness towards learning reminded me of what huge impact one can make as a teacher, playmate, and friend. This unique opportunity to spend two weeks teaching twenty students with four other peers allowed me to bond with people I cannot imagine my life without.
Learning about Taiwan through teaching and tour week has also been unforgettable. From walking through night-markets and museums to waking up for scenic sunrises and walks across different spots in Taiwan, my experience in Taiwan has shown me so much of its beauty and liveliness. I had formerly only experienced Taiwan vicariously through friends’ vacations. The friendliness and beauty of Taiwan is something I definitely will want to come back to again and again. I hope that I can give back to this beautiful country soon!

Ling, Joie (凌昀)
I came into this program with some reservations about how it would go. My brother had done the program two years before and had some negative things to say about it. I am glad to say that this program has exceeded my expectations. I will never forget the people I’ve meet and the experiences I have had thanks to this program. My school was located up high in the mountains in a small village which in itself was a pleasing. I was surrounded by nature that just wasn’t a thing back home and I was able to experience the beauty of Taiwan firsthand. Teaching English was an ordeal that tested me in new ways but I am happy to say that I don’t regret a second of it. I saw myself in some of the kids, the ones that had so much potential and just lacked the drive to utilize it. I like to think that I taught the kids some English that will stick with them throughout the years (hopefully something more than “Listen” and “Be quiet”). The teacher (Sophia) was always on hand to offer any aid that we would require while still giving us enough room to find our own teaching style.
I would strongly recommend this program to my other Taiwanese American friends. Even though I was born across the ocean, I feel a deep connection to the land of my ancestors and this is an amazing way to just give back.

Shih, Justine (施俞亘)
I loved the teaching experience and opportunities given by this program. The two weeks at Miaoli Danan Elementary School were unforgettable. Although the children can be naughty and really hard to control, I still miss and love them so much. However, for me, the first and last week of this program were really bad. The days at Chientan were miserable, restricted to the building. All we did there was eat and sleep. I didn't really like the tour either at the end of the program because I felt like I didn't get to experience the beauty of Taiwan. Nevertheless, putting the two horrible weeks aside, I really much enjoyed teaching English and spending time in Miaoli.
Chen, Justin (陳瑞良)
I really enjoyed my time teaching at Liou Jiao Primary School because I also learned a lot from the students in the classroom. The students were really eager to learn English and their English levels were beyond what I expected which was a pleasant surprise for me. The students really stretched their minds whenever we played a game as a class which made the atmosphere competitive. The kids were always helping each other so that none of their friends would fall behind. I enjoyed the fact that I could joke around with the kids all the time and they would always have fun when they learned. The staff were also helpful in that they took us to many places and were always there to help us if anyone were to face a problem. I would say that this teaching experience was a wish come true because not only was I teaching little kids English, but I was learning about the Taiwanese culture from the kids and the staff.
Hsu, Kavina (許佳寧)
I had high expectations coming into AID. I never heard a single bad thing about the camp, but after these few weeks, my opinion has been slightly altered. While I had an amazing time with my group members, many parts of the program were very unorganized. The worst part of the entire experience for me was going and teaching in the school.
The teaching part was the most important part, but nothing was up to par. The living accommodations, children, and meals were all not very good. I don’t want to go into any specific detail because there’s just too much to say. There were a few good moments and a few good people, but the bad outweighed the good for me. I’m sure most of the negative things that happened at the school happened because it was their first time in the program, but I think someone should have made sure things were better, especially for a group of all girls. It’s important to realize that cleanliness of showering areas and sleeping areas is important for a group of girls, and while bugs are inevitable, dust and dog poop could be avoided by a quick clean up before guest arrival. Students should be taught simple things like respect the teacher before we even arrive. Small and simple things like this need to be tended to.
I wish AID could have been more organized and prepared teachers for more in depth situations with students like bullying and other sorts of interactions instead of spending an entire class period teaching us attention getters that were used less than 5% of the program. I know that many other groups had a very good time at AID, but my group and I had a very interesting situation and experience. I hope that in the future, no group would ever have to experience some of the things that we did.
Wang, Claire (王妍馨)
AID was an eye-opening experience during the two teaching weeks. During the first training week, the classes were beneficial in learning games to teach the kids. However, the classes did not teach how to manage bad behavior exhibited by the students. The dinner time during the first week was also very early in comparison to what time most people ate at. The students’ skill levels should be assessed before the volunteer teachers go so we know what topics to teach. In the two teaching weeks, the places we visited were very fun (E-Da and Salt Mountains). During the weekdays, we didn’t have enough time to go explore the city because we had to make a new teaching plan for the following day. The school bathroom we had to use was pretty unsanitary and sleeping on a hard floor was difficult. The children were very rowdy and didn’t listen to our instruction when they first met us. As the days went on, they became more well-behaved. The last tour week was very rushed and punctual when I thought it was going to be laid-back. The places we visited were interesting, nonetheless.
Yang, Serena (楊佳欣)
During my time in the aid program, I have developed a plethora of unforgettable experiences. The first week provided the necessities for learning how to teach control a classroom, something I'm thankful for rather than going in blind. Heading into the two weeks of teaching was nerve wracking, me being insecure in my teaching abilities and the entire group about our group dynamic. All of the nervous antics before easily flew out the window once teaching began, everyone building off of each other's energy to keep the class up and interested. Although there were hiccups like when I had a mental block in the class room and broke down crying, I know my team had my back and was able to keep the class going and attention where it was supposed to be. The only advice I wish I gave myself before the program is to be ready to think on my feet because, even though I have a wonderful lesson plan ready, not everything will go according to plan and the only thing that will save you is fast thinking. All together, AID provided an experience that's worth treasuring, from the friends I made to the children I taught, and is something that I don't think I can forget, even if I tried.
Pan, Dean (潘居鼎)
This program has been a real eye opener for me. At first, I didn't really know what to expect and was really reluctant. My teaching experience extends to a summer camp where I was an assistant counselor to a group with kids similar to the ones I taught (5th-6th grade). I walked into this camp with doubt but also with careful hopefulness. When I first walked into my room, it was a bit awkward introducing myself to 5 relatively strangers. As the week progressed though, we became friends with each other. Additionally, our school groups bonded closely and we got to know each other. When teaching started, all of us had seeds of doubt and nervousness. The first day was ... hectic. Our schedule was completely changed around and we had to scramble for ideas to fill up the time; however, the first day is always the worst. Once we got past the first day, our week progressively got better and better. Before we knew it, the two weeks were over. I think it's safe to say that time flies when you have fun, and teaching children has been a very fun experience for me. My partner didn't even know Mandarin (he speaks Cantonese) and my Mandarin is pretty bad, but we made do and still had a blast with our kids. We miss our kids and teaching assistants alot. Honestly, the tour of Taiwan pales in comparison to the two weeks at our school. During our time at the school, we got to know each other on a more personal and deeper level. We got to learn each other's weaknesses and strengths and work off of them. I also learned that I'm apparently an extrovert even though I don't feel like one. This camp has been a great experience for me, but not just for me, but everyone involved. I've made friends from a multitude of backgrounds. I've met people from California, Illinois, Texas (woot woot), graduated from college, still in college, just got into college, still in high school, etc. I've grown to appreciate what I have as a middle-class American and to be more generous with my time and efforts with other people. Overall, this camp grew on me. I've met a lot of people that I wish I could see again. I don't really know how to end a reflection, but I would like to thank my parents for forcing me to come to this camp; otherwise, I would have missed out on a great opportunity to discover more about myself.
Chen, Eric (陳冠旭)
This experience was really a unique, one of a kind ride. When I first got here, I was pretty frustrated with the lectures they gave us, seeing as how the majority of them didn't give much help and only served to waste precious time that could have gone into preparing lesson plans. At first, it felt as if I did not know what I was signing up for.

However, when I reached Da Guan Elementary School, I was pleasantly surprised by a group of TAs who were very welcoming. Our teacher, Liao 老师, and the previous teacher from last year decided to stay with us for the entirety of the two weeks while we were at Da Guan. The 主任 also treated us very nicely, and I am extremely glad to have been sent to Da Guan. The first day of teaching began with a rocky start; our school had one advanced class that Jessica and I volunteered to teach.

On the first day, we completely underestimated how, for lack of better words, brilliant our students were. At first, Ms. Liao told me to speak slower in English since they were not as familiar in English as we were. However, they, for the most part, understood what we were saying and rarely required further clarification. We immediately sensed how bored they were on the first day, and we were pretty bummed out.

That night, we scrambled to revise our plans according to our class's level. Each of our four classes had differing levels of English, and ours had the most advanced. Interpersonal relationships between members of our teams also became a problem; we were failing to communicate and work together as a team. Frankly, I'm not really sure that even now if we could be called a true team, but in the end, it worked out and happy memories were made.

Bonding with the students, teachers, and teaching assistants was truly a memorable and humbling experience. I had never realized how spoiled and privileged of a life we led into America, and after arriving at Da Guan, I was truly humbled by the life I lived while I was there. It also made me realize that my viewpoints that I carried over from America were pretty selfish and spoiled.

It would not be amiss to say that this trip has changed me. I became close friends with my partner and my teaching assistant, so close that we chat on a regular basis through LINE and in person. When it came time for us to leave the school, we all went through an emotional rollercoaster. It was truly heartbreaking to leave these people we had become so close with, and I finally broke into tears on the bus ride back to 剑潭.

On the tour, because we stayed in regular contact with our newly found friends, they came to visit us at 淡水, and it felt kind of surreal to see them again. Sure, I made more friends, but after spending complete days teaching, working, and going out with these people made us a close group of friends. I will miss them dearly and would like to thank AID for giving me this chance to learn how to deal with little kids and for the chance to meet a group of such amazing people.
Su, Andrew (蘇恩篤)
On the opening day, check-in was quick and easy. However, before check-in parking was a hassle. The first week of training was overall an excellent experience. Since day one, my group immediately bonded well by playing games and hanging out together. The rest of the week consisted of helpful lectures and activities as well as time for each school to work on their individual teaching plans and opening ceremony performances. I enjoyed this first week because it allowed our group to become very close to each other while also making vital preparations for the upcoming weeks.
The two weeks of teaching were challenging but also very fun. When we first assigned our teaching groups within our school, I was not very excited about my teaching partners (although I was glad to be in a group of three instead of a group of two). However, I came to realize that I had awesome teaching partners and we got along well. One of us did more in class teaching, so the other two helped out by doing more after school work, such as the daily reflections or the next day’s lesson plan, or operating the computer for the slideshows. While waking up early every morning was probably the hardest part of the day, watching the kids have fun and also having fun myself made the early mornings not so bad. Whether it be from our teaching activities or playing basketball during the break, I know my students and I enjoyed the two weeks we had together. Two weeks is not enough time to adequately teach a language as complex as English, but I think by participating in this program, the students had fun while learning, and ultimately that was our goal.
Finally, the tour week was very fun and I had a great time getting to know new people and experiencing a whole different side of Taiwan that I had not seen before. Nearly a month later and I’m still in contact with the friends I made in Taiwan. Everywhere we visited was awesome and I would love to visit them again. Even though we didn’t get to spend as much time at each place as I would’ve liked, the tour still gave me a taste of Taiwan.
Overall, the food, lodging, and transportation was pretty good. The worst part about each meal was usually the fact that we used chopsticks because I’m not very good with them. Besides that, the food was good at Chientan, the school, and on the tour. Lodging was also very good. While others might complain about the Kaohsiung Military Hotel or Pacificgreenbay because they weren’t as nice as the other places we stayed, I think they were just fine. And lastly, the bus we used as transportation was good; it had comfortable seats that reclined (which allowed me to catch up on sleep) as well as USB charging ports which were very handy. My only complaint about the bus is that they were pretty cold and I didn’t bring a jacket with me because summertime Taiwan is not known for being very jacket-friendly.
Ku, Chen-Yu (古宸宇)
I learned a great deal from this program. From all the experiences that I have gained, I have come to treasure the ones that I have with me students. Though I was suppose to be the one doing the teaching, my students taught me more than I could ever imagine. My students brought out the best I had in me, and in return, they gave me their best.
The teaching portion of this program is probably the best part about the program. The only thing I have come to dislike is the tour. It's not like the tour is boring or bad in anyway, I just feel like it could be better organized. There are times when the counselors would call us off the bus and we'll just be waiting in the hot sun. I honestly felt that if the tour was better organized, it would be more enjoyable.
Yu, Jonah (余更駿)
Before I begin my reflection I want to say that this experience really humbled me and changed my perspective of a lot of things. I am really blessed to have received this opportunity, a once in a lifetime experience, and will cherish it forever. These kids that I had the chance to spend time with really changed my life because they showed me how different and better they are from American children. Although these kids are kind of hard to control, they will do tasks like mopping and sweeping the floor, clean the blackboard, organize the classroom, clean the restroom, and pass out lunch, without even asking which really amazed me, because American kids would never do that because they are too spoiled. I really learned as much from them as they did from me because kids would offer to teach me more Chinese and even Taiwanese (but mostly bad words lol) as well as certain actions that you would do to respect elders. There will be some negativeness going around in this reflection, but once again, I really am grateful for this amazing and memorable opportunity to teach these kids that are willing to learn a new language.
- When my mom told me about this program I said "no" only because I wanted to hang with my friends the last summer before we all head to college. But after thinking about my future and how much it would help my application for further jobs and potential scholarships I relented.
- My first week at chien tang was not what I expected at all, because I knew no one here while everyone had at least one familiar face they could huddle with and avoid awkward eye contact. I immediately wanted to leave but I kept on telling myself that this would be worth it when we go on the tour around Taiwan. When I met the people that I would be teaching with, I felt relieved that I had some people to lean on. I expected the first week of "learning how to teach" to be very laid back, but I was so wrong. Almost every morning we all had to wake up around 6:30 to eat breakfast and although we had many breaks where we could head back to our room and rest, I felt like I was in jail because I couldn't go anywhere out of the youth center. We were all stuck inside the building for 6 days straight like prisoners. OH YEAH, and don't even get me started on the food....for the first 2 days it was pretty good considering how many of us there were, but the food just became repetitive when we ate watery rice every single day. It was nice that they tried to incorporate some kind of fried "American" dish, but really, if people came to Taiwan to eat American food then that's pretty sad. It would've been nice if they had more traditional Taiwanese dishes...because helloooo we are in Taiwan so that would be expected. Personally, I had very low expectations for this whole program after the first few days, because everything didn't look organized. I wanted to learn more about how to deal with kids and how to create a lesson plan, but all I got was a teacher going through ppts like clock work. All I wanted to do was go to the school to teach kids, cause honestly the first week of "prep" was pretty bad. The AC was pretty iffy, not to mention the horrible wifi that I needed to make my lesson plans. The best part of the whole week was probably the sleep that we were deprived of and the night market.
- Finally, after a week of planning that could of been done in a day or two we finally went to the school. From all the stories that I heard in the first week of past students having poor accommodations, I wasn't expecting much from where we were going to live for the next 2 weeks, but when the place had AC, cable, and a washer I was pretty shocked. I had heard stories about some teachers living inside temples and libraries on the ground with no AC so I was pretty blessed. The 1st day of school felt exactly like the first day of school in America, except we were the teachers. I wasn't as nervous because these were just kids, so I relaxed. After an embarrassing performance to warm up the students to us, we split up the 93 kids up into 3 groups (A,B,C) based on their English speaking/comprehending ability. My partner Mindy and I had the smartest kids in group A and we excepted them to be the most diligent and obedient kids but that was not the case. I knew immediately who the talkative and bad kids were so I made a mental note for a seating not chart. We were not supposed to let the kids know that we could speak Chinese but one of my group members screwed it up the first day so we already started out bad. The first day we were just supposed to get to know each other but since the kids were so rowdy we didn't really get to finish. The day ended quickly and we had to stay after school to plan the next day. We planned each day, day by day, and each day we came to school around 6 AM and left 10 PM which really took a toll on us physically and mentally. Many people in our group were sleep deprived and some even got sick. The next 2 weeks we all got to get to know our kids and it was actually pretty fun teaching and interacting with the kids. I never expected to teach so much and learn so much about different kinds of students and their backgrounds. I learned as much from the students as they learned from me. I was never the student to be mean to the students, instead I would be very passive aggressive with them because if you reward them for good behavior then they're going to want to be good more often. We had a point system in every single room and we would either reward them with points or with an extra 5 minutes of break time or punish them by deduction points and making them clean up. At first, I though t that all of these kids would be poor and disadvantaged, but some of theses kids would show me pictures of how many super cars they had, how many pairs of shoes they had, and how many brand name clothes they had also. The school that we were at had no AC, so all day and night from 7am-10pm we were sweating bullets and by the end of the day when we went home to our dorms our shirts were completely drenched. But, I never went home complaining about the kids or the work, only the heat so I guess that's a good thing ;). Personally, the 2 weeks I was there was really eye opening and fun because 1. The kids made teaching fun and 2. The kids were so cute and adorable!! I really miss the kids and would come back and yeah kids again, but without the extra wasteful week at chien tang and the tour.
- I was looking forward to this tour since day 1, but I think I over-hyped it because honestly, I didn't really like it. One of the main issues was the waiting.....the waiting absolutely killed this experience because it was way too hot outside to be waiting for the counselors to count everybody and wait for them to get in a line (I'm not complaining about the counselors, I love them), which brings me to my next problem; the heat. I wished we went to more indoor places with AC. But the worst thing was sleeping with 4-8 people to one tiny room. Not only was it uncomfortable, but it was also stuffy and smelly from all the sweating going around. It took us too long to take showers and I don't even want to mention how many people took shits in the poor toilet. The sleeping situation just was scarring. And again with the chien tang-like food, which I hated. I feel like the heat and the waiting really ruined this experience, because if we had less people and it was cooler, then I would've enjoyed the scenery and activities more. Other than those problems, I thought my counselors: Terrence, Emily, and Joanne were probably the nicest, humblest, every positive thing you could think of would be them, because when I had thought so leaving the tour, all three of them were the reason I wanted to stay. The scenery was beautiful and the experience was awesome because I got to visit so many different places, so I will forever remember those moments.

Hseu, Grace (許如儀)
At this camp this past summer I have learned a lot of lessons. The first lesson was that you had to be open to a lot of new things and new ideas. For example we had to always be open to our lesson plans being cut short or maybe the class not participating in pictionary or charades. Furthermore, I also learned that teaching is a lot of hard work. Even though teachers are not highly thought upon of and that teaching is supposedly easy it's actually a lot of work involved behind the scenes to get all the lesson plans ready for the next day. Lastly, I learned that working in a group required a lot of communication and cooperation. In our group we had a lot of communication issues which added to work not being done. This work not being done added to lack of communication between our group which added to lack of cooperation which really affected our group. Overall I enjoyed this experience and teaching really allowed me to explore a side of Taiwan I had never seen before.
Chan, Michael (陳展鴻)
Throughout the course of this program, I have been able to grow as an individual. I have discovered many new things about myself such as my love for teaching and my love for self-improvement. Through communicating with students, teaching assistants, and fellow volunteers, my intrapersonal skills have made leaps and bounds. I strongly believe that this program, AID Summer, has been a positive experience for volunteers as well as the students enrolled in the program.
I, for one, have been able to learn more about the culture and beauty of Taiwan. By being able to travel throughout Taiwan with my peers, I have been able to make many unforgettable memories. We were able to experience living in Taiwan firsthand, and see indigenous cultures such as the Hakka aboriginals. In addition to being able to tour the country, we were able to interact with and teach students ranging from third grade to sixth grade in New Taipei.
Teaching the students at Yude Elementary School in New Taipei was another highlight of my time in Taiwan. The students were respectful and kind to me and Dean, my partner at Yude. They were extremely receptive to the information that we taught them, and would wholeheartedly participate in the activities that we planned for them. We were able to give them a taste of American culture, and connect with them on a personal level.
Overall, I enjoyed AID Summer very much. The experiences I had will stay with me for a lifetime. Also, I was able to improve alongside many people of my age group.

Wu, Catherine (吳凱琳)
This entire experience was very interesting. Ever since the first day, things were not very organized, but I looked past it because of how much I was anticipating the rest of the trip.
The classes were interesting enough, but they really didn't teach us anything other than what kinds of games we could play with our kids. On the topic of ways we could control the students, the lectures were completely unhelpful.
Once we reached our school, Shulin Elementary in Cigu, Tainan, we began our teaching in the temple due to the renovations happening in the school. The students were rowdy and uncooperative, sometimes refusing to return to the classroom after a break or sit down and be quiet when we were trying to teach a lesson. Majority were also very uninterested in English and also refused to try the worksheets that were given, instead folding them into paper planes or tearing them up and throwing the pieces at each other.
Other than the students being uncooperative and uninterested, the living accommodations and food were subpar at best. We lived in the AV room of the school on the stage but the problem was all the insects and the bathrooms. The showers were extremely dirty and in the laundry room and the boy's bathroom. Whenever we had to use the restroom or shower etc, we had to bring another girl with us, because we are an all girls group and it'll be dangerous at night.
Every single day we ate lunchboxes for lunch and dinner, and we were unable to get anything else sue to the fact that the nearest other stores were extremely far away.
The tour was very tiring, but I was glad to be able to visit some of the places that we went to. Some of the living accommodations were good, and others were bad, but all in all it was pretty gratifying to be able to just relax and let someone else be in charge of me rather than be in charge of 28 rowdy children. In the end, it was an interesting experience but it could have gone a lot better had the school been prepared and the kids interested and also prepared.