2019 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> New York
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Huang, Angelina (黃培容)
This summer was definitely one that I will cherish forever. It was one that was both rewarding and memorable.
I feel so honored as to just having been apart of this program.
I was born in Taiwan, so getting the chance to give back in any way shape or form felt amazing.
Whenever I visited Taiwan during vacations, I would usually just stay with my grandparents in Taipei. Being able to travel to the southern countries and seeing another side to Taiwan waa refreshing. This was the upbringing my parents had so it was definitely interesting to say the least.
This program also opened eyes to the world. I am so grateful for where I live and what my parents are able to provide for me, both on a need and desire level. Most of my students don’t have that. It would always be their grandparents picking them up or I would often see them wearing the same outfit more than once a week. They have taught me so much on not taking everything for granted.
These kids meant and still mean the whole world to me. Everyone is thanking me for changing their lives, yet they were the ones who changed mine if anything.
The entire school is like a second family to me now. I wouldn’t have wanted other group members, students, teacher, director, etc. My summer would not have been this amazing and memorable had it not been for the people I got to spend it with. I am forever in debt to AID for giving me lifelong friends that I will cherish forever.
It’s surprising to see the impact one summer has had on me, but it did and I thank AID for doing that.
Chen, Lauren (陳彥文)
AID Summer 2018 was genuinely the most impactful and rewarding opportunity that I have experienced in my life. I went into the program completely unsure of what to expect, but I can confidently say that this is an experience that I will never forget.
From the moment the students walked into the classroom on the very first day to the hugs and tears we shared on the last, I have learned so much about myself, Taiwanese culture, and life in another country. Spending ten days teaching incredibly bright, funny, respectful, loving, and eager students was something that I never thought I’d be capable of doing, and the closing ceremony on the last day made every second of it more rewarding. Creating daily lesson plans, executing them, finding different ways to communicate with the students in English, and leading a class of twenty 4th and 5th graders was definitely challenging, but the process allowed me to better my public speaking, communication, and teamwork skills. I feel that the program allowed us to not only teach the students English, but also share Western culture and enlighten them about the world outside their small community. Despite only being at the school for two weeks, I feel that I was really able to connect with these students and hopefully helped to make a difference in their lives.
Additionally for me, I had the wonderful opportunity of experiencing life with a host family. I learned even more about Taiwanese culture and language, and the experience made me see how fortunate I am.
I never expected to become so attached to an experience or a group of people in such a short amount of time, but the bonds that we formed created memories that I will never forget. Thank you to Hudong Elementary School, my students, my coordinator Ms. Ellen, my host family, and my seven other co-teachers from B1-5. I will cherish my AID experience for the rest of my life.

LuShing, James (劉力斌)
The aid summer program was a fun program for me to experience. I had a lot of fun with my students and even more fun with my group. I have learned a lot about teaching and also leading students in a class setting. However I do wish that the program had provided more freedoms and help in the times that we could have gone out in a group or even just the reflections that we had to write. I feel like we did not have enough time to finish all that stuff and most of the time we where rushed to finish all the stuff. I feel like also the programs in the beginning of the camp did not help our group as much due to how those programs were only geared for rural area kids and not the kids from the city. I feel like this is not very helpful in how we as the groups with the city kids needed a little more help in managing and helping the kids that don’t pay attention and also don’t respect us as teachers as well. But overall I had a great experience in the aid summer program and if I was able to I would gladly join again in the program.
Lu, Ling Ling (盧伶伶)
Being given the opportunity to teach English in Taiwan this summer has been one of the most challenging but rewarding experience I ever had. During the training period, I learned many different techniques from experts that I can use to keep students motivated and focus on learning English. I learned of different games, methods, and speaking tactics that could be used to teach English. Using as little Chinese as possible is advised and encouraged in the classroom, allowing the students to put their knowledge of English to use. During my time at Zhi-Ben Junior High School, I learned that a team can prepare for any situation with enough time but can never be too prepared to teach a group of teenagers. We utilized a rhythmic clap to gain the students’ attention. Some students did not have an interest in learning the English language and would cause disruptions. So, games were introduced to excite the kids and to push how far they can use English. Each of the students’ English levels was different and we needed to adjust the teaching plans to accommodate to the students’ English. My partner and I created a teaching method where those with lower English levels could learn, while those with higher English levels could find challenging. Every student has a different learning speed and expecting each student to understand at the same speed is unfair. At times, my partner would teach the class at a pace that some students could quickly pick up. I would help the students who have a hard time with the lesson’s pace. Out of my entire class, I worked closely with Wendy and Amandy the most. Amandy expressed no interest in learning English, while Wendy had a difficult time comprehending and applying the information. During the lessons, I would ask whether they understand the lesson and questions of similar wavelength. In some exercises, I would give a challenge to Amandy and have Wendy help without giving out too much information. Wendy’s enthusiasm encouraged Amandy to take the time to learn English. I hope the time teaching them inspires them to continue their English studies. With patience and to have the students think, they improved greatly. While teaching is challenging, my time at Zhi-Ben had been a fun experience. If I am given another opportunity to participate in a similar program, I would not hesitate to accept. I am deeply grateful for the experience that the A.I.D Summer program has given me.
Kuo, Evelyn (郭馥萱)
Initially, I went into the program not knowing just how complicated teaching and planning for classes would be. After the first day, I finally realized how extensive the planning for classes would have to be to compensate for the unexpected, from students not retaining as much of the learning, to students being continuously distracted, to students not liking a particular activity as much as previously expected, to an activity not taking up the amount of time you planned for. The students were enjoyable, though quite rowdy and mischievous at times. Previously, I did not think that the age gap would influence the levels within a class as much, but the large difference in the level led to extensive compensation within the lesson plans. Because of so many unexpected variables from the personalities of the students, to the difference in levels within a class, to the average level of English proficiency within a class, the lesson plan prepared ahead of time was not as helpful aside from the games we could use to review. In the future, it would be more beneficial just for volunteers to come up with a large list of activities to pick from so that they could accommodate more easily to the students. Overall, this program has allowed me to grow by becoming more assertive and willing to lead a class. It has also helped me improve upon my interpersonal communication.
Hsu, John (徐紹詠)
I am blessed to be able to have this experience in AID Summer this year. Not only has it been the best summer of my life so far, but I also got to learn many new things in my experience. I was assigned to Hu Dong Elementary in Changhua, along with six other girls and one guy. We were all lucky to be housed in host families, while I and the other guy were lucky enough to be in a newly renovated house. We had very nice host families, who had 3 children a bit older than me. The parents drove us to school every day and took us back. Thanks to AID, I got to make tons of new friends such as my groupmates and the host family. During my classes, I learned how to handle patience as well as earning a bit more self-confidence. I also got to work on my huge stage fright problem, something I never thought I could handle. Coming from New York City, I can see the varying differences of schoolchildren in Taiwan. For me, having previous experience in teaching kids, think that Taiwanese kids are much much more well behaved. They do sometimes get crazy or messy, but in the end, they would behave themselves with no so many punishments. I saw how much the children "cherished" us, as I was even referred to as "男神". I also got to be exposed to some kids who have a more financially unstable background, which opened my eyes a bit. Honestly, I think teachers are really underpaid because this is a very hard, tired, and tedious job. My father was once a teacher, and now I understand how challenging but rewarding it can be.
Huang, Andrew (黃培恩)
This experience has changed me in ways I can't even explain. I am so glad I was able to learn more about the lifestyles and cultural differences of the rural side of Taiwan. Whenever I come back to Taiwan, I always end up staying with my grandparents in Taipei, which is the more modern side. I never got to experience what my parents and grandparents had to go through when they were growing up. When I first arrived at my school (Chiao-Yi elementary school), I was very hesitant because there were so many bugs--ranging from mosquitos to beetles to geckos. The bathroom was only squatting toilets; you would have to walk downstairs to use the one and only siting toilets. We stayed in the English classroom with mattresses laid out across the floor. Boys and girls were split on opposite ends of the room with a bookcase dividing us. The only room with AC was where we were sleeping so we were dripping in sweat majority of the time. Nonetheless, these kids have shown me so much love and appreciation. At first, they were very shy, but they quickly opened up to me once they knew we would end up being their friends rather than just a teacher. We all became such a close-knit family not only with our individual classes but everyone from all grades. These students really care and like you, even if you don't think so, because at least a handful of them end up coming back to school to hang out and play with us after we dismiss them. One of them, who was the closest to all of us I guess you could say, came to the school at 6:45am the day we had to leave just to spend the most time with us as he could. Others arrived later to send us off. Lastly, I am forever grateful for our coach/teacher/mentor Emma(ma). Be thankful for whoever you end up with, but Emma-ma became more than just a teacher. She took on the role of a mom, caring for the 8 of us. This program is really beyond this world. It is a once in a lifetime experience, believe me when I say that. I would not have traded this summer for anything else.
Chen, Katherine (陳弘恩)
AID has made my summer of 2018 unforgettable. I met so many interesting and unique people. My group consisted of nationally awarded dancers, who could beatbox, who could play the recorder or flute with their nose, who could lick their elbow or could fit their whole hand into their mouths. From the very start, my group felt approachable. We did each others’ makeup and did facemasks together all within the first week. Going out to the night market helped us bond, and we became a tight-knit group. While we had a lot of fun together, I also enjoyed brainstorming activity ideas for the children we were going to teach. The school I taught at was particularly welcoming; the children were all so excited to befriend us and to have fun. I loved staying after school to play tag or bike around with the children. I am truly grateful for the amount of effort my teacher/team coach put into us. My teacher paid attention to the smallest details from allowing us to order what meals we wanted (while other groups got standard lunchboxes) to buying us insect bite relievers to dealing with my group’s weirdness and immaturity. Though many people suggest that I go college visiting my junior year, I definitely do not regret choosing to come to AID this summer!
Mu, Max (牧建恒)
To me, AID was a great experience. When I was applying, I had many fears hovering around my head: living in a foreign country for a month, teaching kids for the first time, becoming independent from my parents for the first time, and so on. However, after having gone through the program, the memories and lessons that I've taken away has made the trip worthwhile.

The first week was boring with the lectures and training to create fun lesson plans for the students. However, I felt that this week was necessary to not only help shift my mind into a teaching focus, but it also allowed my co-teachers and our mentor to get acquainted. The two weeks of teaching the children were the most memorable for me. They were a lot of fun to teach and socialize with. I've also gotten a lot in return, both in crowd management and in experiencing the culture of the rural life in Taiwan. The tour week was a disappointment to me. The counselors were very disorganized, and I felt like we spent more time transiting on the bus than actually touring the country. The free time we were given to explore the landmarks were shadowed

All in all, I am grateful that I was selected to go teach in Taiwan. I made friends that I continue to talk with; I also learned a lot about the culture and lifestyle of Taiwan. If given the opportunity, I would love to come back to the school to meet up with my mentors and students at the school.
Pan, Christine (潘晓彤)
Before starting the program, I was unsure of what to expect. I was afraid of not being able to make any friends during the trip and was also scared that I would be homesick. However, after the first day at JianTan, I was already fitting in. I was put in a group with seven other girls, all of whom were nice and easy to get along with. I ended up forming friendships that I know will last a long time. The training week in my opinion wasn’t very helpful in actually teaching us how to teach. Besides the teaching plan that we all wrote down and tentatively planned out, the other training classes were not that helpful. Though the teaching plan was helpful, it was always still subject to change, depending on the learning pace of the students. In our case, our students seemed to learn very quickly, so we ended up having to make revisions to our teaching plans.
The two weeks of teaching that I experienced was unique and enriching. I was constantly improving on skills such as collaboration and communication with my teaching partner, solving conflicts among the students and learning how to coax the shyer students into participating in class. I also focused on a lot of self-improvement—I tried being more patient and tried to be more aware of my actions so I could be a better role model for the students. Overall, not only did I have fun with my solid group of friends, I also learned a lot from teaching the students.

Yank, Stella (洪佳海)
I am so extremely glad I was chosen to participate in this year’s summer AID in Taiwan program. Overall, the program was wonderful, but my favorite part was the two weeks spent teaching. The first week of workshops were not as helpful as I had hoped, and the only time I actually was able to get stuff done was at night when I met up with my own group for lesson planning. However, I can see why the workshops would be necessary for some volunteers that may have wanted some more insight on how and what to teach. Sadly, making weekly and daily lesson plans did not pay off(for my group at least). We always made a LOT of changes and adjustments because our students learned much slower than we had anticipated. No worries though because we were able to adjust well and they still learned! Thank goodness the program and the schools are so lax; there’s really no need to get stressed about not having things planned to the T. Just go with the flow and trust in yourself and your group members(because teamwork is vital in this program). Perhaps you won’t exactly have teammates when teaching in real life, but it’s still an important skill to have. The last week of touring was fun but in all honesty, I would have rather taught for another week rather than go for the tour. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good experience, but sometimes I just felt my time would’ve been better spent with the kids I got to teach. Sometimes it was a bit unorganized and I just felt like we were rushing so much. Again, I’m not trying to complain or anything because I was lucky enough to have such a great opportunity, I’m just saying I would’ve loved to keep teaching my wonderful students.
I loved teaching and getting to know my students, whether it was singing the alphabet song together or just getting to know each other over lunch. Watching them progress in their studies over those two weeks made me very proud. Sure there were some students who struggled either when learning English or just behaving in class, but we would always handle it by talking to them and making sure they get whatever help they need. The entire teaching experience not only made me appreciate and respect my own teachers SO much more than I already did, but it also made me realize that perhaps in the future I’d consider teaching ESL students. Needless to say, this program has helped me develop several skills and allowed me to make new friendships.

Wong, Erin (黃本儀)
Starting with the first week at Chientan, it was extremely overwhelming to be faced with all those rows and seemingly endless columns of blank boxes to be filled with lesson plans on the AID website. I had absolutely no idea what I could do to fill those all out, but I think that week of equipping us with games and other teaching strategies really helped my partner and I organize our lesson plans and make sure there were enough activities each day.
During the two weeks of teaching, there were some days that crawled by and others that flew by, but the entire experience was amazing. My partner and I had 5th and 6th graders at Dong Guang Elementary, and I loved how willing they were to learn – it made our job that much easier that they were eager to participate and speak English. It’s true that although we are teaching them, they will teach us too – for instance, I learned about the K-Pop group Twice (their song Likey is not bad…) and how to pick up a lizard by its tail :) But seriously they also showed me how rewarding it was to be working with and encouraging such hardworking students who welcomed us into their classroom. And the entire community was so welcoming to us as well from day one. Every evening we would be invited by faculty or parents of children at the school to eat a homecooked meal or be treated outside to eat. And we never had a lack of food – they would keep feeding us, buying us breakfast and fruit and constantly making sure we had enough to eat.
The tour of Taiwan was beautiful – sweltering, but beautiful :) The first night we attended an Aboriginal song and dance event, and I loved listening to the beautiful music they played and sang to, especially 阿里山的姑娘. The drum performance at the Ten Drum Village was also sensational – I was in awe of the perfect staccato in which they synchronized the beating of their drums. I think my favorite place we visited this week was Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei. We only had an hour there, but we went at the perfect time – 4-5 pm in the evening on a sunny but breezy day, where we got to watch the waves and sand and rock cast in gold. I think I took too many pictures.
I always had respect for teachers, but now I have a completely new level of admiration. Each day I knocked out pretty early, probably around 9:30 pm because I was so tired. But I loved it all and my favorite part was getting to bond with the kids and playing with them during break times as well as in class – even if we were constantly being swarmed by them! Thank you AID for giving me such an immersive experience of the beauty of Taiwan.

Barnes, Joanne (劉孟梅)
I didn't know what I was expecting when I signed up for the A.I.D. program. At first, the motivation behind wanting to do it was that I needed a way to occupy the summer; the alternatives were signing up for a "summer institute program" at a college or volunteering locally. And then that motivation stretched to be inclusive of reuniting with my mom--who'd left in early May to take care of my waipo--reuniting with the half of family that lives in Taiwan, and essentially reuniting with Taiwan. I always forget how fiercely I missed the country until I actually go back. I didn't know what to expect of the school, the kids, or my teammates. Eventually, the motivation stretched further to be inclusive of wanting to undergo an experience-to-remember, and maybe wanting to inspire some of the students to learn more about English. Which had felt vaguely idealistic. Entering the A.I.D. program, I didn't really have solid expectations; I didn't know what would happen. As I checked in on the first day, I just hoped I'd be able to end up helping at least one person in some small way.
What ended up happening was memories I'll keep with me for the rest of my life. Even during the training week, I met people I'll never forget. It's amazing how well-organized, well-structured, and vast the program was--there was an atmosphere of kindness and good humor, and in some ways it felt as much of a camp as it did a volunteer program. But easily, the best part of the four weeks was the kids. I couldn't have expected how eager they were to learn and how intelligent they were (one student knew the word "diligent," which really shocked me). The last day we were all seriously messed up. I hadn't received any teaching experience prior to A.I.D., and was unprepared for how attached I got to my class. I was also really lucky to have amazing teammates, an amazing group coordinator, and an amazing host family.
Chang, Ashley (張可麗)
I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity from AID Summer. Everything about this program was so amazing and ultimately allowed me to have the best summer ever! Even the awkwardness of first introductions during training week cultivated into something special. During this month of July, I have been able to meet so many amazing people and experience so many new things. After the first week, I felt like I had become so close to the people in my group. That is when I realized that somehow, after every new memory created, we somehow grew even closer than I ever thought we could. The first day living at school was interesting. When we first arrived at the school, we were not used to only using squatting toilets or having to walk to other buildings to use public showers (we were masters by the end though!) Through all the ups and downs, with the help of the badminton court that we used to death, all eight of us volunteer teachers became family. In all honesty, those two weeks of teaching in Yunlin were the best two weeks of my life. When the children misbehaved or anything went wrong (because trust me, it did), I could always count on my team and my mentors to keep me sane. Although we had a little bit of a rough start in terms of getting the children to understand our English instructions, we were able to adjust to their learning habits and teach them some basic English conversational skills and vocabulary. By the time the closing ceremony came around, we were so proud of what our students were able to do and say under our instruction. As my class sang "do re mi" from The Sound of Music and danced to YMCA onstage, I felt immense gratitude and satisfaction. It was hard for us to leave Yunlin, even as we had an exciting tour ahead of us. We all fell in love with DaDong elementary school, with each other, and the opportunities this program afforded us over the two weeks we spent there teaching. Our goodbyes were bittersweet, for they were not goodbyes but rather see you soons. Thank you so much, AID Summer, for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. I will forever cherish the new friends and memories I made this summer.
Liu, Allen (劉元韜)
I especially enjoyed my first visit to Taiwan. I can say that my group was one of the best groups to be with. Especially since we still video chat one another even though we live so far apart. Additionally, we also had so much fun with our teacher. Our group bonded almost instantaneously, and we stayed together like a family for the whole month. My most favorite part of the trip was the last week, where we were on the tour. We really got to enjoy each others’ company and also indulge in our reward. Of course, the tour would not nearly have been as sweet if it had not been for the two weeks of teaching. Even though preparing the classes was intimidating and stressful, inspiring the students everyday was a real joy. The students, while very distant at first, came to open up to us, and start to fool around. While it made the classes more fun, ironically, it was a little harder to control the class. All in all, I am glad to have met all my students. This trip has been truly unforgettable in terms of experience, and friendships. One day I hope to gather my group and visit Taiwan again.
Liao, Annabel (廖禧安)
These past four weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. I had the ability to meet so many new people and was able to work with such a fantastic group of volunteers. During the two teaching weeks in Yunlin County I experienced so many new things. The first couple of days, I will admit to being in a culture shock. Yunlin county was a lot more rural than I had initially expected. In addition, I was not used to seeing such large critters like beetles and cockroaches in my living space before. Despite the changes in my comfort zone, DaDong Elementary School quickly began to feel like home. This was because of the people I was surrounded by in Group B3-5 and the remarkable attempts of the DaDong Elementary School faculty to make us feel at home. Teaching week was a bit stressful but in the end worked out really well. I, alongside my co-teacher Hope Tsai, taught Class A, the most beginner level of English students. Together, we had our hands full with some energetic and enthusiastic students. Our biggest challenge at the time was getting the class under control and transforming their energetic natures to energy towards studies. We did occasionally have some misbehavior in class, but this taught us both how to properly discipline students without being too harsh or too lenient. In two weeks, Hope and I were able to teach students self introductions, the entire alphabet, fruits, vegetables, colors, and numbers. In addition, we were able to create work journals with them and teach them many new, fun, and exciting games such as duck duck goose. At the end of the two weeks, I was absolutely heart-broken to leave the students but knew that they were in good hands. In the span of two weeks I had grown to love the students as if they were my own little brothers and sisters and watch their english comprehension skills grow to new heights. This experience has further motivated me to continue my learning of the Chinese language, as it has opened my eyes to the power of being able to speak different languages. I will never forget my time within the AID program, the amazing people I have met here, as well as the ever-lasting friendships I have made here.
Mei, Alyssa (梅明萱)
This entire program has been quite the experience. I was originally skeptical about the whole teaching children gig, but in the end it paid off. I've made so many friends, so many different memories, and so many life skills. Teaching the kids in Nantou has definitely changed my perspective on a few things. Namely, the struggles of being a good mentor and a good colleague to others. Teaching is a very socially invested job, and mad respect to all the teachers out there. This wasn't my first time in Taiwan, but it certainly was a novel experience. I'm glad I ended up accepting and going, and I honestly do wish I could do this more than once.

Every day was a different kind of ride. Each day presented different challenges, different attitudes and different plans. My partner Jason and I made powerpoints every day and played vocab games. But other than that, the way the kids reacted to what we did was always varied. We had to stay adaptable to the situation, and despite the ups and downs we were able to accomplish the necessary tasks together. Asides from the teaching, the socializing with the students, teachers, my friends... it was something I'll never ever ever forget. I hope that someday I'll ba able to come back and visit the kids in Nantou. Even better yet, see my group mates again back in the United States of America. Thank you for everything
Tung, Eric (童雲皓)
Honestly, I should have done something like this earlier in my life. AID has really opened my eyes as to how many different kinds of people around the world are affected by Taiwanese culture and/or Taiwanese blood.

In the beginning of this program, it was slightly stressful because I have never taught English in such an organized structure before. I taught in XinZhu a few years ago, but I followed someone else's teaching structure. At first, the format of the lectures and the classes we attended were kind of stressful. However, after some reassurance from my teacher and from past AID participants, I realized that the curriculum that we were developing should be relaxed, fluid, and fun. If the curriculum is such, then the children will find it more helpful and more entertaining. Moreover, I wished that I planned the curriculum earlier so that me and my teammates could discuss our ideas more efficiently. Although I was faced with many other minor problems besides the ones I mentioned, the general structure of the AID training program is pretty descent.

With regards to the tour week, I feel like that was one of the best tours I have ever been on. If you could include a water park or summer resort into the itinerary, it would be a perfect tour.
Chang, Julia (張家莉)
My first thoughts are about the endless memories I have made and the lifelong friends that I’ve gained from this trip. My favorite part of the program was definitely working with my students even though it could be quite difficult at times. The first week of training was my least favorite part due to the long lectures each day. I think this part of the program could be revised and shortened. Playing cards are a must to pass the time and consider bringing a board game, frisbee, soccer ball, etc. The two weeks of teaching was great because I looked forward to seeing my students everyday. Make sure you plan ahead well for each lesson so you know what materials you need. I also recommend planning more than you need because you will inevitably run out of things to teach or have to come up with lessons on the spot. I also enjoyed the last week of he program because we got to see all along the coast of Taiwan. Overall, I do recommend this program and would do it again if I had the chance!
Tjin, Milena (曾鈺清)
Being a part of the AID Summer program, was truly one of the best experiences in my life. Although teaching was challenging at times, it was incredibly rewarding. For example, in the first week, creating a lesson plan was fairly stressful and difficult having limited knowledge of the students’ capabilities. Moreover, at the beginning of teaching, it was difficult to not only communicate with the students but also to get them to open up and be willing to participate. However, after overcoming these challenges through ice-breakers and games to get to know the students better and vice versa, teaching became a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It was great to see the students actively participate and be able to express what we had taught them.

By the end of the two weeks of teaching, it was saddening to say goodbye to the students, having developed a relationship with each of them and having learned more about them outside of the classroom. Teaching the students was a great way for me to learn more about my heritage and experience learning from a different perspective. For example, it was shocking to see the kids clean the classrooms themselves because, in America, janitors clean the classrooms. I think this is an interesting cultural difference which demonstrates the differing disciplinary attitudes between the two countries. Through teaching, I was able to grasp a greater understanding of cultural differences and similarities, such as how the children enjoyed the same types of learning activities and games.
The program gave me the opportunity to make unforgettable memories, meet new people that would become my good friends, and learn more about myself.

Huang, Annie ( 黃艾妮)
This past summer in Taiwan has been a life changing experience for me. Not only did I learn so much more about Taiwanese culture and my roots, I met the most incredible people including other volunteers and english learning students. Teaching these young kids English really opened my eyes to the importance of education and that it does not always have to be boring. My partner and I taught our students in a very fun and interactive manner which helped our students better absorb the material. Additionally, over the past month I have formed an incredible bond with the other volunteers. Not only did i form friendships that would last a lifetime, but they also helped me grow as an individual. On this trip I did a lot of self discovery. During the training week when all the speakers came in and shared their tips and experience with us, it helped me realize the importance of making a change in the world and helping others. They dedicate their lives to a good cause which inspired me to do the same. Teaching the students was just the first step. Overall, I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to meet these incredible volunteers, counselors, teachers, and kids and for the one week we traveled around Taiwan which really opened my eyes up to its beauty.
Chen, Colby (陳述瑀)
Before I really start my reflection, I'd like to thank AID for the wonderful opportunity that I received this summer.

When I was accepted into the program, I didn't really have any expectations, other than a hot summer. After, I really think I left as a true and proud Taiwanese American.

The first week of training at Chientan Youth Activity Center left me with high expectations for the two weeks of teaching at Dapi Elementary School in Dapi Township of Yunlin County. The school is pretty much the main attraction of the entire town. The two weeks of teaching turned out to be pretty difficult, especially since my teaching partner Alison and I were teaching the 2nd and 3rd graders of the school, who did not know any English at all. Basically, we had to start with the alphabet. I realized that schools in Taiwan are very different from schools in America. The students there are more shy and timid and you have to really get to know them. We also dealt with the problem of the same students participating over and over again. I really learned that candy is extremely powerful. However, I think that during the two weeks of teaching, I really got to bond with my students. They also enjoyed dragging me outside every break to play with them. As I write this, I miss them.Finally, I think I really experienced what the struggles of being a teacher are, and can apply that to becoming a better student.

However, I think the struggles during the two weeks were somewhat insignificant compared to the hospitality and friendliness that my group members and I experienced from our hosts at Dapi Elementary School. They always asked us what we wanted to eat and were willing to go out of town to buy what we wanted for dinner. They cared for us and even bought us fried chicken and pizza when we grew tired of Taiwanese food. I think that the hospitality and sense of familiarity with my hosts really made me fall in love with Taiwanese culture,

Finally, on to tour week. We said our final goodbyes to Dapi Elementary School with bags of rice in hands. On the central tour, we went to many historic landmarks around Taiwan. I think that my favorites were Sun Moon Lake and Danshui Old Street.

Even with all the positives, this wouldn’t be a real reflection with some criticism. I think that while the training week was fun, I did not find the information presented during the week to be especially helpful during the two weeks of teaching. Also, the food at Chientan needs a serious upgrade. Most of it was cold and I’m pretty sure a lot of people lived off of instant ramen. My other criticism is that we really did not get enough time at anywhere other than the National Palace Museum during tour week. As a result, I feel like even though I got a lot of great pictures, I wasn’t really able to experience all the landmarks fully.

In short, AID Summer 2018 was a life changing experience that I can look back upon with overwhelmingly positive feelings but also some negative criticism.

Finally, a special shoutout to the best group B3-8 for one of the best months of my life. Thanks to Allison, Alison, Benny, Ingrid, Calum, Annie, and Jonathan!

Zhang, Jaysen (張捷勝)
Going into this program, I had no idea what to expect of these students. I had no idea what their English levels were, whether they would be rowdy or attentive in the classroom, or what kind of lessons would be both fun and educational. My first day teaching only added to these worries. The pre-test we gave the students showed that there was a very wide range of English abilities within the students. Some students were extremely shy but attentive while others were very rowdy. Designing lessons that would fit all these students seemed like an impossible task.

However, our teacher Lillian at Xin Yi told us to treat these two weeks less like an English-teaching experience that incorporates fun activities, and more like a fun summer-camp experience for the students that incorporates English in its activities. This mentality helped me because I became satisfied that students were using English in an immersive setting, in which they would naturally learn and become more fluent at the English language. I was no longer trying to teach words or sentence structures that would not be too challenging for the less experienced students but challenging enough for the more experienced. Teaching more enjoyable activities in an English-language setting would help all students learn at their own pace.

Additionally, the students I was in charge of were mostly shy, so it was very difficult trying to get them to volunteer in activities. The classroom would often be silent when we asked students to perform activities that they knew how to do, perhaps because they were afraid of making a mistake in front of their friends or because they were intimidated by us teachers. We enacted a point system where students would be rewarded with points for participation, which could later be traded in for snacks. However, this was not enough incentivization for the older students. One very good solution for participation is group vs. group competitions. The students seem to love working as collectives where their actions affect their group, as opposed to the individualistic nature of the point system. As for making them less intimidated by us teachers, I found that acting silly once in a while humanizes us as people instead of these slightly-older foreigners. My group in particular made paper masks for one activity, and I let them make my mask. They made it as silly as they could, and after I put it on, they were much more open to interacting with me (with or without the mask).

All in all, I think this was a great learning experience for everybody involved. I learned how to teach English to make it fun and how to get students to interact with the teaching environment. My students learned English, and this is the first time the Xin Yi teachers were a part of the Taiwan A.I.D. program, so they learned what worked and didn't work to make future years even better. I also feel like I forged strong bonds with my fellow teachers, the teachers at Xin Yi, and the students I taught.
Kwong, Lillian (鄺勵兒)
It was a great experience in the exchange of cultures. I was able to teach the American culture to the kids and teach them English, while my students were able to help me practice my Chinese skills and teach me about Taiwan. I taught at 4th and 5th-grade students 百齡國小, in Taipei City and we took the MRT to school every day. Every day when I went in to teach the students, they would be all so eager to greet me. Some students really wanted to be at the school to learn English. On the first day of teaching, one kid came up to me and asked “牙齒用英文怎麼說?” and then a few minutes later, he asked me “烏龜呢?” I was so happy that my students wanted to learn new vocabulary words and try to incorporate it into their daily lives. As I got to learn more about the kids every day through teaching them, I realized that students in Taiwan really love to draw. When they came into the class they would start drawing, during breaks they would draw. So my teaching partners and I decided to have the kids draw the playground outside. Then we had them write sentences describing the location of various landmarks in the playground. I felt that this was a fun experience for the students because they got to do something that they liked, draw, and also learn some English too. We taught the students about different tourist attractions in the United States and they really loved that lesson because, on the last day of teaching, my students came up to me and told me “I want to visit there when I got to the United States.”
Chiang, Eanne (姜易安)
This AID Summer Program was really a life changing experience. I have undergone many new experiences and met many people whom were from around the world. First were my teammates, we've talked online with Facebook when the school assignments first came out, and I found that they were O-K, not too close in terms of bonding (except one because I already knew him from my Chinese School). After we met at Chien Tan Youth Activity Center, was where we became closer working together towards the same goal, to teach the kids well and make their learning experience fun. By the end of the training week, all of us were close buddies even though we all came from different areas of the U.S. (and for some people, the world, i.g. Canada, Ireland, etc...). Going out of your usual environment where you know whom you want to be friends with and who you don't, and meeting new people in a new environment is really a gratifying experience. After training week, we traveled to our school. And oh boy, was our school a whole new experience. Our living space was smaller than before and of course, less comfortable. Every time we went outside the school we had to climb down more than 100 flights of stairs and back up when we returned. I really grew some calf muscles from doing nothing at America to that. Besides that, teaching the kids was a feeling you never know until you do it. All the little eyes staring up at you give you a type of pressure, a different type of pressure from taking tests and doing well on them, but the type of pressure that expects you to not mess up and awkwardly stand there in silence when you have no idea what to teach them. The second week of teaching was much better as the kids got closer to us, and they were so cute! And when we had to leave, we were all so sorrowful because we only got this one chance at teaching them and maybe even seeing them. The tour week was great! Although I've been to 90% of the places they've brought us too and they woke us up way too early in the morning, it was fun because you were surrounded by people who appreciate you for who you are. When I finally returned to America the changes brought to me were unnoticeable until I was about to put my luggage inside the car and the car trunk automatically opened up by itself, and I was like oh my god, so tech! This was a car we bought for more than a month before AID started and I knew that's how the trunk opened, but I've just been in Taiwan for so long, used to how less technologically advanced it is compared to America. Another thing I appreciated very much when I got back home is the nice, calming, normal-temperatured shower. In my grandfather's house it was either scalding or cold, freezing water if you used the shower head. The only time it would be warm is when it was changing from cold water to scalding water. If you wanted warm, it was to be in a plastic pot filled with warm sink water (you could control the sink water temperature with two taps). Then at Chien Tan Youth Activity Center, the shower was O-K, not bad or good. But at Miaoli, JianZhong Elementary School, the shower water temperature was O-K, but the showers were all in stalls. What's bad aren't the stalls, but what was inside them. There was occasionally a disoriented bat flying around and into stalls, there was a huge spider - as large as my hand, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and etc. There was not a peaceful moment in the shower, we always had to be on guard for bugs and the probably rabies infested bat. All in all, it was worth it to suffer as much as you will attending this program. You make new best friends and experience new things you've never have before.
Lee, Jane (李靖)
To be completely honest, applying for this program and actually going to Taiwan is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I've always enjoyed being around children and I've always had the intention of going to foreign countries to teach English to kids that may not have as many opportunities. In fact, I plan on doing that both in and after college. This program was absolutely amazing in that way. I was able to learn different teaching techniques through trial and error with the kids. My family is from Guangzhou, China and Hong Kong so I only really know how to speak Cantonese. Obviously there was a language barrier between the kids and I. Much of my Mandarin is based off of Cantonese, so a lot of it wasn't very accurate. However, I learned that having pictures available and constantly utilizing actions helps a lot. Though there was a language barrier, I was able to overcome it and still teach the kids a lot while also forming a strong bond with them. The two weeks of teaching had to be the best two weeks of my life. I don't regret anything. The children were absolutely amazing and adorable. They were always willing to learn and they're so fun to be around. Classes ended around 3PM, so a lot of the volunteers and I would hangout with the kids after and teach them American games we used to play in elementary school (like kickball).

Aside from the kids, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and make new friends. I loved my group and I honestly couldn't imagine being with any other group. Being with them everyday always put a smile on my face an I was constantly laughing. Being with these people opened my eyes to so many things and helped me learn so many new things. These people were absolutely amazing and it really broke my heart when I had to say bye to all of them. I was the last to leave Jientan and each time one of my groupmates left, I would bawl like a complete baby.

Through this program, I have formed extremely close bonds with both my groupmates, teacher assistants, and children. I had only been with my group for one month and my students and teacher assistants for two weeks. Having to say bye to my children completely broke me and I cried countless times. The kids were absolutely amazing and eve two months later (which is when I'm writing this), they are still messaging me and asking me to come back. Seeing my group leave made me cry even more. I'm usually not the type to cry this easily. But having to say goodbye to people you have been with for one month really hits you. I have met the best, coolest, sweetest, craziest, and most meme like people on this trip and I am so glad to call my group my family. I wouldn't want to change anything.
Liu, Alexander (劉韋廷)
My experience teaching English in Taiwan has taught me about myself as much as I taught the students.

In this program I’ve learned many skills in being able to teach, from classroom management and lesson planning to thinking creatively and on the fly. In the beginning of the program, many students were shy to speak to someone that presumably knew only English. Simple instructions for games and activities, not to mentions learning material, were extremely hard to communicate. Gradually we used some Chinese to get across some of our information, so it became easier to communicate with the students. At the same time the students became more and more willing to speak, to the point where managing the classroom became a problem. I learned how to read the attitude of students and gauge what they learned in subtle ways. Our classroom contained people of all sorts of backgrounds when it came to English levels. Some went to cram school so they already knew how to make some complex sentences. Others did not and some barely knew the alphabet. As a result, I slowly learned how to challenge students that were excelling, and how to support those that were behind.

Overall, this was an experience that I wish I could repeat again, and it has reinforced my passion for teaching.

Wang, Andrew (王閔澤)
Andrew Wang
AID Summer 2018
Group: C2-3 - 中寮國小

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much to come out of AID. I imagined that the experience would be similar to when I volunteered as an assistant teacher at Brick Church two years ago. I thought it’d be fun to be around the kids, but I didn’t expect to make such amazing friends through AID. Originally, when I found out that I’d be teaching in Nantou County and searched up the school, I was a bit disappointed. I’d heard that living conditions for the AID volunteers varied dramatically depending on where they were assigned, whether it was a hotel on one of Taiwan’s islands or a rundown school in the middle of nowhere. I was aware that the students nowhere near the cities needed the most help, but I’d wanted my school to be somewhere in Taipei, where there were night markets and places to go and see. But looking back on it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our school was amazing, besides the giant flying cockroaches that nobody else would dare kill but me and endless mosquitoes of course. There wasn’t much around our school except for an extremely small night market on Thursday nights and a Family Mart, so we didn’t have anywhere to go besides just staying on the school campus. Looking back on it, having almost nothing around our school was a blessing. With nowhere to go, our group spent everyday just having fun together after hours at the school, and we grew ever closer.
The first week was a bit more tiresome, having to attend presentations on teaching students English, but during our free time, our group would always hang out on the 9th floor, play games, and just talk. It didn’t take long for our group to get relatively close, and we’d always be together with the exception of two people. After training week, I said goodbye to my roommates who I’d grown rather close to, and we all went to the schools we’d be teaching at for the next two weeks. My experience with AID was the first time I’d ever been away from my family for an extended period of time, and I have to be honest, I didn’t miss them at all. With AID, I felt like I’d found a new one. Those two weeks at 中寮國小 had been the most fun I’ve had in my life. There was also another program that had sent another 8 volunteers to teach with us, and we grew pretty close to them as well. Admittedly, preparing lesson plans and actually teaching was tiring, but every single moment spent with the kids was well worth it. I’m not sure why, but a majority of the first and second graders that me and my partners taught all called me dad, and they’d always be literally jumping on top of me and pulling me around. It was hectic and tiring, but it was really fun. After lunch, the kids would always have a short nap time, and all the other volunteers besides me would fall asleep on the floor as well, exhausted. Although us AID volunteers weren’t required to stay for the afternoon class(which was being led by the other program’s volunteers), I often found myself staying there just so I could spend more time with the kids. At the end of the day, us volunteers would just hang out and chat, or watch movies together. When the typhoon came around and class was cancelled the next day, we ended up watching the horror movie It together, and our teacher brought a ton of food for us. At the end of the two weeks of teaching, it was sad to say goodbye as a good amount of the kids we taught were crying during the closing ceremony and when we left by bus. The other program’s volunteers had another week of teaching after we left, and to be honest I would’ve preferred staying to teach another week than the one week tour we had immediately after.
The tour wasn’t as much fun as I originally thought it’d be, since we only had about 30-60 minutes at each stop(usually) and we weren’t allowed to rent out any paddle boats or bikes so we couldn’t get very far. At first, I was a bit sad that our group had broken up a bit. One person left before the tour began, and another left halfway through the tour. I ended up hanging out with one person from my group and my original roommates from the first week at AID. But in the end, I made a few more friends and the tour was rather unforgettable. There were many sad goodbyes the last day, but I’m so happy that I had this chance to go teach kids English with AID. I made so many new friends, and this’ll be an experience I’ll never forget. If I could do it all over again, I definitely would. I just wish that we had more than two weeks to teach, but it was truly an amazing experience. Thanks for everything AID.

Chen, Charlize (陳子昂)

Today was a very emotional and bittersweet day, as it was the last day of the camp. I will miss all my kids very dearly, and I’ll have memories that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I’ve never cried as much as I did today in such a long time. Two weeks ago, I never would’ve thought I would create such an unbreakable bond with 18 students. The week of training at Chien Tan truly gave me a glimpse of what teaching would be like. To be honest, I did not expect the first couple of days to be so challenging and frustrating. Once the kids started to open up to us, time flew by faster that I could have ever imagined. From teaching them English in class to giving high fives after school, every second of this camp will be relished. I just felt extremely touched when one of them hugged me and said that I was someone that changed their summer. (And to visit them soon...) I hope that what they learn at this camp will positively impact their life. All of these kids are like my little children, and I am so grateful to be their older sister and teacher. I don’t have any more words to say, as I’m just incredibly blessed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who made this summer possible. 湖東 will always be with me. I will never forget these three weeks!

Wong, Jeffrey (黃廷鴻)
AID made this one of the most memorable summers that I have ever had. I met so many unique, awesome people and experienced many life-changing experiences. One of the main aspects that made my trip so unforgettable was the school that I was placed in. Xinyi Junior High School and their staff really made taiwan home away from home. They seemed to really cared about us and genuinely wanted to make our experience the best it possibly could. Although it was their first time in AID, it did not show. Our teacher, Lillian, and supervisors, alex, chugu, and eddie, as well as many other helpers yielded to any request or concerns we had. I have absolutely no complaints my teaching experience. I really bonded with some of the kids and even wished that I had more time to spend with them. I feel as though we really made a positive impact on their impact english through befriending them and relating. Another aspect that made this program was my group that I was fortunate enough to be chosen with. They made the time pass by so quickly and there really wasn't a boring moment with them. Everyone was really positive and wanted to have a good time. When we were together, it seemed as though there was not a moment with laughter. Overall, AID has really changed my perspective on life and shown me of things out of my immediate surroundings. This trip has been eye-opening and I wouldn't hesitate to go again.
Kung, Po-Lun (龔柏綸)
I miss the great times I've spent with my students. Everybody in my class was shy at first, but once they began to open up like a lotus flower, their creativity and fun blossomed and lit up the classroom. I was thrilled to see their excitement, especially since my team and I had put in a lot of work to make camp fun. I feel like the students definitely learned something while they were with us at camp, but I even learned some things from them. We had to adjust to make sure they were continuously engaged, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. Most of all, I've created so many memories while teaching. With my small group of teacher volunteers, we've developed a bond that still lingers on to this day. We still talk to each other, even though some people live on different ends of the continent. However, I believe this summer has given me lifelong relationships that I can always come back to for a good time. I am grateful that I was able to share this experience amongst friends and I am truly heartbroken that the program ended. I will always hold my summer memories close to my heart.
Wang, Maggie (王其美)
Participating in AID 2018 has left me with memories and experiences that will forever have an impression on me. As a Taiwanese American, opportunities to visit the place where my parents grew up do not come often. Through this program, I was able to understand the beauty of my parents' homeland and finally form a connection to my Taiwanese heritage. Being situated in Changhua made me appreciate the rural side of Taiwan, the quiet and peaceful land where kindhearted people reside. My students are people I grew to love and care for in a short amount of time, and their appreciation and eagerness to learn will always stay with me. I remember that during the Vice President ceremony, one of the speakers said that this program was important because volunteers begin to identify Taiwan as their country as well, not just this faraway, unknown place that they had no connection to. Going to Taiwan and actually teaching children made this a very impactful vacation. Not only did I get to see famous sites and experience the culture, I was able to come back feeling like I made a significant impact on other people's lives and that they changed me. I genuinely felt like being with such pure hearted children who made me want to devote my time and energy to them made me a better person, just by meeting them and teaching them.
Yang, Kevin (楊竣凱)
I had an amazing time while volunteering in the AID program. The experiences that I have gained were very unique and special in ways I would never have imagined. During the first week at Chientan, I was really interested in what was being presented on how we should teach our students at our respective schools. I originally feared that my teaching was going to be boring based on my past experiences with some teachers and professors, but the presentations the first week got my hopes up and gave me some ideas on how to engage the students into learning English.

For me, the two weeks of teaching started out a bit tough as I am a shy person. The quiet students and my quiet personality made for a very awkward environment the first couple of days. But once we started the activities, got used to the classroom environment, and got to know the students, my teaching experience became much less stressful and much more fun. For the latter half of the first week and most of the second week, my teaching became a combination of the basic things in teaching like a powerpoint and a worksheet along with whatever other activities the students wanted so everyone could have an enjoyable time.

Overall, my time in AID will be an experience I will never forget, I made many new friends and got a feel of what it is like to be a teacher in a classroom setting. I had a lot of fun and am very grateful to have had this opportunity to be a part of this program.

Hannay, Vanessa (韓乃馨)
Taiwan AID was a unique experience. It is one that will stay with me for years to come. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan for a month and experience life in Taipei, Yunlin County (where I was assigned to teach) and had the chance to sight see in Central Taiwan, and of course, so thankful to be chosen as part of the team of 8 who would teach at Mailiao High School.

From when I first arrived in Taipei, I felt a bit overwhelmed due to the hundreds of students participating in the program, yet instantly felt a sense of belonging. I grew up in not the most diverse region of upstate NY and until arriving at Chientan, had never met so many Taiwanese Americans (and Taiwanese Candadians, Australians, etc) in my life. These people were all very diverse and had such interesting stories. Some of them were so friendly and funny and welcoming. I will remember them.

My teammates and I made amazing memories and I will remember teaching Class A forever. The students were shy at first but throughout the two weeks became confident and participated enthusiastically in class activities. Their enthusiasm motivated me to keep going each day even though teaching was quite exhausting. I learned so much from my students and by the completion of the program gained a much deeper appreciation for all the teachers and professors I've met and what they do for us.

Furthermore, one of my favorite parts about teaching in Mailiao was the school staff. They were truly kind and welcoming to us. They took us out for every dinner, bought us bubble tea in the afternoons, and took us out on weekends to the coolest local places to an amusement park! Experiencing life in Yunlin, so different from life in Taipei, was an experience I will never forget. It is the people who really made my experience! I will remember their kindness.

Taiwan AID Summer is truly a special memory.

Wang, Caterina (王昱婷)
The only word to describe my sentiments after this wonderful opportunity is gratitude. I am extremely thankful for having the opportunity to become a mentor to these young students, and hopefully my work inspired them to work harder and motivated them to learn English to the best of their abilities, to connect and communicate with more people and help them think globally for their own futures.
After two weeks in HouBi, I saw students who lived in less-than-desirable circumstances come to school every day, sit and do their work in a sweltering classroom, and make an effort to learn many different words and sentences. Many of these students then go on to tennis practice for 2 hours after school, or dance practice, or help their family take care of their household.
The first day we arrived in HouBi, there were two stoplights in front of the school that were fixed as flashing yellow in the middle of the day. As I jokingly said "There probably aren't enough people to live here for the lights to turn any other color," we discovered that the lights really never stopped flashing. Then, as we walked to the HouBi Night Market that first Thursday night, I was horrified to see that many of my students' families sold different foods at this deserted, miniature square of kiosks they called a night market. How does a business thrive in a town where the only stoplight color they know is flashing yellow?
And still these students come to school every day and struggle through learning new words and new vocabulary. They go home and work their family business at the night market. Even with so little, they are able to take every day with a smile on their face. Seeing these students give so much to me when they themselves have so little, made me take a look at all the luxuries I am able to enjoy and make me so thankful for everything that I have.
Teaching is one of the most powerful tools of all. Those who are able to use it correctly can connect with others in a way that inspires them to learn more and want more for themselves. At least, that is what some of my best teachers have done for me, and I can only hope that for the short two weeks that I taught at HouBi Elementary School, I was able to do that, even for one student.

Yip, Olivia (葉麗瑩)
AID was a month full of new discoveries and growth. Prior to AID, I had only been to Taiwan once with my family. I had not particularly enjoyed my experience in Taiwan the first time, so I was apprehensive about going the second time, especially by myself. However, that changed when we started making lesson plans; my group was eager to come up with games and activities that we could teach to our kids and we were excited to meet our kids. Fast forward to teaching, our kids did not disappoint us. They loved playing the games we had planned for them and enjoyed themselves as we taught them. Each period lasted 90 minutes long, with 4 periods a day. During lunch, we were required to have activities planned for the kids. We made worksheets for them and played movies during lunch. The kids were shy on the first day but gradually got used to us and grew to love us. They mostly listened to us, but often went on their phones during class. Their English levels were higher than what we’d expected, so class time flew by and we ended up with more free time which we had to fill up with more activities. The kids seemed to enjoy participating in physical and artistic activities and interacting with each other. There would be small conflicts between some kids but were easily resolved. We made art worksheets where we had the kids unscramble words that they’d learned and then had them draw pictures of the words.
What I enjoyed the most during teaching week was that a chaperone took us around every day after class. We would go shopping and eat somewhere for dinner then return to Ximending, where we stayed in Papa Whale Hotel. The hotel was nice but a bit strange; the bathroom curtains could be opened and anyone could look inside.
Tour week was an interesting experience. Each night, we stayed in okayish hotels, but the Hero Hotel in Kaohsiung was my least favorite. My friend and I wanted to take the stairs down but we ended up taking the emergency stairs by accident. It turns out each of the doors to the levels beneath the 5th floor were all locked except for the second floor, which led to a classroom with all of its lights off, giving off a creepy feeling. Even the lights were off in the staircase. If there was a real emergency, the emergency staircase would’ve been a hazard. However, most of the places that we went to were cool and I took a lot of nice pictures. We did have a chance to go to a few night markets, which was nice.
Thank you AID for a great memory!
Chang, Yvonne (張嘉心)
AID has truly been one of the best summers of my life and I'm so glad to have been a volunteer in this program. The memories, lessons, and friends I've made are truly going to be cherished for years to come. To be honest, I had little to no faith in the program when I first arrived and only believed that I would be receiving a certificate and a few acquaintances. However, I was deeply mistaken and ended up meeting so many new friends from different parts of the world and counselors who treated all the volunteers kindly. To this day, I still stay in close contact with the friends I've made there. The teaching experience was also a huge part of my summer this year. The students and host family still stay in contact with me from time to time and I'm so thankful to have spent those 2 weeks of learning and housing with them. Though my group was faced with obstacles from time to time such as getting the students to cooperate and figuring out lesson plans. But overall, the student's smiles and cheers made it all worth it in the end. The teachers helping us throughout the teaching weeks were all super kind and helpful to us till the very end. The tour week itself wasn't exactly the most exciting thing to do, carrying our heavy duffle bags, hiking and sweating in buses was probably my least favorite part of the trip. But the friends and counselors made the experience a lot better especially since we always got little bits of free time to spend at each destination. There were some destinations where I wish we had spent more time and didn't have to rush. Overall, the volunteer experience was wonderful and I would do it again without a doubt. Thank you for making AID one of the best summers of my life.
Tse, Emma (謝沛儒)
This July, I participated in 2018 A.I.D. (Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages) Summer, a month long volunteer program that allows high school and college students the opportunity to teach English to underprivileged students in Taiwanese schools. I was placed in a group with seven other volunteers, all of assigned to teach at Yusheng Elementary School in Taipei City. The first week of the program was a training week that took place in a youth activity hostel in Taipei, aiming to prepare us volunteers for our next two weeks of teaching. With my group, I sat in lectures presented by English teachers to help familiarize us with the Taiwanese school curriculum and teaching methods. I also began developing lesson plans with my teaching partner, as two volunteers were to teach one class. The second and third weeks of the program were the teaching weeks, in which I stayed with a host family with my teaching partner. I would spend my day at school teaching American festivals and holidays to my students, and would spend the evening at my host family's house with my teaching partner to revise our lesson plans and activities. During these two weeks, I was able to forge close relationships with my class, allowing me a well-rounded experience teaching for the first time in another country. For the last week of the program, my group was reunited with the rest of the A.I.D. volunteers, and we were given the opportunity to go on a tour of Taiwan. Not only has this experience granted me the insight into both Taiwanese education and culture, but it has also allowed me the opportunity to meet other volunteers and build strong friendships that I hope will last for a very long time.
Chen, Henry (陳卿修)
Coming into the program, I figured it would be a fun way to interact with kids, but I never considered how tiring it would be. Working with kids everyday is tiring and often frustrating, but it's amazing when they finally learn something. Teaching the lower level of English posed a series of unexpected challenges, as students didn't always pay attention or retain much. However, the support system of my group and the school teachers made it easier to get over these obstacles. My partner and I had to come up with so many different activities, hoping some would catch the students' attention while also helping them learn English. I honestly didn't think they would remember too many of the 80-ish vocab words we managed to teach, but on the last day, we went through the powerpoints and I was shocked at how many of the words they knew. I don't know how long they'll remember these words for, but hopefully some of them stick in their minds for a while. As long as they keep being excited to learn and retain their enthusiasm, they certainly have the capacity to improve their English. I learned so much from these two weeks about teaching and leading kids. I really loved the opportunity to visit my parents homeland.
Chen, Oscar (陳元瀚)
Spending my summer in Taiwan with my peers in AID left me with such indelible memories-- I still vividly remember my experience there as it were yesterday. It was so much fun living in Taiwan, surrounded by new people who bonded over a short but exhilarating month. Both the time I spent exploring the world alongside my group as well as my efforts to create a better teaching environment for my students allowed me to learn more about myself. Honestly I believe that being a volunteer teacher is worthwhile because it involves both teaching and learning-- you discover not just the passion of teaching through your everyday lessons, but also learn more about who you are as a leader.

Though my time in AID seems fleeting in retrospect, I feel like I fully immersed myself in the Taiwanese culture and lifestyle during my time in Chientan, in Changhua, and in the Central Tour. The people I met definitely changed my outlook on my own life and the world around me. I was especially impressed by the warmth and hospitality of the people at the school I taught (成功國小). Thank you to everyone there who made me achieve my full potential as a teacher and helped me have the most fun I could ever imagine.

First off, I want to express my gratitude toward Leona and Lenny, who were truly exceptional in how they looked after us. Our team coach Leona always made sure we were on top of our game and ready for our daily lessons. She guided us through any problems we encountered and was the main reason we were able to succeed as teachers. As for the director, Lenny, he clearly went above and beyond with sincere efforts to make sure we were comfortable. We were always well fed with all the surprise food and drinks Lenny showered upon us, not to mention the abundant late night snacks he gave us.

I appreciate all the support I received throughout my stay in Taiwan: I want to thank other people who also played a major role (the TAs at my school Jimmy, Christina, and Erica, for helping us communicate and manage the kids, as well as my Central Tour TAs Tim, Asher, and Kiki for taking care of us). I couldn’t have achieved excellence as a teacher or enjoyed myself during the program if it wasn’t for the help everyone offered during this incredible journey. I’ll always remember my students at 成功國小.

It is difficult to move on from all the memorable experiences I had, not just because of the beautiful sights during different trips, exhilarating late excursions in the night market, or even the heavenly food that any tourist might enjoy… but because of the attention and care I received from other people that made my experience truly unforgettable. AID represents the best opportunity a youth volunteer could possibly ask for-- it is meant for self-discovery and learning more about Taiwan.

Yuan, Chiachen (袁嘉辰)
After a lengthy month, it is with full honesty that I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a fantastic group of people. From working on material for the classrooms to playing badminton to just sitting around and solving an issue or two, I realized the importance of all of these experiences: Family.

Before the program began, I never anticipated that our group would reach to this. Even through texting with them about the lesson plans, I thought these people will just be friends in the end. However, as I am writing this, I realize that I miss their presence. Despite it has only been less than a day, the departure was a bittersweet experience. But I am happy that it reached to this ending. Having a bittersweet ending just shows how much I have grown attached to my group, and I hope that next year's batch of volunteers will feel the same way too.

Photos cannot explain anything, nor will a private talk with any of us will fully help you understand how we feel, for we have made a close bond. This is a bond formed by the tiny moments in the four weeks that we have been together. From the awkwardness at the beginning, we succeeded in transforming that into a friendship that is forged by working and living together. Alongside with that, the staff members who have accompanied us during our two weeks of teaching have most certainly helped fortify the bond, making us closer than we could ever imagine.

I would do it all over again if I have to, because I realized that I have fallen in love with our group. The amount of care we place on each other was tremendous, and it truly touched me that we formed a new family within a few weeks. I hope that we can retain this relationship because of how much we shared.

I am grateful for the people that I have that I can call as a new family.

Now...about the classes and the students...

Personally, I am mildly disappointed in terms of how much they learned. After a week of teaching, I asked one of my students to give me an estimated percentage of how much knowledge they retained. The answer that I got was: 40%. Disappointed? Absolutely, 40% isn't a lot. But considering that this is a two week summer camp to the students, I see that it's actually not that bad, but obviously means that my teaching methods needs a lot of improvement. Though a weekend doesn't give a lot of time for changing plans, I know that my presentation skills need to be a lot less dry. Yes, I made a few jokes and spoke a bit of Mandarin and Taiwanese to keep the students listening, but I failed to provide scenarios for students to test their English skills under our supervision. Needless to say, a summer camp it was, I didn't really make it all that fun because I had to keep the class under control and understand what I am trying to say.

Those of you who will be undertaking this work soon, I wish you the best of luck. I hope that your students understand your content...a lot more than 40%. I don't know how well of a direction I can point you to, but I hope that the kids learn something. Their English skills are mostly vocabulary, so if you can indicate them which is which, they should know most of the basic English vocabulary (Higher grade levels).
Chang, Claire (張芯甯)
I'm so happy that I was chosen to participate in the AID program, as it is definitely an experience that will leave a lasting impact on me. After the two weeks of teaching, I felt that I had simultaneously been teaching for too long and too little. Our class argued a lot, but it was still an enjoyable opportunity. The people I met not only within my group, but also from other groups, ensured that I was having fun at all times. Looking back, the four weeks I spent roaming Taiwan were all too short, and I wish that I could repeat this program every year (but maybe with more bug spray next time!), especially since the teachers and administrators I worked with were extremely considerate. Along with 4 other people, I was assigned to Jingshan Elementary School in Miaoli. Located high in the mountains, we were about 30 minutes from local stores, but the location lent itself to a peaceful vibe and team bonding.

To the teachers and administrators at Jingshan, thank you for being so kind to us and attending to our every need! To my fellow teachers, we survived the heat and mosquitoes, and met adorable children in the process. Thanks for accompanying me on this exciting journey. To the coaches and counselors at Chientan, thanks for always being there for us! To anyone else I talked to, thank you for expanding my horizons...meeting new people was the highlight of this program, and I'm delighted to have met so many people from around the world.
Grogan, Kathryn (Katie) (錢心怡)
When I first entered this program I did not know anyone. However, four weeks later I have gotten to know eight incredible people that have become some of my closest friends. Moreover, I have gotten the opportunity to become close to both the welcoming staff and students at Jong Liao Elementry School. At first, I was nervous that I wouldn't get along with the people in my group because texting online is really different from talking and working together in person, and this defiantly translated in my first week of training. The first week I was still really nervous and a little closed up when meeting and getting to know my group members. It was not until the actual two weeks at the elementary school when we were constantly around each other, eating meals and working, that I actually got to know everyone. Those two weeks were so much fun and every time I think back to that time I can only think of all the amazing memories that we created. Our group truly became one big family. Furthermore, I also want to talk about the amazing students that I got to teach this month. The students at Jong Liao really taught me how to be a better teacher. They taught me how to be patient, adjust my lesson plan to people's learning abilities, and how to teach in a creative and interesting way. Even on days where I was tired from staying up and creating lesson plans, their smiles and energetic selves would make me love to teach. Their curiosity to learn made me want to be the best teacher I could. All in all, I am truly glad that I did this program. Each year I come to Taiwan to visit family, but this summer has to be the most memorable time here. I have gotten to know some amazing people and hopefully make a difference in some of my student's lives. If anyone is on the fence about joining this program, I would say do it and I promise you will not regret your decision.