2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> London
# Center
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Lin, Fiona (林蕾)
This summer has been thoroughly well spent in Taiwan on the AID summer camp. I met lots of new people and made good friends, I experienced a completely different culture to what I am used to in the UK, and I (hopefully) made a difference to the children in Mudan middle school. I am so very grateful to experience Taiwan's rich culture and history, and the many fun things including the night markets, the food and even scuba diving! At the school, even though it was difficult and hardwork at times, to see the improvement of the students’ (particularly those in our own class) pronunciation, confidence and focus was incredibly rewarding and uplifting. The bonds we have made here have made an impression that I’m sure will be everlasting. On the tour, even though it was just one week, I made friends with a group of people who were very welcoming and loads of fun. I will always cherish the memories we made in that one short week. It's nice to know that I've made friends from all over the world, specifically America, Canada and South Africa, and that I will meet them again in the future either in their hometowns, where I live, or somewhere in the middle.
Lee, Matthew (李祖恩)
Admittedly, before I first arrived at Ruifang, I was somewhat apprehensive. Because I am not a very opportunistic person, I was unsure of whether I would be able to respond appropriately to any classroom situations or be able to explain myself well. However, the welcome we received when we first arrived – being introduced to everyone and meeting our helpers, the performances in the auditorium – helped to settle the initial nerves I had. The more material we made over the first weekend, the more prepared I felt for what was to come. It was a lot of fun to plan how we were to introduce ourselves to the class, especially in our rehearsals for the talent show. My group had spent a lot of time in creating our introductory video (which turned out very nicely) and our song & dance (which did not). Living in the dormitories was a new experience for me and over the next two weeks, there various hilarities and mishaps that accompanied this, including my roommate accidentally buying bleach instead of laundry detergent and pouring it all over my clothes.

When we started the pre-test in class on the first day, I was slightly surprised that they did not know the word ‘alphabet’, but that was easily solved with a little explanation. There was a slow start, whether from their own shyness or otherwise, but a few of the class did begin to speak up by the very end. For class rules, it was slightly difficult to get people to speak up and we did end up having to call out names - most of whom were too shy, or too unconfident in their English ability to reply. I do think that at least some of them did enjoy learning and later performing the team cheer. The opening ceremony was very entertaining, as we finally got to fully introduce ourselves and showcase the end result of our video and rehearsals, even if it all did not go completely as intended.

In my opinion, our first lesson on Tuesday on different countries, which I did, was a bit underwhelming at the start but got better towards the end. My group and I had done quite a bit of preparation beforehand, both on the presentation and worksheet. However, the first people I picked to volunteer answers to my questions from the presentation were quite unwilling, despite knowing some of the food and landmarks of the respective countries already. They also did not know the continents in English at all so that required a little more explanation later on. Because of this, I decided to start with country bingo (with the countries circled corresponding to the capital cities that were read out) before moving onto the worksheet, which was received much better than I had expected - and more than four asking if we would play again before the end. The worksheet went relatively nicely, with the main hiccups being from not knowing which continents were which. Although a few of the girls were quite unenthusiastic, I was surprised at the general reaction with many writing quite a lot for the passage in English about Taiwan and where they wanted to go in the future (with help). One that stood out for me in particular was a passage stating that she wanted to go to Korea in the future because she likes Kpop - which I thought was quite apt.

By Wednesday, I do feel that I had begun to somewhat understand each of the students. Our presentation on ‘Exploring Nature’ went by quite smoothly. They particularly liked watching the nature videos we had picked for each animal, such as the colour-changing chameleon, which hopefully helped them to remember the animals better. The drama rehearsal was extremely funny, even if not much was accomplished. The preliminary suggestions they put forth for the ‘love’ play were very good and we finally voted to do a mix of ‘Your name’ and our very own ‘Kevin and Kevin’. However, they were very reluctant to pick parts to play so we had to resort to number-choosing. It was very amusing to see their reactions to the parts that were assigned, especially ‘Kevin’s mother’ and ‘Teacher Kevin’. The general hilarity took a little while to die down. The reaction to the Lion King next period was quite mixed - even though all the students did watch, I think that many of them were quite ambivalent to the whole event - in particular the ones who had already watched the movie.

I personally quite liked the tour around the National Palace Museum on Thursday (the historic uses for jade were fascinating). This was largely due to having not had been before - so my sentiment was only shared by the few students who also had never been. A large number of the students found the tour boring, having been many times already. On the other hand, I do regularly go to CKS Memorial Hall, so I was happy that I did not have to experience another tour inside the building but rather just the area outside. Orienteering was a lot of fun, despite it being so hot and tiring. I'm not so sure how my group found it, as one student got heatstroke halfway and had to be taken back.

On Friday, our presentation on taboos and superstitions ended with a few games, including finding and matching labels hidden around the room to good and bad luck and hangman. The dance and song practice was satisfactory, as most of the class remembered the song and our choreography. Cycling next was good, apart from one student scraping her knee and a helper falling. At the very beginning, there was a small hiccup when one of the students ran out of water barely a quarter of the way to the first stop and was quite desperate, but that was easily solved when a teacher came to help. It was a really great experience cycling with the kids, despite my own poor cycling ability. They enjoyed doing the activities at each stop, chasing after random strangers at the cat village to ask ‘Do you speak English?’, shaved ice and performing the song. All in all, I had a great time. As it was also my birthday that day, later in the evening I found that the teachers had bought a large birthday cake for me which I enjoyed immensely and really appreciated.

Over the weekend, the teachers took us to many different places, including Jiufen, a swimming pool, karaoke and even a fish foot pedicure. Many were completely new experiences for me and I enjoyed the short break before resuming class. We also got to thank everyone who had looked after us over the first week.

Master Shifu on the second week Monday went very well. We had split our lesson into guitar and drawing and both were quite popular, with some of the kids opting to stay with one of the two for the whole double period. The dance and song practice also went really well, with all of the students remembering both the words and the accompanying movements. By this time, the more unenthusiastic girls from last week had opened up, so there was complete participation. We also rehearsed our lines for our play that they had chosen last week - apart from the two students who had the biggest parts (voted last week by the class), the rest of the students were completely fine. At most, some of them found the word ‘extra’ difficult to pronounce. World Gym was slightly off in my opinion - while they did become more interested whenever it was mentioned that one of us did the sport e.g. with a figure skating video and fencing, or photos of horse-riding; the rest may have been a bit hard to understand. For the Grade 8 presentation, I managed to fit my own slides about sailing and there was a slight link as we had just watched ‘Moana’ together, however I think they found the parts of the dinghy hard to remember. When we did the worksheet, some were also slightly confused about the fencing and horseback riding parts. The Ruifang Triathlon was a lot of fun. I was happy to see many of the students lasting till the very end in dodgeball and there may have been just too many people to play ultimate frisbee.

The food stuff on Tuesday went very well. They all enjoyed making the grilled cheese and the dumplings - with everyone both making and eating. I was very happy to see the students take the lead in cooking and preparing the food. After the food presentation, in which we included how each food tastes, we played hangman, with a student from each of the four groups coming up twice to write a food for the rest of the class to guess.

We decided to do a change of pace on Wednesday and all of us went down to the playground, which the majority of the class enjoyed. The presentation on “Wonders in Ruifang” in the morning went very well. When we held the class vote for their favourite food to buy from Ruifang food court, there was an outstanding majority for fried chicken. The preparation for conversation practice went very smoothly (perhaps because Teacher Lina was standing right behind us…). The real conversation practice at the train station went largely well too, despite most of the students groaning in the heat.

Cooking in the morning was a lot of fun, with a lot of effort going into both the taste and preparation of the food. They fully understood my guidelines on safety and hygiene beforehand, with choruses of ‘yes, we know’ after each reminder. I was really happy with the group of boys I was working with (and I still don’t think they should have come last place, especially because our ). The rehearsals before the actual bonfire celebration in the classroom were very good, so it is a shame that the real thing didn’t. The ‘first dance’ practice was slightly hard to pick up for the majority of them, but they all got it by the end and some of the girls were practicing through break time. Our drama rehearsal also went relatively smoothly, although we slightly flopped at the actual campfire. Our rehearsal for ‘Fly me to the moon’ had also gone really well as it had been for a while, although of course we didn’t realize the actual circle would too big to link hands around. The sleepover was fun and I managed to get all of the class who were there to sign my notebook before we slept.

The post-test on the last day was fine, with just a few mistakes here and there on the true and false. We got them to draw a final message to us on the back and some included various anecdotes about this which was very heartwarming. The postcard writing also ran smoothly and I am looking forward to receiving them when I get back. I definitely cried too much at the closing ceremony and my speech was definitely cringeworthy. I was very sad to see them off.

In conclusion, both weeks went quite well. The start was a bit slow, in part because of the students’ lack of confidence. By the end of the first few days, lessons began running much more smoothly and I had a lot of fun with the students for each of the activities. I have gained so much from my time at Ruifang Junior High and I will always look back on my time here.