2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> New York
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Westfall, Thomas (李元豪)
The AID Summer Program was truly an eye-opening experience for me. I had gone to Taiwan many times in the past to visit family, but never really got a chance to understand what it was like to live in Taiwan. This opportunity provided me a month of living like I belonged in Taiwan, which I will forever cherish. One thing that particularly stuck with me is the children that I taught in Miaoli. Previously, I had never really thought about what students would be like in Taiwan since I had always gone to school in the United States. I had just assumed that they were the same as those in New York. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how they really were. They are some of the most respectful, happy, loving students that I have ever come across. The only limit was my own Chinese, but I’m sure it had improved over the trip. I am truly grateful to Shinkaie Elementary School, the village leader that housed me for two weeks, and Ms. Yang, my coach/teacher. Last of all, I am thankful for knowing all the other student teachers that I got to know over the trip, and will cherish the relationships I’ve built with them all.
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Ho, Samantha (何莉晴)
This volunteer experience was both much more challenging and rewarding than I expected it to be. I came into the school unsure of the students' level of English ability, and nervous about my own ability to communicate with them in Chinese. I didn't know whether I would work well with my teaching partner - and I was especially nervous about the mosquitos! As it turned out, teaching the kids forced me to reflect on my own values and appreciate my own teachers a lot more. I now understand how difficult it is to create an engaging teaching plan, to motivate the kids to learn, and to be flexible when things don't go according to plan. I learned that you need to be both strict and compassionate to be an effective educator and role model. As for teamwork, I learned how to deal with conflicting opinions and perspectives, social turmoil, and lack of communication. I used to always carry all the responsibility in any group project because I wanted it done my way; but through this program, I learned how to take a step back and let others take charge for a change. Besides all the delicious food and new friendships formed, my experience in the workshop and tour weeks has been extremely enjoyable - albeit boring at times. I loved going out with my friends and sharing our experiences teaching at the schools. I will never forget this month of many firsts for me, and I hope that I made a positive impact on at least one student at Chiayi.
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Lee, William (李雲照)
Before the program, I was a bit skeptical about the kinds of experiences I would have. Later, everybody turned out to be extremely friendly and sociable. I ended up loving the program. The first week to the last was an absolutely amazing, one-in-a-lifetime experience. However, at the very end of the program I took part of a tour of Taiwan that I did not entirely enjoy. My idea of enjoyment is not about travelling and sightseeing, but this is just my personal opinion. If I were to opt out of the tour, I would have. I spent too much time sitting on the coach bus and not being able to move for long periods of time. Still, the counselors on the bus made that experience all the better.

I made new friends all over the US and even some in different countries. I was extremely humbled by the experience, living and teaching in conditions of those in the countryside. I believe I truly bonded with the children I was teaching and I am extremely happy that they put in so much hard work and dedication to learning English. I am very proud of them. Doing this program is something I will never forget, for the rest of my life. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone that has an interest in teaching, or simply having fun. I truly believe that this program is the best experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. Thank you to those who made this possible.

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Jiao Hsia, Alexander (焦夏棋)
I've really enjoyed the people I've met, the teachers, and the experience as a whole has been incredibly transformative. However, it would be a disgrace for me to submit this reflection without listing out fundamental changes that need to be taken if the program wants to be more cost-effective, welcoming, and enjoyable for the students and staff:
1. Bed-time checks need to go
2. Tour needs to be improved
3. First week's training can be scrapped
4. Staff needs more rest and needs to be respected, not yelled at
5. Rules should be less strict

If these changes are made, I promise you the program will greatly improve. All the best - Alex
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Armetta, Kelly (艾凱莉)
I don't know where to begin in this reflection. Before the 2017 AID program began, I had already been in Taiwan for a month. I was starting to feel a little bit homesick, so I wasn't the most excited to have to begin a new program for a whole nother month. Immediately though, I felt better after meeting my group of seven other outstanding people. Over the course of July, we bonded and shared so many memories together. Our school was Li-Shin Middle School in Taichung. We had a fantastic principal to lead us, Jessica Chou. She treated us like family and made sure we were comfortable and having fun at all times. The classroom experience was also great. At first, the kids were very shy. After a few days of warming up, they really opened their hearts to us. By the end of the two weeks, I felt like I had known them for years. My group worked tirelessly into the night, every night, to make lesson plans and make sure what we taught was exciting. I'll never forget this month, it will always have a special place in my heart. All the memories and people I have met will remain with me forever, and I definitely need to come back to Taiwan soon to see everyone again.
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Chuang, Amanda (莊育寧)
This volunteer experience was a particularly memorable one for me, mainly because of all the wonderful people I met. Not only did I have such an amazing team of counselors and people at my school, an energetic, supportive group of friends for teaching (go A2-5!), I also really got to know the kids at the school and we formed a deep bond. In retrospect, the English teaching wasn't that important compared to the relationship we developed with our children. Yes, we did teach them vocabulary and gave assessments and had productive classwork (though I don't know how much they will retain), but it was more than that. It was about getting to know them on a personal level and interacting with them, teacher to student, and friend to friend. We learned about their lives in Taiwan and they learned about our lives in America. We introduced them to new concepts and ideas. I believe that in the two weeks we were teaching, we really broadened their perspectives about the world. There were difficult times, I admit - the kids could be very rowdy, unwilling to learn, disruptive at times. However, it was also a learning process for us teachers; we had to problem solve, be flexible and adjust our plans when we were faced with these challenges. We had to assert ourselves and discipline the kids. Now that it is over, I can truly say that it was one of the most emotional, rewarding, and enlightening experiences of my life. I am so glad I was able to participate and would definitely do it again. It wasn’t just about volunteer teaching in Taiwan, it was a full experience of meeting new people and having fun. These 4 weeks I definitely yelled a lot, laughed a lot, and cried a lot, but I am so happy to say that I also taught a lot to others and learned a lot about myself. Thank you AID :)
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Qin, Ashley (秦亮)
In many ways, AID Summer was an extremely interesting experience filled with many “firsts” and “lasts.” To start off, this was my first time in the country; before AID, I had never had a chance to visit Taiwan before and I took this trip as an opportunity to acquaint myself with a place that I would not easily have a chance to visit again. With this mindset, my expectation for this program was to fully immerse myself in all that Taiwan has to offer – the mountainous scenery, the night markets, the food, as well as the overall culture and history of the island itself. Additionally, I knew that my time would be divided between the city of Taipei and the rural countryside of Taitung and I was excited to be able to experience the dichotomy these two contrasting lifestyles would present. Throughout the following four weeks, I was confronted with all the challenges and trials that came with traveling abroad. However, even through the struggles of finding an empty washing machine, trying to dry my clothes in ninety-degree weather with intense humidity, and running from all kinds of insects and critters, I still appreciated the time I spent here – or more specifically, in Taitung. Although there were many late nights and early mornings spent working on lesson plans and preparing for class, I thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks my group and I spent at Hot Spring Elementary School in Taitung. It truly felt as if we had been whisked away to another world, isolated from the other 8 billion people on Earth. My only regret from those two weeks teaching is that I wish I had more time to spend with my students. I already miss all the people I’ve met immensely, but I know that I will find a way to make good on the promise I made to my students to return. In the end, it was clear that while my expectations for this program were not to be met in the way I’d hoped – I still left Chientan on July 29th with a growing desire to return to Taiwan again. Thank you AID Summer for this amazing opportunity, I hope this program will continue to grow and expand in the coming years!

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Wang, Daniel (王中岳)
I found the experience that the AID program was able to give to be extremely worth my while. During the two weeks in which I was teaching at Fengli Elementary in Taitung I learned a lot both about teaching as well as about Taiwanese culture. I had many fun talks with my teacher helpers as well as my new co-teaching friends as we discussed the differences in our experiences in Taiwan and also our differing experiences in the United States. I loved the beautiful views in Taitung and being able to see the mountains from almost anywhere. Also, although the weather was undoubtedly more hot and humid, I did not find it as unbearable as I had first imagined. In regards to teaching, I learned to admire the necessity for both extensive planning as well as the ability to think spontaneously and improvise when the situation turns astray. Oftentimes, I would find myself having to create games on the spot or remove something from our schedule due to extenuating circumstances. Overall, I am extremely grateful that I have been gifted this opportunity to truly learn what it is like to become a teacher as well as to meet so many amazing new friends, both American and Taiwanese.
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Tung, Julie (董芷妤)
The first day I walked into the ChienTan dining room, I wished the program to be over already. A room filled with some 400 teenagers is a far stretch from what I imagined a vacation should be. Little do I know, I would be sitting in that same room a month later, wishing that I could spend even a millisecond more in that atmosphere.
At the end of the one week of training, two weeks of teaching, and one week of touring, I ended the program with new friends that will last a lifetime, fond memories of our kids, and appreciation for the simplest things that I took for granted.
Lishan Elementary School is definitely different from my typical living situation. Having lived in Taipei and New York City for all my life, I only know what a metropolitan lifestyle is like. Situated on a mountain in Taichung City, Lishan is far, far from what we called "civilization". The kids that we taught came from farming families, and that's the only kind of life they know. My team consisted of eight girls from New York and New Jersey, definitely had an enlighting time in Lishan. Walking to dinner is a workout. Running away from kids chasing us with moth is another workout. Racing to fight for a spot on our teacher aid's hotspot is yet another workout. We freaked out over strange insects and complained about the rural situation. But we treasured all the time that we got to spend with our kids. They were some of the most open and kind kids I've ever met. They invited us to dinners, gave us lectures about the quality of peaches, and brought various fruits to us.
This summer was definitely one of the most memorable I've ever had in my 17 years worth of experience in this world. I loved the program, even when we are hustled from location to location like sheep. I definitely recommend anyone considering this program to give it a try. You definitely won't regret it.
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Chen, Benjamin (陳柏劭)
I came into the AID program with mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety. I was very excited to come to Taiwan, to be able to meet a great number of people from different parts of the US and even other countries, and to make many new friends. Yet I was anxious of the time, effort, and repetition that would come with teaching english to elementary school students. Seeing as how my Chinese ability was still mediocre after many years of schooling, I thought that teaching english would be a particularly daunting task. Little did I know that this certainly would not be the case!
The first week at the Chientan Youth Activity Center was spent attempting to become familiar with our group members rather than actually learning and being trained on how to teach. Whether it was just hanging out and blasting music in the dorms, making conversation on the rooftop, or trying our very best to make it to the night market, I think B1-6 was able to make our mark as the most annoying group on campus (LOL).
Then came the time for B1-6 to move to Shiuan Shin Elementary School. In spending these two weeks with each other, I had accurately expected the bonds within our group to become much stronger. What I didn’t really expect were the unique friendships that emerged with not only our teachers and kids but also our supervisors and teaching assistants. During this period, I would make a couple of realizations: 1. Teaching english to kids is not difficult but it is particularly exhausting / 2. Our group was very very very fortunate to have been given a school located in a city / 3. I was incredibly lucky to have such a genuinely cheerful, lively, and compatible teaching partner whom I had no issues with :) I would also learn that Taiwanese children are much more respectable than those from America hahahahahahahhaha. Those two weeks passed by in an instant and by the time we had to leave Chiayi, emotions were running high.
But just as soon as we thought that all the fun had ended, we were thrown into a big bus with a whole bunch of other volunteers to be lugged around in a tour around Taiwan! An incredibly fun week of laughing, sweating, singing, and dancing with friends and counselors, and then lots and lots of new memories later, the program would be coming to an end.
My completion of the AID program certainly marks one of the happiest points in my life. I’ve made some of the best friends and created some of the greatest memories with them. In just a few moments, a month has come and gone and I can only hope that I’ll again cross paths with these wonderful people.
So thank you to the Chiayi teachers and supervisors that helped us and made sure we didn’t starve to death everyday! Thank you to my amazing and adorable little kids that made teaching english a lot more fun! Thank you to all the friends and counselors that stuck with us through the program! And finally thank you to my awesome and hilarious group B1-6 <3 you guys so much oml
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Tu , Iris (杜葳)
My experience at AID can be summarized in basically one word: unforgettable. I learned so much from both my fellow teachers as well as from the students that I love so much. Unique experiences, like spending time in rural Taiwan or lotus viewing were once in a lifetime events, things that I would never have been able to do if I had only stayed in my air conditioned apartment in Taipei. All of the good times and the bad made the AID program so worthwhile and well rounded. I learned to be patient, how to be sympathetic and compassionate towards others. This experience made me count my blessings and realize how lucky I was to be living the way I live now in America. AID gave me an opportunity to appreciate the small blessings in life, such as sitting toilets, and made me grateful for all the advantages I had. This program has been a life changing part of my life, a part of my life that I would never be able to forget. All of the lifelong friends I made, and the amazing adventures I went on made saying goodbye so difficult and heartbreaking. Thank you all so much for making this summer so unforgettable and amazing.

Love,
Iris Tu

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Du, Ashley (杜天慧)
This experience has been extremely eye opening and unique for me. I have never before been put in a position of authority like I had been in the middle school I taught at. It was amazing gaining teaching experience and getting to interact with the kids. In my opinion, they taught me more than I have taught them. I gained patience and flexibility by teaching these kids and adapting to their learning styles. It's been tiring, but so rewarding, designing and redesigning lesson plans every day. I'm so glad I also got to know my students outside of a classroom setting by playing games and sports with them outside. I also got to learn abut aboriginal culture and how aboriginals have lived for many years. Interacting with the kids has broadened my mind about Taiwan and the kinds of people who live in the country. It's been amazing seeing how these kinds of people interact and how they come together to make Taiwan the beautiful country it is. I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to attend this program and see for myself why Taiwan is such a fulfilling place to be in. I've been to Taiwan for many years before AID, but during this program, I really got to see with my own eyes and experience being in an unknown position and meeting unknown people. Pingtung is really so different from the bustling city of Taipei and I feel like if I hadn't been accepted into this program, I would've never gotten the chance to experience the serenity and tranquility of rural Pingtung. The mountains were beautiful, but the people made my experiences so much better and vibrant. I would really like to apply to more programs like this in the future in order to expand my horizons and gain more valuable experience like this.
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Huang, Angela (黃韻純)
I was nervous and didn't know what to expect before we arrived at the elementary school my group was assigned to, but the two weeks I spent in Pingtung were unforgettable. While there were many trials and tribulations, we learned to adapt quickly to sleeping on hardwood floors and living with bugs. We received a warm welcome from everyone we encountered, from administrators, teachers, parents, to the students. While our time teaching English was short, many amazing memories were made and valuable skills and experiences gained.

Over the two weeks of teaching, the bonds that I formed with my students are especially notable. We arrived with little teaching experience and the students with little to no previous English learning, which created frustrating dilemmas during classes. However, the positives outweighed the negatives, and while some students may not have absorbed much English during our time there, their increased enthusiasm for the language is more important. Everyday was tiring, but also extremely satisfying. After these two weeks - which flew by in what felt like a day - I've gained a new respect for teachers and memories that I will cherish forever. In this short period of time, I grew to love our kids, the town of Jhutian, and all of the staff and administrators who made our experience so wonderful. AID Summer has been a superlative experience that will always remain unfading in my memory.
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Lee , Michelle (李瑋)
My time at this program has been a positive one. At the beginning, I was skeptical about how it would all turn out since I didn't know anybody at first and was nervous about meeting new people. But I soon realized that I got extremely lucky with my group of 8 girls, counselors and the school that I was assigned to. All of the girls in my group were from the East Coast and we were shy at first, but later all became really good friends. We have so many fun moments, laughs and overall good times together. Also, the counselor at my school was super nice and not only helped us in the classroom, but was also there for us for accommodation questions and situations. Also, the TA's in my classroom from Tainan University were the best and I couldn't have asked for better assistants in the classroom. The first day of teaching was a struggle because my partner and I did not know what we were getting ourselves into and had to use the first day to get a feel for the class’ personality and what they knew already so that we did not overlap material. My class was 2nd-4th graders and they were attentive to our lesson plans, worked hard, but also we had to remind them to still have fun in the process. Lastly for the tour week, the places that we were brought to were interesting. I liked the first couple of days the best because we were given free time to walk around the streets by ourselves. Some of the places, like the museum or the president hall, were a little boring just because I felt more confined and did not enjoy learning about history as much as other places and things. Also for the tour, it would have been nice to know more stuff in advance instead of moments before something was about to happen. This way, we could plan ahead if we were given more of a heads up of what’s to come.

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Chen, Jamie (陳怡安)
My experience with AID in July 2017 was very meaningful and rewarding. It introduced me to wonderful volunteers that stayed by my side throughout the entire month, over a dozen students that taught me just as much as I taught them, and a part of Taiwan that I had never encountered on my previous trips with my family.
Most of the lectures during the first week, such as the one where we were introduced to interactive game ideas that we could play with our students, were very useful and easy to incorporate into our own lesson plans. Even though we didn’t exactly know our students’ English skill levels until we started teaching, we were able to come up with themes for our lessons such as emotions, types of food, and animals, and many creative activities to help them remember vocabulary words.
I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to teach at 梨山國中小. Although some of my students were so energetic and restless that they couldn’t pay attention for long spans of time, they were all eager to learn English and willingly participated in the lessons, games, and activities that we prepared for each class. Many of the students were really sweet, bringing us drinks and bags of fresh fruits almost every morning. During the first week and part of the second week of our time at the school, the nineteen students in our class were loud and full of energy, sometimes running around and not following our directions, but by the last day, our students were clinging to our arms and legs and saying that they weren’t going to let us leave. Even though some of our students had been frustratingly mischievous and difficult to teach, they all came to mean a lot to me.
I really enjoyed the tour during the last week. Not only did I get to spend a lot of time bonding with my group, but we also got to visit scenic spots such as Sun Moon Lake, shopped at night markets, and learned about Taiwanese history and culture at museums and villages.
Overall, this was an unforgettable experience, and I am very thankful that I had this opportunity to meet new people and teach English to the students of 梨山國中小.
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Fong, Tina (馮家妮)
This volunteer service program is very different from what I have initially thought it would be. Just the thought of having over four hundred participants can be a little overwhelming. Worries and concerns such as how to organize the events and classes, managing the participants to their respective locations, planning teaching plans in advance, and enforcing the lessons during teaching weeks. However, after the first few days during the first week, I soon came to realize that it was much better than what I have thought. I was having fun collaborating and working with my team members, in which, I had more support and ideas from creating the lesson plans. In addition, the teacher coordinator from my respective school was really different from what I have imagined too. She is very open and does connect well with my team in addition to providing the support and assistance of our lesson plans and teaching during the first three weeks. The location in which I was assigned to has the unique weather and scenery that differs from the rest of Taiwan. It is relatively cool compared to other cities and offers nature’s scenery of mountains and rivers. During my teachings, I have realized the cultural differences between the children of LiShan and that of America, making the teachings much more interesting. Overall, this whole experience is enjoyable and offers a different perspective of Taiwan over the course of one month.
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Chen, Cheryl (陳暄蕊)
Truth be told, this program was not all fun and games, nor was it sunshine and rainbows. There were difficult parts to it, and there were really fun parts to it as well.
I feel like I was pretty fortunate with the school I ended up with and the students I had. We had some fun activities related to Hakka culture, which I really enjoyed, and my kids were occasionally hard to deal with, but not disobedient.
I ended this program with added respect towards teachers, for coming up with new lesson plans and trying to control a classroom is really no joke, and also with love towards my children, i.e. my students. They didn't open up to me at first. Some didn't really open up to me until the last few days, but however long it took and whatever time I had with them while they were open, I appreciated. I'm not sure if they have gained a lot from me. I can't be sure. I hope they have. I hope they have learned something and have motivation to learn more.
Overall, this program had its ups and downs. It's not for everyone, but if only because I met my kids, I'm glad I did it.
P.S. These pictures are from the last day. They are only two of the many taken that day, and I just randomly chose, so don't think that anyone was more important to me than anyone else please! I love them all.
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Shaw, Sarah (邵裴欣)
My experience in AID has changed me so much as both a person and as a teacher. The hardships and struggles my group and I went through during our teaching weeks built bonds and friendships that could never be broken. Our relationships with our students will always remain strong and we're so glad to have met such amazing people on this trip. We came into the program with no expectations but we left with lifelong memories, appreciation for Taiwan and its culture, and lessons we learned that would never be forgotten. Leaving our kids was the hardest thing I've ever done and although it was super bittersweet, I know that we will meet again in the future. Every time I come back to Taiwan, I always go to Taipei which is very well-developed and urban compared to other parts of Taiwan. Being able to experience rural life and life outside of what I'm used to has shown me so much of what life is and taught me so much about the world. I'm so fortunate to have been able to go to Nanlong Middle School, where I was treated like family and taken care of. The people of Meinong, Kaohsiung, are so kind and helpful and are always there to make sure I am doing well. The kids are so kind and sweet, the best I could've ever asked for. When I need help carrying things or moving things, the students automatically get up from their seats to assist me, without me even asking. Their consideration and kindness reflects the people of Taiwan and I'm so grateful to have been able to have met them.
If I could, I would participate in AID every single year, as it is definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything in the world. It's taught me how to be the person I want to be and helped me decide what I want to do with my life in the future. Thank you AID and everyone involved, especially the counselors, coordinators, students, and of course, volunteers. LOVE YOU ALL <3
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Cheng, Michele (鄭彥馨 )
After going through the AID program this summer, I have learned more than I could have imagined. First it started out at the Jiantan youth activity center. There, we met other volunteers that differed from us in where they lived, how they grew up and the skills they had. However, the common factor between all of us was an interest/connection to the country of Taiwan, our love for interacting with students and an unforgettable experience to share together. There were many workshops about the strategies to teach the students and how to engage them in a fun way that is different than the typical Taiwanese classroom. It was very eye opening, informative and a great way to prepare for the next two weeks that were to come. Once the first week of training came to a close, our group of 8 volunteers and principal Jessica headed to Li-Shin Junior High School.
After getting to the school, it felt so real that we were going to start teaching soon. It was nice because our group mates were getting to know each other a lot more. We had to prepare an opening ceremony, and through all the dancing, singing and making an introduction video, we all welcomed our students with our lighthearted performance. Once testing was done and everyone was sorted in classes, the volunteers got to formally meet all the students. The students were all shy the first day, but that would change within the next couple days. Teaching was difficult at first because it was a relatively new experience for most and we were still adjusting to how the students worked and figuring out how to plan everything. After teaching for a couple days, it was really wonderful to spend time with the students and have fun with them. We played lots of games as well as did group work and tried to make it be a class the students did not want to leave. The 2 weeks flew by quickly and it was sad to say goodbye.
Going on the southern tour was interesting. Though we spent a lot of time on the bus and it was a bit rushed at the locations we were at, it was still very enjoyable to be with my group mates and other people from our bus. I’ve been to Taiwan many times; however, I was able to go to new locations that I had never been to before. Overall, there is more positives than negatives to say about this program. I met lots of amazing people and I want to give a big shout out to all the counselors, coordinators, volunteers, my group mates, students, principal Jessica and our TAs and everyone I didn’t mention an endless thank you for making my experience filled with laughter and joy.

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Chen, Tiffany (陳可君)
When I made the decision to join AID, I knew I was going to be forced to step out of my comfort zone because I was going to be in a new environment with people I didn’t know. I was terrified but also excited to take on new challenges. Throughout the first week of training, C3-1 (the group of six girls) bonded and work together greatly. As we got to our host school Nanhua Junior High School, we were faced with the humid and hot weather, the infestation of bugs in our dorm, and the extremely rural surroundings. This was a new experience that I wouldn’t have got in the urban setting of New York City. Each day was challenging as we tried to create new ideas that would alter the immense shyness in our students. It wasn’t easy to get the students to open up to us and there were definitely difficult moments. For example, there would be days when certain activities were created on the spot due to the fast-pace of the class. Also, there were days with less students than anticipated because of family reason, which affected our activities. These problems required the swiftness of a teacher. However throughout the two weeks, we were able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each students. We would use that to assess whether the students were actually understanding our lessons. It was extremely rewarding to see and recognize the moments when our students would recuperate our enthusiasm and show improvement. AID also allowed us to experience Taiwan to the fullest. The staff at the school and the people we meet during our adventures in Tainan were extremely welcoming and nice. They wouldn’t hesitate to greet us and share their mangoes. Our teacher was probably the best part of the AID program. He showed us the finest food and scenery that Tainan had to offer. We just couldn’t get enough of bubble tea and mangoes will never taste the same. Also, I was inspired to see how dedicated and caring he was to his students. Overall, meeting new friends and creating fond memories were the most rewarding part of AID.
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Lin, Victor (林岳陽)
I know I'm a bit late for this but it's better late then never.

Overall, the experience was both fun and fulfilling and acted as good preparation for inevitable encounters that require the expertise of someone who has learned a lot from this program. The first week of training helped us better our knowledge of being in the teacher's shoes. The lectures provided insight on our tasks and to tackle them...but not tackle the everyday breakfast of rice porridge!

After our heads were swirling with teaching skills, we set out to our schools. Our school, LunBei in Yunlin county was my school. Surprisingly, it was the same school my cousin Lawrence taught at when he joined AID last year! The classes there had students that were similar to American school students. Always have introverted and extroverted; especially the ones on their phones and the troublemakers. After settling the rules, teaching became a breeze. I even got to use the school guitar to assist the teaching! Of course there were ups and downs and plenty of impediments but we managed to get through. Our teachers and principal also took us to many placed in Yunlin for an amazing experience of culture and sightseeing. I especially loved the Hakka cultural museum since my dad is also Hakka.

I didn't shed a single tear, but it was heartbreaking to leave the students on the last day. However, we averted our tears and turned to...you guessed it..the South trip! The trip was amazing and provided a good amount of satisfaction after the tedious teaching experience. The only thing that was stressful was the time management...especially for the talent show.

After all the experience, I arrived home to burst my bad full of souvenirs like a pinata spilling our candy. I was excited about all this night market gear until I noticed the thank you cards my students wrote for me. I didn't even get to read them. However, after reading them, i finally shedded that single tear that was waiting in my eye. "Cmon guys," I whispered to myself, "you have to say "their" not "there."

Throughout the experience, this was definitely one I will not forget. This is a program that everyone should definitely get involved. I hope my cousin in Taiwan right now will sign up next year as a counselor (if his English improves). Although I won't see my students often, there's always Facebook or should I say FB.
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Au, Christopher (歐隆德)
The first time I heard about AID Summer 2017, I had thought that it would be mostly work and almost no fun. Boy was I wrong. Looking back, I realized that a lot of my initial thoughts were wrong, and the program was definitely more enjoyable than I had expected. When I had first heard that I had gotten into the program, my whole family was excited for me. It was the first time that I would be going to Taiwan!! Even through the excitement, I still felt pretty nervous. I would be placed in a new environment, with people I didn't know or people I knew going to a different school.
Prior to AID, I had little to no training with children and teaching, so it would definitely be a new experience for me. However within the first few days of training week, I already felt almost 100% prepared to teach students and after meeting new people, I felt more comfortable. The different types of scenarios that the instructors had lead us were very engaging and opened my mind on new ideas to teach the children. Within individual group classes, everyone was open to suggestions for new ideas. I have to say, the hardest part that we had to decide was figuring out a plan for the school's opening ceremony performance. The last day of the first week we were able to enjoy ourselves by being able to go out the Shilin night market, a famous night market in Taipei which an extensive collection of plushies. There, I met the one and only whale shark (named Lily in a group consensus) and from that day on it became the mascot of group A3-7
And so the second and third week came. The school I had was called Dong Rong Guo Xiao at Yunlin. Compared to schools in America, it was quite sophisticated. Even for an elementary school, it had basketball courts and a track in the back and was equipped with a single shower room. Our "dorm" was the library, which was also very nice. There are a lot of mosquitoes, and even with bug spray and stickers I was still bitten. And of course the local lizards were present as well. When the teaching initially started, it was difficult for us teachers to understand students, most times because of the language barriers, but as time went on we connected to them more and more. My partner Kevin and I were in charge of Class D, the lowest class, so much of school involved learning the alphabet, phonics as well as short words near the end of week 2. There was definitely an improvement between the first day and the last day in the students' English skills. It's always amazing to see how much children learn even in such a short time period. The students also had to learn a closing ceremony by the time the 2nd week ended, which was a really entertaining. The students in Class D were split between dancing and singing, so the easiest was to do both.
In between the 2 weeks we had a weekend tour which took us to an amusement park featuring a water park (JanFuSun FancyPark), as well as mosaic making, temple touring, Costco shopping, and movie watching (Spiderman Homecoming). As week 2 drew to a close, I realized how much I would miss this fancy school, the students in it, the time spent in library with group mates and the daily basketball games after school with the students (they were actually pretty good... Or I'm out of practice). Farewells are always hard, but with hugs and pictures completed, it was time for tour week.
There were two groups for touring Taiwan, a Central Group and a Southern Group. As a part of Southern Group, we visited a ton of places starting from the southern side and going north, including Sun Moon Lake, an aquarium, Dream Mall, an earthquake museum, a geopark, the president's hall, and ending back in Chientan for a final talent show and farewell party. We were able to reconnect with the Central Group the later half of the week, which was really exciting. Out of all my experiences in this program, I think the most I will miss is hanging out with my team members, meeting new friends, and the touring of most of Taiwan. If I were to do the AID Summer program again, I definitely would take the opportunity.
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Yang, Joy (楊忻蓉)
When I decided to join the program, I knew that I would be teaching English in Taiwan with other people around my age. What I didn’t expect, however, was how warmly the students at the school would receive us, how amazing the people I would meet through the program were, and how special the memories I made in those short few weeks would be.
Me and three other teammates were assigned to teach at Miaoli’s Wenshui Guoxiao, which is located on top of a mountain. During the two weeks I taught there, I met some of the most active and loving kids I’ve ever met. At first, I was worried that the kids wouldn’t be interested in learning English. However, after watching the kids eagerly singing the alphabet and rushing to present the different words they’ve learned during class, I was beyond moved. Aside from the students at Wenshui, the teachers that guided us at the school were just as incredible. During the weekends, they brought us sightseeing around Miaoli and took us to do fun events such as molding chocolate and painting wooden animals. However, my time teaching in Miaoli wouldn’t have been as fun as it was, had it not been for my teammates. From writing lesson plans to binge-watching movies, we not only learned to work together but also grew to become amazing friends.
From this program, I’ve become friends with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and experienced some of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. This is a summer I definitely won’t ever forget.

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Tung, Kevin (董涵榆)
AID gave me a remorseful summer that I would not forget. From all of the teaching and exploring in Taiwan, it was a memorable experience. On the first day, I met many new friends that lived throughout the United States. Also, I met my wonderful group and we had a great teacher that took us everywhere. Us group of four were really grateful that the village leader allowed us to stay in his home and treated us with great hospitality.
My group and I were sent to a school that had a small amount of students in a remote area of Miaoli. Our teacher was very energetic and would help us with all of our problems. She was a teacher that we wouldn't forget. My teaching partner and I only taught a class of ten students, they were very energetic and intelligent kids. The kids enjoyed the games that we played and reward that was given. During the weekend, we had a wonderful time in Lihpao Land and spending time with other volunteers in the nearby school. The two weeks of teaching went by really quick, where we had to say goodbye to the students. They showered us with lots of love and tears when their day ended and would not see us again the next week. These two weeks, spending time with the kids and my group, it was an unforgettable time.
Finally, during the tour week, I had a lot of fun traveling from city to city, where I enjoyed Taiwan even more. I met great counselors and the event that was planned out for us was very fun.
I am very thankful that AID allowed me to come to Taiwan to have this wonderful time. In the nearby future, I hope I can come back to visit them again and it is an experience that I will never forget. AID Summer 2017!!


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Wun, Heather (溫子寧)
The experience was truly amazing, it was a very interesting experience to go up in the mountains to teach the children. I never expected the people from a small area with not many people to have so much color. The children were wonderful, and I am still in contact with a couple. Our coach was very friendly and she was like a secondary mother while mine was in America. She would talk to us not as a high school teacher, but rather like a mentor and always made sure we were prepared for our lessons the next day. The teaching was difficult for some of the children, especially since the kids I taught were mostly in 1st grade. Barely able to recite their ABC’s, troublemakers, and unable to punish the children for their mischief. The teachers that assisted us were very understanding, and guided us along the way. The host family took care of us very well, and since I don’t eat much, I usually stayed home while the rest of my group went out to eat. The village leader’s wife would offer me to eat with them, and would give us meat buns for breakfast. The area that we stayed at was right by the river, and it was very beautiful and made me feel energetic in the morning when I get ready to go running.

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Newman, Sophia (黎嘉慧)
I’ll have to be honest when I say that the beginning of my first week in Ruifang was definitely challenging. The challenge was not completing the workload per say, however to put it simply: there was too much “new” for me to handle. New country (Taiwan), new city, new friends and team members, new team leaders, new cuisine, new living situation, new-ish language, etcetera. Contrary to how I was feeling during this adjustment period, all of my new friends, or shall I say family, have made it less of a challenge and more of an experience that I will never forget.
When the nine of us boarded the bus headed to Ruifang, Max told us that the ride would be less than hour. At that remark, I got so nervous because we would be there in the blink of an eye, and I truly had no idea what to expect. Having never been to Taiwan before, let alone Ruifang, all I knew was that I would be surrounded by mountains — a landscape I couldn’t wait to see. When we arrived at RFJH, we could not have received a more heartwarming welcome. Max had informed us that there would be other volunteer teachers and school officials to welcome us, but I could never have imagined a more real and love-filled welcome. In addition to the happy yellow shirts worn by our new Ruifang peers, I saw the bright rainbow track and immediately fell in love. In fact, since arriving at Ruifang, I walk across that track multiple times a day, and each time my day gets a little brighter.
Having the weekend to get used to Ruifang as a new home, Monday finally came along and I was more excited than nervous to meet the students. As my co-teacher Justin greeted them at the basketball court, I was happy to stay in the classroom and be class DJ for when they finally walked in the door. Of course, at first all the students were quite shy, especially when they used English to speak. However, as the rest of the week progressed, the students finally began to reveal to Justin and me how almost all of them are actually not shy at all. In fact, outside of class, I can always hear my students before I see them.
In addition to unveiling their big personalities, I was also happy to see that their English skill level is actually quite good. Although I have to remind myself to speak slower than I normally do, I have found that by simply breaking down the questions/sentences and/or repeating the questions/sentences, these students can absorb so much information.
At first, I thought that teaching these students would be extremely challenging, in the sense that I, myself, would be an unsuccessful teacher. However, seeing as to how my students
have been singing the songs we taught them, trying their best to use as much English as possible, as well as continuing to use the vocabulary that we have been teaching them, I can proudly say that by the end of week one, my students actually did learn something.

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Wang, Carolyn (王若琳)
When reading about and applying for this program, I foresaw a lot of work and planning, mostly because I did not know what to expect from the program, and because I had yet to meet and measure the students' English abilities.
When I first arrived at AID, I was nervous and sad to see the families I had visited prior to the program go. But as the minutes turned into hours, and as hours turned into days, my roommates and I turned our times from awkward encounters and prolonged card-playing to sharing meals, essentials and memorable laughs.
It is true that the working journals and weekly plans were a hassle and too much of a procrastination, but during the two weeks at the school, teaching was something that didn't always need to be strictly following the schedule we spent the week/day before planning out. After a hard day's work teaching, the working journal was tedious but completely worth it compared to seeing the faces of your students learn and leave with a sense of new knowledge.
Alike everywhere else in the world, Taiwan's pros and cons are highlighted. It was rare to sight less than 5 crawling creature (whether that be a bug, snail, gecko), and extremely rare to not have broken a sweat by the end of the day. But, the hospitality and excitement the kids, staff, and people of Taiwan express dominate any discomfort.
For me, the two weeks teaching and bonding with everyone at your school was the best part of this program. Hands down, if given the opportunity, I would do it again.
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Chen, Melanie (程靜萱)
When I first applied for the AID summer program, I thought of it as a fun opportunity to visit Taiwan along with having to teach some children English. My summer turned out to be a lot more than fun. I was given the amazing chance to meet wonderful people while teaching at Shuan Shin Elementary School in Chiayi City. Not only did I have adorable yet shy students, but I also became friends with the welcoming and caring teachers and counselors at the school who I both worked with and hung out with after the school day. Through this experience I learned so many new things, I do not even know where to begin.

On day one of meeting my students, I realized how brilliant and amazing at English they already were (since I was teaching the A class), and that they had breezed through my afternoon plans within twenty minutes of class. From that moment, I learned how to improvise teaching plans and materials, I taught class as if I was curating a class discussion and conversation. Through topics of interest or the theme of the day, I would introduce my students to new vocabulary that was not just boring words they needed to memorize, but common words they could use in future conversation to express themselves and their interests.

But beyond just learning how to truly teach my students English, I implemented fun games that I borrowed from the workshops at Chientan or from my prior elementary school education experience in order to captivate my students interest in English. Through these games, I realized how important classroom atmosphere can be when trying to engage children to memorize and familiarize themselves with new concepts or ideas. Not only did these games help them learn, they also enabled me to bond with my students better while having fun, making me seem like a friendly, accessible teacher.

Furthermore, I even learned how to plan and organize a closing ceremony Reader's Theatre for my class's performance. While at first it was stressful, worrying that my students would miss their cues or recite their lines wrong, when I finally saw their performance and they smiles on their parents and the principal's face, I knew all the hard work that my students and I had put in was worth every single minute. And thanks to these fun moments with my students, I would like to thank AID for creating a program that can connect me to these beautiful children who will always share a spot in my heart. In fact, some of them even still message me after the program has ended!

In conclusion, from the bottom of my heart I would like to thank and encourage AID to continue their efforts in this program by giving them a few tips of advice from my experience. While most of my experience was great, there were still a few ups and downs. While I did not want to point this out, because of some emotional trauma I hope in the future, we would be given the opportunity to chat and meet our teaching partners before we ended up in Chientan or at the schools. I had an extremely difficult time getting along with my teaching partner who would not help teaching, often using his phone, and when I called him out for it would get yelled at him at the public meetings and belittled. Although this may seem petty, I felt the need to express my unhappiness at the end of my reflection, because because of his rude and horrible attitude towards me I often cried or felt depressed from being bullied. I understand that some schools prefer teaching partners, especially (boy & girl) at my school, but in the future, I hope AID can give the applicants a heads up about the partner situation and maybe let people get in contact with their partner to see if they would be a good match. But besides this small side note, I truly loved the whole experience, especially the thrilling and fun-packed tour week. Thanks for everything!

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Lin, Edwin (林景文)
For me, this volunteer service was not only a unique and new experience for me in Taiwan, but also a great experience that allowed me to make a lot of friends. I was surprised to find out that most of my friends came from both the east and west coasts of the United States, which allowed me to have a better understanding of America myself. I still have memories on the first day when everyone was getting registered and checked-in at Chientan, especially with all that excitement when there were other people meeting each other for the first time, and getting to know each other to "break the ice". I remember my group was still looking for me and meeting some of them downstairs in the lobby. At first, it was strange when my entire group decided to sit down in one of our rooms to play some icebreaker games. Eventually, over the next couple days of teacher training at Chientan, we were able to get to know each other and build an effective team. I was surprised that we, as a group, became friends over the course of those couple days.

On the last day at Chientan before we were sent to our assigned schools, I remember all that hassling to get our bags onto the buses and saying our goodbyes to our group counselors. The bus ride to our school to Chao-Yang Elementary School in Changhua County was about 4 hours, but we did have fun on the bus with the other group that was also sent to Changhua, but a different elementary school. There were endless rounds of karaoke on the bus to the point that I got really annoyed and just wanted to get some sleep.

When our bus was in Changhua, both by group and I were able to snap some pictures of the beautiful landscape of the rustic scenery of the countryside dotted with rice fields, vineyards, and other kinds of crop fields. These views reminded me of the times when I used to live in the American South, with the remote and rural setting / feeling. After about an hour of our bus twisting and turning along the small roads, we were finally at Chao-Yang Elementary School.

It was pouring as we were getting our baggage out of the trunk. We were greeted at the school by the school principal, security guard, and guidance counselor. They helped us carry our baggage to the teacher's dorms and told us to meet them an hour later at the front so they could take us to dinner. Dinner was nice not just because of the food, but it was also a great time for the school faculty and us to know each other more.

The first day of teaching was sort of disorganized with kids running around and being all rude to both me and my partner. Everything that we had planned didn't go as scheduled. It was kind of frustrating for me


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Chen, Allison (陳熙杰)
As a whole, the AID program was a very special and memorable experience. The initial week was useful in helping us get to know our team better, and I enjoyed the guest lectures. Being able to outline lesson plans for the teaching weeks also proved to be valuable--I can't imagine trying to come up with that within a shorter amount of time.
The teaching itself was both a challenge, and a lot of fun. Since we chose to divide our classes into groups, each teacher mostly supervised the same seven or eight students throughout the entire two weeks, and all of us, I think, were able to interact a lot with each of them. Although we sometimes found ourselves coming up with ideas for activities on the fly, most of the lessons went smoothly, and during planning periods it was a truly a collaborative effort. Everyone at Beipu, from our host families, to the administrators at the school, was incredibly kind and welcoming, and I enjoyed being able to sightsee and travel in that area as well.
The tour was nice as well, and though I sometimes felt like we were doing more driving than anything else, it was great to be able to see so much of Taiwan in a really short time. Locations with activities such as the paper-making factory or Yehliu Geopark (and the night market of course) were the most exciting, the hotels every night were all amazing, and our counselors were so fun to be around.
Throughout it all, our group also interacted well, and I loved being around every one of them--they made the experience that much better. I really can't imagine having done this without them.
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Tsai, Wesley (蔡雅翔)
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I applied to the AID summer program. I’m rather timid and terribly quiet, reluctant to speak up, and don’t even particularly like children. However, I was interested in visiting Taiwan and wasn’t keen on lounging around in my uncle’s apartment for the entire summer, so participation in the AID program it was-- and I’m certainly glad I had this opportunity to do so. It was a wide step outside of my comfort zone, but it exposed me to many new customs, both in interactions with my students in Taitung and my fellow groupmates and other volunteering peers.

The first week in Chientan was fruitless, to put it lightly. When I wasn’t mindlessly staring ahead as the lecturer droned on and on about nonsense, I was passing in and out of sleep, waking up just to fall back asleep. I had read through all of the powerpoint presentations on the first day we got the handbook, and the in-class training provided no further information and in the end, didn’t really help us in preparing for the two weeks in the classroom. The activities and assemblies were rather nonsensical, but were amusing enough.

However in spite of all that, the two weeks I spent at Hot Spring Elementary School with my group B3-7 proved far more enjoyable. Not only were we blessed as the only group staying at a hot spring resort (Toyugi, about a ten minute walk from the school), we had brilliant and fun-loving children. There was another concurrent program running at Hot Spring so on a daily basis, my class had anywhere from eight to thirteen kids, and by having such a small class, my partner and I were able to bond with the children greatly. They always itched to play or go outside, but whenever we stressed the fact that we were teaching or reviewing, all of them would dutifully sit down and do their work, be it copying down vocabulary or writing their own sentences. Their obedience brought much relief since I can hardly raise my voice above speaking level.

Although the children were generally well behaved, every day still proved to be a struggle, since I have so little energy and their enthusiasm was quite draining. It was quite difficult maintaining a schedule to last for the entire school day, so the inclusion of other fun activities and trips were a necessity. In addition, we were requested to make no indication that we understood Chinese. This was slightly difficult to maintain for the two weeks due to translation difficulties while learning vocabulary, but it worked out as the kids cooperated very well.

But in the end, it was just a whole lot of fun bonding with my groupmates both in and out of school. Every night was spent chatting around, going to the pool, and working on the next day’s worksheets or presentations. The farewell ceremony was accompanied by the sadness of saying goodbye as we left towards Kaohsiung the next morning to begin the final week’s tour. It was quite tedious, riding the bus for most of the time, spending a meager amount of time at each location, and spending much of our free time preparing for our closing performance. However, it was nice to witness the beauty that Taiwan had to offer, and just staring outside the bus window proved satisfying enough.

A month later, I’m still timid, quiet, slow to speak up, and aloof with children, but my experience with the AID program was an unforgettable opportunity that allowed me to try something distinctly different from my usual life. Not a bad way to spend the summer prior to college at all.

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Tsang, Fiona (曾珮琪)
My experience in Taiwan has been an amazing one. This is my first time coming here and I am so grateful to be given the chance to educate children in Taichung. Li Shin Junior High School has taught me so much from who I am as a person to what kind of teacher I will become in the future. As an aspiring elementary school teacher, I think this was the perfect opportunity for me to go overseas and teach English at a less privileged place. This program gave me the opportunity to learn different methods of teaching and meet new people from all over the world.
Going into the first day without knowing any of the students and barely knowing my teammates was a little scary. My main question was: “How can I teach English when they won’t understand me?” However, my teammates and I got over that barrier and bonded with the students. Since then, we ate lunch with them and got to know the students outside of the classroom. I’ve learned a lot of patience because at times it was difficult for me to get my point across. I learned to slow down when I talked and allowed students to listen to what I say before moving on. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well as I taught and got to know these kids.
Shyness is by far one of the most difficult problems we had to get through because these students were afraid to speak up and raise their hands. Most of them knew the answers, but they did not want to raise their hands or talk to the teachers. One girl stood out to me the most because she would never talk with the teachers or the students. Mia is a quiet girl. During breaks, she would stay in her seat in class. I went up to her on the second day and immediately bonded with her. I asked her what she liked to do or what she wants to learn. Even though she was hesitant, she responded very softly. I wanted to build that trust between us and let her know that it is okay to talk to me. Throughout these two weeks, she became less shy and more willing to participate in class activities. One of the days, we went to the school library and read aloud to practice pronunciation and reading comprehension. She was struggling a bit because she did not understand or know some of the words. I was glad to help her out in reading and understanding the plot of the story. Seeing students’ progress and succeed is so rewarding. Honestly, I wish I could be teaching these students for 3-4 weeks because in those weeks I will truly fully bond with these students and help them progress more consistently with English.

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Tsang, Sophia (曾璐琪)
The first week of the AID program I was terrified. However, I quickly made 8 new friends and since we were all girls it was easy to bond over many things. Being in Chientan was a little boring because we had many workshops. Those workshops did help a little for coming up with activities for our students. The days where we worked on our lesson plans were really successful and productive. There wasn't much to do in Chientan, but the convenience store and roof were fun. Not being allowed to leave Chientan made my group much closer since we were in our room together a lot. Leaving to our school was exciting. Being on the bus for 3 hours made my group get to know our teacher better. When we arrived at school we were welcomed by the director and his wife. They provided us with sleeping bags, bowls, chopsticks, food, toiletries and it made me feel like home. We arrived to the school on Saturday so we had until Monday to plan the lessons. Monday arrived and I finally met my students! I taught 2nd grade so my students knew basic English. I had the help of two Tainan university students and both of them really helped keep my class in control. I would forever be thankful for them. Teaching English was not easy but my class's activities and games engaged my students. My partner and I would usually teach 2 topics a day with few vocabulary words. Then we would spend periods playing games to help retain the new vocabulary. We did this everyday and each day passed by so fast. I gained more respect for teachers and more thankful for my family. Knowing that my kids are in single families and live in poor areas made me more appreciative of what I have. I really hope that teaching my kids English would get them excited to learn English in the future and to let them know that there is so much more out there in the world than school in Taiwan. Every night the director and my teacher would order delicious dinner for us and my group would always eat together. Being in a school together for two weeks brought my group closer. Our fear for bugs really helped us bond. The two weeks in school flew by and I'm very lucky to have had Tony (my teacher) there with us. He cleaned the bathroom, prepare lunch for us, walked us to the convenience store and took us out to karaoke, movie, sushi and hot pot on the weekend. In a blink of an eye tour week was finally here. The schedule of the southern tour and central tour was organized because one tour would go to a place first while the other tour goes to a different place. Being on a different bus meant different counselors and it was nice getting to know different people on my bus. The places we toured like Sun Moon Lake and Yehliu Geological Park were beautiful. The hotels we stayed in were nice, good size and simple. By the end of the last week we were back at Chientan and ready to perform for our talent show. Then it was the closing Ceremony and it was one of the saddest day. Realizing that I was going to go back to America while my counselors and teacher stayed in Taiwan. The good though is that my group all lives in the East Coast so we can meet up sometime. Overall, this has been one of the best summer I had in a long time. I've impacted children's lives while they also impacted mine. I made 8 new friends and got to know my amazing counselors and teachers. I came to Taiwan for the first time and it was the first time to a new country. I will never forget this experience. Thank you all AID 2017.
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Cheng, Tiffany (鄭文雅)
Going to a foreign country to teach English was something that I never thought I would have the chance to do. Being an education major, this is something that I hope to pursue in the future and being able to have the chance to teach English abroad was such a great experience and gave me a taste of what I am possibly going to do in the future. Although I do not speak Mandarin, I was still able to understand half of what my students were saying and it forced them to communicate in English with me, which was the end goal. Those two weeks of teaching were challenging, with lesson planning the night before, trying to get the students to participate and living in conditions that I am not use to. However, those two weeks really helped shape me as a person and I was able to overcome those obstacles. Aside from the teaching part of the program, I met incredibly beautiful, talented, kind-hearted girls that I am lucky and proud to call my friends. We all got so close in an extremely short period of time and got along so well, it still amazes me how similar and different we are. As a group, we compliment each other and I could not have imagined spending a month in Taiwan with any other people. This program has helped me step out of my comfort zone, be immersed in a new culture and make amazing friendships all while doing something I love and am passionate about.
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Lee, Frances ( 李姵樺)
17 years of being the obedient, well-behaved student in class did not prepare me for the two weeks of rambunctious rebels that were going to be my students.

Abandoning the grassy spaces of New Jersey for the city lights of Chiayi was one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I lived with seven other strangers in the preschool classrooms of Shiuan-Shin Elementary School. The eight of us worked together to organize activities and games to help our classes better learn English. Long days of keeping the students engaged were followed by long nights of creating tomorrow's lesson plans. We naturally transitioned from strangers to teachers to friends, bonding through the roller coaster of weather, food, and emotions. I will never forget the classroom karaoke twist of hard rap (Be Humble) and Chinese ballads (Wo Piao Xiang Bei Fang), the midnight snack runs to Mos Burger and McDonalds, the mountain hikes to see the fog, ocean, and sunrise, and the deep, confessional reflections til 3 in the morning. The people I met at AID have made my volunteering experience so much more enriching and memorable, and I am so grateful to have been able to find a family with B1-6.

My relentless hunger for mango shaved ice does not amount to the two weeks of unforgettable moments I got to share with the students. As a privileged first world child, I’ve grown accustomed to relying on the latest technology in my everyday life. Each day, it felt like I lost another “necessity”- a bed, air conditioning, toilets. Yet, each day I found greater happiness from my interacting with the students and sharing their enthusiasm for learning new things. The language barrier between my broken Chinese syllables and their accented English phrases protruded a greater fascination for exploring our cultural differences. Their crazy obsessions with 5x5 tic-tac-toe, stickers, and dodgeball were childish and, at times, tiresome, but it was only after I left Chiayi that I realized how much I missed the little antics that had grown on me.

The midnight restroom run ins with cockroaches were mentally traumatizing, but kids electrified me with a different kind of shock. I came to Taiwan to teach the students, but they ended up teaching me about their communities, culture, and insights about myself. The rally cry "Teacher teacher teacher!" was, at times, a death omen, but it never failed to make me smile. Whether it be with the students, co-teachers, or new AID friends from across the world, being able to share a curiosity for adventure and an energy for exploring was the most enriching part of my 2017 AID Summer experience.
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Chen, Kevin (陳泓名)
After such a great 4 weeks in Taiwan from July 1st to July 31st in Taiwan, I have finally completed to English Overseas Youth Program. Not only did I enjoy this program a lot, but I also hope to come back next year to teach the children in the remote area English again!

400 people in this program seems like a lot of people, but that only means 400 more friends for me. In fact, most of the people in my group at Yong Kang Elementary School at Nantou are Facebook friends with me right now. Some of the other friends that I met during the 1st week of training but I haven't communicated much to are also my friends. They are still in my Line (messenger program that allows for free calls from areas with WIFI).

The most memorable event for me in this program was when we went to Sun Moon Lake. How memorable it was! At night before the sunset, my friends were able to go to the cliff of the mountain to look at the sun reflecting on the water. When we wanted to take a picture of the wooden canoes from really far away, we paid money to activate the far-sighted telescope and took a picture from the telescope's lens. However, in the morning everybody was asleep. I was the only one outside. I kept waiting and waiting for the moment of truth. Then, the sun came out! It was very exhilarating for me.

I will always come back for the 6:30 morning call and the 10:30 bed check. Whenever the counselors are at the lobby, they will stop us from going outside. Sometimes, I feel this is unfair, but it is part of the program. The program has always been fun for me, and no matter how tired I am, I will always come back even more energetic than before.
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Jang, Ji-Ze (章繼澤)
The AID Program was a very enriching experience for me. Not only did it allow me to bond closely with my teammates during the four-week program, but also I learned so much about myself as a person. During the training week, we sat with our teammates and went to teaching classes about how to teach kids. I think these classes could have been shorter to leave some time for exploring more tour sites in Taipei; in retrospect, most of the contents of the lessons served as helpful reminders but were not new information to most high schoolers (unless you are that person who paid absolutely zero attention in class since kindergarten, then maybe you are an exception). Overall, I think that the counselors were very thorough about ensuring our safety, and it definitely felt as if we had access to food 24/7. The tour week was super fun because we got a holistic view of Taiwanese culture and got to explore many tour sites and night markets by ourselves. We also tasted different super good Taiwanese food and did some DIY activities such as making paper fans. I am very grateful for all the care we received from counselors during the program and the fulfilling experience I received from the AID program.
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Lee, Brenda ()
My experience with participating in the AID program has truly been a memorable and life-changing one. I initially joined the AID program because of my love for Taiwan and my love for teaching children, but my experiences and memories have expanded to the gain of new friendships and new perspective on the learning behaviors of children in a different country than my own.

Throughout the program, I have also learned and experienced so much of Taiwanese culture through my counselor, the principal, and the Southern trip. I’m so grateful that I got to experience and explore so many different parts of Taiwan that I have never been to. I not only got to spend time with my newly created friends, but being in such a loving and supportive environment really made this experience amazing and great.

I am so thankful and grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate in this amazing and enriching program. I have gained so many new skills such as patience, responsibility and leadership. I have also not only improved my speaking abilities in chinese, but I have also loved mentoring and encouraging my students to pursue their studies of the English language. The lessons that I have learned will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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Guo, Angel (郭恩竹)
This experience was the best decision of my life. I meet amazing people and amazing friends along the way. The first day when we all met I knew immediately that we would all be the best of friends and it would be an amazing month with them. Although there were some bumps along the way, we still were close with each other and helped each other in many ways. I learned how to laugh for hours around them and how to have fun during times of stress. They would always put a smile on my face and I will always cherish my teammates. During the tour week, I had tons of fun with the councilors and my teammates, singing on the bus ride or playing games. This experience taught me how to enjoy teaching with children and how to interact with them. It also gave me new friends from other places and new friends in the same area as me. I would definitely recommend this to my friends in the future, because this was an amazing summer and if I could go for a second time, I would definitely sign up again. I hope in the future I get to visit my kids and tour with my friends again.
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Tung, Julianne (董安安)
It was without a doubt one of the most memorable summers I have had thus far. Being a volunteer teacher has its challenges, but also its beautiful, priceless moments. The children were shy on the first couple of days, but afterwards, they opened up and became really open. While teaching the younger group of students, I realized that their ability was not as I had perceived, and thus, I had to adjust the amount of material that I was giving them a day. From the first couple of days, I learned that they needed to review the previous days material in order for them to really learn the topic. Thus, from then on, we would incorporate previous day's material into the new lesson. For example, we learned colors the first day, and on the second day, we reviewed colors as well as learned Brown Bear, Brown Bear which reviewed both the colors and the animals. In the end, the students were not really grasping the colors, but after a couple days, they learned the material instead of just memorizing, or getting it by luck. This was just one of the few examples of how we adjusted our teaching techniques to better fit the needs of our students. At the end of the whole program, I learned that its not necessarily the yelling and harsh punishments that got the students to pay attention and listen, but rather that telling them that , it makes us sad that they are acting poorly or having them reason that got them to listen. I loved getting to know each and everyone of the students whether they were in my class or not and to be able to interact with them whether it was playing ball with the students or just asking them about their interests and answering their questions. Although, we come from two very different cultures, their presence made me feel like there was no cultural barrier. Although I may have been given the title of "teacher" it felt like they were my teachers. I will truly miss the craziness, watching them learn, and being greeted with 17 smiling faces every morning.
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Trinh, Stephanie (鄭善允)
Being a part of AID Summer 2017 has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my seventeen year old life. It spurred an amazing amount of personal growth and maturity and taught me that true, pure, and unfiltered happiness can be found in the tiniest and even most unpolished things. People often associate happiness with things that are physically beautiful but after spending over month in my motherland Taiwan and just two short weeks in rural Lishan teaching kids of all ages English, I have not only learned the true definition of the word beautiful but also of the words gratitude, maturity, and happiness.
I cannot sit here and truthfully write that I enjoyed every hour, minute, and second of my AID experience but I can sit here and truthfully write that I would voluntarily do it again and again until I physically cannot anymore. Having to delete all the photos on my phone just to make space for the new ones I took with AID counselors, fellow AID teachers, and my kids at Lishan Junior High and Elementary School made me realize how much I had grown to love everyone I had gotten to meet throughout my AID Summer journey. AID Summer managed to bring together teenagers and college kids from all over the world who all mutually loved Taiwan and Taiwanese culture and forged friendships that I truly believe will endure the test of both time and distance. Being an AID participant rewarded me with great friendships and great eye-opening experiences.

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Trinh, Patrick (鄭善元)
I had a lot of great and memorable experiences as a result of this trip. All of the people I've met have each made an enormous impact on my life, and it's impossible to express how grateful I am for every one of them. From the talented photographer to the bubbly dancer, the friends that I have made on this journey have found a special place in my memories. In addition to the amazing group of volunteers I was able to bond with over this month, my pupils at DaKeng were some of the brightest and funniest kids I have ever met. Their willingness to learn assures that Taiwan has a bright future. Teaching English to kids with only a basic grasp of the language allowed me to reflect on the difficulties of learning a new language, and hopefully will help me in the future when I attempt to master mandarin.

Afterwards, when we were touring Taiwan, I saw many new and many familiar sights, all the while enjoying the company of friends. When we were trapped by a sudden rainstorm at the aquarium, or when we visited the massive Buddha statues, the tour offered an opportunity to see the Taiwan of my childhood once again. This program has given me the summer of a lifetime and I wish it success in the new year.
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Chen, Alex (陳柏廷)
In every moment of AID I was feeling something. I was never bored, and boredom is a feeling I hate because it never turns into anything better. I was always happy, interested, excited, sad, frustrated, and that made me feel alive.
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Cheng, Daphne (鄭彥襄)
This program was really fun in many different ways. My favorite part of AID was the two weeks we spent teaching because I loved getting to know the kids. Lishan was on top of a mountain and seemed boring, but I grew to love the school and the surrounding town. I did not know what to expect when I went to teach the kids, and it ended up being an amazing experience. The kids were so enthusiastic and cute and had such unique personalities. Choosing to teach the oldest class was one of the best decisions because the kids already had some knowledge of English, which made it easier for them to learn the vocab and sentences we taught. We were able to play lots of games rather than making them do worksheets, and the kids really enjoyed it. I had an amazing teaching partner and group, and the entire month allowed us to become close friends. The tour was only okay because everything was rushed. The places we visited were pretty and interesting, and I really enjoyed the paper fan making experience. However, I felt that we barely spent any time visiting the sights and instead spent a lot of time on the bus. Overall, I really liked AID because it allowed me to become friends with people from all over the United States, and teaching kids in such a remote area was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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Lee, Eric (李承鴻)
Teaching for the AID Summer program has been one of my most unforgettable memories, whether it be teaching enthusiastic students or going to the night market with friends. I was originally reluctant to sign up for this program, but after staying in Taiwan for 4 weeks, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. The program combined a multitude of teaching and fun into the span of four flavorful weeks, and allowed me to experience the culture of Taiwan. I met many new friends from all over the world during this program, and went on many fun trips with them.

I taught at Shiuan Shin elementary school in Chiayi, one of the only schools that was in an urban setting. Our supervisors were all extremely nice and showed us around the city. We had lots of fun biking around the city at night, whether it be to night markets or convenience stores.

This program has been one of the most unique programs I have ever attended, and if given the chance, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was a joy teaching the adorable kids at the program, and they were always very upbeat, asking teachers to play with them. These four weeks of AID will definitely be one of my most unforgettable memories.
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Hsu, Lillian (許莉)
It is close to the end of the tour week and I realized that I have learned so much about Taiwan and kids in the process. The first week was very mundane- there was not much to it. The classes were not very informative and I felt that they did not prepare me well for the actual teaching part. Everything I did was from my own experience working with kids. However, I appreciated working with my group and becoming closer with them. Our teacher was so nice and so understanding, and she is incredible for being able to deal with them.
The teaching weeks were the most rewarding weeks of my life. I never appreciated kids more than that time. During the week, I dreaded seeing the kids, but after the two weeks, I realized how much I loved him. Seeing them cry on the last two days made my heart hurt so much, but I know that they will never forget me and I will never forget them. I loved teaching so much.
The tour week is fun. I am enjoying all the sights we are going to but there is always a time constraint. Sometimes we spend only 30 minutes at a place. Also, it is hot (but that's not AID's problem, haha...). I am preparing to say my goodbyes to my friends and I know it will be hard to say goodbye to counselors too.
Initially, I did not want to be a part of AID. The thought of giving up my summer for kids seemed crazy at the time, but now, I cannot believe that I almost did not do this program. I am grateful for the experience that AID provided me, regardless of how crazy everything was.
To anyone who is on the fence about doing AID: just do it. It is so much more fun than you think it will be. :)
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Yang, William (楊元正)
I’ve always been shy and introverted. I’ve always been afraid of public speaking. I was never going to be a teacher. I had no idea how I was going to teach kids with strangers for 6 hours straight in a foreign city.

Looking back, however, I couldn’t have been more glad that I applied for the program. To most people, AID is a teaching program, but to me, it was a learning experience. I learned to work with kids and to have more patience. I learned to be more confident in myself. I learned to always carry an umbrella, and to adjust to 100F temperature. I learned that time really does fly by when you're having fun. I learned about how lucky we are to go outside without being attacked by mosquitoes and cockroaches. But above all, I learned about the rewarding feeling of being a teacher, and the heartbreaking feeling of saying goodbye for the last time.

I’m also so grateful to be able to become friends with some really amazing people (shoutout to B 1-6!!), and I will never forget any of you, from our night market runs to make up sessions and deep talks to water balloon fights. I’d like to thank the counselors, the other AID volunteers, Bus 1, and especially B1-6, for the best summer of my life.

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Lo, Graham (羅英九)
AID was one of the best experiences of my life. I could go on forever about the great time at had and the valuable lessons I learned. But to keep it short, I will just tell you the most valuable lessons I learned about being a teacher and why I love teaching so much. Moreover, this program has helped me consider education as my major in college. I just had such a good time teaching and bonding with the students that I think I would be very happy to be able to do that for the rest of my life.
For a teacher, passion is far more important than technical skills. My job is to make sure that whatever happens in a lesson lives in somebody else, that it's memorable... If you forget tomorrow what you saw yesterday, there's really not much point in you having been there - or me, for that matter. I believe that my job is to inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning into my students. My goal is to be remembered as a great teacher. AID has helped me get closer to my goal. The relationship I have built with them and the experience I gained from this short period of time will live with me for ever.

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Ting, Dayi (丁德儀)
Over this past month, I have made new friends and countless memories. Teaching the kids in underprivileged areas of Taiwan has been one of the most tiring but rewarding experiences of my life. Interacting with the kids allowed me a better appreciation of Taiwan's people and culture, and has taught me a lot. Although I was the teacher, I learned a lot through my students. Because of them, I realized that despite the differences in culture and language, people, whether in Taiwan or America, are not as different as they often seem. However, it was not only my students I learned from. Working with my group members and teacher, and having group meetings everyday after school taught me how to really listen to others and how to work as a real team. My teaching partner taught me how to better communicate and compromise. And, during the training and tour weeks, I met many great people who not only made incredible memories with me, but who also unknowingly taught me more about people, the world, and even myself. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to help others and learn more about Taiwan all while creating memories I will cherish for a really long time.
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