2018 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Chicago
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Yu, Brian (虞皓雲)
In life we meet people, we make friends, we invest in relationships that we will always cherish. Sometimes the friends that we make give us something that we would've never had otherwise. It allows us a perspective that we had not seen before and brings some new meaning to our lives. I think that is what the AID program provided to us. The one thing that it made clear to us: opportunity. AID showed me the absolute raw beauty of Taiwan and the children of Taiwan and gave me a whole new perspective. You gotta realize that in the rural towns in Indiana there is literally nothing but corn! Literally! Miles around there is nothing. But the experience that I gained in the AID program showed me different lifestyles, different cultures, and many places and people that i learned to love. The mundane ecosystem of Taiwan became exquisite when I learned to understand the bugs and nighttime rituals of the people of Taiwan. There is a certain tick tock to the place and its absolutely intoxicating.

I think AID gave me a life, it gave me a sense of a life, and for that I will always be thankful.
I thoroughly recommend this to anyone and everyone. This program has a good heart, and as long as it keeps improving i'm sure that drive, that passion, will lead it far.

~Brian Yu
Chao, Austin (趙子寬)
When I first signed up for the AID program, I was certain that I wanted to go and teach English to disadvantaged children. The prospect of helping others appealed to me greatly, and I was deeply honored to have been selected to be part of the program. However, as the program’s start date started to get closer and closer, I began to question my commitment for a number of reasons. Would the children be able to learn anything? Would they even understand me? Or is it possible that they would be so disobedient to the point that I should not even bother to try teaching them? These questions burned through my mind even as I boarded the flight to Taiwan.

However, as soon as I started teaching, I realized that most of my concerns were for nothing. Instead of being annoying, reckless, and attention-deficient children, most of my students were eager and willing to learn what they could from myself and my teammates. They were not able to learn everything immediately, but they attempted everything to the best of their ability and more. As such, this experience was not just one of me teaching and helping others. In fact, I was the one being taught. I was taught to not assume that all children would be horrible students.

The program progressed quite smoothly for myself and the rest of my team, but there were some prolonged difficulties that existed throughout the entire process. Namely, keeping the students engaged when a new topic was introduced. Even though my students demonstrated exemplary attention to what was being taught, they lost focus when things became too repetitive. In order to keep them engaged, my teammates and I stayed up very late every single night revising our teaching plan so that things did not become too boring for the students. It was a very time-consuming and exhausting process, making new plans every single night, but it made teaching the class much easier. My students were less likely to cause trouble when they found the class to be engaging.

Another major issue that recurred throughout the program was the lack of sleep that my teammates and I experienced. Since we had to spend hours revising our original teaching plan to make it more entertaining for the students, we often did not get to go to sleep until midnight or later. The lack of sleep coupled with the stress of teaching students made teaching unbearable at times, as you had to teach or create new plans when you wanted to sleep, but it was definitely doable in the short term.

My experience during AID program was a memorable one. I was able to obtain an insight into the school life and lifestyle of the students that I taught. It was definitely not what I expected, and it opened my eyes in regards to what life is like around the world. I learned more about the culture of Taiwan during this trip than I have ever learned from a textbook. Also, after completing the program, I believe that I was able to gain a true understanding of what my teachers have to deal with every day. All teachers are expected to have to deal with a certain amount of problems that crop up during the school year. But with all of the problems that I had to deal with as a teacher during those two weeks, I am astounded by how my teachers have managed to cope with the problems of high school students for 10 months! I have now developed a strengthened respect for my teachers. This program provided me with an opportunity to give help to others in need and showed me a new part of the world that I have never seen. If I am ever given the chance to attend this program again, I would sign up without any hesitation.

Huang, Darren (黃大倫)
Prior to entering the program, I wasn't as excited to be going to Taiwan as I should have been. But, upon arriving at Chientan, it didn't take long for me to realize that I there for so much more than just teaching some children English.

The first week seemed rather disorganized; for example, on the first day there, they had no plans for us aside from dinner, despite the schedule indicating that we had several activities planned. Instead, our teaching group spent this time getting to know each other, and we found that we all got along very well. The rest of the week was pretty packed with lessons, and besides the two times that they let everybody out, we were basically stuck at the Chientan campus.

The teaching weeks were the most impactful parts of the program. Upon arriving at our school in Western Miaoli County, we were met with a handful of extremely caring and hardworking people (teachers, soldier, Uncle Chen, etc). They were all very diligent in making sure that we were comfortable and well-fed during our time at the school. Of course, our students also had a profound impact. On the first teaching day, we ran into the issue of having a lot of rowdy kids. Over these two weeks, we didn't have day that we got frustrated with at least one of the kids, but we also learned to adjust our teaching according to the children's needs. Every day was really exhausting, but definitely rewarding as we got to know all the kids.

The weekend tour was really well-organized; we and one other teaching group had a tour bus to ourselves, and we had plenty of time at the water park and various places around Taichung. However, the tour on the last week, although probably planned with good intentions, was very inefficient and restrictive. On paper, the Southern Tour seemed pretty awesome; we were scheduled to go to a lot of the most popular places in Taiwan. And on some days, our tours were pretty well-managed; for example, they let us spend time at the aquarium, Dream Mall, etc. But, for the most part, we spent more time waiting and riding the bus than actually doing fun things. We got to "visit" Sun Moon Lake, but in reality, we got little more than a night hotel stay by the lake. In the morning, they led us down to a dock by the lake that required walking down a steep set of stairs in ninety-plus degree weather to literally take a group picture. Bad things aside, the tour was definitely still enjoyable. The counselors were really friendly and accommodating, and you could tell that they were always working to along with their directions. Our teaching group also had the joy yelling, singing, and being annoying at the expense of the rest of bus A (B1-4 forevermore!!), and being all around Taiwan with friends was honestly all I could ask for.

Overall, the AID Summer program, no matter how disorganized, definitely fostered an environment for love and lifelong friendships. I'm so thankful that I had this opportunity to teach and travel with my seven teaching groupmates, and I have no regrets participating in this program. I'm incredibly glad that I had this opportunity to connect with my heritage that I honestly hadn't been very connected with, and I definitely have a much deeper appreciation and understanding of Taiwanese culture. This month was definitely among the most meaningful months that I've ever experienced, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Siu, Kimberly (蕭笑盈)
I had an amazing time teaching English at Mudan Primary School in Pingtung. Our hosts were exceptionally kind, our students exceptionally determined and well-behaved, and everyone was exceptionally welcoming. Living in an extremely rural community, I loved seeing the way the community interacted with one another, as it seemed everybody knew mostly everybody else in the town. In terms of the teaching aspect, I learned so much from my students; they appreciated even the smallest of things. One of the most surprising things I learned from them was about friendship. The friendships that I saw between my students were so beautiful and so pure, I was really inspired. My students cared deeply about one another, often comforting each other when they were sad, and apologizing for anything they might have done to make one of their friends upset. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how willing my students were to try hard. Oftentimes, they would converse with myself and my teaching partner outside of class, even attempting to use what little English we taught them. We formed a bond with our students so quickly, I really felt connected to them. It wasn't even the time spent inside the classroom that made us love our students so much; it was the times eating lunch with them, or playing with them outside of class. I only wish that we were able to stay in the town where our school was so that we would be able to see our students more often, but I am extremely appreciative of the opportunities that AID has provided for me and I'll miss everyone I met in Taiwan so much!
Lin, Anna (林安娜)
It was really a once in a lifetime chance. I will say, at first, because my group only consisted of four girls we were all really quiet at first. It was a little awkward, not going to lie. However it got a lot better after the first week. It was a little hard for us to find things to do at chien tan to bond. As quiet girls, we don't really go out of our way to find things to do. So, I'd suggest maybe organizing a few fun bonding things to get conversation going. As for the teaching part. I loved it. I loved our kids. They were so much fun. They were all willing to learn. I do have a new appreciation for teachers now. It's so tiring. I was exhausted after the second day. But, I didn't want to leave after two weeks. I would have been willing to stay longer than two weeks. That way, the kids might be able to actually learn some English and I wouldn't have to leave so soon. As for the tour. It was fun. But, I wanted more time everywhere. It seemed like we were driving on the bus the entire time. Like the most famous night market. We definitely didn't have enough time to see everything. I would be willing to go to less places if it meant I could stay longer at the night markets which is really what we all want to see. Overall, I loved the experience. The friendships with both kids and my teaching group are ones i'll never forget. Hopefully I can convince others to participate in this program.
Hou, Kevin (侯凱文)
When I first arrived at Ruifang Junior High School, I felt pretty overwhelmed by all of the new things that I was experiencing. Since I commute to my university, this was the first time I was living away from my parents. I was feeling excited and worried about the idea of having to do everything myself, from laundry to curfew time. I also had no idea what to expect when teaching foreign students English. In the past, I attended a program called the American Chinese Association (ACA) which had me teach students about Chinese culture. While this did help me garner experience in teaching, I was still able to use English to convey what I was trying to say in the ACA program. When teaching English as Second Language (ESL) students, I am unable to use Chinese to help convey what I am trying to say because my Chinese is not good enough.
Fortunately, after the first week of lessons most of my worries of miscommunication, or in this case a lack of communication, were alleviated. I was able to use either Google Translate or the Teacher Assistants to help translate English words that the students did not understand. The first two days had a rocky start since the students, especially the girls, were shy. It was hard to get them to participate in the class activities, forcing us to pick on students to make them participate. However, by the third day most of the students had warmed up to us and began to participate in the class activities. The boys especially were active and most of them participated without being prodded.
One thing I found very helpful in helping the students warm up was the field trips that we took. The one on one with the students helped us not feel as intimidating to the students, thus allowing for them to talk to us much easier.
At the start of the second week, the students became must less shy of us. They began to participate much more when we asked questions to the class during lectures. This made it much easier to teach them and did not require us to call on people to force them to speak. It was a very good improvement from the first week.
On Monday, we did Master Shifu. I felt that it was pretty successful because all of the students seemed to be interested in the activities that we were teaching. None of them stopped paying attention to the lesson like what apparently happened in 9th grade. The only problem that I saw during the lesson was that some students did not want to try the other activity. Some of them only wanted to play guitar and some of them only wanted to draw. It seemed to be more of a comfortability thing, since these particular students already knew how to play guitar or were already pretty good at drawing. On the same day, we also did the Ruifang Triathlon. The students really seemed to like to play dodgeball because everyone was engaged and excited. The frisbee was a bit of a hill because they had no idea how to play Ultimate Frisbee, but they eventually got it. They also really seemed to like playing volleyball because just like dodgeball they were very engaged.
On Tuesday, we did cooking. The students were pretty independent, which is kind of expected because most of them are better than the teachers at cooking. They understood all of the safety measures that we explained to them before they went out to cook because as far as I saw they followed all of the procedures.
On Wednesday, we did Wonders in Ruifang and conversation practice. They seemed to understand the conversations because they were all able to read the slides easily. When we got to the train station and they did the conversations, it went as smoothly as it did in class. I feel like either their English improved over the week or they are just not as shy anymore.
On Thursday, we had the Campfire and the sleepover. At this point the students were already completely warmed up to us and interacting with us left and right. They participated in the group singing and dancing during the Campfire which was pretty interesting and also participated in the self-singing that we had before we went to shower. The sleepover went better than I expected. The students were all asleep until about 7 when the 9th graders barged in and woke everybody up.
On Friday, we had the closing ceremony, which was a pretty emotional experience for both the students and us volunteer teachers. I was pretty surprised when some of the 8th graders came to us bawling their eyes out. It was really touching for me, even if I didn’t cry during the ceremony.
These two week were a very cool experience for me, and I am thankful for being able to participate in the AID program.

Sun, Jennifer (孫菀廷)
This has been a very inspiring experience. Not only have I taught these students, but they have also taught me in how to become a better role model for others. By coming to this program, I've learned how to be less picky with food, more motivated in becoming a healthier person, and more responsible.
The training week was not planned well. Many events were sometimes not followed through or other things were added because we would finish earlier than expected. The teaching, however, was a different story. It was a challenge to think of how to teach young students while making sure that they’ll stay on topic to what you are saying. In addition to all the weekly plans and daily journals that we had to turn in, it was a hassle.
On the bright side of things, this experience helped me learn how hard teachers actually have it. It showed me how respect is earned and not given. Not only did I learn how hard teachers had it, I also realized just how much my parents have done for me in my entire lifetime.
Like almost all programs I’ve attended, each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses; however, the pros definitely overpowered the cons.
Wang, Naixuan (汪乃萱)
Aid really has made a positive impact on my life. From the first week to the last I made a lot of new friends and life changing memories that will forever be with me. Although the first week was tiring and stressful it paid off in the end. Honestly, meeting different people from around the world was an amazing experience. Having the common ground that we were all of taiwanese descent was really blissful. Coming from the midwest, it was odd to see that many Taiwanese kids like me, I was able to relate on a lot of different levels with all the other volunteers. After teaching week, we were all sent to various parts of Taiwan to begin teaching week, I was sent to Si Shi elementary school in Pingtung. I spent 2 weeks of my summer teaching a class of 23 kids. I taught 4-5 grade, and had a blast. Due to the fact that 2 weeks wasn’t a lot of time, my mission was to inspire these kids to enjoy english in hopes that they would go out and learn more after we left. Throughout the two weeks, not only did the kids learn some english, they also taught me a lot of life lessons. I really didn’t know how hard it was to teach before this experience. Dealing with kids, and being a leader was harder than I had thought. With the support of my teacher, Ken, teaching week was very successful. Not only was teaching week a new experience, it was a very memorable one. I still keep in contact with my host family, my teacher, and even some of the kids. These people really showed me a different side of learning and changed my mindset on life. I was very sad to leave and many tears were shed at the closing ceremony. My class, host family, and teacher and I created a very special bond that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They taught me how to be patient, and learn from my mistakes in order to become better. Even though I didn’t always know what to do or what to say while in front of the class, they were always very supportive. After teaching week came tour week. This was the last official week of the AID program. It was one of the best weeks of my life. With my group of friends, we had a lot of fun on Central Tour. Although our time together was short, we made a lot of long lasting memories. Coming to Aid really has been an extraordinary experience. I will never forget the summer of 2017 and all the friends I had made.

Liu, Claire (劉怡沄)
This was an amazing experience that I will remember forever. Teaching elementary school students has taught me a lot about myself and my core values. Training week was essential to my group's team bonding, and we all learned that we all had similar beliefs and values and that we were all weird people in different ways, which helped us add a different element of personality into our group. During the tour week and the teaching weeks, I got to look at different aspects of Taiwan. In the past, coming back to Taiwan has always been staying in the same cities with my family, so this experience taught me a lot about Taiwan and Taiwanese culture. Making friends in Taiwan was also new to me since all the friends I had before this summer camp were made in the United States. Although tour week was fun, the two weeks in the elementary school were my favorite because my group became really close and bonded together. We made many amazing memories, and will keep in touch. It was so nice to help the Taiwanese community, and I felt like I made a big impact on my students's lives. I would like to thank the Taiwanese government for such a wonderful experience in the AID program.
Cheng, Avery (鍾偉傑)
The overall experience was wonderful. During the training week, all the volunteers, including the teachers and student volunteers, were all generous and excited to help the potential teachers learn. The food was satisfactory but the living accommodations were comfortable. The student volunteers were a lot of fun but seemed to be under a lot of pressure and regulations. My fellow volunteers were fun to be around. The training week had long hours but was enjoyable in its own way.

At my school, every person involved in the program were tremendously helpful and willing to assist us in all our needs, providing solutions for every situation. The students themselves were a lot of fun and seemingly have learned a lot. My teammates were wonderful and we all got along well. The two weeks teaching was the best part of the whole experience. I have learned a lot as a teacher and am willing to come back to Taiwan to continue teaching English.

The final vacation week was okay. While most of the places were fun to be at, there were locations in which the volunteers discussed why we were there. There were many complaints by the volunteers. The main reason I believed the volunteers stayed was because they did not want to leave their friends.

Overall, the program and experience was amazing and I would recommend it to other potential volunteers.
Lin, Ruth (林中愛)
Volunteering at A.I.D. Summer has been an experience I will never regret. I remember on the day I left for the training at Chientan, I was questioning my decision to do this program. I was intimidated by the prospect of working with five other strangers in an unknown part of Taiwan to me, teaching a group of students who may not accept us.
Indeed, the week of training was tough, especially when the ground rules were very strict. There was not a lot of freedom for us volunteers, and complaints were thrown around often. However, the trip to Dawu, Taitung made it worth it. I felt much more equipped after the workshops at Chientan about classroom management and lesson design.
Dawu is a beautiful small town by the sea in the hottest county in Taiwan. The residents of Dawu were mostly aboriginals from the Paiwan tribe. Our dorms were simple and old, but the people were friendly and welcoming.
Planning for classes was more difficult than I expected. Me and my partner really wanted to cater our lessons to the interests of our students, so we spent a lot of time making sure that they had a new game or activity to do every day. We also had to keep in mind the level of English our students had, so that they can understand our instructions and actually have fun.
The most interesting part about this trip was that we pretended not to know any Chinese in front of our students until the very last day. We maintained this position so that we can create an environment in which the students are "forced" to use English more. I was surprisingly nervous when I finally revealed my ability to speak and read Chinese to the students! Thankfully, they did not hold a grudge, and there was a significant growth in interaction after we started speaking in Chinese.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time with A.I.D. This was a great opportunity for character growth as much as developing teaching skills. I would highly recommend this program to friends of Chinese descent. Although there is a lot of tedious work to do, the experience really pays off.
Chi, Daniel (紀信全)
Personally, I really enjoyed this Aidsummer Program. At first, I thought that doing this program was going to be boring and a waste of time, due to the fact that I had to teach students. I believed that I wouldn’t have the skill necessary to be able to teach kids. However, I am extremely glad to say that the thought was actually never true. In the first week, which was training camp at Chientan, I believe that we were provided with good information from how to teach children to just creating a lesson plan. The housing and the food (which was sometimes repetitive) were sufficient in my opinion, and I had a blast with all of the people I talked to. During the time at my elementary school, I received plenty of hospitality from the school, and I really enjoyed teaching the students there. However, although teaching students and planning took up plenty of my time, what I enjoyed the most was being with my companions and teaching partners. I felt like the relationships that I developed was the most important thing that I received from this trip. The 2 weeks of teaching and my entire experience at AID went well due to being in their group. The tour was definitely great, although some of it was a bit too much on the hot side, but I definitely enjoyed going with my friends than anything else.
Chu, Emma (朱伊敏)
I absolutely loved the entire experience. My teaching group was super close and we hung out a lot, so it awesome to spend so much time with all of them. We got along really well and it was easy to talk to all of them. The training week was boring because it was all classes, but during free time I got to bond with my group and we spent a lot of time together and got to know each other. Some speakers were better than others, but a lot of the info was stuff that I had already known. Actually teaching was so fun but also a lot of work. We did lesson plans after school and throughout the whole night. It was awesome spending so much time with my teaching group. The kids required a lot more discipline than I expected. We incorporated more review than we had planned for. There were also certain games they really liked and wanted to play but they'd also get frustrated because one group was really good at it. It was confusing because they said they wanted to play it but got whiny when we did play it. The tour week was so fun. There were some destinations I wish we could've spent more time at and other places that I felt we spent too much time at. Overall, it was awesome seeing more of Taiwan since I had only been near Taipei.
Tai, Andrew (戴亞亘)
There's a lot to learn from getting 86 black midge mites, 2 bruises on the arse, and nearly getting heat stroke daily for two weeks. Normally, one would think I'd be completely nuts if I said this, but if I added that I did the A.I.D. Summer Program, it makes perfect sense. I completed my A.I.D. summer teaching experience at Tong Guang Elementary School in Houlong Township, Miaoli County in July 2017. In this reflection, I'm going to focus on my non-teaching experience because of two main reasons. One, everyone will/is/has literally written about the teaching experience and covered it, in some cases, over the top. Secondly, I am writing from the perspective of a co-teacher, which you'll learn a little bit more about in the first week. Basically, I did everything but focus on the actual act of teaching. I came up with the concepts and content of the teaching Powerpoints, figured technical A/V stuff, did all the paperwork, chimed in and helped my co-teacher Claire, and talked to the kids about life in general. It was a lot of fun, and it fit into my personable, generally laidback personality. My daily life when not "teaching" goes something like this. During the first training week, you'll learn about things to do occupy teaching time, how to write a solid teaching plan, where things go wrong when managing a classroom. Also, you'll start to form the core of your friendships and bond with your teammates, A.I.D. teachers, and especially your counselors. You'll be working long days and nights and eating some pretty crappy food, but you'll definitely be overprepared for the next weeks. During the two weeks, your non-teaching time will be composed of eating, super-hydrating, frantically getting ready for the next teaching day (sometimes on the morning of), dealing with the local wildlife, and doing random crap like watching romantic comedies in between with your teammates. Your weekend tours could range from awful or amazing like ours. My teaching group and I had the opportunity to go to a water park, a night market in Taichung, go to a rice museum, and go biking in Houli, which was absolutely beautiful. The best part of A.I.D. was probably the last week. I had the privilege of going on the Southern Tour, which allowed me to see everything from Taiwan's marine wildlife in Kenting to bargain in Taiwan's most popular market of Feng Chia Night Market.
Chang, Tiffany (張涵妮)
AID has brought me so much joy this summer. I had to learn to live and work with someone for every hour of the day.At first it was a little rough, but throughout the course of 2 weeks we managed to get so close to the point where we can call each other sisters. The teaching process may have been tough in the moment, but looking back I have no regrets. I thought bonding with the students would be difficult. I was so wrong. On the last day of school, we all started bawling. This program is like no other; it had given us a chance to not only teach others but to learn new unexpected things as well. The students' innocence has motivated me to keep learning and to keep experiencing this life that we are given. Being a teacher sure isn't easy, but never have I been so joyful. These kids have the purest hearts and the sweetest smiles. I won't forget the friendships and bonds made this summer. This program has given me an amazing experience. I will definitely visit the kids again when I get the chance to. They will forever be in my heart.

Zhang, Yifu (張伊芙)
AID was a life changing experience for me. I had originally thought that the program was only about teaching English. I believed that in the morning I would wake up, teach the students, and after classes are over, I would return to my room and prepare for the next day. However, that is completely different from how the experience actually was. Yes, I taught English, but that was only such a small part of the whole two weeks. Most of the time spent outside the classroom was not just preparing for the next lesson, it was actually spent with the community at Ma Guang. The people there are what made the experience so incredible. Despite their humble environment, they have such big hearts and a huge desire and passion to improve the middle school. They also enjoyed spending time with us, and us with them. After being able to spend so much time with the community, it really felt like we were part of a family. We would see each other morning to night and also do activities together. I have never been a part of such a loving and caring community before and cherish my friendships with each of these individuals.
Chung, Andrea (鍾雅晶)
Looking back on this program I realized that even though at the time the program simply just felt like going to a place and teaching random children, however, I learned a lot more than just teaching English. From waking up at seven A.M to going to bed at two A.M, being frustrated with group members and the chaos all around; those experiences opened my eyes to a whole different perspective. Back then I only viewed small conflicts as big problems and could never think of solutions but this program proved the saying "Two heads are better than one." My newly made friends helped me create solutions and not worry over the small things and most of all to persevere through hardships and the outcome will be worthwhile. Being able to meet over four-hundred people from rising high-school seniors to graduating college seniors they taught me there a multitude of ways of teaching the same exact topic to a variety of children. From reading power points to dancing. I got to see different parts of Taiwan, interact with a diverse group, and learn how to get a long with complete strangers. This program really helped me step out of my comfort zone and forced me to put myself out there to gain new friends and new experiences. I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in this program and know that the future holds many new experiences.
Chen, Melissa (陳韻宇)
AID was an experience that I will never forget. Even though the first week at Chientan was jam-packed with classes, that was only the easiest part. Things only got harder when we arrived at Tongguang Elementary School (Miaoli) and began teaching.
Going into the program, I learned from previous AID people's reflections and expected that the students would have a high English capability. It turns out I was wrong. Not only our class loud and obnoxious, they also had difficulty retaining and applying their new knowledge. However, they worked quickly through whatever lessons we had planned. Having to problem-solve around those issues was definitely an important lesson for all of us teachers. It was tiring and stressful to spend an entire day teaching and lesson planning, but it was worth it at the end of the two weeks.
Tour week was a blast! Even though we were constantly being rushed from place to place, Bus A had very caring counselors and we definitely all had a lot of fun. All of the locations we visited on the southern tour were interesting and cool.
Overall, I'm really grateful for this opportunity to come to Taiwan to teach English and help people. I saw a different side of Taiwan, contrasting the metropolitan experience that I've always had when coming here. Meeting new people, trying new things, and making new memories made this trip worthwhile and lots of fun.
Lu, Anya (盧映彤)
AID Summer 2017 was a surreal experience. These four weeks have dragged by, yet passed in a blink of an eye.

Arriving at Chientan the first day, I was apprehensive. Would I make friends? Am I even capable of teaching children English well? How will be my living conditions be? What will I do when I encounter my biggest fear: cockroaches? Although I was incredibly nervous, I was determined to have an open mind.

Now, I know that I was worrying over nothing. Despite the fact that the first week at Chientan was full of long and boring seminars, this time was when I made a lot of friends. Morning call at 7 was a struggle, and bed check at 10:30 Our group of A2-6 became bonded (Madeleine, Shauna, Kalare, Stephanie, Lorraine: I miss and love you guys so much!!). When we departed for Tu-Niou Elementary school, I was scared but excited to meet my students.

Tu-Niou Elementary school, located in Taichung, was the cutest school. With colorful, pastel walls and cow decor everywhere, I fell in love with it immediately. We received a warm welcome from the faculty, and I was touched by everything they had prepared ahead of time for our arrival. Sleeping in the preschool classroom was interesting; there was AC (yay!) but the bathroom situation was iffy due to the fact that the toilets were incredibly small, because they were the perfect size for preschool sized kids, not grown seventeen year olds. There were all sorts of bugs: cicadas, spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitos, but it wasn’t too bad. Square up Anya, it could be much worse! I repeated that mantra to myself often whenever I struggled.

These minor conveniences were quickly forgotten during the two weeks of teaching. I taught the B class, who were 3rd and 4th graders. There were nine girls and eight boys, each of them my pride and joy. The first day was at first awkward, but they quickly warmed up to me and spoke more once they realized my partner and I could speak Chinese. Living in rural areas can be tough, and I noticed that during this experience. I was ignorant to the fact that I had been living a blessed life with loving parents and a nice home situation. My students were envious of things I had that were as simple as a water bottle. They owned less materialistic things and were living less fortunate lives. Yet, they were the most caring and friendly people I have ever met. They were attentive in class and well-behaved. I loved teaching them and their enthusiasm for life resonated with me.

Parting ways with them was one of my hardest goodbyes. I cried and tried to remember every second as I left. They handed me homemade cards and small gifts, which only made me more emotional. I miss them so much and I wish them the best.

Tour week was like Chientan all over again, except without the long and boring seminars. Suddenly thrust into an environment with over two hundred people, I was thrown out of the loop. I had gotten used to living at Tu Niou, with only the faculty, my six room mates, and my students. Everyone was incredibly friendly though, so I quickly adjusted. We visited many beautiful places that took my breath away and also opened my eyes to Taiwanese culture. I enjoyed every moment.

AID summer has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Writing this is a bittersweet moment for me. I miss the students I taught and the friends I made again. I am so grateful for everything I experienced. The unique Taiwanese culture, the amazing people I encountered, and the beautiful Taiwan island are things that I will remember forever.

Roan, Kallan (阮允頏)

My experience at AID is definitely a special one. I did not really have high expectations going in to this program. However, this program has given me another perspective of how teachers as well as students go about their day together at school.
After getting through the first week (which was difficult), being able to teach at Mudan Elementary School (牡丹國小) was a learning experience and one I will remember. Just like anybody else, my teaching partner and I went through some challenges that I did not expect. Whether it was trying to control the class when they are being too loud or what to do when a child cries, I would sometimes feel extremely exhausted after just teaching the morning periods. I also never knew that even though I was teaching elementary school students, there are still a lot of planning needed to make the day successful. Through all of these difficulties, the overall experience was fun and rewarding. Seeing and interacting with the kids everyday for two weeks allowed me to get to know them better. I did not realize how close I would become with my students, as I am not always good at interacting with children. However, their wonderful personalities made me dread the last day we would see each other again. Although it was hard for them to retain some of the lessons that we learned throughout the program, I feel like they were able to gain something from this experience, whether it is friendships or an English word. . It even made me proud when they could say a simple sentence on the last day during the closing ceremony.
I would recommend other people to participate in AID, even if they have gone to Taiwan before. I have gained wonderful experience and a whole new perspective on Taiwanese culture, being someone who visits Taiwan every year, In addition, the people that you meet throughout the program, whether it is at Chientan, at the school, or the tour week is something that makes the experience extra special.

Chu, Fisher (朱禹臻)
As I walked into Chien Tan on the first day of the program, I was a ball of nerves. From my observations that day, people had pre-existing friends before entering the program, whereas I knew no one. Little did I know, I was going to meet the most incredible people in the program and become very close to them in a short four weeks.

Walking into this program, I knew people from all over the world were coming to Taiwan to teach, so I expected to make friends outside of the comforts of the American Midwest. This was not the case in my group, and I soon learned, other groups too. Everyone in my group was from the American Midwest and of the same age. Although this was not bad, I also wanted to get to know people who I might not get the chance to meet in other places. However, the people in my group were all very friendly and nice, and I was able to work well with them, as well as become very close to each one of them. I am so grateful for this experience that has given me the chance to make bonds that I know will last a long time.

One thing I was unimpressed about the program was the amount of restrictions given to a group of 17 and older kids. We were not allowed to leave Chien Tan during training week, we were not allowed to cross the streets on our own when they brought us places during training week and tour week, and we were not allowed to touch any body of water. Given the amount of free time we were allowed to have, the restrictions of not being able to leave Chien Tan was quite tedious and left us with not much to do. I understand that the program is responsible for our safety and well-being, but they also have to understand that most of us are responsible teenagers who just want to have fun.

During the teaching weeks, my teaching partner and I had a lot of fun with the kids and getting to know them. However, it was very hard for the kids to grasp most of the concepts we taught. They often did not remember things we taught them just the previous few minutes. Through these challenges, I was able to understand that the kids needed constant repetition of vocabularies and concepts.

Overall, the program has led me to build strong relationships with others, such as my group mates, my bus mates, counselors, and the teachers at the school I taught at. I am pleased that this program has allowed me to meet different people and have helped me create friendships that will last a lifetime. If I could, I would do this program all over again.

Chi, Joseph (紀信安)
AID is definitely a summer camp to remember. It is not perfect, but it is fantastic in its organization of large groups of foreigners. When I first heard of this program from my friends, I decided to try it out for fun. Little did I know that I was going in for a wild adventure.

There was a plethora of difficulties for the counselors to communicate effectively with us, but that is to be expected. This camp especially takes our safety as their highest priority. There was numerous role calling during every mealtime, every bus trip, every meeting, every night market, and everywhere we go. Every time we go on a tour, we have to follow the counselors like little children. Although these things get quite annoying, I praise the counselors for their hard work in ensuring nobody gets lost, and that is an understatement.

Aside from a few cultural differences, this summer camp thoroughly entertained us with numerous activities and performances. I loved the talent show, the tour around Taiwan, and ultimately teaching English. I met many new friends during my time doing those things. I made so much fun and happy memories that I cannot describe them all in this short reflection. When I first came to this camp, I just thought I would just teach English, get my certificate, and get out. Oh, boy was I so wrong. My attitude took a complete 180 degrees at the end of the program. I would definitely recommend this program to my friends.

Cheng, Tiffany (鄭如蜜)
The AID experience was definitely a worthwhile and life-changing experience, if only due to the people you meet and the connections you make. There were many difficulties during this camp that easily would have made me want to quit if it weren't for the support of my group mates and my supervising teacher.

To go chronologically, training week itself was like a prison camp. While the two supervised outings to the Guting area and Shilin Night market were appreciated, the strict and exhausting schedule and our confinement to the Chientan campus were unpleasant to say the least. In the future, more free time would be appreciated and more chances to leave campus would also be nice, especially considering Chientan's prime location.

While the classes during training week were attempts at preparing us for teaching, most of it was rather useless once we were thrown into our classrooms. The posters we made were essentially recycled. If there's one thing to pay attention to during the classes however, it is game ideas - the students love games and the more the better.

The two weeks we spent teaching were the best part about this entire program and made training week (and the ensuing tour) worth it. I taught at a rather rural school, Nanhua Junior High School, in Tainan. There was definitely a bit of a culture shock and adjustments to be made. First, we lived without air conditioning in our dorms and classrooms - if that is the case for anyone in the future, rainy days are wonderful. Second, there were a plethora of bugs and geckos - it's gross but you get used to it. Third, rural students are rather shy - our students were incredibly reluctant to participate in activities the first few days out of fear of embarrassing themselves. They also will not outright say they like you or show affection; you will know they like your class if they show up to it every day.

However, as the days went by and as we got to know our students, they slowly began to participate in our lessons and games and would answer questions when asked. Protip: students really enjoy making fun of their teachers, the sillier you are, the more willing to participate they will be. Though teaching was incredibly difficult some days due to naughty students or a lack of energy, by the end of our two weeks, we were all incredibly sad to leave and I personally really miss my students.

During these two weeks, my groupmates, supervising teacher, and I really bonded over many laughs and our shared experiences. They were my support system and my rock those couple of weeks. Whenever I faced any challenges that day, after class, all of them would help brainstorm ideas and provide advice on how to face those challenges tomorrow. A huge shout-out to my supervising teacher Mr. Rong-Jun Wang for not only helping us through those difficult times but for bringing us on incredibly fun day trips and making sure we were well-fed. As for my group, out of 434 people, I am thankful everyday I got stuck with such wonderful and thoughtful people.

The tour afterwards will not be as fun as expected. Though some of the places they bring you are incredibly beautiful (Xitou Nature Education Area was my personal favorite), a lot of time is spent waiting for everyone to congregate. Places without much to do outside of the main attraction (on my tour, the Paper Dome and Paper Fan Making Experience) we were given too much free time. I distinctly remember a good majority of people sitting under the shade for an hour, doing absolutely nothing at the Paper Fan making experience since there was very little to explore outside of the gift shop afterwards. We were also required to get up incredibly early, and moving duffel bags around almost every day is not a fun experience. More free time and a little more time to sleep would be appreciated in the future.

Another detrimental part of the tour was the required bus talent show. Each bus was required to come up with a performance to perform at a talent show at the end of the week. For my bus, this required performance created an incredibly toxic environment. There were many disagreements and changes on what we should do, and rather than bringing us together as a group, this created a lot of friction and unnecessary drama. Despite the many negative parts of training week and tour week, the counselors were awesome! Get to know them and your experience will definitely go by a lot smoother.

In summary, training week and tour week could have been handled better logistically, and were incredibly exhausting. However, it is understandable since they have to be responsible for 400+ people. Perhaps for tour week, it may be best to cut down the number of locations and focus on a few places that have been positively rated by past participants. The teaching weeks were the most worthwhile part of the program and the most fun/rewarding. The people you meet at this program are really what make or break it for you, and I hope future participants are able to create the same bonds and connections I was able to make during this program. All in all, the AID experience was completely worth it; hopefully with feedback from this year's participants, it can only become better next year.
Liu, Aaron (劉冠廷)
I come to Taiwan every year to visit my grandparents in their house in Taipei. We do the usual things people do in Taiwan: eat, travel, visit exotic places. But I never explored the outskirts of Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Kenting. This year, was different. Once I stepped foot into Jiantan, I knew I was going to make a difference in this world. The first week was super rigorous with multiple classes of educational teachings. I bonded with my team for the first 3 days. The food was bad, but the endless supply of ramen and other delicious treats were enough to satisfy my cravings. The TA's were something to worry about too. They are super strict and whenever you go outside to walk in Shiling Night market, they nearly burst my eardrums by yelling "HURRY UP". They also guard the Jiantan facility very tightly so you can't really do anything after hours even get water. But even so, the next two weeks were the most influential experiences of my life. I have never before tried to teach kids something they have never seen or heard but it's a very challenging experience. You learn patience, perseverance, and time management. You also learn how to make friends. Overall, AID has taught me so much about Taiwanese culture and places and I really hope I could do this again.
Kung, Nydia (龔瑞琳)
Volunteering with AID Summer was one of the most meaningful ways I have ever spent my summer. Upon arriving to Chientan, I was anxious to meet my teammates, nervous about becoming an English teacher for two weeks, and felt uncomfortable being around four hundred other people. At the same time, I was curious to see how my summer would play out and excited to make new friends and teach young students. The week of training was a bit tedious—sitting for hours in lecture, constantly creating posters to present in class, and working on teaching plans until 9:00—but during that week, my group got to know one another and learn how to work together. By the end of the week, my group and I were ready to leave for Hualien. I don’t think any of us were prepared to live in the conditions we would thrive in for the next two weeks however. We were shocked to see that our beds were wooden boxes, our bathroom was in a building without electricity 200 feet away, and the little surprise collection of critters that appeared outside our door every night. We also didn’t foresee the beautiful view of the mountains right outside our classrooms, the tight relationships we would build with our adorable students, or the fun nightly trips to the supermarkets that made us feel like a family. Although there were hardships, the benefits and fun memories I gained outweighed the discomforts. I am glad to have been a part of this program, and I thank all the counselors, teachers, advisors, my teammates, my students, and everyone who made this trip amazingly memorable.
Chen, Sabrina (陳奕廷)
At first, when my mom mentioned this program to me, I was dead set on not attending. It was the summer of my college apps and the summer after a stressful junior year; all I wanted to do was stay at home and rest. However, that mindset began changing when I was accepted. I had never attended such a program before; it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot, right?
To this day, I am incredibly thankful that my mom recommended this program to me. The experiences and memories that came out of one single month outweigh any other camps I’ve ever attended. During that July, I made wonderful friends, improved my Chinese, and tasted the joys and pains of an independent life in a new place. I learned how rare good showers are, how to smoothly adapt to new things, how to make a rubber band ball, how to control my impatience, and how to deal with stressful situations. I learned there is never enough sunscreen to block off the Taiwan sun, the proper way to deal with a bug infestation (just keep spraying, just keep spraying), and the aches that come from lugging a suitcase around for what seems like an eternity. But most important of all, I learned how good laughs create good times that make the bad ones disappear.
Time flies when you’re having fun. Before I knew it, I woke up on the Saturday that marked the end of the program. It didn’t hit me that the program was ending until the elevator doors closed in front of the first of my friends to leave. I cried that entire morning.
To future applicants who are still unsure of attending, here’s a little piece of advice from me to you: Do it. Give it a shot. This is an incredibly rare opportunity; take it.
Wang, Orchid (王欣蘭)
Participating in AID has been truly incredible, and an experience I will always treasure. For the people I've met, places we've visited, and foods we've eaten to the children we taught, tiresome nights, and even the bugs we zapped, I am endlessly grateful. The first week at Chientan allowed me to bond with my roommates, as we struggled to find games to play/movies to watch and places to order boba from (since we weren't allowed to go out). We became more comfortable with each other in that one week, and it was hard to say goodbye as they went to teach at another school for the second week. However, as we drove to teach at Mudan Primary there were more new adventures waiting for my team. We learned that creating a decent lesson plan actually required a lot of time and energy, but it was all worth it for the students. They were rambunctious but so loving! Living in a rural area also provided some challenges for us... from killing creatures I'd rather not name, to having to wait half a century for our laundry to dry. But we survived it all, screaming and laughing together-- I wouldn't have had it any other way :) After our students performed their closing ceremony that we'd taught them, we exchanged what seemed like a million copies of our contact information and took another million pictures... they all told us to remember them forever, and I think I just might. Another sad goodbye and we were on our way to tour week. Tour week reunited us with other schools and it was a blast. No more uniforms! We traveled all over and saw various sights during the day, and practiced for the talent show at night. (Though it was a rough process, we won! Go Bus 6!) A simple reflection really could not adequately describe the awesome opportunity I've had at AID. I'll just say that this one month has changed me and taught me more than I ever could have asked for; thank you AID 2017 :')
Lin, Megan (林瑋恩)
I applied for this program honestly because I wanted to go back to Taiwan and I thought it would be a unique experience to teach kids English and to also get out of my comfort zone by travelling alone and teaching in a rural area. I did not really know what to expect when I arrived at Chientan and when I met my five other groupmates I was a little intimidated because I did not think I could bond with them in such a short amount of time. Little did I know how close I would get to them! The training week was pretty bad because I felt like we had no freedom and there was not much to do inside Chientan. The first day was kind of disorganized and I wish we actually did ice breaking activities because a whole day of free time was kind of a waste. The food was also too oily for my taste haha. The actual two weeks of teaching, however, were an unforgettable experience. The time flew by pretty fast and I was never really anxious about running out of material to teach because there was always crafts/drawings or worksheets the kids could do and if worst comes to worst there was always youtube educational videos. My school was actually pretty rural in the outskirts of Pingtung, but I found the slow life pretty relaxing and chill. I also adored the freedom we got and how I could go biking basically anywhere with my group. Tour week was pretty fun because I bonded with people on my bus and I really enjoyed it when we went to places for shopping and food. The actual historical sites and landmarks were boring sometimes though. Fortunately, the tour week allowed us more freedom because during our "free time" we could go anywhere as long as we met back at the rendezvous point at the scheduled time. Overall, I think this camp was a unique experience that not only unveiled the struggles and rewards of being a teacher, but also introduced me to so many friends who I will cherish forever.