2019 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Los Angeles
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Syiau, Elvin (蕭晨佑)
Hello, my name is Elvin Syiau and I am from Los Angeles, California. This program introduced me to many friends and different Taiwanese places. It was great to take one week of training to learn how to teach and prepare for our two weeks of teaching. When my group of teaching in Chunghua, we encountered many problems that we had to cope with. For example, we found out our kids did not speak much English, so we had to slow down the class and use English/Chinese to teach. It was fun hanging out and playing with the kids when it was not class time because they would do anything to catch the teachers' attention. The students would chase or jump onto my back as ways of catching my attention. Even after school ended, the students would come back and play at school grounds, which I found interesting because, on a daily basis, we do not usually go back to school to play. One of the weekends, we went to an amusement park and ate at a buffet and rode some of the rides. It was a different experience to have because living in LA, there are amusements parks such as Six Flags, Knotts Berry Farm, and Disneyland. The amusement park was not the same as the ones in LA, but it was a great experience. After our two weeks of teaching, we went on the Central Tour. We traveled, going to many cities, and went to a night market. During our free time at our hotels that we stayed in, we prepared for our dance that we are supposed to have at the end of the tour. Throughout the whole program, I met many new friends and I wish I could have joined the program again, and learn about Taiwan more and teach the kids.
Wang, Aaron (王照偉)
AID Summer was the best experience of my life. To be completely honest, I didn’t really know what to expect going in; I did the program because it seemed like an easy way to reconnect with my heritage. Little did I know I would be doing this and much, much more. From the sleepless nights perfecting lesson plans with my new family (D2-2) to the restless days spent trying to teach kids the difference between ‘understand’ and ‘uncle Sam’ to the tours that brought you ALL over Taiwan – the memories I’ve made will stick with me for the rest of my life. It was incredibly difficult. I never anticipated teaching to be this difficult. But at the end of the day, I’d do it all over again, and again, and again. I’ll never forget what I felt when my shyest student Jay began meekly volunteering in class, or when the normally troublesome kids began listening eagerly as we covered their favorite topics. I’ve grown as a result of AID Summer; I taught the kids English as best I could and they taught me humility, patience, their culture, and love. The people I met, the amazing country of Taiwan, the kids: I miss it all so much. AID Summer has my highest recommendation.
Huang, Shannon (黃品瑄)
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend A.I.D. this summer. During these four weeks, I was able to make friends with my teaching group, teach English to passionate children, and explore Taiwan. Usually, we take education for granted and feel as if going to school is a punishment or duty, but after spending the past two weeks teaching, you realize that these students are grateful that they are given the opportunity to learn. Learning in such a rural area is not easy, as there are lots of materials that these children do not have. They are forced to learn in harsher conditions, yet are still happy to go to school everyday. Despite their disadvantages, they still feel lucky to be given the opportunity to learn. Although I will never be able to fully comprehend and experience their lifestyle, I have developed a large amount of respect for the teachers, and office staff for their determination to provide the students with the most comfortable, suitable conditions in which the students can learn. I have also grown to respect the children for their passion to learn. I will forever cherish the memories I had this summer. I will never forget the students I taught, the friends I made, and the counselors that guided us along the way. I am thankful for all the memories and I hope to be back in three years!

Kuo, Vickie (郭子寧)
When I first arrived at the Cheintan Center for the AID Summer Camp, I was extremely nervous because of all of the people. I was afraid that I would not fit in and that I was not prepared to face the teaching challenges ahead of me. However, after spending nearly all week with my roommates and soon to be teammates, I grew confident in my abilities and learned more than I could have ever imagined. My team was amazing, as we all got along despite our many differences and diverse backgrounds. It was truly fantastic to discover hidden aspects of ourselves and learn more about what we shared, like our Taiwanese ancestry. When we arrived at the school, all of the school staff were extremely welcoming and accommodating. They were just as eager to learn from us as we were to learn from them. The following weeks teaching were the best weeks of my summer. Although we found it difficult to gauge the abilities of our students, we quickly adapted and adjusted our teaching plans to the students' needs. The students were incredibly bright and eager, much to our surprise, and it was such a blessing to teach the students at Hengshan Junior High. Even though they may not remember every vocabulary word we threw their way, we tried our best to teach them and foster an interest, if not a love, for English. We had just as much fun as them, playing games, doing arts and crafts, filling out worksheets, and completing so many more activities. I tried to create a bound with each of my students and show them the importance and application of English in their everyday lives. Even today, much much later after the program, my students still message me in English to talk about their day. I am so glad that I joined the AID program during this summer; it has given me so many great memories and has reignited my passion for teaching!
Wang, Thomas (王詠軒)
This program was a life-changing experience for me. At the start, I was unsure whether or not I was capable of teaching the kids English. I was very nervous, lacked confidence, and soft-spoken. Unfortunately, a huge problem that my group faced through all stages of the program was a lack of internet, because it made it difficult for us to work on assignments together. The week of preparation, although helpful, could not prepare me for the terror of standing in front of students as a foreigner, claiming to be an English teacher. Each day was packed to the brim with work, from day to night. It was extremely tiring, and seeing how much free time other students had because of better conditions, such as having more free time to work or relax, was very disheartening. On the other hand, because of these conditions, our group became very tightly knit and we formed strong connections that allowed us to both teach and work together better. However, I stuck through all the difficulties of language barriers, new climate, new living conditions, and a tight schedule, and came out with an unforgettable experience. A couple of days before the tour, I caught a cold due to other students being sick and me being physically exhausted. It made touring around troublesome for both the counselors and me. In the end, I learned a lot about Taiwanese culture and society on the tour. Upon reflection, I’ve come out to be a more hard-working, resilient, patient and cooperative person. I forged many new relationships that I cherish and met many new people thanks to this program. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and I would do it all over again.
Wu, Darren (吳宜憲)
The two weeks I’ve spent here at this school teaching kids have been absolutely exhausting. It’s grown this deep respect in me for teachers around the world and all the kids they have to put up with on a daily basis for months on end. So first I want to give thanks to all the teachers out there because I now know your suffering. On a little more serious note, these past two weeks have been a very unique experience for me. An experience that wouldn’t be possible without the help of the wonderful adults here that I would like to thank: yang2 xiao4 zhang3, zhu2 ren4, Mr Bao, Jeffery, teacher Norelle, and all the other adults I can’t name due to time restrictions but are still as equally important. I would also like to thank my awesome teammates and my teaching partner Lauren. Without you guys it wouldn’t’ve been possible to have this experience with teaching in a foreign country. Through this experience I’ve learned a lot about culture and teaching. For one, it is fascinating to see the similarities and differences between kids in America and kids in Taiwan. The questions Taiwanese kids ask when they first meet you are pretty personal and private. And that even despite the different culture and climate the kids can always be put into those groups and fit into those stereotypes that are universal. I’ve also realized that kids will do anything as long as you threaten, excuse me, encourage them with points. I’ve learned that teaching is just about the most tiring thing I’ve ever done, although it can also be the greatest feeling to see kids progress and learn due to my teaching. So I want to thank everyone again. For everything that they’ve done to give us this experience. Xie4 xie4 da4 jia.

Yang, Emily (楊郁婕)
Pencils, chalk, markers, crayons, and crumpled pieces of paper flew over my head as I stepped into the classroom. As my co-teachers and I began introducing ourselves to the small crowd of third graders, they exclaimed, “I don’t understand you! Speak Chinese!” Only minutes into the first day, I was already beginning to sense a sinking feeling of despair.
​I was teaching English to indigenous Taiwanese children living on an isolated mountain. I thought that they would be eager and respectful, but as I walked to class the next morning, a small girl suddenly ran up from nowhere, yelling “Dummy!” in Chinese. I continued, pretending not to understand. The school staff had convinced the students that I was Japanese, since all volunteers were meant to only speak English. With a smile plastered on my face, I cheerfully said “Good morning!” while being pelted with insults and spit balls. At the front of the class I noticed the girl, Angel, leading the verbal assault. I began the lesson as the room descended into chaos, leaving me utterly defeated.
​I wanted to give up and fly back to America. But that night, I found countless videos online on classroom management and effective teaching skills. In particular, one video about body language while teaching led me to the realization that teaching is like an extended performance to a small, sometimes unwilling, audience. Correct execution of a lesson required a strong stage presence and acting skills; my voice and drama work, after all, were not for naught.
In class the following day, I focused on teaching the names of fruits by presenting pictures, gesticulating, and speaking precisely. Like Anna in The King and I, I kept my posture straight and my head held high, yet relaxed. I was no longer a flunky teenager teaching English. I was a method actress, a communicator and an educator.
Angel broke the spell. “I don’t understand you!” she belted. I recognized her intelligence, but lack of motivation. Maintaining sharp eye contact, I said to her slowly, with great emphasis, “watermelon.” I watched her rebellious front shrink. “Wah-tah-melon,” she squeaked.
A week later I introduced a play for the students to perform called “Food War,” in which fruits and junk foods learn to be friends with the help of Bulbasaur, a Pokemon character. Now my most enthusiastic student, Angel wanted to play Bulbasaur. I gave her the lead, but she began to struggle and get frustrated when she practiced her lines. I decided I would try a new approach. I asked her to write down the pronunciation of the words using the Chinese alphabet above her lines. Soon, she read them easily.
On the day of the show, local media and big names in Taiwan traveled two hours up the mountain to visit the school and see the aboriginal children perform. I began the narration introducing the play. As Angel got to her most difficult line, I saw the anxiety build in her eyes. She opened her mouth, and the words came out just as we had practiced a million times. “Let’s work together and be friends!”
The show concluded with a song and an emotional class group hug. Singing “Count on Me” and looking out at my kids, I realized the true spirit of teaching language. It wasn’t about memorizing endless mundane lists of vocabulary; it was about using acting, theatre, and performance to make meaningful connections between cultures that really stuck with people and caused an emotional jolt. Deeply intertwined with each other, drama and language reached all the way down into the roots of passion and emotion. They’ve inspired countless generations living all over the world, and has now allowed me to spark an interest in English in each student’s heart. It is this spark that may one day help them achieve success beyond their isolated mountain village, and now serves to inspire me every day.
Hsu, Beverly (徐昊瑜)
I came into this program feeling unsure of what to expect and what I would face, but I finished it with a heart full of love and so much more. Being a part of AID this summer opened up my eyes and helped me discover a different part of Taiwan that I never got to experience before. Truthfully, the first week of training at Chientan was kind of intimidating; it made me rethink everything I had planned beforehand and doubt myself. But afterwards, I understood how important that week really was. For a group of teenagers that have little to no idea of what is to come, the teachers tried to give us as much examples as possible to soften the blow. Once we actually got to the school, (in my case, Jhutian Elementary School in Pingtung) it was all a different story. I remember being so nervous walking into class on the first day of teaching without a well thought-out plan and walking out at the end of the day extremely relieved that the kids cooperated with whatever we ended up doing. I was so surprised by how much the kids could understand just after the first week of teaching even though we taught in complete English. It was truly amazing how fast we became friends with all the kids and how attached we became with one another. The two weeks flew by exceptionally fast and it was time to leave. The closing ceremony was a huge crying fest and we promised the kids that we would come back to visit. As I am writing this now, the day after tour week ended, my student is video calling me asking me if I would still be able to pick up his calls on Line once I get back to America. These kids are absolutely precious!
Hung, Rosina (洪如安)
In these two weeks here at Li Shin, I think it has deeply changed my life. From the things the new friends I made here taught me to the little or big things that the students have let me learned from them. Over the past two weeks, I think I've grown a lot as a person. We've fallen many many times, but each time we always pick ourselves up and keep fighting to do better the next day. Noticing the growth in the kids from the class is a great motivation that kept me pushing on and continue to try to make good lesson plans so the students will have a good class. Not everything that we've done may be completely right, but we are not afraid to face it and we learn from it. My partners have really helped e a lot in the many challenges that we face the past week but we've had laughs and tears to share with each other and was always supportive of each other. I am glad that I was able to join this program to help these children who are disadvantaged but also get to learn a lot for myself. The two weeks in Li Shin will be a lesson a memory I would never forget.
Lai, Edward (賴德華)
This was definitely a memorable experience. I really enjoyed the organization of the program and how AID handled different problems. Everything went smoothly for me and I had no problems with any of the counselors. The only complaints I have were that the organization babied us too much and didn't allow us to be as independent as we would have liked to be, such as during tour week, we barely had any free time to go out with our friends. However, the highlight of my trip was definitely meeting new people and making new friends. Everyone was very nice for the most part and always accepted one another for who they were. I really enjoyed my group and miss them sincerely. We always looked out for one another and always had a lot of fun when we were together. There was never a quiet moment when we were together, only when we were sleeping. The connection we made with each other during this trip seemed unbreakable because when we had to say goodbye to each other, no one let go of one another while we were hugging and all cried. This program really changed me for the better, to be more loving and caring not only to myself but to others as well. This program really showed me how big the world really is because of how many people lived in different areas. It is very saddening to know that after this program everyone in my group has to go their separate ways, but we will definitely keep in contact and will most likely meet up again one day in the future!.
Park, Jihye (朴芝慧)
Joining the AIDSummer Program is the best choice I made in my whole life. I am a person who enjoys the isolation, and refuse to come out from my comfort zone; however, this program helped me solidify my independence; I was able to take a big step towards the society that I will face one day. As a Korean raised in America with the minimum knowledge of Chinese through class, I was quite worried to live in Taiwan for one month, and I couldn't figure out how to communicate with the volunteers and the students, who would know the intermediate level of Chinese. However, when I arrived and met everyone, I was surprised at how the volunteers were open to each other because we are all from different countries; therefore, it was comfortable for us to cooperate with each other. Also, the students and staffs of 有木國民小學 were welcoming, helpful, and understanding. I never realized that teaching was so challenging. We had to plan wisely and pay attention to the content of the lessons, time, and the amount of education the students will absorb at the end; however, we diligently worked because we did not want to let them down. The outdoor activities planned by the teachers also helped us to interact with the students. The tour organized by the program was great too as we learned the culture and the traditions of Taiwan. In retrospect, I hope I can visit Taiwan again for another wonderful experience.
Chen, Belinda (陳佩愉)
My month at Taiwan was an unexpectedly pleasant experience. During the first week, I was honestly bored of sitting through all of the long lectures that the teachers gave. I chatted with my friends at the beginning but after the first few lessons, I decided to listen in and found that the information was quite informative. From then on, I listened attentively to what the teachers had to say. I used many of their tips and tricks in my two weeks with the children. While I learned how to teach children, I also bonded well with my groupmates. They played a huge role in this unforgettable experience. In the two weeks of actual teaching, I lived in tents to protect me from all of the bugs outside. This took quite a few days to get used to because this was a new feeling for me. The constant threat of cockroaches or mosquitoes invading was quite thrilling yet scary. In the classroom, I had to change many of my plans because the children knew a lot more English than I expected. While some students raised their hands often and scored well on tests, there were a few that struggled with this language that was foreign to them. I learned to interact using body language and facial expressions. All in all, the students were very sweet and willing to learn. At the end of those two weeks, I cried and hugged the children. The last week of the program, tour week, was not as good as I expected it to be. Although many of the places explored Taiwanese culture, which I was very much interested in, the sweltering heat and the waiting made the experience less pleasant. My favorite part of this program was the actual two weeks of teaching. I will never forget the bright faces of the children looking up to me for further instruction or asking me to play on the track with them.
Hung, Benjamin (洪天賓)
"LI-SHAN GUO XIAO! LI-SHAN GUO XIAO! Prepare to get off the bus!" As Rainbow(a pink shirt volunteer) announced in Chinese to wake up the hard-working teacher-volunteers, who are trying to get every minute of sleep possible from working up late the previous night. Having our school in Taipei was definitely a blessing but also a curse at the same time. While there are many wonderful memories made in school with fellow teacher-volunteers and university volunteers, we had more problems with talented, bright, but over-confident students.
For the two weeks of teaching, I enjoyed working with the kids because seeing them struggle, hard working, having fun, and experiencing the "ah-ha" moment with the English language, made me feel that all the hard work and time committed to preparing for the class all paid off. As some student has shown major improvements throughout the two weeks, some has only been impacted by a little. When I received letters of thank you notes from my students at the very last day of the two-week teaching, I clearly spotted the changes in some students writing and spelling abilities, while some has shown a superior understanding of the English language previously. Through the teaching camp, I learned that I was able to greatly impact and help improve the students who completely disregarded the English language on the very first day. These students have shown growth with more engaging and active participation in the second week of class as if they found interest in the language. However, I wasn't able to fully satisfy the students who had a greater ability in English with a more challenging course. Overall, I wished my class could have been more balanced in English ability, however, I knew that it wasn't possible. Therefore, I believe the most successful thing that this two-week English camp has helped the students were that they were able to learn and understand the proper pronunciation and accent of Americans and Canadians. Ultimately, if I had the opportunity to join this program again, it will be my honor to help the kids in need of English again. Thank you.
Lee, Tiffany (李心婷)
It was good to have a training week before we went to our respective schools to teach. I was able to meet new people and my teaching group. The lessons were also helpful, except they all could've been condensed into one or two lessons. Most of the lessons were repetitive. Nonetheless, training week brought me very close to my teaching group.

Though we tried to anticipate the fact that we wouldn't know the English level of our class exactly, it was still a bit of a struggle to adjust. There were some things that they already knew and some basic English that my partner and I thought they would know. However, we were able to settle down within a day or two. Teaching a class was something new to me, so it was very tiring, but I'm glad that I taught the Totoro class. They were hyper kids who often misbehaved, but my partner and I were able to deal with that. The bigger issue that we had was trying to figure out what they were going to do for ending ceremony because what we wanted them to do for closing ceremony was too complicated, and our guiding teacher rejected some of the ideas that we had, so we had to keep scrambling for ideas.

By the end of the two weeks, I was pretty much exhausted from teaching, but I also didn't want to part from my kids. Because it was the end, we were able to properly bond with our children as friends and not as teachers and students. I really wish I was able to be at the school longer to get to know them much better, but our stay at Fangliao Elementary had to end at some point. I am very glad that I was a part of the AID English Teaching program and I'm happy that my group, C3-1, was so awesome!
Chen, William (陳劭宇)
This experience has been one that has taught me a lot about myself and the importance of sharing my knowledge with a younger generation. Teaching in Li Shin Jr. High school has brought me joy. The students have been very motivated to study and participate in every lesson. I saw many students improve and grasp different grammar and vocabulary concepts. Although the improvement wasn't dramatic, their heart for learning was there. I tried hard to engage students using photos, videos, and lots of games. This method was very effective as many of them began to open up to the teachers. Starting from the first day, I was nervous to see how the students were in terms of their personality. Many started off really shy, and understandably so, because they were speaking a whole new language. Day by day, I began to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. The majority of them liked to participate within groups and I revolved lesson plans around that. The students were also very active, so we played a lot of games that got their blood pumping. Although not all the lessons revolved around grammar, it was surprising how quickly the students picked up sentence structures and diction. The students were very impressive and they were a blessing to teach.
Hung, Timothy (洪天裕)
This AID experience was truly a never before opportunity and experience. After this service and volunteer, I have developed a whole new level of respect for all the teachers in the past or the future. Teaching is not an easy task especially when it is a course where the students have to most struggle with. I taught at Chihpen Junior Highschool in Taitung, and I was surprised to learn how many of the students were talented and smart but because of not being able to speak fluent English struggle to continue without giving up. Although it was exhausting for both the students and teachers, but all the moments and experience we face throughout the two weeks of teaching was unforgettable. Even though it was difficult to grab the children’s attention at times, we pulled through by immersing them in various activities. Working with the other volunteers really taught me how to work well with others to achieve a goal. The children and staff members gave me a new view on Taiwan’s culture and people. Looking back, this was an experience that I will remember.

On the tour week, we traveled to many different places that I have never been to before when I come back to Taiwan. It was an amazing experience! Besides the whole program and tour, the people and friends I made throughout this month was a "once a friend, always a friend" moment!
Lin, Maggie (林慧儒)
Joining AID was a really rewarding experience, as it allowed me to gain insight into my family's background and also a new perspective of teaching. In this program, I was able to connect with people my age and learn from their ideas. I met people from across the country and not only did they have a different accent in English, but also gave me different ideas on what to teach the children. Throughout the trip, I gained insight into Taiwanese culture by learning the ways the students did things. I was able to improve my ideas for teaching the children along the way, changing what I taught them based on their performance in class. In the future, I hope that I can be given another opportunity like this as it provided me with a new perspective on teachers and also given me life-long friends. Although my group was pretty segregated in the beginning because we all had our own friends, but as soon as we got to our designated schools, we were forced to talk to each other. Thankfully, this happened otherwise, I would have not been able to meet these people today that I call my lifelong friends. I hope that one day we would all be able to meet again.

Lin, Naomi (林佳頻)
Spending this past summer as part of the AID program was an unforgettable experience. I was able to strengthen my leadership skills and meet children that live completely different lifestyles. It was eye opening to see this and on top of that, meet students, teachers, and counselors that were so eager to give us advice and help us get acclimated to the new environments. My group became people I could rely on for anything and to this day, some of my closest friends. I hope that from the two weeks of teaching, the students in my class continue to show their interest for learning English as much as they did when I was there. This program has taught me that even the simplest things such as a student finally connecting a vocabulary word to an item in the room can bring immense joy and satisfaction. I hope that other people who plan to join this program are blessed to teach these wonderful Taiwanese students and be grouped with amazing people. The tour week at the end of the month also gave me the opportunity to become closer with my group and enjoy our last few moments before we fly back to America and carry on with our lives. The AID summer program truly was exciting, joyful, and filled with amazing opportunities for young people to learn and grow as people.
Lok, Julia (駱蔓)
The AID program was one of the most spectacular, if not the most spectacular, experiences I have ever had. As it was my first time coming to Taiwan, nearly everything I saw, heard, smelled, and tasted was a novelty, from the many night markets and their exquisite street food to the breathtaking view of the entire city of Taipei from the top of Taipei 101.

But these memories would not be the same without my fellow group members. Before the trip, when I was just assigned to my school, Wanfang Junior High, and could view my members' self-introductions, I doubted whether I would be able to bond with them or be compatible at all with them to teach our students effectively. As soon as I met them on the first night after arriving at Taiwan, all of my doubts were immediately cast aside, and we all became each others' best friends throughout the entire four weeks. With our own individual quarks and other unique traits, we all became very compatible, making the teaching experience and tour unforgettable. Because of them, I found the continuous refining of the lesson plans and the constant walking to one destination after another more bearable.

Of course, none of this would have gone as smoothly without my teacher. It was a blessing getting to know her both as a teacher and as a friend. She gave us much-needed advice on creating our lesson plans, and helped us coordinate several activities at our school that helped bring us closer to our students. And even after we were finished teaching for the day, she would take us out to several restaurants and tourist attractions for our group to enjoy. As a result, most of my most precious memories from this program also include my teacher.

Lastly, the group of people that this program focuses on: the students. Initially, I worried whether I would be able to overcome the language barrier and be able to connect with them at all. During the first few days of teaching, it seemed as if my fears were cemented. But through the course of those two weeks of teaching English, they gradually opened up to us teachers; through that, they revealed to be bright and engaging students. Of course, there was the occasional troublemaker, but by the end of the camp, even they found it difficult to say goodbye.

I will never forget all of the new people I have met and the timeless moments that we created together. Signing up for this program is undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Huang, Alice (黃筱云)
My favorite part of this program has been the two weeks spent at TongXiao, Miaoli. I got to explore the area, eat delicious food, and meet a lot of cool people. At first, I was nervous about teaching a class of almost twenty kids. We were asked to speak in only English during the first week so it was challenging at times to communicate with the students. Fortunately, we had TAs to help with the translation and the students were able to at least have a basic idea of what was going on. During the second week, we started speaking Chinese more frequently and it was obvious that the kids were getting used to us more and wanted to get to know us better. Time flew by really quickly after the first week and just when I felt like I had gotten used to everything in TongXiao, it was time to say goodbye. Overall, the teaching part of the program was awesome and I enjoyed meeting everyone in Miaoli. The training week at CheinTan, however, was not as enjoyable or effective in helping us getting ready to teach. I think there was a lot of communication issues between the people working there and the people in charge and things could get hectic sometimes which resulted in a lot of waiting around and doing nothing.

Yang, Elaine (楊于萱)
This summer has been incredibly memorable for me in AID. I've been incredibly blessed to have been given this opportunity to teach these kids in remote areas. The first week at Chientan was very nervewracking since I was going to be spending the next four weeks with 5 different people I've never met. Meeting Havana, Jaida, and Eva for the first time was very exciting because we had all come from different experiences. I met Nick and Edward at the workshops and also met our teaching coach, Tony! Everyone was incredibly kind, funny, and outgoing. There were many tiring nights of working on our lessons plans during the first week. The workshops were somewhat helpful especially the games one because it gave us more ideas to interact with the kids.

Arriving the Fuli County in Hualien that first day was full of excitement and nervousness. We weren't sure how the kids would react to us and there were only about 19 kids in the english program. However, the first day, the kids were so inviting and energetic. They were very friendly and asked us to play with them during breaks. Eva and I had the most troublemakers in our class so it was definitely hard to control the class at times, but we created a points system to encourage them to be better students. We taught them the ABCs, colors, family, food, and numbers. We would always combine classes and do dances together in the morning. At times it was difficult to match their energy, but they were always very happy to see us. On the last day, it was very difficult for me to say goodbye. One kid made a bracelet for me and they all signed cards for us. Many of us cried when we were saying goodbye because we didn't know the next time we'd be back to Hualien.

Teaching this summer has taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of education. I never realized how what we were teaching them could influence the way they saw learning English. I'm also grateful for the life I live in America. Also, teaching in my father's childhood hometown allowed me to see into his own childhood. I will never forget this experience. I will also never forget the people I've met and the kids that have inspired me. Their hard work in learning English the past two weeks were very admirable and very rewarding to see. I am so thankful to have been apart of this program and I do encourage many others to attend this program. The kids are really what makes all this worth it.
Chow, Benjamin (周坤寧)
My trip to Taiwan this summer and the completion of 80 hours of volunteer work teaching at Ba-Li Primary School has been truly life changing. This trip did two main things for me. It shifted my perspective on teaching, and it granted me amazing new friendships. Before the program, I had heard a lot of things about how hard teachers work, but I had never really realized the full extent of their work until I had experienced it first hand. I really bonded with my kids and realized why teachers are so motivated to teach. The kids inspire you to do your best and to give them everything you have. Over the course of the program, I bonded with my team greatly. I would have never met these people without the AID program. I am so glad I became friends with them because we share so much in common such as our heritage and our interests. I know that these friendships will last me a lifetime and that I will continue to talk to them frequently. I am very grateful to the AID program for giving me this opportunity. I will never forget the events that happened on this trip, and because of this program I will surely return to Taiwan again to experience the food, culture, and friends.

Lee, Charles (李超)
I felt like this program was a great experience to visit Taiwan and see how life is in Taiwan. It was also a great experience learning how to teach and actually teaching Taiwanese children. My Mandarin and teaching skills was able to improve throughout the program. I also was forced to improve my teamwork and my social skills with 600 other students in the program and having to work with a smaller group to teach our assigned school's students. I really loved working with my teachers and mentors; they were all extremely nice and we could have fun at times. They were really nice about my bad Mandarin and would always correct it and teach me new things, which I found really fun. I was really happy that they were also interested in our American culture and would always be happy to learn English and was open for corrections, just as I was with Taiwanese culture and Mandarin. The only thing I didn't like about this program was the lack of communication between our teachers/mentors and us. Most of the time, we wouldn't know what we're going to do until it actually happens and we have to adjust to meet their demands. But I thought it was too big of a problem, but more of an inconvenience that would be nice to have fixed.
Huang, Jolin (黃采鈴)
Overall, the AID experience was very memorable, life-changing and enjoyable. The teaching experience was exhausting but rewarding at the same time. I was privileged to teach class D, the smallest kids, so I was able to witness the cute acts of the children. They would ask me to sleep with them during nap time. The kids were super hyper, but they were able to pay attention during lectures and activities. At the end of the two weeks of teaching, I received some gifts - letters, food and stuffed animals. It touched my heart that the kids would miss me and wanted to see me again. I even became friends with some of the TAs at the school. Tour week was when I got closer to my team members. We would stay up late talking to each other about personal stories. Despite the tour being mainly on the bus and not having a lot of time to tour, I was still glad to stay for that week. Being able to hang out with my friends was what made tour week memorable. During the first week at Chien-Tan, my group did not feel close with one another at all, but after the teaching experience and tour week, we felt like family. During the closing ceremony, we were all crying because of the thought that we might not be able to see each other again. We still plan to meet up in the US.
Tien, Cindy (鄧星迪)
2018. The summer of first times. This was first time I travelled overseas without my family. My first time in Taiwan. My first time spending weeks with complete strangers. In the past 3 weeks, I have learned and felt more emotions than the whole three years I have spent in high school. The first day of teaching will forever be engrained into my head as I faced 7 completely new individuals, just as lost as I was. Rather than closing up, they were bright and curious, eager to learn and help. Even more surprising was their sense of selflessness. Though I complained about the lack of AC in classrooms, not one of the kids ever fussed about the heat. In fact, after playing and sweating during break time, they would come into the class to fan me instead. If it weren’t for their energy and excitement, I do not know how I would have survived. Two weeks is certainly not enough to teach a language, but it was enough for me to fall in love with Yung Shing elementary, my students, teammates and teachers. Thank you team Corgi for being so attentive in class and protecting me every time Teacher Jeffrey bullies me. Thank you Jeffrey for your translations and for driving us around everywhere. Thank you Norelle for guiding us through our teaching plans and classroom management. Thank you Yang principle for your hospitality. Thank you Bao lao shi for letting me use your name to scare the kids. Thank you zhu ren for giving me the opportunity to teach at your school. Thank you to my fellow teachers, Lauren, Maggie, Jeffrey, Jerry, and Darren for being so caring, nice, and open with me. I will never forget this summer of first times and kindness.

Chang, Stephanie (張盼庭)
Now I’m no stranger to Taiwan’s aggressive mosquitos but when their bites swell up to the size of an orange on my skin, I feel like the infamous Michelin Man.
But it’s worth it because I’m the happiest when I arrive in Taiwan, surrounded by upscale convenience stores, friendly people, and delicious food. The minute I step outside the airport my skin begins to itch—with excitement, with humidity, with mosquito bites, if my life were a multiple-choice test, I would’ve marked all of the above.
I come back to Taiwan often, but this year in 2018, I knew there would be something waiting for me.
I embarked to Taiwan for a volunteer program, Aiding Individuals with Disadvantages, AID summer for short. On this program, all volunteers are assigned to a school and teach english for two weeks, without speaking Mandarin to students, a huge challenge. I was assigned to WenChang elementary school in the humble town of XiLuo, a place I’ve never heard of before. The first week of volunteer training passed by, my assigned group of eight paired up, and next thing we knew, we had arrived.
On the first day of school, my small class of eighteen students regarded my teaching partner, Daniel, and I, with hesitation. I could practically hear their thoughts thrum across the room.
Who are these people? Why are they here to teach? They look so young, how can they teach us?
My class of fourth graders slowly opened up in the sweetest way possible.
Coming back from break time, I would find our dusty chalkboard covered in white and yellow words of “I love you teacher!”
Their energy was unparalleled. The way they all collectively chant to go outside and play, they way they sing along to every single song so wholeheartedly, the way they demand high fives and hugs at the beginning and end of everyday, and the way they were so reluctantto let me go until the very last moment, where we stood out on the rain and water-balloon soaked concrete floors and hugged, crying together about how we would never forget about each other and how we would keep in touch.
As I left the unassuming town of XiLuo, I left behind days of biking to school with my laptop tucked onto my back, weaving through rows of traffic while laughing with my teaching partners. I left behind biking back to my host family with a cup of boba in one hand, seeing my students in the same places where I eat for dinner, passing by my students and their parents strolling to the nearest convenience store that another one of my student’s parents own. I left behind days filled with laughter and sore throats from shouting at my students to come back from way across the campus where they’ve ran to.
I left behind the feeling of peace with kites high in the clear blue sky, the feeling of grass tickling my knees, and even a bit of my heart as well.
And all those mosquito bites I got will be something I treasure, despite their bruise-like scars inked onto my body, because they’ve stubbornly stuck with me for those weeks, but their marks will last a lifetime, just like my time in WenChang elementary school. I will remember these two weeks as the ones that shaped me the most as a person, to listen to others patiently, to empathetically connect with others, and to be a good teacher and a role model to everyone I see.

Fung, Lauren (馮欣蕾)
I started the trip feeling doubtful of my capabilities as a teacher, and unsure of whether I was going to enjoy my teaching experience or not. But by the end of those two weeks, I learned how simultaneously challenging and rewarding teaching can be, and I wished that I didn’t have to leave my school so soon.
My group was the first one from AID to ever visit Yung Shing Elementary School in Miaoli County. The people were so welcoming and hospitable from the moment we arrived, and their kindness made me even more determined to be a great teacher for their students. But on the first day, it was clear that my biggest problem would be figuring out how to actually communicate with my students. Besides my lack of experience speaking Chinese, my students had never spoken English before. The language barrier served as an obstacle for a majority of the first week, and I was discouraged by how they wouldn’t understand anything I said unless I translated it into Chinese. Eventually, I discovered that speaking more slowly to the students, while acting out everything I was saying, would make it easier for them to understand me. Even if I looked silly doing it, using hand gestures and motions really helped them learn the meanings of some simple words and instructions in English. But what really surprised me was when my students started doing the same thing with me. If they wanted to ask me a question, they would point to different objects or mimic the actions they wanted to do to help me understand. It was such a heartwarming gesture to me, and I even learned a little more Chinese every day.
Over the course of two weeks, I taught my students the important basics they needed to learn English; in exchange, they helped me develop my understanding of Chinese. I never expected to have learned so much from my students, but that’s exactly what I did. My time in the AID program has been one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve ever had, and I’m so grateful to have spent my summer with amazing people doing something I’ve grown to love.

Lin, Mitchell (林泰均)
Insanely intimidating. Extremely enriching. A treasure trove of perspective. A hell of an experience. That’s what the month of July was for me. Looking back, I have zero regrets about how the program unfolded for me. But I did not start off as a happy camper. Far from it.

On the second day at Chientan, the blue shirts took us out to Taipei for a “local tour.” My group was taken to the Huashan Creative Park by the Civic Bridge. I received a text from my friends informing me of their arrival at the SongShan Smokestacks. My heart sank. I looked around at my surroundings. I saw the bridge under which I played basketball just two days earlier. I saw cabs and buses rushing by -- a standard sight on the streets of my hometown. I saw a sea of yellow highlighters with a few dabs of blue in between. I saw the eyes of locals and tourists alike staring at this mob of color in confusion and annoyance. I could almost feel their scorn for this teenage tour group. But the mob was here to stay, and I was part of the mob. And it hurt.

I had not yet made effort to connect with my group mates, or most of the others, for that matter. As the sea of yellow dispersed, I walked about the park alone, half-heartedly taking everything in. I meandered in and out of wood shops, cotton shops, and ice cream shops without really paying attention to who or what was around me. As I walked up the stairs to the tea room, something inside me broke. It took all my will to hold my tears back. I missed everybody. I missed my mom, my sister, and my grandparents. I missed the comfort of my clothes and my bed. I missed the bliss of freedom. The fact that I was standing in the middle of my birthplace only made everything worse. I was homesick. I hated standing in a place where I usually go unnoticed. I hated being looked at with befuddled eyes, like I was a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit. I’m typically more than happy to spend some time alone. But in that moment, I had never felt quite so lonely before. I never realized how much I took for granted.

Of course, things improved as the week progressed. Classes were boring, and the work was quite tedious. But I kept in mind what I was here for, and for whom I was doing everything. In our free time, we hung out and messed around. Time flew, and soon we found ourselves on the bus to our assigned schools. I felt strangely liberated once our bus left the parking lot. At that moment, I felt like a prisoner who was finally free.

Perhaps the perfect metaphor for our time in Yunlin came on the second day of school, when Joey and I walked into the classroom to find five of our six boys working on a grotesque picture of a clown with an elephant nose on the board. The shock lasted about five seconds. Then, we burst out laughing. I asked Ian, the ringleader of the bunch, what the drawing was supposed to be. “Picasso,” he replied.

The other kids seemed like they expected us to punish the boys for messing around. But we wanted to put a premium on creativity. Above anything, we wanted the kids to have fun. We wanted to create an open dynamic that promotes individuality and self-expression and support. We wanted to create a classroom environment that is opposite to what they are used to. So we commended the boys on their creativity and left the drawing up there for everyone to admire. Soon, I feel like everyone saw us more as their older siblings than as teachers. We held order in the classroom and were able to get them to do what we wanted to do, but the bond between us was real. We led not through fear, but through love. And that made all the difference in the world.

It gave me so much joy to see the kids pick up what we taught them and actually apply it. We praised their efforts when they perfected a line from a song or they remembered a saying that we mentioned during a lesson -- never their intelligence. We wanted to communicate to them that anything is possible as long as you try. English is something that can be learned through Duolingo or a textbook or a private tutor. But mindset and perspective can only be taught through experience and by those who have been exposed to and believe in such concepts. These kids awed me with their linguistic and social and artistic skills, but I felt like their mindsets needed work. Their worlds could use some expanding.Throughout the whole trip, I kept one perspective and one perspective only -- everything I did was going to be for the kids. As one character says in Deadpool 2, kids give us a chance to be better than we used to be. Maybe the writers did not mean it in this sense, but this saying kept me grounded and allowed me to see the potential brimming within the kids. Two weeks isn’t much time, but it’s enough for one person to make a difference in another. If one idea that we pushed stays in their heads, then we did our job right.

Nothing turned out as I expected it to. But I would not change one bit of it.

To the blue shirts and the higher-ups, thank you for making this program possible. To my group, thank you for holding me down and making it a month to remember. To Augusta, thank you for being our role model and always taking care of us. But most of all, to the kids, I have nothing but love for you. Even if we never see each other again, we’ll always be with each other. My July in Taiwan is a time I will treasure for the rest of my life. No matter what.

Yang, Kris (楊子濬)
This AID program has been an experience that I will never forget. I learned a lot about myself, about my heritage and about the real world. I experienced things that I will treasure with me, both good and bad. Through this program I meet wonderful new people and made many connections. I tried food I normally would not have eaten and explored places I would not have one to. This program has opened my eyes to a whole new world.
Huang, Sonam (黃榆雯)
AID has honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. From giving me forever friends, forever memories, to forever memories, AID truly has enlightened me and taught me so much in just the span of four short weeks. Even now, I still keep in touch with my other teaching mates and even some of my students and teachers from my school. I really hoped that this program could be longer as it was not enough for me to truly establish a connection with everyone I met at Jiantan and at my school (Bali), but the bond I've made in the time we were given is something I know will stick with me forever. When I first joined this program, I had expected flowers and roses, however experiencing this program first hand made me realize that teaching isn’t an easy job. Even though I had thoughts like this, I tried my best to get through the teaching period and the torturous hours spent at 劍潭. Before I arrived at my school, I expected a horrid environment, but after seeing it, it was much better even without air conditioning in every room. However, despite all the hardships and struggles, the parting tears and troublesome students, every single moment of AID was worth it, and if I could do it all over again... I definitely would.
Chu, Murphy (朱沛瑾)
The two weeks of teaching English and the week long's worth of training have been very busy, hectic, food abundant, and fun. Even though I may have been exhausted from doing all the lesson plans, daily reports, and school activities I felt that I had gained a better insight on the teaching experience. In addition to that, I have made a connection with most of my students and felt that all of the hard work and effort that I put into the lessons over the past two weeks was definitely worth all of those hours of working on the teaching materials even though my partner wasn't much help in preparing the teaching materials for the class nor in sharing what he plans on doing for the lesson plans. Volunteering to teach in English has certainly been a new learning experience for me, compared to volunteering as a teacher's assistant in summer science camp and vacation bible studies. The experience of teaching (mostly) calm middle schoolers was definitely different from teaching energized elementary students. I hope that if I were to become a teacher, teaching assistant, or substitute in the future, I will draw from my summer camp teaching experiences to make the classroom and the lessons interesting and fun for the students to be engaged with their education.
Wu, Tiffany (吳柏霓)
Participating in AID Summer this year was a unforgettable slice of summer that I will always keep in my heart. Not only did I make lifelong friends and visit many interesting places, I gained valuable experience in teaching and interacting with young students, all in a completely new environment. The most memorable parts of this program I take from my time at school. I can't help but smile every time I recall walking into that classroom full of lively personalities and eager minds, each morning a transformation from a disgruntled mess with coffee on her breath to a living light bulb gushing joy. I must admit, though, there were times of strife and struggle—my goodness, were those kids bubbling with energy; I earnestly tried in vain to contain their unruliness—for this reason, I owe much to my co-teacher and my teaching assistant for bearing this crucial burden alongside myself. This adventure taught me much about independence yet also teamwork, though I had also hoped to strengthen my Chinese ability (I wound up getting by conversing in English). All in all, I would definitely participate in this volunteer program again; alas, I do not have the opportunity to. I will and already have expressed my adamant recommendation to a plethora of my peers, and I ardently anticipate their application. Ultimately, I would like to thank Taiwan for providing this once in a lifetime chance to give back to the country that was, is, and always will be my family's home. I know I can always "count on you".
Chang, Ashley (張永琪)
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in AID this summer. I had the chance to explore parts of Taiwan I’ve never been to and develop a greater appreciation for Taiwan.

The first week of training at Chientan was probably the hardest week to get through for me because we were sitting in class all day and when we weren’t in class we were either taking naps before our next class, practicing for our opening ceremony, or eating. We were basically locked in besides when we went to the night market but the first time we went to the night market they only gave us 15 minutes and then second time we were too tired from all the classes so we left early. Since we weren’t allowed to go out I had to run circles around Chientan when I wanted to go out on runs which was not very fun. Luckily, my team was pretty great so it made it slightly easier to get through the long hours of boring lectures. Also, a lot of people complained about the food we got but I actually think the food was pretty cold besides the fact that it was normally cold by the time we got to our seats. The most memorable experience from the first week was having to face my fears of public speaking and getting on stage with my partner to present our teaching demo in front of the whole program.

The second and third week was my favorite part because we got to hang out more as a team. We were lucky to get assigned to Shiuan Shin Elementary in Chiayi City which was a very convenient location since we had lots of stores near us and we even got to go to the mall a few times. My partner and I taught class dinos (D) so we had a lot of the younger kids. Most of them were pretty well behaved but this one kid peed on a tree because he said he wanted to give it nutrition?? One of the ways we got the students engaged was bribing them with fake money that they could use to pay for prizes. Pretty much everyday we were awake past midnight preparing our teaching plans for the next day (we ended up improving a lot tho), but it was still fun being with my team and sometimes one of our teachers or the security guy would just come and hang out with us. We had a couple issues within our team during these weeks but we were able to communicate with each other and fix the problems. I think the main thing that helped was getting our team into a circle and just talking about our concerns and problems so that we could understand each other. Staying at school instead of host families was also helpful because we got to get to know each other better since we were constantly hanging out with each other. My favorite part about this part was doing our team cheer, being able to meet wonderful people like our TAs, teachers, and security guy (who helped us clean poop that a kid left on the bathroom wall), and waking up at 2:30 AM to watch the sunrise at Alishan. Tip for teaching week: teamwork is key and lock your shower if you can because people will pee in it!!!!!!

The last week wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be since we had to walk a lot and we were always rushed so we couldn’t thoroughly explore the places we went to. More than half our tour bus left in the beginning of tour week because it was so boring. The only thing that kept me staying was being able to spend time with my teammates. Most eventful thing that happened during the tour was Kris's phone falling into the pond as we were crossing the bridge which was kinda sad. I would recommend exploring Taiwan with your team on your own but if you stay for the tour you get food and places to stay.

My favorite part of the whole program would be the people because everyone we met (our teachers, TAs, staff at school, etc) was so welcoming and friendly. I want to thank my team for helping me get through the boring parts of the program and for making such unforgettable memories with me! Dream team forever!
Liu, Andrew (劉承昱)
My experience with AID can be summed up as my most unforgettable summer to date. While training week felt like a drag and teaching was extremely tiring, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. It had been four years since I last came back to Taiwan so of course I was already very excited. In the beginning, the week at Jien Tan would’ve been unbearable had it not been for my amazing group members and staff member. This is perhaps the greatest way AID has impacted me; you get to meet so many new people all of whom come from different backgrounds and throughout my time there I have made some of my closest friends. Additionally, teaching is very hard work. I was foolish thinking it would be easy, but luckily out team prepared enough for each day. We are mislead by our own teachers and how seamlessly they teach everyday, but we fail to notice the amount of work they do outside the classroom-this was a valuable lesson I learned through AID. Despite the fact, our teaching weeks were filled with fun and unforgettable memories all thanks to the wonderful teachers, parents, and TA’s. After all of our hard work we were rewarded with a weeks tour of Taiwan. While we did get to see a lot of special destinations, the time restriction made us feel rushed and unable to truly enjoy each stop. All in all, AID will go down as one of my best experiences ever.

Lin, Maggie (林炳淇)
I didn't know what to expect when I arrived here at Yung Shing Elementary School. Because I didn't have much experience or practice teaching, it was hard to imagine what it would be like to stand in front of a class as a teacher, instead of as a student. On our first day of teaching, I was nervous to meet the students. What if they didn't like me? What if they wouldn't listen to me? All my worries disappeared when I saw 10 eager faces looking up at me, ready to learn. At first, I thought that it would be easy to treat the students fairly and that they would all be little obedient angels. I was wrong. Over the next 2 weeks, I got to know each student and their individual personalities. I learned how to treat each student, based on their unique characteristics. I learned how to deal with the quiet ones and the loud ones. I learned that speaking gently to all the students doesn't always work and that sometimes you need to be strict and stern. Even though I was always tired and drained by 6th period, I really enjoyed teaching each and every one of our students. Our students were extremely sweet and caring. Because our classroom did not have an AC in it, it was always hot. Even though the kids were the ones running around in the heat during recess, I was the one always complaining to my teaching partner about how hot it was. When the kids came in after recess, they would see me fanning myself and come up, take my fan, and start fanning me. It was these selfless acts that touched me the most from our class. Although they must have been so much more hot than I was, thy never complained and sat obediently in class despite the burning heat. I also gained a huge appreciation for not just my past teachers, but for every individual with a teaching position. I had come into the program underestimating the work they had to prepare and the patience they needed, but after these 2 weeks, I am grateful for all the teachers out there who try their best to create the best learning environment for their students. This has been an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Chen, Tanya (陳俞文)
Thank you to all the sponsors and everyone involved in the AID program for letting me experience an incredibly tiring, but rewarding experience of a lifetime. This experience has truly taught me to be more self-sufficient and independent. With the guidance of my peers and our school teacher, I was able to gauge my self worth and capabilities. Whether it be killing bugs or spending hours upon hours on lesson plans, I got to test my strengths and learn from weaknesses. As a privileged city girl from Los Angeles, California, entering rural life and leaving the bubble I call home was truly memorable. Before spending two weeks at Changhua, I often took for granted the little things I thought everyone had: a shower, two parents, air conditioning, and etc. After being able to connect with these students, I learned that many of them came from struggling families and households. Despite their hardships at home, each one of them came to school everyday with an eagerness to learn in order to further their future lives. I was handed the privilege of being able to teach these kids a marketable skill, but at the end it was them who taught me the most important skill: adversity.
Song, Nicole (宋佩庭)
My experience in Taiwan was one that I will forever remember. The two teaching weeks went by so quickly. Even though it was tiring and a lot of work, the end result was worth it. In the end, we have to realize that these students are in this program to get excited about learning English in the future and we can do our best to help cultivate that future motivation. Having 600 other kids to go through this experience with also made the program a lot more fun. Meeting each other in the forum prior to the trip made meeting in person all the more interesting. The first week of training at Chientan is long and repetitive but I was able to find several useful tips and advice that I would later employ during my teaching weeks. I was put into a more remote school away from the city but I think that my experience from the program was even more enriching because of that. It was nice to get away from the city and experience the more rural areas of Taiwan and the people in it. I was assigned to Jhutian Elementary School in Pingtung, Taiwan. I spend lots of time with my fellow seven co-teachers and got to be really close friends with each of them. We were encouraged not to speak Chinese to the kids in order to help facilitate even greater chances of learning English. Although I was incredulous of this idea of not being able to communicate easily with them, I was glad that we did this. It forced the kids to try and learn more English and not speak as much Chinese during class. By the end when we realized that we spoke Chinese, they were shocked and we spent the last days getting to really know each other. The kids were adorable and loved having us at the school. Teaching and having to make lesson plans did take time to do but seeing the kids have fun during class made it worth it. Leaving the school was one of the hardest things to do since everyone was crying by the end. I still miss my time at the school and the kids. The trip week was also tiring due to the pretty packed schedule but I was surprised at all we were able to do and see with such a large group. Overall, my experience was very positive and heartwarming. Each person who did this program will have very different experiences due to where their school was and etcetera. I was glad that my school was accommodating and welcoming towards us. Unfortunately, we are only able to do this program once in our lifetimes or I would definitely apply again in a heartbeat!
Wu, Jerry (吳懷仁)
From the first moment that I had stepped onto this school campus, I never realized that it would be this compact. But, with the little space that we are currently lively at, I didn’t expect for such much joy in these couple of weeks. The students are energetic, kind, and polite: traits that almost every student should have in America. While it has only been two weeks since we have meet you all, I had a great time teaching you guys English. In fact, I had never realized that being a volunteer teacher would be such a time consuming activity for all of us. And, for all of the teachers that have been teaching for more a year, I can now understand the struggle of what it’s like teaching in front of kids. However, being at Yungshin Elementary school has been and will always be a memorable experience for me. Whether or not I had terrible experiences with the mosquitoes at this school, the students, teachers, and staff members are the reasons why I choose to continue teaching English. Yet again, I really can’t leave this place too. I am thankful for the wonderful experiences that you all have gave me, such as traveling to the Lihpao amusement park, going to the movies to watch Ant man and the Wasp, and eating some authentic Hakka food. While it is true that our paths may never ever cross again, I wish for the best of luck for you all. I hope that you all can seek happiness and prosperity for the journeys that you are about to take. Hopefully, we can meet again sometime in the future. Thank you.
Chu, Marie (朱沛語)
In my past experiences of coming to Taiwan, I generally stayed in Taipei for my family. The AID summer program has truly been an eye-opener for me. Not only were we able to tour multiple places in the whole country of Taiwan, I was also assigned to the more rural Sanci Elementary school in Tainan. I have never lived in a place in Taiwan where the nearest 7-11 was a fifteen minute drive away and fish farms were right next to the school. Despite that, I truly enjoyed my time there because everyone in the city seemed to know each other, and acted like one big family. The children, staff, and parents were all very welcoming and provided us with the best that they had. They prepared feasts for us, took us to the spa, and made sure we had air conditioned rooms to sleep at night. Everyday afterschool, the children would come back to school to play together, often inviting us to join them. It was during this time that I was able to establish a bond with them that I couldn't inside of the classroom setting. The day we left, we were greeted with many students who woke up early and went out of their way to see us off. To this day I am still in contact with some of my students, occassionally video-calling them, and I plan to continue doing so.
Chen, Shannon (陳心愉)
Going to 通宵國中 in 苗慄 was such an honor and a pleasure. Although our class and our group was relatively small - eighteen and four, respectively, I think it really gave us all a chance to better connect with each other. During the two weeks, the four of us volunteers stayed in our coordinating teacher's house, with her two daughters. In class, we had eighteen students and nine TA's (all previous students of the teacher who expressed interest in helping out in the classroom). We were a pretty small group, with a rather large teacher-to-student ratio. Maybe that was better, since we got to talk to each student individually to determine their English level and what they needed most help with in their learning.

In terms of working with my groupmates, I think the fact that there were only four of us helped immensely in our cooperation - since, well, there were only four of us to get the job done, so communication and efficiency was key. We all worked hard and loved the class and our students; we got along.

Our class of 18 students composed of 15 girls and 3 boys. Suffice to say, the classroom was largely female, not that this affected the class. Because the class was so small, we did not split them into two groups to teach separately. All of the students were lovely, polite, eager to learn. The biggest struggle was coming up with a daily curriculum that could actively engage these students for the 6 hours they were in class. As for the classroom itself, it was in making sure that the students learned something at the end of the two weeks - though I still can't be sure that they remembered much - and in trying to accommodate both the advanced students and the struggling ones - because there was definitely a spectrum.

Regardless, I think they all tried their best to participate, to some extent, and I'm both grateful and happy. Even the students who weren't really understanding the English seemed to enjoy the activities we had. I was told that they went home happy, so that's good enough for me.

When it all ended, I was sad to see it all go. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, the students won't remember the four of us who only came to teach for a short two weeks in their childhood. But I certainly won't forget the invaluable experience and the endearing students who touched my heart in the gentlest of ways. They really, truly grew on me, and I'll miss them all so very much. On one hand, the work was tiring. It was a daily rerouting of the entire lesson plan, adjusting our previously scheduled ideas to better accommodate the class. But it was so worth it. Plus, meeting the TA's was a lot of fun, too. Some were still barely in high school; others were only a year younger. Befriending them, I hope, will last a while yet. If I could do it all again, and see these young, growing children, I would in a heartbeat.
Tsang, Maximilian (曾杰明)
This trip was my first ever volunteer program overseas and also my first time going to another country by myself. With that said, this was the best experience of my life. I've never made more connections and friendships with people than through the 1 month I've been in Taiwan. I have made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life and can better understand other people due to this experience. Teaching kids was much harder than I expected even thought I knew it would be a tough challenge, but working in a team environment with your group mates making it a lot easier, really made teaching more enjoyable for people that aren't too great at teaching like me. I've learned more about Taiwanese culture even though we didn't spent most of our time in the hotel or teaching, but the times exploring the city, shopping, eat at night markets was very fun. My favorite time during the month long trip was the 2 weeks we spent teaching. Although teaching was a very difficult challenge, it also made our group bond in a special way and bonding with the students we taught was very interesting. Teaching myself made me realize I need to give teaches more credit because it's not an easy task and I've also realized how important teachers are to people because one good teacher can influence a young student to become an amazing person. I'll never forget the endless bus rides, classes, Taiwan exploring, talking to other volunteers, and laughs that I have done in my AID summer experience. I would definitely recommend others to participate in this program because the connections that you make with other people are irreplaceable, interacting with other people around the same age as you from different parts of the worlds,as well as learning about a another country is truly an amazing experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Chen, Ellie (陳曉彤)
I would consider participating in this AID Summer program the best thing I could've done this summer. Through AID, I met and bonded with some of the most amazing group of people who I would never have met if it was not for AID. AID gave me the chance to utilize my English abilities to teach students living in Taiwan that may not have the same resources as we do in the United States. Though the actual teaching period at the school was only a short two weeks, I could see my students' English abilities progress everyday from the pre-test on the first day to their closing ceremony performance. Since my teaching partner and I included many fun games and activities everyday for the students in the weekly plan, I believe my students had a blast while learning English. As a result, by letting students have fun while learning, students will spark an interest in English and hopefully continue learning it. After the teaching weeks, it was nice to have one week to tour Taiwan. The tour not only gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my group, it also allowed me to explore Taiwan's beauty. This summer is truly a summer well spent.
Chen, Catherine (陳嘉怡)
I really enjoyed this trip because I was able to play the role of being a teacher. At first, I was afraid the students wouldn’t like me because I haven’t dealt with this many kids at once. I’ve learned that teaching English difficult because these children don’t understand that much English and my communication with them was very limited. During the second week, it was much harder to get the students to calm down in the classroom and their attention span was much shorter. It was challenging for the students to learn and remember the new vocabulary we taught then, so we had to repeat the words many times and tried to review as much as possible. My partner and I also gave them quizzes to make sure they really understood the material. I really enjoyed the view and the weather here because it is much cooler and the mountains are beautiful. This teaching experience has made me learn much more about myself and has made me more independent. I also really liked how I had a lot of responsibility and hard work that played big factors in this trip. Patience was also a key factor and it was very important to just have fun.

Zheng, Natalie (鄭逸雯)
AID Taiwan has been a very meaningful experience for me. I truly believe that I had the best team and a very good school. My teacher/counselor, Ms. Lee, was the most kind, helpful person for us, and I could not be more grateful. I connected with my kids and became both their friend and their teacher. Being in a classroom setting as the teacher was a really different experience, and I learned a lot about planning and execution. For the teaching week, I really have no complaints. I do wish to make a few comments about the training week and tour week. While I do understand that it is difficult to accommodate for over five hundred people, I feel like some of the methods and rules used were unnecessary. Furthermore, the training itself felt basic. Many volunteers felt like the presentations were common sense, and too long. The things they were teaching us could be easily summarized in less than two hours. I would have prefered less advice and more examples of possible games and things that Taiwanese kids like. While of course I’m still grateful, I would like to ask the presenters to consider that we are students that have already been exposed to various methods of teaching, and most of us already understand the basics of what does and does not work. Personally, I would have prefered more time in the day to work with my team on our own lessons, rather than sitting in a presentation for over four hours. I also felt like there was not enough trust between the volunteers and the counselors. Please understand that we are all over sixteen, and are here to help build our independence, not stifle it. Some of the rules actually hurt us rather than help, and I felt as if we had no room to grow. I know that it is important to keep our reputation up, but the rule of always wearing long pants made many of us uncomfortable and hot. Rather than long pants, I feel like the rule of at least to the knees was more reasonable, especially when we are going out in the humid weather, which a lot of volunteers are not used to. Other than that, AID Taiwan was a fantastic teaching experience, and if I could go back to my school and help out again, I would. This program have given me a deeper appreciation of Taiwan and I hope that future volunteers could also have a good, if not better than mine, experience in this program.
Hsu, Kylie (許凱莉)
Being able to teach English in Taiwan was such an amazing experience. Of course I, like everyone else, had my own fears as to how everything would go but it turned out to be nothing less than wonderful. I had the chance to teach in Nantou County, which is in Taichung and I've never been there before. Being from SoCal and visiting Taipei it was nice to see a change in scenery. Life in Nantou was extremely peaceful and calm, and the area has some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. The children were all so cute and very independent, and although we were teaching them English they taught us a lot too. They welcomed us into their lives like we were their older brothers and sisters and we're very grateful for their hospitality. Another highlight was meeting so many people of similar ages. It was also very interesting to find similarities or differences that we all shared with each other. During this program I also had the chance to meet some of my closest friends, and I am so happy to say that now I have friends from all around the world. Living together helped us all to bond really quickly, but the hardest part is accepting that you may not ever see some of them again, as some live in the UK or Canada or even across the country. However, many of us still stay in touch through social media and we have become even better friends after the end of the program. This program has taught me a lot and I'm grateful for the experience.
Shen, Lillian (沈琦珍)

Though I was certainly grateful for the opportunity to volunteer for AID, there were also some factors that also made me a little apprehensive about spending an entire month in Taiwan. The heat and humidity, for one. Although I had spent many summer in Taiwan, most of that time consisted of either complaining about the heat or staying inside to avoid the hot weather.

The entire summer was just a whirlwind of fun and laughter. However, looking back, there were definitely some lessons I learned about teaching. For one, lesson plans do not have to be as structured as you believe. The first day, we followed our lesson plan exactly for the first period. We finished our first period plans within 20 minutes. With another 20 minutes left on the clock, we were forced to improvise activities for the students to do. From then on, it was clear that while teaching, time does not matter. One thing that you may have planned to take up two periods can in reality only take half an hour. Teaching is as much of an experience in improvisation as it a planning endeavor.

This summer was also one where I truly comprehended the importance of teamwork. I don’t think AID would have been as enjoyable without my teaching group. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get through the weeks of teaching without my teaching partner. With our constant collaboration in classes and mutual support, finishing AID, including tour week, was as much a team effort as it was an individual one.

In short, AID 2018 would remain one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The month I spent in Taiwan would be enriching and full of countless amazing memories and just so much fun, as well as many lessons I will take with me as I continue with life.

Chen, Annie (陳梓婷)
Overall, the Taiwan Aid 2018 volunteer program was both difficult and rewarding. It was definitely not an easy task preparing lesson plans and teaching the students english. Throughout both teaching weeks, our group had to constantly revise and tweak the lesson plans based on our students english abilities. We accidentally overestimated the students english abilities. One thing that I wish we would have done better was classroom management. I felt that the lessons and activities would often become very disorganized and chaotic. As a result, I wish our group would have asserted more strict rules and be more firm when talking to the students during the lessons. Even though the first three weeks were extremely tedious and difficult, the experience was very rewarding because it taught us a lot about patience and taiwanese culture. It was very interesting seeing the cultural differences in schools between Taiwan and America. I found that teachers were much more strict in Taiwan and seeing the students do the janitorial work was interesting. The kids were very fun to talk to and teach. During break times they would often play dodgeball or have relay races on the playground. It wasn’t until the last day that we joined the games that they were playing. I wish we would have joined in sooner! I also found even greater respect for teachers.
Chien, Ally (簡雅酈)
This program was probably the best decision I have ever made. The first week of this program was basically training us to teach the kids but for me I was scared. I was actually thinking of not doing this program before I left America to come to Taiwan. I was scared coming alone and scared that I won’t be able to make friends but that did not happen. The first week I made some pretty good friends that I got along really well. After that first week, we went to Hsinchu to teach English and I was ready but at the same time I was not. I was scared that the kids will not like me and that they wouldn’t have a good time. The first day of teaching was quiet and no one would talk. It was like we were all scared of each other. But as the day gone by the kids were starting to be themselves and starting to like our teaching. They were really wild and had lots of energy that it was hard to control sometimes but it was really fun. Everyday teaching was exhausted but it was nice to see them smile and their energy always gives me more energy. The weekends were the most fun because we got to explore Hsinchu and have wonderful times with the teachers that took care of us. The one thing that I did not look forward to was leaving and saying goodbye on friday. It was so hard to not cry during the closing ceremony because they all became my little sisters and brothers. I made such a good bond with them that I did not want to leave them. I wanted to stay. Even though we did say our goodbye that the tour I went on was fun. I went to so many places that i have never been before and it was nice to see the beauty of Taiwan at these places. Because of this program, this school that I went to, the students that I teach, and the tour that I went that I do not want to leave Taiwan. I want to stay and have fun with my kids everyday and see them everyday. I do hope more people join this program since it was such a fun experiences that everyone will love and miss. Thank you so much AID.
Liao, Tiffany (廖思婷)
These past two weeks have been a blast. There are no words that can accurately sum up the amount of learning and growth I did these past two weeks. But I’m going to try anyway. From the day I first stepped into the Jonathan Center, I wondered and worried to myself... will I be able to handle these kids? Will the kids like me? Everything changed once I got to Fangliao Elementary. The first day, I was excited to meet my students but they were so timid and shy. I was so worried this would be what it was like for the rest of the trip. But it wasn’t. We played games like Duck Duck Goose and Human Knot, and the kids fell in love with them. Throughout the two weeks, not only did I have to learn how to deal with a lack of energy, I had to worry about not having enough for the students. They would often finish an activity fast and I would have to think of something to do in the spot. The kids also get bored easily so they can’t do one thing for a long time. So as the weeks went on, I got better and better, and my kids got closer and closer to me. I will never forget the last day of class, after the closing ceremony, when the kids attacked my partner and I with water balloons and shaving cream. They knew Paige and I were willing to play with them, so they gladly played with us and made our last day memorable. Along the way, the students would take us to eat dinner or to the night market and teach us something’s about their culture. Watching them play around so carefree, I was so happy. They brought me back to my youth when I was playing games with my friends and learning with them. The kids also respected my partner and I as teachers and were easy to teach. Although their English levels were not very good, they tried their best and they worked hard to practice. In the span of two weeks, they learned a lot. Most importantly, other than English, I hope these kids have learned the importance of service and volunteerism.
Yoh, Calvin (游凱勛)
Overall the trip was very fun. I met a lot of new people who had similar interests to mine and we had a good time teaching together. Sometimes the kids got annoying but they were mostly very sweet and would follow directions nicely. The tour at the end was also fun but I wish we could have stayed at some places a little longer and some places a little less. I would recommend this to many of my friends and I hope that they will also take advantage of this opportunity. I still keep in touch with all of the people I have met and we talk about a lot of random ideas. Teaching in and of itself was probably the best part even if it got kind of stressful at certain points. However, making sure the kids were learning and trying to use their skills was what made this trip the best. It was also good to see them learn from the different activities that we thought up of. Our group would do a different activity every day and it was cool to see that even though they are from a different country, children would still be children. I hope to be able to go back and visit them again and hopefully they may still remember us and that summer learning english.
Chao, Naomi (趙惟真)
My experience this summer teaching English to the kids at Gao Yi Elementary school for the AID program was overall a pleasant one. However, there was much improvising required throughout the teaching process, as the kids’ English levels were more advanced than we had anticipated and planned for, forcing us to redo most of our plans. Luckily, right after the first day where we were able to evaluate their English abilities, we were given two extra days off teaching due to the typhoon, and whatever free time we had could be used to revising the plans and adjusting them to the appropriate level. Once we returned to teaching, there was still much improvising required, as the students would sometimes complete the assigned activities faster than anticipated, or would not want to do the activities planned for them. We quickly learned to come up with “buffer” type activities for the students to do in case there was extra time and expand on our teaching plans. We also learned that sometimes it would be necessary to incentivize the students to be willing to participate or take them outside to release some of their energy so they wouldn’t keep running around the classroom. Physical activity periods were very helpful. We also learned to be careful with activities that they did enjoy, such as writing and coloring packets and spelling with play-doh, as they could easily lose focus on the point of the activity and just want to play instead. When this happened, they would rapidly stop listening and go off on their own, making it difficult to teach and maintain control of the class. If they were told to refocus or the materials were recollected, they would become unhappy and argue. Therefore, it was best to administer such activities during the second halves of class periods, so that the period ending would provide a natural end to their activity. While teaching was a difficult and demanding challenge, it was very fun and rewarding overall.
Chang, Olivia (張家宜)
These past 4 weeks in Taiwan with the AID Program has to have been the best thing that has happened all summer. I remember when I first got assigned my group and didn't know what to expect. They could've all been weird crazy people from I don't know where and we could've all hated one other, but so much has happened. From getting through training week and the awkwardness of meeting new people and all the rules, to all the laughs and fears I had the opportunity to experience with my group. From being really loud and obnoxious, late night talks and playing cards in the lobby, having random karaoke jam sessions at night and in between classes, to the many movies we watched and 7-11 runs we had. We experienced together so much together, both fun and stressful. From staying up late at night creating lesson plans to getting our students to break out of their comfort zone and learn English together, we went through a lot. I definitely miss all the times I spent with my group and cherish all the memories we have made together. This was my first time visiting Taiwan, my father's homeland, and I definitely want to come back together with my family in the future.
Hu, Boyan (胡博研)
Throughout my time in the program, I have experienced many new things such as a more urban lifestyle and the tasty food. The first week was a bit underwhelming. There was a lot of learning and editing, which did help our lesson plan, but some of the information that we acquired were things that I or my group knew. I also noticed that the textbooks were rather difficult to navigate due to all the different lettered groups being in the same book and a lot of the pages went unused because we were not in those classes. Other than these issues I enjoyed seeing and meeting some of the 600-ish people. The two weeks of teaching was like having a job that required your full commitment, similar to school, but where it differs from my normal day is how active you have to be and how you have to "wing it" sometimes. In school there is a set schedule every week and everything is mostly planned out by other people. It was very stressful when my plans for the day were finished before lunch and I would then have to spend the lunch with my group planning our afternoon activities. But that's not all we did, I had fun teaching the kids the different games and talking to the kids about there school life. After the day was finished our teacher would take us out to a delicious and unique restaurant. The tour week was phenomenal. I had so much fun exploring the southern section of Taiwan especially the museums and the beaches.
Sun, Joseph (孫皓)
My overall experience of this program can be summed up as refreshing, out of my comfort zone, and hard work. The first work week was stressful for me because my expectations and workload felt overwhelming. I quickly adapted and the two teaching weeks felt like a routine. The kids were a lot smarter than what we anticipated so we had to scratch our original plan and come up with daily lessons the night of the next lesson. Most of the students were excited and willing to learn and absorb new information, however there were a few kids we struggled with trying to get them to participate. Our themes of teaching were animals and cultures and throughout the two weeks of teaching we focused on teaching them fun while integrating English to create a enjoyable and memorable experience for the kids. The hardest part of teaching wast the actual teaching, but the planning as our students absorbed knowledge at a fast pace so we had to cater to them by creating a more intensive, while still fun English program. We would get back from the school around 8pm after dinner to cram our tomorrow/'s plan in a few hours because the bed check was usually around 10pm. While our schedule was packed, the overall experience was very fun because I was able to meet new people from all our the world that taught with me, creating new friendships and bonds with people you never imagined you would in a different environment.
Sung , Kimberly (宋以晨)
The experience in Taiwan is something I will never forget. The memories I made with the students I taught and my fellow teachers are easily the few highlights of my summer. I joined the volunteer program not knowing much about teaching other people, much less children. Also, I had doubts about my English ability. I was not sure if I was qualified enough to be teaching people English. Turns out, my job wasn't really to teach the students English, but rather to provide a comfortable environment for them to practice their skills and develop an interest in the language. Teaching the students was a struggle as we quickly found out that one class consisted of various levels of knowledge.We shifted from just purely trying to perfect their English to just trying to let them hear more of the English used in English speaking countries. No matter how much grammar they know, they would not be able to implement it to their speaking skills. We made sure they were constantly aware of the little things such as "to" and "the" that are very important in conversation and writing, yet those are the words they tend to omit. Aside from just the language, we wanted to share our Californian culture as well. We hope the students enjoyed their time and continue to be interested in learning English.
Lu, Josephine (盧佳吟)
This summer is most likely the most memorable summer I've ever had. During the AID program, I made so many new friends, taught and connected with countless students from Wan Fang Junior High, and had tons of fun touring Taiwan with the AID counselors. During the first week at Chientan, I met my group mates and teaching partners. With help from our school teacher, we made teaching plans and thought of various activities to use in our lessons. I made the lesson plans thinking that we would have to make major revisions to it once we began teaching, but to my surprise, my group made close to no revisions once we started to teach. The second and third week spent teaching was wonderful. Although the students in my class were not particularly enthusiastic to learn English, I could see that they improved over the two weeks. I mostly enjoyed spending time with my teaching partners and exploring Taipei with my group mates. I consider myself extremely lucky to have taught in Taipei because while others taught in rural areas and did not have good living conditions, I lived in a hotel (Papa Whale) and had very good amenities. The fourth week, which was tour week, was very fun. The AID program arranged activities for us such as drumming lessons, fan-making, and ceramics, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We also lived in nice hotels and rode in comfortable air-conditioned buses.
Li, Amy (李艾民)
This year's AID Summer program has been a great experience for me and my peers. I was able to improve in my teaching and communication skills, and I am so grateful to have made so many new friends. I would say that I am very lucky to have been put into a kind and comforting group. This was my first time in Taiwan and it was very interesting: the weather was humid and I encountered so many unusual bugs at my school. I would totally recommend this program to others. I am so glad that I joined because I got to explore new places and experience the hype at the night markets (although, I wish there was more time to wander). I am sad that this program ended, especially knowing the fact that I can only participate only once. But this made me consider visiting Taiwan again so I can share its extravagant features to my family. I had so many mixed feelings, especially during the last day teaching at my school. I definitely do not regret coming to this camp. I am so stoked to reunite with the friends I have made on this journey! To make new friends and develop character through this program were the highlights of my summer, and I cannot wait for the years to come.
Tsang, Joshua (臧維平)
The time at the summer AID camp started off strange and unfamiliar as I was one of few other that did not visit Taiwan a lot. There was much to get used to in terms of lifestyle,weather, and people, but it all came together quickly. It was a great experience to be able to travel around Taiwan and also be able to help the children at the school. The time teaching the kids was eye opening and an amazing learning experience to help the kids learn English. There were times of frustration and hardships, but with the people and friends I made on the trip we were able to overcome them and create a fulfilling time at the school. On top of this we were also blessed with being provided with food as well as the chance to explore Taiwan. The friends I made on this trip are unforgettable and the children we taught really left an impact on me. All in all i would recommend this program to all my friends to be able to take in the culture of Taiwan while also being able to dip their toes into the world of teaching. If I could choose to come again I would and I hope that there will be more int he future.