2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Houston
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Ou, Rachel (歐曉晋)
I am really glad that I had the opportunity to go to Taiwan this summer to teach, make friends, and explore Taiwan. I made so many lasting memories during the two weeks of teaching, not only with my students, but with my co-teachers as well. Although teaching was very tiring, I would have gladly done it for longer. I was lucky enough to have very clean and nice living conditions with minimal bugs, etc. and my school was also very friendly and accommodating. Teaching junior high school gave us the opportunity to bond more closely with our students, as the age difference wasn't that large between us. We still had authority over the students, enough for them to respect us, but we also were there as their friends. I learned a lot during the two weeks of teaching, like patience when trying to teach the students something that seemed so simple to me. I was lucky enough to have a wonderful team, and I was able to make lasting friendships with them as well.
Although at times over the course of the month I did feel homesick or regretful for spending a month of my summer away from my friends back at home, I do not regret being a part of the program, and I would really love to continue to go back to Taiwan and experience its beauty in the future.
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Chen, Claire (陳心昀)
To me AID was a surreal and eye opening experience.The first week of training at Chientan honestly was pretty boring with all the training and group activities. However, the training actually provided tips and ideas for the actual teaching, something I'm thankful for. The first week also provided opportunities for groups to get to know one another. On the first day of teaching 5th to 7th graders at Ren He Elementary, instead of having trouble controlling the classroom, the students were unresponsive and shy and on top of that, my partners and I underestimated the English abilities of the students. However as time went on, we bonded with the students and we were able to create a lesson plan that is on their level. Every day we spent at least 50% of the time playing all sorts of games. During break time, we would let students play their favorite songs through the speakers. Even though every night we had to work on the next day's power point and update reflections, it was through times of struggle and tiredness I became closer to my group.Two weeks was not enough time to adequately teach English, however the goal of the program is to let students have fun while learning. After saying good bye to the school and the students, we went to the tour. Honestly, the tour was quite a disappointment. The counselors made great efforts to make the trip fun, but the places we visited and lived in weren't the most enjoyable. And on top of that, we had to practice a talent show at night. Nevertheless, it did gave me a little more time with my friends before we all say goodbye to each other.
Now that the entire program is over and I'm back in Texas, I miss waking up to the view of mountains and having man tou and milk tea of breakfast. And most of all, I miss all the amazing friends I made through AID.
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Liao, Amber (廖子潔)
AID was an amazing experience that I am so glad I was able to take part of. I learned a lot: from forming different types of relationships, to changing my outlook on life. I felt like I was connected back to my Taiwanese roots; I had not been back to Taiwan in 7 years and pretty much forgot how beautiful the country is. The friends and the people I met here will always be in my memory. Teaching the kids was a hard, but well rewarding experience. I understand how hard teachers have it now and now know not to underestimate the occupation of a teacher. The kids were cute, but they could be crazy and hard to control at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I learned how important team work is, and even though our group wasn't the best at getting along, in the end, everything was good and I wouldn't trade them for any other group. Although it was stressful when coordinating lesson plans and tasks with the teacher, I am thankful that she was there or else we would not have gotten anything done with precision and accuracy. Our director and military guys at our dorm and school were so helpful and caring towards us. I am so thankful to everyone and how warmly they treated us. AID was such an amazing experience that I will remember forever.
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Li, Corey (李凱樂)
Teaching in Taiwan could be one of the best times of my life. I had always enjoyed being around children, however, teaching them was another type of fun. I loved getting acquainted with these children and learn their names and behaviors. However,teaching these kids wasn't the best part of the trip. The people I met were the best part. I met new people from the U.S. and in Taiwan. I made bonds and memories that will last a lifetime. I got to know my home country of Taiwan in ways I had never known before.
When I was at Chientan, I got close with my teaching group. We were all mostly from different areas of the world and grew up in different environments. We didn't have to be friends or get close, but we did. After we left Chientan and arrived at Ren Ai Elementary School, we got even closer. This is when we truly bonded as well as with the Taiwanese TAs. Our late night conversations and funny inside joke made every tiring day worth it. The children were also very fun and enjoyable. They were unresponsive at first but eventually grew on us as we grew on them. The last days were tough and even tougher as I had to leave early from the last week of tour.
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Lin, Eric (林亞瑋)
This overall experience can best be described as an eye-opening immersion in an environment vastly different from what I am accustomed to. Back home in the US, I do not typically ponder about the rural life here in Taoyuan that my students go through daily. I never wonder about the lack of privilege that these kids have grown so used to. Although I cannot truly understand their lives through only 2 weeks with them, I most certainly have developed a respect for my students and TAs here as well as an appreciation for the things I once took for granted back at home. My life in the US has largely revolved around academics and extracurricular competitions, so coming to Taoyuan and learning to enjoy a life of relative simplicity, where AC is scarce, where Wi-Fi is scarce, and where electricity costs are always a concern, gives me a better perspective of my students and inspiration to truly give my all in teaching them and helping them beyond just learning English. This program has created a passion and desire to help other kids in similar socio-economic situations when before I lacked any interest in helping kids. The irrational fear I previously associated with kids is an entirely unfair assumption because my experience with kids in the US cannot be, in any way, compared to that of my students here. The kids here are beyond grateful and always ready to blindly accept and trust us as their teachers and as their friends. It is this sort of experience that I truly cherish and will forever hold in my memory.
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Hsu, Natasha (許筠瑄)
The AID program was an extremely exciting and enriching program for me. I was able to meet so many wonderful people, including both people inside and outside of my group. I remember walking into my room the first day and just being bombarded by a bunch of welcomes. Not to mention, my roommates also shared a lot of my interests which helped us become closer as well. Then, there were the actual counselors themselves, all of whom were just incredibly good at their job. I made it a point to try to become their friends; it was a new experience for the both of us, and they were probably more intimidated by the language barrier than we were. Finally, the first week was over and we went our separate ways to go to our schools. I had a fantastic time those two weeks. Though I was tired a lot of the time, I got my much wanted teaching experience. The kids themselves were so energetic and made my class one that was fun and unique. Over the two weeks, I also got really used to sleeping on the floor (a habit I find surprisingly comfortable now) and using squatting toilets. I can even truthfully say I miss doing so. Anyways, for the last tour week, it was great being able to see all of those places, but what was sometimes even more fun was being on the bus, thanks to our fantastic counselors. I'm really grateful that I was chosen for the AID program and that I was able to partake in such a memorable experience.
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Yao, Alexander (姚亞立)
The AID Summer program was an eye opening experience. I learned a lot about what it takes to teach students a different language,a task very unlike teaching any other sort of material. Though it took time to grasp on to good teaching methods, I really thought that I learned to engage the students better as towards the end of the program. I hope that I can also carry these skills into other fields as well as I move into the future and teach my peers when necessary. As someone who was always interested in meeting others from different backgrounds, this program truly fulfilled my expectations. I gained a lot of insight about the lives some of my students led. Though teaching the students English was very exciting, I think that the moments spent simply talking and playing with the kids was just as precious, if not more. It was in these settings that I learned about their passions, aspirations, and more. Furthermore, teaching alongside college students from Tung Hai University was an experience I will never forget. I learned about many things we shared or grew up differently with. Thank you to all my fellow teachers: Brittany, Natasha, Collete, Melinda, Ted, Joseph, Melody, Winnie, Piggy, Eva, Jason, Bill, Michelle, Angela and Pingu for making every day and night such a fun experience. Thank you to my class: Nicky, Eric, Wayne, Leo, Evon, Anna, Lucy, Ruby, Owen and Kevin for making class A my favorite class of all time. Also, thank you to Zena, John, Rice, Darren, Syuan and Renee for facilitating this summer that I will never forget.
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Wang, Brian (王品璁)
The past two weeks at Bali Elementary School have passed faster than I would have thought. When I first arrived at the school, I was not entirely sure what to expect. Our teacher Carol told us that some groups of students would be very enthusiastic about singing and dancing; other groups of students would be into other activities, such as role-playing, while other students might be very shy to participate in class activities. I did not know how to approach the students on the very first day. The students, however, welcomed us to the classroom, and we became their teachers and their friends as well. Their enthusiasm and endless energy were the driving force behind the teaching being so enjoyable. Every day passed by so fast, though creating the teaching plans and planning out the activities for each day took a lot of time and effort. We wanted to ensure that the students would not be bored easily by incorporating lots of games and activities, such as with songs, drawings, Twister, and Pictionary, to supplement learning the new English vocabulary. Our students thoroughly enjoyed these activities, and even though our teaching plans had to be updated daily, I believe that the students have learned a lot of English from this program.
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Fan, Kelly (范凱麗)
2017. The summer I fell in love with Taiwan.
Once we arrived at Chientan Overseas Youth Activities Center, it was like freshman year of college all over again -but in all the right ways. Everyone was eagerly meeting as many people as possible, the counselors chatted with us in their best English, and hopes were soaring high in the air. In all honesty, the first week of training was slightly suffocating with 434 people in one infrastructure 24/7, but the program counselors and directors put in their best efforts to keep everyone safe and under control. My group and I spent a lot of time getting to know each other and grew close pretty quickly. Our coach, Max, reminded us that we were not just a team, but a family. I learned quite a lot from the experienced guest teachers, and soon enough, it was time to go off to our respective schools.
Pulling into Ruifang Junior High School, we were greeted by teachers, the principal, program director, volunteer helpers, and even some students. The teachers’ office was decorated with banners, pearl milk tea and local snacks, and even a mug with our picture on it to welcome us to our new home. As expected, our students were a little shy the first day. Once it got to the second and third days, however, we quickly learned that they were full of energy and excitement to learn English and more about us. The students never disrespected us and always paid attention in class. During breaks, they would ask us so many questions, and I quickly grew to adore them and their cute humor. They weren’t just our students, but our friends, and ultimately our family. Needless to say, when it came time to depart, endless tears were shed. Though our time together felt way too short, we all knew our memories together would never fade.
The central tour itself honestly didn’t interest me too much, but the time spent bonding with other volunteer teachers and counselors were ever-so memorable. Friendships across different states, countries, and continents blossomed that will last much, much longer than the brief few weeks spent together.


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Jiang, Renee (江芮妤)
Participating in AID's 2017 summer program was an amazing experience for me. I am extremely lucky and thankful to have been assigned to Bali Elementary School in Taoyuan. At first, to be honest, it was a challenge to have to adapt to the new lifestyle of having bento boxes for dinner everyday, endless lesson plans waiting for us each night, and no AC. Not to mention the stress of having 20 minutes of an opening ceremony we had to come up with two days before school started. But everything was worth it seeing how much fun the kids had and how generous and welcoming the staffs and teachers at Bali were. I was assigned to group B, class Totoro, which was mainly contrived of 3rd graders and a couple 5th graders. These kids are the most annoying and energetic little dancers I have ever seen. The first few days of teaching were quite slow and nerve recking, but as the week went on, my partners and I quickly caught on to the teaching and learning styles of the kids. After the field trip on Thursday, to the National Taiwan Science Center, the kids and us became more closely bonded to each other. The more we got to know them the more energetic they became. During break time kids would come up to me and chase me around with bug shells, although it was very exhausting and sweaty, I really enjoyed playing with them. For the most part, our days went pretty successfully with teaching and activities. The kids seem to never run out of energy so we constantly had to keep them entertained and busy every second of the day. Our teacher assistant was also very helpful, I have to thank him for keeping the kids intact throughout the day and during nap time. At the end of each day, we would all be very tired and extremely sweaty but would still have to attend a meeting with the principle and teachers to talk about our teaching that day. The director and teachers at Bali are the best. They took us to two differently night markets and to a mall to watch a movie on the weekend, and brought us shaved ice, pizza, and lots of fruit for us every so often. Their generosity is the most we can ask for, I could not thank them enough for doing the best they could to provide the things we needed. These two weeks at Bali has become an important memory in my life and has left an amazing impact on me. I not only gained seven extraordinary friends, new experiences, but also a place to return to whenever I come back to Taiwan. Not a day throughout this two weeks did Is regret signing up for this program because each day to me felt worth living. Not a single day of my summer time was wasted.
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Lu, Felicia (陸昕彤)
Teaching at Bali Elementary School has been an amazing experience for me to say the least. The staff was incredibly friendly and hospitable, and the children that attended the camp were all so sweet! However, it was challenging when it came to preparing a lesson plan that was both informative and entertaining for the kids, and we often found ourselves staying up late to brainstorm ideas. But their eager faces the next day often made the all the hard work worth the effort.

My favorite thing about the program was the people that I met, especially the people I roomed with and all the children that I taught. It was hard for me to say goodbye to the faces I had gotten familiarized with on the last day of school, and tears were exchanged amongst both the students and teachers. I received a large card from the students I taught filled with small, hand-written letters that they each wrote (sadly I cannot read Chinese, so I guess I'll have to have my parents read it to me haha). It is definetly something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. All in all, it was a very memorable experience, and I hope I will be able to visit the school next year when I return to Taiwan once again!
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Lee, Brittany (李宜蓁)
I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in AID. I had so much fun, and everyone took such good care of me, from all the teachers and counselors during training week to Zena 老師, 林主任, 東海大學 volunteers, and also AID volunteers during the teaching weeks.

I love the students at 爽文國小 so much. Although people warned us that the kids are very naughty and hard-to-deal with, I actually thought that they were quite well-behaved, respectful, and disciplined compared to the American kids that I’ve seen. But of course, it was still a challenge to teach them well. Yes, sometimes, they argued with each other, ran around everywhere, didn’t listen or participate, cried, fought, got hurt, bullied others….it got chaotic sometimes, but that allowed me to bond with and love my students even more. My class C was so full of energy sometimes (except right before lunch and when they were tired), so that made things more interesting and fun. I learned to give out clearer instructions and to excite students for upcoming activities when they were lethargic. I’m really thankful and surprised that over half of my class would come back to school every day after school was over to play. They would hang out with us, throw sticky balls at a dartboard drawn on the chalkboard, ride their bike, run around the school. Actually, we not only heard the children playing after school but also before school, even before we opened our eyes from sleep. I really wish that we could spend more than just 10 days teaching the kids because I still have so much to learn about their lifestyle and personality.

I also had an incredible time with the 東海 volunteers too. This was my first time working with Taiwanese young adults, and it was a blast! They helped us every step of the way and were so kind, hardworking, and open-minded no matter what. They had amazing games that they played with the children and with us as well. We celebrated a volunteer’s birthday with a cake fight, played lots of games, cooked, talked, and lived together. I never expected to have so much fun and so much laughter every day.

Through the two weeks at 爽文, I now have a much better understanding of the culture of Taiwanese youth. I wasn’t only teaching and learning during those two weeks at 爽文, but I was also living my childhood that I had always wanted. Instead of just watching Taiwanese youth interaction from TV or hearing my family talk about their past, I was actually experiencing it with kids and with 東海 volunteers, so this experience is particularly important to me. I’ve made many friends that I will always treasure, and this has been an amazing and memorable experience. AID, thank you for giving me this opportunity!

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Hsu, Caitlin (徐寧)
The first time I heard about the AID program was about two years ago, through my dad, who suggested that I sign up when I turned 17. I immediately shot down the idea- a full month spent in my parents’ home country on the other side of the world, far away from my friends and family didn't sound like my cup of milk tea - but I applied anyway, thinking even if I hated it, at least it would look good on my college resume. However, through the experiences and memories I made at AID, I ended up gaining far more than just certificates and volunteer hours.

From the very first day of AID, I could tell this month would be like nothing I had ever experienced before. At home I was an only child, but at Chientan I lived with 5 other girls and spent all my waking hours constantly surrounded by hundreds of other teens who shared my heritage. I had very few Asian friends in Texas, and thus, the sense of clarity and belonging I gained from speaking freely in both English and Chinese and discussing the quirks of growing up Asian in America with others who totally understood was incredible. Teaching at Ren He elementary school in Chiayi with the rest of group B1-7 was an unparalleled experience as well. Granted, the kids weren’t always easy to deal with – they were mischievous at best, downright chaotic at worst – but I knew the purpose of my trip wasn’t actually to turn these kids into fluent English speakers, but rather to gain experiences, make friends, know Taiwan better, and have fun along the way. Thanks to Ren He Elementary, to my students, to my friends in group B1-7, to our loyal counselors, and most importantly to AID as a whole, I am grateful to be able to say that I was more than successful in these endeavors and I had one of the best months of my life.

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Liu, Alexander (劉子碩)
Honestly speaking, I had no idea what to expect when I first signed up for AID. Several of my friends who attended the program last year told me that teaching children in the Taiwan countryside was an unforgettable experience and that they thoroughly enjoyed their time there, but I had no previous experience of teaching kids. However, after the long lectures during the first week and careful planning for the two weeks of teaching, my partner Chris and I have truly made some memories that will last us a lifetime.

I will say this right away: I have never been that great at handling children, much less teaching them. But ever since the first day that Chris and I met our children, they took us in from the start and treated us like their elder siblings. Throughout the two weeks of teaching, we came across many bonding opportunities with them and unconsciously brought about some ongoing class jokes. The kids of Bali Elementary School never failed to surprise us every day too, and we always used up all of our energy every day because of how active and competitive they were (don't get me wrong, it's really cute!).

As a mild disclaimer, I would like to say that YES, schools without air conditioning can suck sometimes and YES, you have a 100% chance of having your energy drained by the end of the day and YES, planning activities for the kids can be frustrating at times. But believe me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons in a situation like this, where you firsthandedly get to watch your kids gain an interest in the English language and also get to know them on such a personal level that it makes it hard to leave them once the program comes to an end.

Sadly, I am one of the few AID volunteers who will not attend the tour at the end of the two-week teaching period, so I will not be able to give my feedback on that.

Overall, AID is an exceptionally generous program that puts the education of the children before anything else. I can guarantee that you will not be able to experience something like this from anything/ anywhere else. What AID does for Taiwan is truly world-changing, and I am proud to say that I was a volunteer during the 2017 teaching program.
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Lin, Jonathan (林恩翔)
This program gave me valuable experiences and memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. I did not know what to expect at first, but at the end i was reluctant to return back to the States.My group was pretty awkward in the beginning, but we eventually learned how to be awkward together which made the trip extremely memorable and fun. The training week was a little disorganized with no one knowing what was going on for the first two days. The lectures were somewhat helpful but were too long. However I felt completely unprepared on the first day of teaching and had no idea what to expect. This led to our first day at the school very confusing and somewhat disorganized. We soon figured out a good teaching routine that worked for the rest of the time. Although I only had 4 kids in my class by the last day, it made it easier to connect with them and become almost family to them, which made it harder to say goodbye. Although the teaching weeks were a little stressful with our group always preparing lesson plans late at night, it was an memorable experience. This program has been an amazing experience and I am grateful to have been apart of it.

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Pan, Emily (潘元安)
The two weeks I spent teaching first and second graders at Bali Primary School were challenging, hectic, exhausting, eye-opening, and amazing.

With the help of the teachers and administrative staff at Bali, my team was able to put together good lesson plans for each day of the camp. We organized engaging activities like vocabulary games and scavenger hunts not only to expand their English exposure, but also to promote learning English as a fun pursuit to continue for a lifetime. Every morning we’d start the day with our class chant and a workout video to encourage the students to come out of their shells and get comfortable in our classroom environment. During every break time, all the teachers and students would bond by playing outside or chatting in the rooms. After school, we would have meetings with the school’s principal and administrators to discuss what we could improve for the next day. It felt great to share ideas every day with a group of people united in the same goal of helping the kids have the best time possible at their two-week English camp, and I believe that I grew a lot as a teacher and as a person during this program. It was really hard to say goodbye to my students on the last day of the camp, but I left with great memories and a significant sense of accomplishment.

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Cheung, Thomas (張博彥)
This past few weeks have been a life changing experience for me. The people I have met and the places I have visited are memories that I will treasure forever. When I first was accepted into AID volunteering I was extremely apprehensive of what I would be going into. I was nervous that I wouldn't be a good teacher, and I was scared that I wouldn't get along with my teaching partners because they were so much older than i was. Four weeks later I can honestly say that I have discovered myself and my talents through this program. I was able to immerse myself into true Taiwanese culture and at the same time introduce my American culture to my students whom I consider friends. I was able to try new things that I probably would never have experienced in my lifetime such as visiting the night market or painting Hakka oil brush umbrellas. Now that my time here is coming to an end all the memories from the last three weeks are rushing into my mind. Time falls away so quickly, and I honestly wish that I could have more time in Taiwan to teach, to explore, and to enjoy with my team members. My AID experience has been unforgettable, and I wish that I could do it again next year. However all good things must come to and end, but the memories will continue on forever.
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Hu, Amy (胡士美)
Taiwan AID was the best experience I could ever ask for. I met so many new people that I am still in contact with, along with students that have changed my life. My favorite part was just meeting so many people and getting the experience to travel in a new country. If I could do it again, I 100% would. The culture and environment are completely different than what you are used to. That's the way to go and experience a different life. The kids are great and it is sad to part ways with them. They love having a figure to go to, especially ones that are so similar yet so different from them. They would love to go to America to go visit if they could.
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Jou, Hsuanyin (周宣穎)
My experience at AID Summer 2017 was memorable to say the least. It is an experience that I would recommend to others and would love to repeat again. The first week was intense in getting situated and being moved around like cattle. The accommodations were better than expected and the knowledge I learned was invaluable. During the two weeks in Mailiao my team and I became extremely close, and I have no doubt in my mind that we will stay friends. We worked on our lesson plans flawlessly, always coming to a conclusion that benefited all of our groups. In addition, the connections I made with my students will last for life. I hope in the future my students will contact me if they have any problems; whether in English or just in their personal lives. I will gladly be there to help. All in all, AID was a great experience and made one of my most memorable summers in Taiwan. I feel this experience combining the culture, and most importantly, the people have made me fall in love with Taiwan even more. After graduation, I would like to go back to learn Chinese and also tutor in my free time.
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Chen, Christopher (陳志寬)
Teaching the kids has been a very new experience for me. I was not sure how I would work with kids, but it went very smoothly with the help from my school teacher and the lessons at Chien Tan. Admittedly, the first week at Chien Tan (before we began teaching) could have been a lot more organized. But as stated before, learning at Chien Tan was very crucial in my process of designing a lesson plan. When I got to my school, Bali Elementary, teaching was definitely not as difficult as I thought it would be. Albeit, my teacher seemed to be a lot more strict about things than other teachers, but it was for the better. Occasionally, while I would teach the kids, they would finish the assignments much faster than expected, so my partner and I would have to improvise and think of games to play with the students. However, we never had any problems with having too much downtime. The students rarely caused any problems. There were a few that were "naughty", but none of them were actually a real problem. My partner and I got along very well, which is probably why our class days went smoothly for the most part. My other teammates, though, had a tough time bonding. For instance, the girls in our group were a tad socially awkward, basically reluctant to have a conversation with any of the guys. This was somewhat of a problem at first, but eventually we worked our way around it. All in all, this program was a one-of-a-kind experience, and I am grateful to have participated in it.
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Hsieh, Melinda (謝寬宣)
Before coming to Taiwan, I had no idea what to expect. Never in my life have I had the opportunity to teach kids English. However, when I arrived to Chientan for the first time and met two of my group mates, I knew that this would definitely be a summer to remember. As my team (A2-3) quickly bonded over songs, colleges, food, and sleeping styles, we knew that our next two weeks in Nantou would be unforgettable. As the team trained, came up with a dance, ate together during meal times, and travelled to the night markets in the course of five days, we were soon on our way to Suang-Wen Elementary School in Nantou, Taiwan. Shortly after arriving to the elementary school we met the second half of our team. 8 students from Tung-Hai University and 8 students from AID.... it was going to be a memorably summer. The 16 of us cooked, ate, slept, showered, taught, laughed, and danced together all during the following two weeks. It was always so reassuring to know that I was never alone and had great friends to support me when teaching the kids. The kids were so cute and energetic when meeting them for the first time. During the following two weeks, the days were filled with constant laughter and energy. My teaching partner and I had a blast getting to know the kids and teaching them English. Not only was I able to share my American culture with them but they were able to share their Chinese culture with me. Leaving the kids was so hard as well as saying goodbye to the Tung-Hai University students. It was a memory that I promise to never forget. The last of week of AID was a blast as I was able to meet new friends and travel Taiwan. Having the opportunity to teach kids, make friends, and visit Taiwan was truly a blessing. My teachers, advisors, and friends from Nantou will forever have a place in my heart. Thank you A2-3 for making this summer in Taiwan one to remember.
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Ding, May-Hui (陳美卉)
As this was the first day of the program, nervousness was not only apparent in the students, but also the AID volunteers as well. During the first ten minutes of class, there was no sign of life in any of the students. As I have been a tutor and counselor for kids in America, I was very surprised by the lack of class participation and openness that is so common back in the States. Normally, a simple greeting to students would be reciprocated in America. However, I felt that my bright greeting to the Taiwanese students produced absolutely no response. At first, I thought that the students just did not understand my English. Thus, I proceeded to let them off easy and speak in Mandarin, but there was again no response. It wasn’t until the ice breaker games that the ice finally started cracking. At first, there were only small smiles that creeped up. Soon enough though, the students were all laughing and talking amongst themselves. They even started to answer my questions in Mandarin! Though I wasn’t able to have the students speak English like I originally planned, it was more than fulfilling for me to have them to even respond to me. Though I was unsure on the students’ levels of English because of the shyness they presented to me, I was able to become aware of their proficient level through the success of their pre-test. Their ability to understand and comprehend spoken English is such a blessing as I believe this is the most crucial step to mastering the language. The students' progress throughout the program was significantly accelerated once the students were more comfortable and accustomed to speaking in class. The students became more creative in their way of learning english. Some would learn the traditional way by writing the Chinese and English translation for vocabulary words. Others would try to incorporate it their speech, often times mimicking my pronunciation. All in all, the students did exemplary in increasing their willingness and curiosity in learning English.
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LEE, Joanna (李賢蓉)
I have learned many lessons from my past, whether it be from school or from peers, but from the AID summer program, I was able to learn things I never would have the chance to understand if I decided to stay in my comfortable abode in Bali. Through this program, I learned the importance of patience through teaching the students in the mountains, especially with all the times and different challenges our group had to face while educating these children. This program also taught me the importance of teamwork, and the necessary compromises taken in order to achieve the group's goal. And most importantly, this program taught me compassion, and opened my eyes to the world and how lucky we are to have the privileges offered to us by the countless opportunities provided by the society we live in. I was able to see that not everyone had the same opportunities as I did, and that I should treasure the experiences and happy life I reside in today. From the lessons I taught with my group, B1-7, to the fun times I had playing and teaching the children of Renhe Elementary School, I would never forget the memories I made in this program, and I hope the future volunteers will experience the same feelings of exhilaration and gratitude towards this program.
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Lii, Tin-Yi (李亭谊)
“Randy, it’s your turn now,” I said, handing the burnt orange toy die to him. He snatched it and threw it aimlessly around.

Drip.

Horrified, I could only stare blankly as the die knocked into a water bottle and its contents spread, blurring the ink on another student’s notebook. There was silence for a few moments as Randy realized what had happened in the blink of an eye. In another blink of the eye, pools of tears had welled up and he ran away from the room.

Drip. Drip.

While he cried in the school restroom next to our classroom, I sighed and looked at my co-teacher with a pleading glance that said “He trusts you more because you’re the male teacher, please calm him down”. Luckily, I think my message got across, because he bounded out the door the next moment.

“It’s going to be okay, Nina”.

No response.

“I’ll go dry your notebook.”

She blinked slowly and nodded.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I stood outside the classroom for a few moments, listening to the drizzling rain and drying the notebook.

Inside, my students were playing board games, fumbling with wooden Jenga blocks, all in attempt to avoid the elephant in the room. Mars, one of the more inquisitive kids, spoke up after a while. “He didn’t even apologize,” Mars mumbled while he continued arranging chess pieces in different patterns. Well, I couldn’t argue against that.

Jeez. It was only the third day of class, and the first week of training didn’t cover this. All the soothing words that I managed to stutter came out sounding empty and useless.


By the afternoon, though, things were looking better. After a long talk with Randy, he went up to apologize to Nina.

During break, I peeked into the classroom to see the two of them sitting at the swivel chair, eyes glued to the screen, singing in harmony to their favorite songs. They sure made up fast, I thought with a sigh of relief.

Nina came up to me after class, looking like she had a secret to tell me. “You know, lao shi, I think I like my notebook better now. It makes such an interesting sound when I turn the page!” She then proceeded to turn the dried page in her notebook, continuously making crinkling sounds.

After waving and saying goodbye to her, I stared behind her footsteps in contemplation.

English was more than just teaching sentence patterns and vocabulary words. It went beyond creating lesson plans and PowerPoints, and finding worksheets for my students to complete. To truly teach others how to communicate through a foreign language, one first has to understand the thoughts and feelings of the other party; that’s what I was determined to do for the remainder of these 10 days.

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Chen, Brian (陳聖均)
This summer at AID was the most amazing and humbling experience. Beginning from the week we spent at Chientan, our group bonded right at the bat. Sometimes we even wondered and marveled at how well we got along, and how well our group synergy was. I am grateful for the members of our group and to all the teacher assistants and teachers that guided us through the process, and am thankful to even be able to meet everyone, whether our peers or whether our students. My greatest regret during this trip was how short it was. Bonding with our small group and eventually our assistants in Tainan, and struggling to teach while laughing and enjoying time with our students was the most authentic down-to-earth experience I've had in Taiwan, and I have been multiple times. Everyday during the two weeks after working hard teaching our students and preparing for tomorrow, our group would always find time to hang out and relax. Those times (singing, dancing, getting to know each other) were my most fond memories of the time I had at AID. Leaving was heartbreak, but my memories are always there to accompany into my next venture in life. Thank you to this program for creating opportunities for not just students in need in Taiwan, but for us, the students in need around the world.
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Lee, Caroline (李元芳)
I applied for A.I.D. thinking it would just be another learning experience in which I get to learn about the culture of Taiwan. I wasn't entirely wrong, but I got so much more out of A.I.D. than I expected. I of course got to experience Taiwan, the place where my family is from, for the first time and that was great. I got to love my kids and love spending time with them. I worked and played with them, and learned more about my self and how to deal with difficult situations that weren't planned for. I learned more about teaching and having patience than I already knew from teaching in Latin American countries. I learned so much about myself and gained experience, but I had not expected to make such deep bonds with the people I met during the program and come to love Taiwan as much as I do now. I will never forget the precious memories I made with the people I met. I'm still in touch with many of my friends from this program despite them being miles and miles away. In the short month that we had I got really close to our team of volunteer teachers and teacher assistants that our school brought in. They gave me a wonderful introduction to the culture and people of Taiwan. Through conversations, night market visits, school trips with the kids, and even just walks around the area simply for food, laundry, or just some light shopping; I was able to easily fall more and more in love with Taiwan with every day.
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Chang, Collete (張睿婕)
AID was a unique experience I am beyond grateful to have! I have enjoyed getting to exercise my love for helping others while making lifelong friends.

The first week at Chientan was fun, as I liked getting to know others in the program and their different backgrounds. I also liked bonding with members of my group in preparation for the two weeks we were going to spend together. However, if there's one thing I could change, I would say more variation in the lectures, as I found that we went through the same topics over and over with each lecture. Another thing that could happen could be instead of spending so much time in large group lectures, spend more time in medium/small group lectures as given how the big group lectures aren't as interactive, people tend to zone out during them. Also, there is no need to set the food out 30 minutes before meal time since it always gets cold.

What I especially liked about this program was the immersive experience, since I literally got to live at a school in rural Nantou and spend lots of time with the children at the school. It's amazing to see how they look up to you and see you as such an authoritative figure. Seeing them approach me and ask me to play games with them or tell me stories about their lives is just so rewarding to me. There were many challenges, but I was able to get through them due to the help of our teacher, the Tunghai students that assisted us, and each other. I had a great time bonding with the students of Shuang Wen elementary school, as well as my teammates.

Tour week, I had a blast visiting different sights of Taiwan. However, the allocation of time could use a little work. We had to spend 3 hours at a train memorial where there was literally nothing to do, and I didn't understand what the point of it was. However, at the Dream Mall, we only spent 2 hours there, which wouldn't have been enough time to explore it. But overall, it was a fun experience, especially since I love travel.

Overall, I loved AID and the valuable life lessons and memories gained for it. Here's to a great month in Taiwan, thank you AID, thank you A 2-3!
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Berecin, Alanna (陳海倫)
This experience was beyond anything that I could compare. At first I came into the school and I was overwhelmed with confidence and then as the first day went on. I realized how much the students did not understand. I remember sitting at lunch and just thinking about how I was in over my head and what was I going to do. Nothing I planned worked with them, plus they didn’t want to role play. They didn’t like participating, and they couldn’t even tell me the difference between yes and no.
So, I started a new approach, that I would veer from what I originally planned and do practically everything on the fly. I found out who could and could not be with each other, who were the strongest and weakest in the class and who I should pair together to benefit each other. I learned that my students did not respond well to PowerPoints but did to the chalkboard. I learned that they love to draw and that they love to compete against each other, but most of all that they love to laugh at their teachers. Especially when we got involved with their competitions, such as charades and Pictionary. Perhaps, one of the most memorable parts for me is seeing how much they grew in the overall program. I remember accessing their performance in the pre-test and feeling like there was no way I was ever going to get them to know all of this and then looking at their post-test in absolute awe at how much they improved. I truly and honestly miss my kids, as I am crying right now just writing this reflection. I hope to come back and see my students graduate from junior high in a few years. Ultimately, I will never forget what this program has given me and the memories and friends I have made here. This is one of the most enriching things I have ever done in my life.

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Chen, Ivana (陳映君)
-The AID website should be redesigned to be navigated more easily. I was not able to access the site until a few weeks before the start of the program, which was a bit of a problem since there were items to complete before being able to join the program itself, apparently. Also, the website promised that each volunteer would receive certain items, implying that bringing those items yourself would be unnecessary, but we never ended up receiving them. This became a problem as I had to wait until we went to the night market after separating into our schools to buy an overpriced towel.
-At Chientan, the food should have more variety. Each day, we were provided the almost same kinds of foods and therefore the lack thereof. Because we were not allowed to ever leave the campus and the convenience store did not sell fruits or vegetables, all of us spent several days eating nothing but watermelon as our fruit intake which resulted in some health problems people in my group voiced about. This could be remediated by allowing us to leave to buy meals or have other choices of food inside the building if AID wishes us to remain in the building the entire time.
-Teaching at the school was difficult in the beginning, but it slowly got better. The lack of air conditioning inside our classrooms made the Texas weather seem like an icebox, but we all got used to sweating all day by the end of the camp. Our living conditions also helped me appreciate insects a little more. Before entering the AID program, I abhorred the sight of any insect, but now I can tolerate spiders and cockroaches as long as they are not inside our bedrooms.
-The occasional traveling around Taoyuan was a great break from the stress of teaching. All of us enjoyed the trips to the night markets, restaurants, malls, and museums.
Teaching English at Ba Li Primary School has been a profound experience for me. Although each day I came home exhausted and ready to quit, I wish the camp would be longer. I have grown extremely fond of all the children in my class and want to spend more time teaching them English. I feel lucky to be able to make in impact in those children's’ lives by at least creating interest in learning the language and to be part of the AID program.

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Deng, Eric ( 鄧聞亮)
AID has been by far the most interesting experience I have ever had. Our school, Ren He Elementary School, was quite different from American public schools. It was located in the mountains, a two hour drive from the nearest city of Chiayi. It was small, with about four functioning classrooms and living quarters for staff, who all lived on campus because of the difficult 4-hour commute. There were all sorts of animals around the school, from dogs to cats to frogs to snakes, and of course, lots of bugs, all of which don't exist in American public schools due to sanitary standards.

Our students were also extremely different from American students--they were unaccustomed to authority and rarely followed instructions without being asked multiple times, so as a result, they rarely wanted to learn English. They weren't actually "bad" kids, but rather unmotivated to learn English. In the morning, the children would sweep the school and did so diligently, yet in the classroom they just played around.

I think the most important thing I learned from this program is how fortunate we are to get thorough education and have teachers who pay attention to students. The school cook's granddaughter, a girl from Chiayi, had education from the city, and her English was many times superior to our students' despite them being the same age, as well as behaving much better. This shows that there is a large difference in education in solely Taiwan, reflecting the AID part of the program(Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages). This program has made me grateful to have grown up in a community that values education and stresses the need for hard work, because school in America gives us opportunity to go to college and earn a decent job, an opportunity that is not readily available to other people in the world.
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Yuan, Leon (袁廣銓)
I thought the teaching section was by far the best section in the whole program even more so than the tourism. Learning about different cultures while teaching was a really fun experience. I specifically got to learn about the hakka culture which was rather interesting. We made something that resembles something close to jello, wore traditional hakka clothes, and even learned some hakka martial arts. I believe the learning period was helpful; however, it was really bland for most of the volunteer teachers to enjoy. Many of the volunteers absolutely dreaded going to these learning sessions. One of the things is that even if we used a poster to make something from the lesson, it would not be used at the school. Thus, I feel that it would be much more appealing to have a better sort of lesson to not waste posters and also give us more time at Chientan to prepare for the actual lesson. Overall, the last week of tourism was really fun. Although we had already been to one of the places (the train tracks in Kaohsiung which we went to the weekend before the tourism week), all the places were really fun. I think that month was one of the best experiences of my life.
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Lam, Rikki (林瑞琦)
Before coming to AID, I was super lost. During my first year of college, I had faced so many rejections. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t succeed at anything. I tried really hard to have a positive outlook and keep my head up because I was the only person that could keep myself going. I tried really hard but the more rejections I faced, the harder that became. While I did learn a lot more about myself as a person, I felt like I was losing just as much as I was learning. I forgot the type of person I was and what goal I was aiming for.
After attending AID, I completely refocused on the path I was choosing to go down for college. I felt a lot more comfortable about who I was as a person after teaching. For me, being a teacher isn’t only about teaching the subject that you were asked to teach but also life skills and creating new memories. Sometimes, we live in our little bubble for too long and we forget that there is an outside world outside of the little bubble. In college, I was surrounded by people who had the same major as me, and people who were similar in age. It was weird for me to try to talk to people outside of my major and despite how worried I was about talking to people who wouldn’t understand/like my nerdy jokes, after spending a whole month with my teaching group, I can assuredly say that I have created friendships that last a lifetime. We went through ups and downs and despite that we remained close with the bonds we created.
AID was truly an eye opening experience, reminding me that we should not let our own dreams be completely destroyed by reality and other’s negativity. It is not bad to dream but you have to work hard toward that dream. You have to not only overcome the obstacles that come trying to achieve that dream but also having others telling you that you aren’t qualified or it’s impossible to reach that dream. Although I was a teacher for two weeks, the students were the real teachers. They taught me more than I would’ve expected and I hope they learned just as much from me.

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Zheng, Grace (鄭格格)
I can’t even begin to describe how great this summer was, AID has made this summer one of the most memorable summers yet. Through this program, I was able to meet so many new people from a variety of places and create tons of amazing memories. The best part of this month long journey was meeting my 28 unforgettable students at GanYuan Junior High School. I remember walking to the first day of class and wishing that the class size was smaller, but looking back now, I'm glad it wasn't. It was because of these 28 unique individuals that I was able to learn more about Taiwan's culture and bond with each of them (It was also because of these 28 kids that I was able to bawl my eyes out during the closing ceremony.) Although teaching during these two weeks was really tiring and difficult, it was also a lot of fun. I was really able to get to know both my fellow teachers and all of my students better during this time. I really hope that I was able to teach the kids something and I hope that they will continue to work hard and come visit me sometime! Overall, AID was a great experience and I would definitely do it again!

C 1-1
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Chen, Amy (陳盈佳)
一份煎蛋土司和一杯古早奶茶is how I get through my day of teaching the kids at 仁愛國小。The lodging at 仁愛國小 wasn’t what I expected. My group had the entire Pre-K building as our living accommodation, with two classrooms as the girls’ and guys’ dorms. The shower was outside in a public bathroom. Since there was only one shower and it was outside, we went in pairs to go shower. As it was a Pre-K building, the director and teacher of the school emphasized that we needed to keep the place sanitized and bug-free. However, just only after the first night, we met an ant crisis. One of my group members left a piece of bread lying on the table, and overnight it produced an ant chain. With the fear of more accidents to happen, we threw away all of the food that we left in our room. However, ants weren’t the only insect that came to visit us. The girls’ bathroom inside the Pre-K building was home to the cockroaches. They were in the sinks, on the walls, and around the toilets. As none of the girls in my group were fond of cockroaches, we used the guys’ restroom. The Pre-K building also has a playroom, which we used as a multipurpose room; it was a place for us to take an afternoon nap, or it was used as a karaoke room, a dance room, and a hangout room.
My group was split into groups of two since there were four classrooms: America, UK, Australia, and Canada. We decided on boy-girl pairs so the kids can be more comfortable around a guy teacher or a girl teacher. Since my class had kids ranging from 2nd grade to 5th grade, arguments were inevitable. Arguments were a daily occurrence, especially during games. My partner and I tried to solve the problem by warning them and going over classroom rules with them. However, it never seemed to get better. After consulting the teacher, we decided to switch the teams around and it seemed to be fine afterwards. Since we joined this program to teach Taiwanese kids English, the teacher instructed us to only speak English in front of the kids in order to encourage them to speak more English. Nonetheless, this method has its advantages and disadvantages. The kids did try to communicate in English with us, however, since their English levels differ, it was harder for some to understand than others. To allow them to understand our instructions, it required a lot of body language and demoing. It was also harder to develop a closer relationship with the kids because of the language barrier.
Our school was kind enough to provide us TAs (teacher assistants). At first, my group wasn’t fond of the idea of TAs to help translate for us as we knew as how speak Chinese also. However, as soon as the teaching period started, they were a great need to us. Not only did they help us translate instructions, but they also helped maintain the classroom order and prepared classroom materials for us. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to survive those two weeks of teaching. We also became really close with the TAs, and we treated them like our brothers and sister. The TAs also took us out on trips during the weekends. Although it was hard to say goodbye to them in the end, we will forever cherish our memories together in our hearts.
Not only did the kids at 仁愛國小learned new vocabulary, but I also learned new things too. Through these two weeks, I was able to gain more creativity from planning games to play with the kids. I also gained more experience teaching kids and taking care of them. I realized how difficult it was to be a teacher and how tiring it could be. Every day after school, I would always collapse on the library table. There were two things that impressed me while I was in 臺南。 The first one was the lesson plan that school had provided us to follow. The vocabulary that we taught these kids were words that could be used in daily life. We were able to teach them life skills through these vocabulary words. For example, one of the topics was shopping. The day we taught them shopping vocabulary, we took them to the supermarket to “buy” items on that were on the vocabulary list. Another thing that impressed me was Taiwan’s recycling habits. While I was living in 臺南, I had to grow into the habit of sorting out trash and recycling items into different cans. Unlike America, Taiwan has categorized there recycling cans very specifically. Every day, whether its breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we had to wash off the lunch boxes and stack it up neatly; the chopsticks and plastic wrappers were thrown the “trash” bag; and the yogurt drink bottle also had to be washed and recycled into the “plastic” bag with the lid torn off and disposed in the “trash” bag. Taiwanese people start teaching kids to categorize their trash at an early age. I feel like America should also learn this habit too.
I am really grateful that A.I.D has given me a chance to be able to help those with disadvantages, and allowed me to be able to stay in Taiwan for a whole month! This journey has given me many life lessons that helped me become a more mature person. Thank you A.I.D and 仁愛國小 for helping me create beautiful memories that I will cherish forever!
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Hu, Justin ( 胡博宇)
The first day was dedicated to Master Shifu and sports. Master Shifu did not go as well as I had originally planned at first. I tried to teach the students a special fast method of how to tie their shoe laces, but they were not really interested. Because of that, we finished the activity really fast, so we Sophia and I had to come up with other ideas really quickly so that the students would be able to do something. Luckily, we both thought of very innovative ideas that worked out perfectly. Sophia took a portion of the class and taught them how to braid hair with a special style, while I took the other portion of the class outside and taught them a very fun and friendly game called “Knockout” which required a basketball. In the afternoon, we learned about many different sports played around the world like rugby, fencing, American football, kickball, and dodgeball. After learning about the different sports, we took the children outside and played dodgeball with every class together. This worked out very well because the students had a lot of fun competing with one another.
During the next day, we not only spent the day learning about food, we also spent the day making food. We first introduced them to them the traditional American food hamburgers, and then taught them how to make grilled cheese. They later then each made their very own and also had a lot of fun doing it at the same time. In the afternoon, each class made dumplings from scratch (almost). It was very interesting because in the morning, it seemed like we were teaching the students how to make American style food, but in the afternoon, it seemed like the students were teaching the teachers how to make traditional Taiwanese style food. The day felt very successful because the class got to learn a lot of new information about new foods and at the same time they got the opportunity to do hands on activities such as actually cooking the new foods.
The third day was a very interesting day because there were so many things going on at the same time. Because we knew that Lina was coming, I feel like our group got a little anxious about teaching, but in the end, everything was ok. In my class, Sophia and I told the students that she was coming, and because of that, they became extra responsive and participated a lot more in class activities. After the long morning of teaching, the volunteer teachers got interviewed. For me personally, I was a little nervous because my Chinese is not that great, but in the end it was fine since we just ended up speaking English.
Thursday was one of the hardest days to prepare for since we had the big camp fire event in the evening. We had to get the play and song down before the night while teaching them two new dances. It was a little difficult since everyone was feeling fatigued that day, but in the end we managed to complete the tasks. We then proceeded by spending the night with the kids in the kindergarten rooms. It was really fun just being around the students, and we also got more time to bond with them. A realization then came to me that night that the A.I.D. summer camp was coming close to an end and that I would soon have to say goodbye to all the amazing people that I’ve met.
On the very last day, I finally understood what Max told me in the beginning when we first all arrived in Taiwan 3 weeks ago. He told us that we were not a group but a family, and it finally all made sense to me. I started writing notes for the students in the morning and while I was doing that, it suddenly hit me that I felt so close to each and every one of them. They were my students for two weeks, and I will forever cherish the time I spent with them. During the ending ceremony, I teared up quite a bit, but it was only because of how much this A.I.D. experience in Ruifang meant to me. Everyone her has shown me such a strong warm welcoming heart and it has truly been an eye-opening experience getting to know and speak to the people of Ruifang. I will remember my time here for the rest of my life. This was my first time coming to Taiwan and I was expecting great things. The people of Ruifang not only met those expectations, they exceeded them exponentially. I hope that the students took a lot during these last two weeks, because personally, I did. I hope to visit Ruifang again one day, because this home will always be a part of my heart.
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Lin, Yo-Shuen (林佑軒)
I can honestly say that the four weeks I spent in the AID program were the best four weeks of my life. I first heard about this program in middle school from some family friends, and I had been hearing about it ever since. It seemed that every summer at least one or two people I knew had participated in AID. They all came back with amazing stories and testimonies about the program, and with every passing year, I’ve grown in anticipation for when I can finally come to AID.
The four weeks have met and greatly exceeded my expectations. I am so blessed to have been placed in such an amazing group. We, at least us girls, would periodically say how lucky we are to be in the group that we were placed in. We would do everything together, and we do everything we can to help each other out. It is crazy how close we got in the four short weeks that we have known each other; I have not only made lifelong friends, but I also have a new family.
Those two weeks at Ren-ai was truly an eye-opening, humbling, heart-warming experience. I have wanted to be a teacher for a while, and I have some experience leading and teaching a group of kids at church. However, this was a complete difference experience. The only complaint I have is that I was unable to properly talk and converse to many of the kids until the last day. We were strictly instructed not to speak to the kids in Chinese, an instruction I was personally really upset about. I loved talking to kids, I love getting to know them, joking around with them. It was extremely difficult not being about to interact with the kids how I normally would. There would be multiple occasions where I would accidentally speak Mandarin to the kids, and the kids would freak out and say “老師說中文!”, which would create a whole scene, which, to be honest, was pretty funny.
Teaching itself were, at times, challenging. In the first day, the kids were extremely unresponsive. It could be attributed to the culture in which they were raised, the deep respect that they were taught to have for the teacher. They would barely answer your questions, even when they were translated to Chinese by the TA’s. This really tested my patience. Over time however, using various forms of bribery (points and games), I think we really got our kids to open up and be more themselves during class. They would participate, willingly and forcibly, with great enthusiasm. It was amazing to see how quickly they opened up, especially compared to the other classes. In our class, we sang and danced a lot, mostly to the same couple songs, “Tooty Ta” and the Banana Song by Dr. Jean. During those two weeks, I probably sang those two songs more than 50 times each.
I am so extremely grateful for the time I had at Ren-ai, and with the AID program in general. It was so eye-opening to experience Taiwan in a way that I never had before, serving the people. The kids will forever hold a place in my heart and I will definitely be making plans to visit them, their families (some of who we got to know), Ren-ai, Angie, and all the TA’s the next time I go back to Taiwan. Thank you, AID for an amazing experience beyond anything I could have imagined.

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She, Kevin (佘崇華)
As I arrived at Chientan Youth Activity Center on check-in day, I remember thinking to myself "Why did I even agree to do this?". I still recall the months, even days, leading up to this program and my reluctance to spend one whole month of my summer, volunteering in a foreign country, when I could be back home spending time with friends. Looking back on it now, I am so glad that I decided to embark on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Participating in AID Summer has definitely made this the best summer of my life so far. I cannot be thankful enough to all the family and friends that encouraged me to do it even when I was hesitant or uncertain. Not only have I made unforgettable memories and friends from all across the world, I have been able to experience the people and culture of Taiwan firsthand in a truly authentic and raw manner. The locals showed us the hospitality of this island and the lively culture presented us with night markets, customs, and foods such as sautéed frogs or duck tongue: something most of us cannot experience back home. The ruralness of our school allowed us to establish intimacy with nature, mountains, and water all around us. AID Summer let me see the true beauty of Taiwan.

However this experience hasn't always been fun and games. It challenged me both physically and mentally in ways that I had never experienced before. There were times when I had no idea what I was doing because training and guidance wasn't sufficient or when I wished I was paired with a different team and a different school. Furthermore sleeping on the classroom floor with no air conditioning or proper bedding and being stuck with unenthusiastic, lazy teaching partners wasn't always the easiest but it showed me that life doesn't always go your way. But there’s always a silver lining, and in my case, it turned out to be the weekend trips and the tour week. It was on these occasions where I met some of the coolest people and made some amazing memories and friendships that I will cherish forever. Even though the activities and places we visited may not have been that exciting, these new friends made me feel like I was finally a part of something: American kids with a Taiwanese heritage.

But at the end of the day, I realize that the whole point of this experience was to help these disadvantaged children. I hope that, even though I may not have ended up teaching them a lot of English, they will end up going places with this newfound enthusiasm in learning English. My experience in Taiwan this summer is one that will stay with me forever and I can't thank my friends, family, and most importantly, this organization for this opportunity.

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