2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Orange
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Tieu, Lynn (蕭淑玲)
I could genuinely say that participating in the 2017 AID Summer Program was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. The counselors were incredibly helpful and kind and tried their best to provide for us. Our accommodations were overall above my expectations, so I was very satisfied with that. Our school’s administration did all they could to keep us comfortable, and despite the bugs, I loved the environment that I was in. My class consisted of quite intelligent children who were surprisingly eager to learn, although they were a bit rambunctious at times. I got to meet so many new people in and outside of the program, and am fortunate enough to be in contact with most of them now. I enjoyed the locations we got to go to for the Central Tour, but as a very mediocre Chinese speaker, I wish I understood more of what I was seeing and experiencing. I didn’t like being a burden to my friends by constantly asking for translations. Overall, the experience was wonderful with the people I got to meet and the places I was able to visit, and I am determined to visit Taiwan again because I want to make more wonderful memories there again.

Hayashi, Vivian (林雨萱)
AID was an unforgettable experience. In all my 18 years of life, I’d only been to Taiwan a handful of times, so not only was I able to visit new places and try new foods, but also meet amazing people. Training week was tiring, but all the work paid off because of the numerous games and teaching methods we were introduced to. I’ve never even considered education as a possible career path, but this helped me truly understand the act of teaching in a classroom setting. For me, teaching week was the most fun. It was difficult to adjust to the school schedule after already having a month off for summer break, but the children made it all worth it. Aside from growing closer with my teaching group and being able to joke around and be comfortable around them, I was also able to make connections with the school staff. Our students were energetic, always goofing around, to the point where it was difficult to control them. But our teachers were extremely helpful and offered their assistance when needed. Because we are from completely different backgrounds, the children were extremely curious as to what life was like where we came from. As the days passed and everyone became more comfortable to the classroom environment, teaching became a much more fun and rewarding experience. Our school conditions were quite good. Because Taiping is up in the mountains, there wasn’t much need for air conditioning; opening the windows allowed for a cool breeze to waft in. The teachers went out of their way to provide us with breakfast, often needing to drive 30 minutes down the mountain and 30 minutes up, just so we would have a wider variety than just the breakfast shop across the street from the school. Staying in the teacher dorms allowed us to have a closer proximity to the teachers; we would eat our meals together and chat. In addition, at night we would play badminton by the schoolyard and have some of our students come join us as well. Our weekend tour was especially fun, what with our principal treating us to a baseball game and taking us to the night market, ensuring that we all got a chance to eat the night market snacks. The last week, tour week, was quite fun. We were able to meet new people and explore new tourist spots. AID summer was an amazing experience and I’m thankful for all the people that I met and became close to. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.

Huang, Lauren (黃姿靜)
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience in Taiwan. It was great getting to know so many people traveling from different places in the world with similar cultures and backgrounds. Meeting the kids was also an enjoyable experience for me. Seeing them working hard to understand English as a second language was intriguing to me, as English has been so familiar with me. In a way, it is similar to myself trying to learn Spanish so I understand when the students have a hard time understanding the content and I do my best to help them in any way I can. In addition, being able to eat ethnic food everyday--even if it's from seven eleven--helped me assimilate into my Taiwanese surroundings. The school lunch was a definite favorite--especially the desserts. One thing I discovered is that the students love playing games. During lectures, they would be half-asleep, but during our activities, every single one of them was active and focused. It was as if they became different people. Overall, my experience in this program was a memorable one. It reminded me of the opportunities I had in US, and taught me to appreciate the things I already had. I also became great friends with my students, and I still communicate with some of them online to this day. I hope that I can go back and visit them again someday.
Lee, Erica (李品潔)
This summer, I was fortunate enough to be given to opportunity to travel to Taiwan to teach a class of nineteen students at Heping Elementary School. Honestly speaking, teaching was not easy. Most of us have had little to no professional teaching experience, and very few of us remembered anything we had been taught in elementary school either. However,we did our best to make the lessons fun and interesting through outdoor activities and team games. Though we only taught basic English, I hope that I was able to give at least some knowledge to the students I taught, and that they will be motivated to continue learning English. The interactions with my students is something I will never forget. Their faces would light up as they eagerly tell me about their favorite video games or their favorite Taiwanese food. They would draw pictures and beckon me over to look at their masterpieces, or call out “Teacher!” to have me look at their spelling and vocabulary. Learning a new language can be very difficult, and I was very proud of how my students performed in my class, and I hope they had as much fun as I did. Thanks to my wonderful group mates, Heping Elementary School, and my students, I had a memorable summer in Taiwan, and I highly encourage everyone who is interested to join AID Summer!
Huang, Elaine (黄品禎)
For two weeks, I had the privilege of becoming a teacher. And during those two weeks...I gained so much more respect for all the teachers who I've had. Being responsible for 12 students alone was hectic, complicated, and very tiring--I cannot imagine how my teachers in public schools manage more than 30 students at a time for 7 different periods each day. By far, teaching is no easy task. Yet in spite of all the challenges, the two weeks in Yunlin left my group and me with numerous memories and friendships to cherish for a lifetime. Team bonding was inevitable; it's amazing how spiders, cockroaches, caterpillars, and a seemingly infinite amount of mosquitos in our room can bring 8 strangers closer together. Additionally, I am so grateful for the principal, director, and everyone from the Chung Der middle school staff who welcomed us with open arms, regardless of our countless demands. Warm showers, clean bathrooms, tissue paper, wifi--these are only few of the items that I've become more appreciative for through my experience in rural Taiwan. From what I've seen with my students, I've realized that the things that I take for granted are rare luxuries for them. I'm forever thankful for all that the AID Summer Program has taught me.
Chen, Jasmine (陳加欣)
Even though I wasn't necessarily super excited to participate in this program at first, I'm very glad that I did. I met so many new people, made so many new friends, saw amazing new places, and tried new, delicious dishes.

At Chientan, I met the other people in my group in person for the first time. We all soon became very good friends. We also met the teacher from the school we would be teaching at, Miss Chiang. Thank you to her for giving us input on how to the students might act and how we should teach them.Thank you to the counselors who worked so hard to make our time in Chientan fun and always took care us. Thank you to the teachers who spent time teaching us how to teach kids English in fun and interesting ways.

Later, our group took the bus to Chiayi and up the mountain to Dapu. We met many new people who took care of us and took us to fun places. They truly showed us the beauty of Taiwan and the kindness of its people. We also encountered amazing kids as we taught them English throughout the 2 weeks. We learned about each one's individual qualities. It was a lot of fun watching them learn and seeing the type of school life that Taiwan students had.

By the end of those two week, I felt that Dapu had become a second home and my group of friends had become a second family. We always watched out for one another and hanging out with them was so much fun. I cried as I said goodbye to them but I hope that we will still continue to be close friends even back in America.

I was not able to go to the tour due to prior arrangements but I kept in touch with my friends. It sounded like a lot of fun and I wish I could have attended.

Thank you to the Aid program for this incredible opportunity to experience life in Taiwan and meet so many people that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Teng, Sarah (鄧慧寧)
I had an amazing experience this summer at AID. It was such a unique opportunity, and one that I will never forget. Even on the first day, where no one knew each other, we all became quick friends, and immediately bonded over dinner. We did silly things to pass the time, like stretch or work out in our room, and we even made a poster that we had people sign when they passed our door. There was such a great sense of community, even with people we didn’t know. When we asked people to sign our poster, they would reply enthusiastically and sign with a smile. I was sad to leave Chientan after the training week, but little did I know that greater things were in store.

We spent our first two days at the school learning our opening ceremony, staying up until 1 AM to practice. The first day was very hectic because our schedule had changed at the last minute, and my partner and I were very nervous, trying to come up with a way to entertain our students until the opening ceremony. However, as we got into the flow of things, we started to connect with the children, and they would come to us during break times and ask us to play games with them. After school, when we would play volleyball or basketball with our TAs and military volunteers (阿兵哥s), some of our students would even join us.

The two weeks of teaching flew by far too fast, and on Saturday morning, our TAs and some of our students came to send us off. I wouldn’t call myself an emotional person--I barely ever cry--but I could hardly bring myself to get on the bus, and as we drove away, my group and I burst into tears.

The tour week was a fantastic way to close off a fun-filled month. We got to travel to so many places in Taiwan that I had never been to, and we got to spend time with people from other groups. Learning our talent show performance was a lot of fun because everyone in our bus was super energetic. At the closing ceremony, I had to hold back tears watching the video and listening to the counselors sing “See You Again”. It was hard to watch people leave and say goodbye to all the friends I’d made during that one month. AID really was an amazing experience, and I met people from all over the world who I continue to talk to online. Really, there’s only one bad thing about AID, and that’s that you can only apply once. It was easily the best month I’ve ever had, and I’m so excited for future volunteers to have as much fun as I did.

Chang, Kevin (張文凱)
The AID Summer program was one of the best experiences of my life. It was through the program that I realized the difficulty of teaching and because of it I gained a whole new respect for teachers. Teaching was not easy. We worked all throughout the training week with very busy schedules and worked every night after teaching to prepare for the next day. The kids made the hard work worth it. They were bright, lively individuals and I loved every one of them. Although their English was not very good and they always used Chinese to talk to us, we tried to push them to use English when speaking with us. The kids often grabbed me and yelled at me in playful ways. It was fun. My class was very respectful and mostly kept quiet and tried to pay attention when Phyllis and I were teaching. Teaching at Dalin Elementary was a great experience that I would consider again. The tour week was my least favorite part of the program. The main reason was because it felt too rushed. Most of the time was spent on the bus and we only spent 20-30 minutes at interesting places but then spent an hour at a Sun Cake shop. I feel like more time could have been spent exploring Sun Moon Lake. I would've hated tour week if it wasn't for all the friends I had made in the program. That was honestly the best part of it. The connections and bonds I made on the trip are like no other. I met people who understood me and were able to bounce off of. Spending a month with people really allows you to get to know them and build strong bonds.
Lee, Brianna (李文舜)
The past 2 weeks of teaching at He-Ping was one of the best experience I’ve have had. Though there were days that were super tiring due to the kids not listening to directions or them not being enthusiastic about playing games, overall teaching was a rewarding experience that I will treasure. My partner and I were in charge of teaching Class A otherwise known as the squirrel class. That class consisted of the oldest kids at that school which also meant that those kids knew the most English. They were rowdy at times, however, they also were willing to try to learn English and most of the time put their best effort to learn. I will truly miss eating lunch with them every day, playing games during breaks, and just talking to the students. The staff at He-Ping were really nice and kind as they became somewhat like our tour guides when exploring places, such as Taipei 101 and Ye-Liu. The parents of the students at He-Ping were also extremely nice as they brought us to their house or different places to eat every night. I was very fortunate to be able to have taught at such a loving school that not only had great students, but also great staff and parents.
Cheng, Vincent (鄭子謙)
AID was an incredibly fulfilling and fun experience throughout the four weeks that it lasted. The first week at Chientan was very memorable, especially with the speech that I had to give, and spending time with friends where everyone was together was also really enjoyable. Although the lectures could get fairly long, I learned a lot about teaching and classroom management, and our two trips to Shilin night market were some of the best experiences of the trip. At the school, I formed bonds with all of the kids and I can safely say that the two weeks with the kids were the highlight of the volunteer experience. It was incredibly fun to play and laugh with the kids while still teaching them English and experiencing a part of Taiwan I hadn't before. The memories I made there were unforgettable, and by the time the two weeks were up, we were already planning next year's visit. The tour at the end was also pretty fun, even though it was rushed and unorganized, and the time we spent with our groups at the Feng Chia night market and Dream Mall were especially memorable. All in all, I made a ton of great memories at AID and it was a super fun experience.
Lo, Selina (羅允伶)
Following the footsteps of previous graduates from my local Chinese school, I applied for AID. Quite frankly, I did so kind of blindly; though I was a teacher’s aide for my Chinese school, I still did not really know what to expect out of the teaching program. And I am glad I did not know what to expect. I could have never fathomed the friendships I would build, with people across the U.S., and even around the world. I could have never imagined the bonds I would form with the kids in a mere two weeks. I could have never understood what it really means to be a mentor, nor be used to being called “teacher”.
I remember walking into Chientan Youth Center for the first time, surrounded by confused volunteers, luggages, and neon-shirted counselors who were ushering people in different directions. Shyly waving hi to some people I recognize from their social media profiles, I proceeded to my dorm room, where I met one of my group mates for the first time. The other girls arrived not long after. At first, I felt really awkward. We had just met but we were going to live with one another and work together for the rest of the month. Intending to be proactive despite feeling rather anxious, I decided that I had to at least pretend to be outgoing and try to get to know the girls. It paid off within the first couple of days. I became really close to all of them because I mustered the courage to put myself out there.
Then came the lectures. To be honest, they were a little boring, but it was really fun competing with the other groups to see who had the best mindmap/brainstorming poster (also to see who would win the prize, of course). I had experience being a teacher’s aide in a preschool class, but I learned a lot more about how to engage the students throughout the training week. The schedules were a little tight, but it was to be expected to accommodate so many people.
Before I knew it, it was time for us to head to our schools. I was assigned to Beipu Junior High School in Hsinchu. I had concerns about our housing, but I stayed with an amazing host family. Meals were all set up by the school and they did a good job making sure there was diversity in what we ate. The weekends passed really quickly as we went on day trips to experience the Hakka culture around Beipu.
But most importantly of all were the kids. I was a little iffy about teaching middle schoolers, but Beipu’s kids are some of the most polite kids I know. They were shy in the beginning, but after chatting with them during lunch casually in simple English and a little Chinese, they started to open up. These kids do not have the opportunities kids in the cities do, but they try their best. For our lessons, we veered away from powerpoints and straight lectures and incorporated a lot of games. They really liked that; it was way different than the usual cram school type of lessons, they say. I am so grateful that I had the chance to interact with these kids, and will continue to do so on social media. The lesson planning and meetings got a little tedious as we had to stay at the school all day, but Beipu’s workload was lighter than the other schools’. I had fun getting to know the TA’s as well. Time flew. It really did. It felt like I had just gotten close to everyone in the sweet little community when I left. Faking smiles for the pictures, I watched kids get teary-eyed as our bus pulled away from the curb. We will meet again! But for now, farewell.
Yet the most bittersweet part had yet to come. I had a week left with my group mates on the tour. The southern tour was well planned and packed with destinations around Taiwan. I always knew Taiwan was beautiful, but the places we saw just reinforced that notion. I had a blast with the people on my bus too. Soon, we returned to Chientan Youth Center, and it was time to say goodbye to AID. It had barely been a month but I made so many incredible memories and friends. I learned so much and gained many valuable experiences. I truly wish the program lasted longer so I could spend more time with the amazing volunteers alongside me. But if only, if only. AID made my summer unforgettable. Thank you, AID!

Banh, Crystal (彭慧婷)
This past summer in Taiwan has no doubt been one of the most memorable experiences in my life. Here, I made amazing friends and connections with all the people I encountered. I taught at Dapu Elementary in Chiayi, a rural area that was a one hour drive up the mountain. Here, I got to do things that I would have never been able to do such as bike in the middle of the streets, get eaten by bugs, stay up all night with my friends, perform an opening ceremony, eat yummy bento boxes everyday, go to night markets, and much more. The most amazing part of this program, of course, is teaching the kids. The bonds we created during two weeks made it so hard to leave them. By teaching them english, I learned how to be a more effective teacher and also how to make lessons fun and memorable. I also learned much more Chinese throughout my time in Taiwan. This helped me become a more patient and understanding teacher since I know how hard it is to learn a second language. Hopefully, they learned as much as I did! The tour was also super fun and amazing. The places they took us to were breathtaking and I got to do so many things that I never thought I would. In addition, preparing for the talent show was a fun way to bond with the other members in our bus and helped us create even more friendships. Overall, this was an invaluable experience that I can say was one of the best summers of my life!
Vongsachang, Huryoung (張和陽)
I am extremely glad that I applied to the AID Taiwan Summer program. I was excited to be able to travel to Taiwan for the first time. In addition, I love to volunteer, so I was also grateful for the opportunity to assist the indigenous Taiwanese youth in learning how to read, write, and speak the English language. I feel that the first week of training was very helpful and very critical in structuring our lesson plans and teaching instructions for our students and school. My other team members and I bonded very quickly – I feel that AID had chosen a dynamic team for us, and it was good that we all pretty much lived in the same state or close to one another, because after AID we would be able to meet up easier. My team members have become close friends and family to me. During the two weeks of teaching, students were sometimes started out very eager to learn, but they would sometimes get unruly, as they were a class full of boys. However, it gave me experience to deal with children and teach them patiently. Our teacher was very helpful, as was our school officer. All the school staff were very friendly. And finally, a huge thank you to all the volunteers (pink shirts) that took care of us, coordinated everything, and led us.

Wang, Michelle (王敏曦)
I didn't go into AID entirely willingly, but coming out of it, I'm glad I took the chance because of all the amazing people I met and places I was able to visit. Our group was assigned to Lunbei Junior High School, in Yunlin County. When we heard that we would be living in a temple (that housed the Jade Emperor!!), I was really excited. I definitely wasn't disappointed when we finally arrived in Lunbei and met all of the people who would be guiding and taking care of us during the two weeks and got to see the temple. Unfortunately I had to move to Stanley, one of our coaches' house due to illness halfway through the teaching period, but I still enjoyed the temple a lot. This was also the first time I'd had to share a living space with three other girls my age, all with different living habits. A couple of my groupmates, for whatever reason, could not seem to go to sleep or wake up without playing loud music, and I came out of AID feeling as if I'd spent an entire month sleeping in a nightclub. Besides that, the temple was a a really fun place to live.
The kids were amazing. Especially during the first few days, and especially with my team, we were so insecure about whether or not we were doing well enough as teachers that we often made major mistakes that we couldn't cover up or once or twice had breakdowns in front of the kids, but they took it all in stride and kept us going strong, be it by asking "老師, what're we doing next?" every time we were quiet for more than 30 seconds, sharing their favorite K-dramas with us in between periods or the kids who'd been silent the first day of class finally piping up to answer questions. Throughout the two weeks, I think we all gained a little more courage in terms of speaking. I also feel like even though we were there to teach them English, they also taught us about how much or how little we knew about English, despite it being our native language. I'm also thankful for the teachers (especially Scott and Stanley), principal, and PTO chairman for taking us in and showing us around Lunbei. Because of them we were able to see so many amazing things and I was expecting tears when we left, because that's what almost every anecdote from past years has mentioned in common, but when we left Lunbei Junior High School none of the kids cried and none of the teachers cried. I think we all knew that we planned on meeting again a few years down the road and that this particular goodbye wasn't the last one between us, so leaving wasn't as sad for everyone.
The southern tour was fun, but I wish we'd had more time. We visited several temples (both Buddhist and Taoist) and museums, including the National Marine Biology Museum and Aquarium, and also went to Sun Moon Lake and Thao Indigenous Nation. We were only at each location for maybe two hours before we had to go back to the bus, so we didn't get to see much. It's enough motivation to want to go back and explore at one's leisure, though, when I get the chance.
Huge thanks to all the college students who were counselors for us during training and the tour; the important guys up top who let AID become such a successful program; Scott and Stanley for coaching us while we were in Lunbei; the principal, educational directors, and PTO chairman of Lunbei Junior High School for showing us around and helping us prepare for classes; and the kids for your contagious energy and courage in the classroom. And even bigger thanks to everyone in Lunbei for allowing us into your lives and giving us the experience of a lifetime.
Chen, Samantha (陳姿霖)
This was a very interesting and rewarding program. I have learned a lot about not only myself but also about how to help others. At first, I had thought about joining this program mainly for another experience to write onto my college application. However, after actually going through with this program, I soon realized that it was actually much more than that. I met some of the kindest people on this trip, and working with the children was the most fun that I had had in a long time. I was able to find a new side of me in which I had to be a lot more understanding and be more patient, in order to teach the children. There were definitely many challenges when we were teaching, such as the children misbehaving or not wanting to participate with us, but in the long run, we were able to gain experience in educating each individual child. My teaching partner Mia and I were soon able to find solutions to our problems and how to work with individual students who either did not understand or had problems paying attention during class. Our original teaching plan soon turned out to be a little boring for the children, so after a few days of adjustment, we were able to discover many different ways of teaching the children and making sure that they were grasping the concepts that we were throwing at them. Not only were my teaching skills improved, but my Chinese skills were also cultivated. All in all, not only were the children being educated, but we had much to learn from them as well.
Wu, Alice (吳翌琪)
The only time I think I responded on the AID summer 2017 facebook was when everyone was posting their Myers-Briggs results. I am an INFP, so going into this trip where I didn't know anyone, I was terrified.
The very first night I arrived, I walked into a room covered with objects and materials referring to my unknown roommates but no one inside. I ended up walking around the center and following the same route a minimum of 4 times, earning weird looks from the cliques stationed along. I'm going to be honest, the first week was hard for me. I made friends with my group mates, but it was definitely nothing compared to the years-long friendships I had at home. I hated being in such a colossal group and constantly just try and fail to make small talk with whoever was around me. I got extremely homesick and cried just wanting to be comfortable around people again. It got better towards the end of the week though, and I was sad to leave the few friends I did make at Chientan.
In the second to third week, it was a lot of fun. It was far easier for me to bond and talk to others in our small groups at our schools. It was definitely tiring. Teaching is an extremely exhausting profession, but being able to help these children and grow far closer with my group mates and the individuals there was just such an amazing experience. If I never took this trip, I definitely would have never met and been so greatly impacted by these people.
The last week was back into an overwhelmingly large group; however, it was far easier to cope since now I had a foundation of friends to rely on. I met up again with the few friends I had to leave earlier, and we all enjoyed ourselves. It was definitely rushed, and I was disappointed and disheartened to unable to truly enjoy the iconic spots we went to. However, I was glad to be able to create and nurture such great relationships at this program. I was truly devastated to leave the friends I made at this program.
I am really glad to be able to have participated in this program. I am glad I was able to help and impact children with less opportunities. I was enlightened by the exchange in culture between ourselves and the Taiwanese people around. I really enjoyed and was glad to meet such amazing people and make such great friends. This was an extremely memorable experience that I would like to recommend to others.
Harn, Amy (韓柔安)
I've come to Taipei every summer to hang out with my family so far and have never been on my own before in Taiwan, so these past few weeks have been a really special experience! The accommodations at 劍潭 were actually really nice in my opinion (shoutout to the staff for working so hard to prepare and clean up after so many of us!) (though it was kinda sad that the wifi didn't work and it was a struggle to record our teaching plans). We got to go to 西門町 on the second day which was super fun (though really hot, because we had to wear long pants..like always). To be honest the lectures were really draining and I found that there are very little things that can properly prepare you for the actual teaching besides throwing yourself in head first and learning throughout. I don't know if it's just me...but specific training / discussion time with our teacher and learning about the kids we were specifically going to teach would've been way more helpful than general lectures on a broad subject of teaching and planning time when we knew very little about the kids and often ended up doing most of the planning, and self-learning how best to teach, the week of. I have taught kids before AID and even with that experience I had to adapt a lot (often on the spot) because it's very hard to figure out exactly how you're going to teach kids without meeting them or at least discussing some specifics with someone that knows them well (thank you to the lecturers for all their effort though! I appreciate it)

As for the teaching, I was assigned to Chiao-Yi Elementary in 彰化 (changhua), Taiwan! My partner and I taught the kids with the most basic understanding of English (I think they were second-fourth grade). We lived in the music classroom on the second floor which was honestly really cool (I don't think I'm ever going to get to live in a classroom again so I thought it was a great experience to have!) and all showered in the nurse's office. It was kind of difficult sharing a shower with five other people especially since some people ended up doing their laundry there and apparently the shower was creepy but I hadn't seen enough horror movies to be very affected lol. This is the first of many thanks to our teacher Emma and director Alan for getting us all air mattresses, mosquito lights, and installing air conditioning in our bedroom specifically for us..it was very thoughtful and returning to A/C after a hot day was so beautiful. The food was fantastic. Apparently we were in a pretty rural place but I didn't properly notice until I googled the township..rural definitely doesn't equal discomfort.

Like I mentioned before, I don't think I was at all prepared for what the actual teaching would concern and just how basic our kids' knowledge of English was (and exactly how uncontrollable they were). They were very very cute (in general I don't really like kids but....awwwww man were they adorable) but we soon had to revise huge portions of our plans both the day before and on the spot because the kids got distracted so quickly / wouldn't respond to something as we expected them to. The things they would undoubtedly respond to were candy / going outside / balls / sports / competition but without missing a beat during every day at least one disaster would take place, the class would collectively burst into a deafening roar at least 40 times, and it was incredibly difficult to figure out what exactly made the vocab stick and what didn't (especially because even after the two weeks, I'm pretty sure some of our kids didn't fully understand even the alphabet). The school discipline is also very strict in Taiwan and I didn't do anywhere near my part of the yelling both because I have a lot of patience (probably too much) so it took me a long time to snap and start yelling enough at the kids when they acted up and because somewhere along the way it was so difficult to get the kids to retain anything (especially when we were ordered to speak only English and pretend we didn't know Chinese) (still deciding if that was beneficial or not) I decided that my main goal was to get our kids at least to enjoy learning English so they would be motivated to continue, and yelling made me feel like I was doing the opposite to be honest..but yeah. Sometimes you need to yell to get things done.

We wore long pants during teaching as well but since I got bitten really badly in 彰化 for some reason it was really helpful to not get bitten on the legs (though some of my group got bitten through their pants somehow). I didn't get my uniform shirt until the last day of teaching so hand washing laundry wasn't as much of a struggle for me (the kids accused the people who were in uniform of not showering) :( During the weekend we were brought to 臺南 and 高雄 (!!!) which was such a fun time! There were free laundry machines at the hotel where we stayed which cleared me from washing any more clothes. Staying at a nice hotel and not having to remember to bring all your shower essentials downstairs without forgetting a towel/clothes/shampoo or paper to the bathroom feels incredible after a week of living in a classroom (still cool!) and showering in the nurses' office btw. We saw so many cool places there and ate so much good food. I'm really grateful that we got to go to other places in addition to teaching..it was such a fantastic experience.

All in all,though it's very difficult to go in not knowing anyone (I highly recommend knowing someone to at least have some reassurance especially during training because EVERYONE knows someone..unless your friends had to opt out last minute like mine did) and my group, though all from relatively nearby cities in California, were very different people, we made it work! I'm very grateful to all the people that put in so much time, effort (and funds) to give us this opportunity and doing everything they could to make us comfortable while we learned to teach and taught. I will never forget our wonderful teacher, director, security, and of course all our students at Chiaoyi Elementary! Though they were awfully loud and eventually were really frustrating, they were always eager to learn and I want to thank them for always trying their best in their own way. I have so many amazing (and slightly strange) memories..like the kids accusing us of being Taiwanese and not American because our eyes were brown, not blue..and having to create (and correct) English names for a few of our students who initially very proudly told us their names were Apple (now Joseph), Daddy (Shawn), Kimberry (Kimberly) (a very cute little guy), Woddy (Woody), and Lolo (Lulu). I hope more than anything that they keep learning English and they find their way and go on to do some great things because they are incredibly smart and special! Love you Chiaoyi! You will always sound like joy to me (:
Hung, Ming Wei (洪洺威)
After spending a month at AID, I realize that this has been one of my most productive summers; not only did I experience what it is like to teach a foreign language, but also realized how much of Taiwan I have never heard of.
Looking back, the first week at ChienTan was the very important to making teaching successful. Not only did it allow for closer group bonding, but also prepared us with materials for teaching English. One of the most interesting instructors at ChienTan was a counselor named Johann Dana, who was not only entertaining but was also an example of what an effective English teacher would be like. Not only did he teach us to be energetic with students, but also to engage the students in activities while enforcing rules.
During my 2 weeks at Bei Ye elementary, however, I feel that I was not nearly as effective of a teacher as I wanted to be. In fact, many of the kids refused to learn or participate in activities.
Because I was teaching the Beginner's level, I believed that the students did not yet know their ABCs, so originally I planned to get the students familiar with the ABCs for the first week; it was shocking to me that the kids already knew the alphabet, so I had to make adjustments.
Even then, I should have planned for more activities where the students could get up and move around, because most people do not have the attention span to sit still for more than 5 minutes.
Indeed, after switching to activities such as Four-corners and flyswatter, the students, although maybe not learning 100% of the material, still began to move and learn a little more.
The two weeks passed so quickly. I felt that I had not taught them enough English, and what I called a disaster at the beginning became something that I wished for the students to continue. Hopefully the students won't forget everything, and continue to learn English. It would be a shame if the 2 weeks went to waste...
During the final tour, we visited many places which I would not have heard of if it wasn't for AID. One of the most memorable places was FengJia night market, which apparently burned down just days after our tour. I am glad to be able to see and say that I have been to Feng Jia night market while it was there.
And not only that; the last week during tour was a chance for our group to get together as friends, and not as teachers for one last time. I really hope

Yoh, Eugenia (游之儀)
I would have never imagined spending my first free summer after high school wrestling seventeen children ranging from the ages eight to eleven. Nor I would have never imagined voluntarily sitting the back of a shady black van with cheap plastic seats wobbling on the shifting vehicle’s floor during a weekend trip. Despite that fact that gaining immunity to half dead cockroaches in the shower was a gradual process, I would admit that this experience was a memorable and enjoyable one.

Coming to this program provided me the opportunity to do things I normally wouldn’t do at home, from waging wars against abnormally large insects using a broom to humiliating myself in the final talent show in front of hundreds of others. Other great moments included hiding in a mysterious car garage to avoid the buckets of rain pouring the sky, attempting to trap hopping spiders in cups without accidentally amputating their legs, staying up way too late making four hundred water balloons with bamboo chopsticks for an outdoor activity, sleeping on the cool hard ground during our brief lunch break, and politely fighting for the food with ten other equally hungry teenagers during meal hours at Chientan.

While the children we taught were mischievous and occasionally stole our shoes and water bottles in good humor, they were eager to learn and participate. During the break times they would run amok; some of them would bang on the piano, others would decapitate our dry erase markers by vandalizing the white boards, and a handful would try climbing out the windows. We were given a lot of creative freedom coming up with our course lessons, which allowed my co teacher and I to blindfold our students and force feed them various types of food during our unit on cuisine.

The last week was mostly spent on the bus but we were given occasional free time at certain sites. Although making talent show practice obligatory every night was not my favorite part, the night market and some of the places we went to almost made up for the mandatory rehearsals. I was fortunate enough to be stuck with a group of people who were fun to be around, and even though I’m not sure how much English the children actually retained, I would admit that it was an unforgettable experience.

Wow this is really long. I’m surprised you read all of this.
Ho, Yvonne (何宇方)
A.I.D. was one of the most unforgettable and prolific experiences of my life. A.I.D. gave me the opportunity to develop teaching, observation, cooperation, and leadership skills. In these four weeks, I have learned how to cater to different kinds of students, how to communicate better, and how to engage our students better.

A.I.D. was also a very humbling experience; I was able to meet extremely talented and gifted people from different places of the world while sharing the same ingrained culture of Taiwan. There was a lot of friendly competition in the first week of AID where we learned to create lesson plans. One of the incentives was to go to Shilin Night Market, which we loved. This was one of my first times being able to become very close friends with people in such a short time.

Upon arriving at our school in Yunlin, Chung Der Junior High School, my group and I were a little scared. Could we control the kids, would they like us, would they learn anything? I can't say those fears were dispelled, but those kids really taught us a lot about ourselves and a lot about our teaching methods. By the 2nd week, I was teaching more than just junior high school students, I was teaching kids with whom I felt a personal connection. For any of those applying for 2018, you don't have to worry about their motivation, all the kids were there to learn. By the end of the 2 weeks, I didn't want to leave those kids. I felt a sort of responsibility for their future. I guess that's the feeling of a teacher.

I'm sorry for writing so much, but this little box is insufficient to reflect on what I've experienced at A.I.D. Thank you to this program for giving me such a memorable summer, for giving me self-confidence, for giving me skills, and for giving me such amazing friends.
Hwang, Jonwei (黃章崴)
Volunteering at AID in Taiwan at Ma Kuang Junior High was an incredible experience. I learned the art of being innovative in designing lessons and independently setting goals while self-evaluating. At first, some students were unwilling to speak English at all. Through designing creative lessons, games, and activities, I encouraged them to open up and practice. By the end of the program, there were significant improvements in their willingness to speak English in public. This small improvement was rewarding because I left knowing I had made a difference.

Through living in Ma Kuang, my understanding of my culture grew. While I taught the students English, they taught me the Taiwanese language and cultural practices. I learned what it was like to live in a rural area in the countryside. I learned traditional farming practices about rice and white asparagus. I realized the importance of a global education. I was extremely impressed by the students that I taught. For example, they all understand how to clean up after themselves. When we had a BBQ as a school, the area was spotless and I only had to clean up my own things! In USA, the volunteers would be cleaning up after the students. I believe this upbringing that the children grow up with is invaluable.

Even though there were poisonous bugs, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, I loved every second of this program. I believe this program has given me a chance to appreciate my heritage more. I hope to go back and visit.

Richards, Gracie (宋巧怡)
I learned a lot from the Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages program. I got to teach fourth and fifth grade children, and in doing so learned how to fill up six periods of class with activities that will engage the children. I also saw how hard the children worked in the night market, and realized how much they appreciated our coming to their small school. They gave us tons of gifts and still message us about how much they miss us. I learned how to wash clothes in a sink and share a shower with seven other girls. AID was also a lot of fun, from Shilin night market to the tiny, welcoming night market at Houbi, from the friends I made to the A Bing Ges I got to meet. I will never forget all these people and the memories I created with them. I had more boba than I have ever had in my life. Sleeping on mattresses in the library is definitely something I had never done before! On weekends we had fun at a butterfly nature reserve, sitting on lily pads, and much more. Although I did not get to go on the tour, AID was still an unforgettable experience.
Yen, Joshua (顏凱傑)
I throughly enjoyed my time in AID. There were many ups, a few big downs, but overall, I do not regret spending my summer volunteering through AID. I was surprised to see that I was paired with Yvonne, one of my closest childhood friends, but in retrospect, it was a relief. She was a source of familiarity that I could lean on. Maybe God willed us together: we ended up not only in the same group, but also as teaching partners (we chose randomly through cards). Of the six new people in my group, I am happy that I met two of them, am ambivalent about 2 of them, and have regrets about two of them. Winston and Tim were the reasons I stayed the final day instead of leaving early due to being excluded. Candace apologized, so I was fine with her. Elaine had brought back my smile, but only asked "are you ok?" when I clearly wasn't. What was I supposed to respond with? I don't know. Alex had given some decent advice and seemed friendly but excluded, along with Caitlin. It still causes me a bit of angst even now. But enough of that. I am glad I met the children I taught. They were spirited, sincere, and I wish that I had more friends like them. I miss them. I miss the friends that I have left, that I will leave when I go to college. I really miss them.
Fong, Samantha (方詠琪)
I honestly didn't know what to except from this program...

I have never been away from my family for more than two weeks before, so this one month program was a whole new venture for me. I was very nervous on June 30th, I was my first time traveling to Taiwan and since my Chinese isn't that good I didn't think I was good enough to teach.

The first week at the Chientan Youth Activity Center was jam packed with workshops made to teach you how to teach the kids. Sure they were tiresome, but in the end I think they really helped. It was the same schedule everyday. Wake-up call at 7, breakfast at 8, workshops from 9 to 12, lunch from 12 to 1, break from 1 to 2, more workshops from 2 to 5, dinner from 5 to 5:30, and then group time from 6 to 9.

The next two weeks at Dong Rong Elementary School were unforgettable. This was the point when my group mates and I really bonded and got to know each other. Our "dorm" was the school's library. It was spacious and the air conditioning was nice. We all had to share one shower between 10 people, it was a great time. Teaching the kids was super fun. They are all great kids trying to have a good time, so you should too! I think my partner, Brian and I killed it. I couldn't have had a better partner than Brian; I was so amazed at how well we worked together!

The last week is an optional tour week which was so fun! We were taken to so many cool tourist-y spots! We also stayed at pretty nice places too, like the Kentington Resort and Maison de Chine.

I think that the best part about this program is that you get to meet a bunch of cool people that are around the same age as you and you create bonds that will last a lifetime. I'm so glad to have met the people that I did on this program and I will treasure the memories I made in Taiwan. I definitely want to go to Taiwan again someday!
Hsu, Leo (徐湧傑)
Teaching at You Mu Elementary School was very fun a great experience for me. I have never taught a class of 11 students in my life and having to teach that many with only a week of training was a little stressful but exciting. On my first day of teaching I felt really nervous because I did not know how the students would behave and was scared to say something incorrect in Chinese because that would be embarrassing. However, as the day went on I got more and more comfortable with teaching because the students could understand me and follow my directions. At the end of the day I felt really relaxed because my first day was over and I figured out how to teach my students. My students like to play games or compete against each other, so how I taught them was throw an object to a student and have that student say the word that I am teaching or spell the word. When I do this, other students want me to throw the object and try, which is great because the students are engaging. There would be several times where I would throw the object to a student but another student would intercept my throw. It was great seeing that because the students wanted to show me that they can spell or say the word. It was also great seeing my teaching partner teaching kids and having them engaged as well with her own style. We were like a dream team because we both could get our students engaged in learning English.
Chiu, Alexander (邱靖雲)
Prior to coming to AID, I had read reflections from the previous year's volunteers and was feeling, quite bluntly, pretty skeptical. Many of the volunteers had described a phenomenal experience that created genuine, long-lasting memories and friendships. To me, this seemed ludicrous. The program was a mere month!

But in retrospect, I have no choice but to agree with my fellow volunteers, both from 2017 and past generations. Interacting with your group members, day in and day out, especially people who share such similar cultural backgrounds, has helped me develop invaluable bonds with my students and fellow teachers that I will treasure for years to come.

I have nothing but praise for the entire program’s staff. The counselors were amazing, and although there were definitely some logistical issues that may need smoothing out, the counselors themselves were definitely not at fault.

As for the school, the facilities themselves were, as expected, not quite as clean or pristine that some of us from other countries are used to, but not intolerable. The people, from the school’s administration to the students themselves, were extremely considerate and enjoyable to be around, and made the entire program extraordinarily memorable.

I sincerely recommend for any individual who shares this Taiwanese heritage to take part in this program ~ it will have a greater impact than you can imagine.

Chang, Henry (張亨利)
Being a part of the AID program has given me access to new friends and new experiences. The weeklong orientation showed me how to efficiently design lesson plans, which I practiced alongside seven peers. We were all excited to be assigned to Ma Guang Junior High School, but I do not think any of us would have expected the extent of hospitality offered by the community to us there. Arriving on campus, we were warmly greeted by the Taiwanese volunteers and treated to delicious local foods. Next would be the opening ceremony and classroom instruction.

Teaching the students was interesting because of the creative flexibility we had in drafting lesson plans. Given a simple topic, my partner and I adapted our material to fit our students’ level of comprehension and intrigue. We used approaches ranging from videos to trashketball and rejoiced in their reception. In addition to learning how to teach, I have also been humbled by their expectations of generosity and of environmental conservation. For example, we had one day designated for barbecuing. Not only did the students bring their own supplies and set up the area using tables and chairs from the classrooms, but they also did so both efficiently and cooperatively. I watched, amazed, as one single-handedly prepared and started a lasting flame. They even washed their utensils and recycled the trash like clockwork. Needless to say, the food was great as well.

My time at Ma Guang Junior High has left me inspired to uphold the degree of responsibility and hospitality displayed there. In the future, I definitely want to return and see how everything has progressed.
Chiang, Maggie (江美瑩)
The trip to Taiwan was an unique and unforgettable experience that I got to have with so many amazing people. From planning lesson plans and teaching to travelling around Taiwan, I'm grateful for everything that AID has done for us and my teaching group that I loved working with. When I taught at Kaohsiung, putting myself in a teacher's position changed my perspective about the difficulties they went through when teaching, but at the end of the day, the children I taught were adorable and incredibly fast learners. I can't believe that the month went by so fast and I low-key wished that time went by slower, despite the fact that after a long day of teaching I just wanted the week to be over. The one thing that I value the most from this, besides teaching my kids English, is my teaching group. I felt like during our month together, we became so close and the only people we actually hung out with were ourselves. I'm going to miss the random 2AM singing sessions and movie marathons, fighting cockroaches and geckos, and just being with them 24/7. I learned so many things from the month I spent in Taiwan with AID, and I hope to cherish everything that I've experienced and the memories that I made.