2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Atlanta
# Center
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Yen, Christine (閻明敏)
When I was first informed of the program, I wanted to participate. The concept sounded simple: go to Taiwan and teach the English language. However, it ended up being a meaningful experience.
Arriving at the Cultural Center was nerve-wracking, especially when you are the first to the dorm. It was great meeting all of my soon-to-be friends and it was sad when two of our roommates had to leave at a different school.
Teaching was harder than I thought but enjoyable. Planning multiple activities and putting them into practice was interesting but watching the students put their skills into practice was amazing to watch. Every student had their specialties and amazing personalities. The majority of my students were shy but as time passed, they bloomed and became more open and more willing to learn. The principal, the teachers, the dean, and temple keeper were wonderful. Whenever we had a problem or needed help, they would come to our rescue and push us in the right direction. There was so much to see at Lunbei, especially the agriculture and the Hakka Museum.
The last week was super fun as well as tiring. Each location was so beautiful and full of history. The fan-making activity was memorable for me because I had a lot of fun trying to make a pretty fan. Thankfully there was almost always an hour to take a nap in between our destination. I was able to make friends with others on my bus surprisingly quick. I only wish that I had more time to be with them.
When the AID program was over, I opened up the notes that my students had given to me on the last day. Teary-eyed, I read each card, smiling whenever one of them made an inside joke. These four weeks were very meaningful and I will treasure that time forever.
Vuong, Peter (王志強)
I really love this program. It was so fun in many ways. I love traveling; never been to Taiwan before, I was able to travel without my parents. I love the counselors. Not only were they fun, they were super interactive and wanted to help us. I love some of my group and going to be best friends for life. It was such an enriching experience this tutoring event. At first, I hated my school. It was in the middle of nowhere with pig farms and a bunch of creepy crawlers and bugs: deadly spiders, tarantulas, rats, bats, cockroaches, centipedes, mosquitos, venomous insects, flying beetles, flying ants, jumping spiders, moths, wasps, and much much more. However, after meeting the kids, I instantly fell in love. They were already familiar with me and stalked me on facebook. They were eager to learn every single day. We made lasting memories, and they even convinced me to visit Taiwan (note: I am not Taiwanese). I felt like we had a mutual educational relationship. They helped strengthen me as a person, and I taught them morals and ethics, as well as English. The tour was fun, but it sucked that we were vacation-hopping rather than enjoying our time in Taiwan. Overall, I will recommend to my friends.

de Cleir, Siobhan (念恩)
This trip was very insightful. The work that we did was very rewarding and I enjoyed having the opportunity to not only help teach kids english but also work with people from around the world. The first week I was a little apprehensive because I was worried I wouldn't be able to become close friends with anyone. However, not only was I able to become close to my teaching group, but I was also able to make friends with people outside of my group and remain close to them. Overall, the first week was informative and fun but I wish we had more time to go to night market. The next two weeks were incredibly fun. Our teacher assistants helped make sure we had fun and we also got really close to each other. It was a great experience and a really good way to explore Taiwan. For me, the last week wasn't as fun just because we didn't have as much freedom. However, it was still enjoyable and overall the trip was a success and I hope to come back to Taiwan in the future. It really changed my life and I feel like teaching is something I could do in the future. It was insightful for me and I feel like I really grew as a person.
Ho, Trent (何大川)
I really enjoyed the whole entire trip! It was amazing and the most fun I have had in a different country. Some advice for next years program would be to inform the students better by posting everything in advance on this website. Many times we were never given any info until the last minute and it was inconvenient. Another piece of advice worth considering would be letting the volunteers be more independent. At the youth center we were often very limited by where we could go and how long we could be out. Removal of the curfew at 10:30 pm would be a good idea. Moving it to 12 pm would be ideal. The tour was well organized and well planned out thanks to the booklet that was given out at the beginning of the tour. The teaching session before going to the school was a little too long. That time could have been beginning to the students to independently organize their own teaching plans. I personally did not enjoy having to wear long pants during orientation because Taiwan's weather is very hot and humid. All in all, this AID summer program was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone! Thank you all so much!
Wang, Kelly (王思晴)
At first, I thought that participating in this program was just going to be something that would help out with my college application, but after actually having the experience made me think otherwise. It wasn't something that I would dread every day; in fact, it was quite fun. I was able to make plenty of new friends, find out a side of me I didn't know I had, and gain more leadership experience through teaching. Bonding with the elementary students was also surprisingly fun for me since I usually dislike kids in general.

Although the training week was somewhat useful, it was mundane, and many of the presentations were redundant. I honestly did not like the lectures because it mostly consisted of presentations spoken in monotone and nearly put me to sleep. When every group was sent to their respective schools, I felt like I was free from the lectures and rules laid out for us. The two weeks my group and I spent teaching were probably the best two weeks in the entire program since I was independent and learned a lot about responsibility for teaching and making sure the students are actually learning.

Keeping the students in control was more difficult than I had expected. They would do their work, but when it came to competitive games (the students my partner and I taught loved the fly swatter game), there would often be a lot of yelling and screaming. Teaching for ten days made me realize how difficult it was to be a teacher; I now understand the struggles that school teachers go through during the school year.
Jeng, Richard (鄭安仁)
AID 2017 brought me so many wonderful moments that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The teachers, students, and faculty at Da Nan Elementary School in Miaoli were so accomadating to us, and I know that the next group of AID teachers that come to this school will also have a wonderful experience.
The first week at Chientan was a bit hectic and disorganized, but that was to be expected with 440 student teachers crammed into one location. After what felt like eternity, we were then shipped off to our respective schools, and my teaching group had to trek through the beautiful mountainside of Taiwan. The first thing we immediately noticed were the large amounts of mosquitoes, bugs, and dogs that were flourishing throughout. Literally hours and change from the nearest Carrefour, we were actually in the middle of nowhere, with just mountains and bugs surrounding us. On the very first day of school, we quickly realized that our lesson plans we made at Chientan weren’t going to be used, so we quickly scrapped them and then every night, we would diligently create a new plan for the next day. I never had the experience to teach English to children before, and the two weeks I had at this school allowed me to experience Taiwan in such a familial way, with the group lunches and intimate class setting. I got to know not only my class, but pretty much the entire school by name, and when I left, it was definitely very heartbreaking for me. I would like to sincerely thank our advisor Emma, our two military guys Daniel and Albert, our TA’s, and of course the teachers, students, and faculty at Da Nan that made this journey so wonderful for us.

Gao, Jasmin (高唯云)
Through this program, I developed and grew a lot. From making some of the greatest friends to learning how to handle rowdy elementary school kids, I have not only taught in this program, but also been taught by this program. I learned about myself, about Taiwan, and most importantly, about another culture and lifestyle. The life of the residents in the mountains in Miaoli was completely different than my suburban lifestyle here in America. The students, their parents, the residents around the school all showed me the beauty and simplicity of their life, allowing me to see into a different lifestyle that I could never have imagined. Through the month spent in Taiwan, I also made some of the greatest friends. Bonding over the relentless heat in long jeans, the exhaustion after teaching elementary students, and the delicious Taiwanese foods, we built some of the strongest and greatest friendships. The month of living in close quarters allowed us to feel like lifelong friends. The program’s week long tour was also immensely fun and allowed me to see Taiwan and its beautiful landmarks and historical places. AID was an unforgettable experience that could be found nowhere else. Mistakes were not made this summer.
Ting, Sarah (丁明潔)
The AID summer program was very rewarding and gave me a lot of experience with how to communicate with other people and cooperate with a team for a long period of time. It made me realize how hard you need to work to achieve what you set out to do and to keep your goals to a reasonable level without being too high or too low. It taught me how to be patient with others and how to reach compromises with the other volunteers. It helped me learn how to speak up and talk to more people than the ones in my group and to find people who have similar interests with me. The program gave me experience with how to work out a plan and how to handle a large group of people and be responsible over said group.

The program gave me new friends and new memories that I will always remember fondly of, along with the people I have met along the way. I am truly thankful that I got to be a part of the program and will always cherish the new memories and experiences that I had gained throughout the month of training and teaching with my fellow peers.

Hsieh, Hilary (謝豐穗)
I am really grateful for the opportunity to volunteer in Taiwan. It was a very enlightening experience, and I feel that I grew as a person thanks to the experience. While I was in Guan Miao, I learned firsthand about the rural life of the Taiwanese countryside. The night market was quaint, but still full of delicious foods that my friends buy for dinner. Now that I am back in America, I miss being able to easily access all of my needs by simply walking. During my two weeks of teaching students, I was struck by how adorable and sweet all of the children are, and by how willing they were to interact with and help the teachers. Admittedly they were very mischievous and preferred playing over learning, but they were relatively well behaved when we gave them the incentive of points for good behavior. As I worked with my fellow teachers and spent more time with my students, I learned the importance of patience, kindness, and most importantly, love. In order to teach children effectively, you must empathize with them and relate to them, as well as comfort them and provide what they need to succeed. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and if given the choice, I would definitely do it again.
Liow, Kevin (廖凱倫)
Coming into the program, I had one goal in mind: to make connections that would benefit me in the future. Upon completing this program, not only had I made life long connections with people all across the world from diverse backgrounds, but also experienced much more than I had ever imagined. The atmosphere that is created by all of the counselors and other volunteers is welcoming and warm. The problem was never not being able to make friends, but making so many that it was hard to keep track of them all. I was not expecting much from the teaching part of AID, but little did I realize that the teaching part would be the most rewarding part of the entire experience. Being a teacher for the first time showed me the struggles and problems all teachers must go through. From teaching I discovered a newfound respect for teachers and a profound bond for my students and fellow teachers. I now only wish I had more time to spend with them. Thank you AID coordinators, counselors, and all of the volunteers who made my summer experience in Taiwan unforgettable!
Shaw, Chanda (江永燕)
The AID Summer program was a very interesting experience. Parts of it was quite engaging and I had a lot of fun at the school; in particular, the whole two-week teaching period was something I really enjoyed doing. It was great to be able to spend a month and be immersed in the culture and atmosphere of Taiwan, which I don’t often get to do. On the other hand, there were quite a few things in the program that I feel were not managed well and, compiled onto each other, dampened the experience of the program for me. Although I will say that the general experience that program provides is good enough for me to recommend it to others, I think that addressing the issues within the program would make it a more satisfactory experience and generate a more positive takeaway overall.

On the plus sides of AID, it was amazing that the program could gather together such a large group of kids and young adults and give them the chance to see and interact with parts and people of Taiwan that they might not otherwise get to do. It was great meeting others in this kind of environment, and we really loved the counselors that participated in the program. Personally, as mentioned, I really liked the school that I was assigned to. This was the first year it participated in the program and everyone there was really accommodating to us and made sure our stay there was as comfortable as they could manage for the two weeks that we were there. The kids were a fun challenge to teach and everyone we met there were so friendly.

Unfortunately, there was also quite a few things that the program fell short on. In fact, I almost wished the program ended after the teaching weeks, it might have improved my opinion of the program overall. I think the tour week, the last week, wasn’t really that great nor memorable for me. We were rushed everywhere, with not enough time to explore the places we were interested in and too much time to explore the places that we had little to no interest in, and so much time was wasted on group photos at every single place. I know the purpose is to save memories but it’s pointless to just take photos and look like we’re having fun when, you know, you can actually let us walk around and have fun. This leads me to another point: in various aspects of the program, the treatment of both the volunteers and the counselors were unnecessarily restrictive. Though I realize some people in this program are much younger, there are also a lot of college kids in this program, and I think everybody didn't really appreciate being herded around like little kids. There was so much time wasted in trying to overmanage us, especially in the tour week, that I remember more about waiting in single-file lines than I do the places we were visiting. I think if AID could address these issues the program would be more enjoyable overall.