2019 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Chicago
# Center
1 Houston
2 SF-Milpitas
3 New York
4 Toronto
5 Orange
6 Chicago
7 Maryland
8 Seattle
9 Vancouver
10 Los Angeles
11 Boston
12 Atlanta
13 Denver
14 Miami
15 London
16 Cape Town
17 Sydney
18 Hawaii
19 Melbourne
Li, Daniel (李丹)
This is Daniel Li and my experience with my students in Lishin Junior High. Upon first arriving at the school and receiving a little tour of the place, I was very excited to teach and meet the kids, after all we spent a week preparing for this. Within the first day of teaching and the day before of lesson planning I realized that teaching was more complicated than just teaching and having the kids participate. Ultimately, this discouraged me from teaching, but I refused to give up. I changed my teaching style and the structure of my lesson plans. With these experimentations, around the third day something just clicked and the kids loved my teaching lessons. The structure I used was basically teach, review, and use the information they received into activities. In the teaching category I used many visuals and kept the participation level high by calling on students. The review section was something like matching, use in a sentence, word find, or a crossword. Then the tricky part is the activity, because this was the part where I had to be the most creative. Regardless, using this structure and seeing the reaction of the kids is very heartwarming and almost nostalgic. I really saw myself through many of the kids and it kinda reminded me of when I was a kid: Carefree, pure, trying to find who I was in the world, having a family, and most importantly wanting a strong support system, whether it was friends, family, or a really good teacher. Keeping this in mind I was really motivated to see these smart individuals succeed, because I know that these kids are from disadvantaged families and that they are going through all this hard work to improve theirs and their family’s lives. Overall, this experience connected me to some very pure, honest, and determined individuals that in return reflects into me. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to teach my students of team green in Lishin Junior High.
Roan, Dallan (阮允頡)
This was a very good experience both for me and my students. At first, I was a little hesitant about teaching middle schoolers because I have been told by certain people that I was both good and bad with children so dealing with older children should be fine. When I arrived at the training camp, I was a bit hesitant on bonding with the other AID volunteers; but it was thanks to a certain AID volunteer that we were all able to bond pretty well in the group. Usually in front of people I don’t really know well I am quiet, but this time I felt like since I was in Taiwan I could “let loose” a little so I decided to talk to some people a bit more and interact more than when I am in college. This helped me bond with my group and we were able to make some memorable experiences. At the school during the first week, the students seemed hesitant on interacting with us teachers. However, during the second week we found that the students suddenly opened to us teachers and we were able to connect pretty well. The students ended up being pretty nice and they were good children. Overall, AID was a good experience.
Tsai, Aurora (蔡羽杰)
So while it was an interesting experience overall, especially important points of interest lie in the actual lesson preparations. After all, while there had been a cursory lesson outline created for the following two weeks during our training week, true preparations for the classes were in actuality typically undertaken during the day prior to the lessons in question,and even those created lesson materials underwent last minute alterations, not of it's actual substance, but in it's administration.

After all, while the end goal of this event, in part teaching the students, but more importantly, helping drive interest in furthering their personal language learning goals, is something rather obvious, the means of obtaining this final objective is far more difficult.

With varying levels of existing English ability, from those whom already know, or can easily pick up new vocabulary, to those whom lack such background, and require much more individual focus, it became important to parcel out the lesson such that students are not left idle after completing individualized activities, while also ensuring that others are not left without enough time and assistance to complete their own work. Within group activities, it became important to note which of the students would take over the rest of the group's work, to intervene and ensure participation by all members instead of monopolization by a few select students.

In addition, with the addition of certain activities, planning and scheduling can be thrown out the window given differences between said planning and actual reality. The greatest difference between the schedule and reality would be the second day of week two, where the craft activity dominated far more of the day than what it had been scheduled for. Given that we had realized that there would be issues with time during the earliest steps of the project, we did take steps to help alleviate the issue, which is to say, cut out the pieces of felt for the students during the lunch break. However, there are also limits to what we can do to help speed up the process; after all, for the students to be invested in the project, they have to be the ones to complete the most important steps of the project, decorating, stitching. What we could do is to help distribute materials, demonstrate steps, help explain the assembly; we are not the ones who are to complete the project for them, even if it would certainly speed up the process, but we can help guide them, and shift the schedule so that they can complete their tasks, and rearrange our plans to help ensure their continued interest.

I also would consider that project, despite the fact that it is on the outs with what we had scheduled, to be a success, after all, the students had been occupied in this project, and had seemed very invested in the activity.

In retrospect, however, there are also things that may be improved for teaching the students. This group had requested watercolor paints and brushes for an activity on the first day, but had not truly reused these items, which personally seems to be a bit of a shame, after all, there had been another activity on the fourth day of week 2 which had instead used colored pencils for coloring in a fair area of paper for each student, a process which could have been greatly hastened with the utilization of watercolor paint instead, and helped alleviate a bit of discontent due to the somewhat tedious nature of using coloring pencils for the activity observed among some students. In addition, more lesson preparations may have also helped with the issue of overrunning the scheduled time, especially with the craft activity.

Despite whatever difficulties there may have been with the lessons and its preparations however, the time spent there was pleasant and interesting, the students's behavior had exceeded any of our expectations going in, but the greatest contribution was the efforts of the school's teachers and administration in helping us with our goals.
Su, Carina (蘇楷琳)
When I arrived at the program, I was most worried about meeting my group mates and getting along with them. To my relief, I enjoyed meeting most of my group mates as they were a friendly group who also wanted to get along with everyone else. Throughout training week, we would have small talk and try to get to know each other more while still trying to write out our weekly plans for teaching. However, it wasn't until we actually started the teaching at the school did I get to know my group even better. Every day was an eventful day whether it was because of the students, our lesson plans(whether they worked out well or not), or if we had to try to finish our next day's lesson plan along with our daily journal after bed check has passed. I feel especially grateful for the university students and the school staff that were more than willing to help and take care of us during the 2 weeks and even after teaching. They were all very friendly and would make sure that we weren't hungry or had any issues ever. The students in my classes were what could be expected from a 4th grade class learning English; there were kids who were advanced and were able to help others to kids that would seldom talk. Thankfully, by the end of the 2 weeks, I believe every kid was able to learn something from us and the learning English can be fun.
Chiang, Kelly (江筠涵)
This summer, I was assigned to teach the fifth graders in Lishan Elementary School in Taipei. Even though we had a full week of training from many experienced teachers and speakers who taught us useful teaching strategies, I still entered the first teaching week with low confidence and extreme nervousness. I didn’t know to gain control of the kids, and my teaching partners and I often had trouble figuring out the “right” teaching materials for students with such different prior knowledge in English. Each day was filled with successful and unsuccessful activities, but after revising, reflecting, and discussing as a team, we learned how to improve each day for ourselves and for the students. Seeing the students laugh, have fun, and step out of their comfort zone while learning English was the best part of my teaching experience. Volunteering at Lishan was the definitely the most meaningful, memorable part of my summer. Never have I thought that after living in the United States for six years, I’d go back to Taiwan and teach English to elementary students. I’m beyond grateful for AID for giving me this opportunity to give back to the community, to become a better teacher and individual, and to become friends with so many wonderful people that I’ve met in Taiwan this summer.
Hsieh , Serena (謝恩婗)
Participating in AID summer was a great experience, and I was able to meet so many amazing people. The first week at Chientan was the least enjoyable. I had trouble focusing during the long lectures, and it was really hard to work on weekly teaching plans when there was bad wifi and cell phone service. However, the counselors were all really great and hardworking, and the first week provided a lot of good opportunities for our group to bond. I was also able to learn some good teaching tips. The two teaching weeks at Ming Hu Elementary School were the most memorable and were my favorite weeks. The school was really welcoming, and our director and teacher/coach were great. The kids were also really energetic, funny, and sweet. They made teaching the class really fun. Although teaching was really tiring and there were some misbehaving kids, it was really rewarding seeing the kids have fun while learning English. I made so many good memories during these two weeks, and it was really sad having to say goodbye on the last day of teaching. As for the tour, although it was slightly disorganized at times, I had a good time going to places I haven’t been to before, and the counselors on my bus were really funny and nice. Overall, I am really thankful that I was able to participate in this program. Thank you AID and D2-9 for making this month really amazing!!!
Hou, Cinya (侯馨雅)
Teaching in Taiwan was a life-changing experience. I learned so much about myself and about other people’s outlook on life. It was such a great experience to go back to my roots and create more memories with my family and different people. The first week was very boring and tiring. Most of the material that was given were things that were common sense and I personally had a hard time adjusting to the time difference and having “class” all day did not help. However, it was a good time to know my group mates and learn more about them. I was nervous before meeting the kids because I did not know what to expect. I was worried that our material was either too hard or too easy for the kids. But the more my partner and I taught, the more we gained experience and how to teach the kids better. Some things that helped our teaching process were props, gestures, facial expressions, and games. My partner and I underestimated our kids’ english ability so we had to change quite a few things to meet their actual level of english. I think that two weeks is too little for kids to properly learn english vocabulary. Overall, it was amazing to teach kids something new and to be able to interact with them really helped me feel more at home. The tour was somewhat enjoyable. There were some places that did not need as much time to explore as other places. Now that I am back in the US, I reminisce on this experience quite often and it will be something that I will hold dear to my heart.
Liu, Angela (劉安琪)
When my friend came back from AID during high school, it was all she talked about for weeks, and I couldn't understand at the moment why she was going on about a summer volunteer program. It wasn't until I went through AID myself that I understood what had made her so smitten with the program and how special the AID program really is. While AID fronts volunteering, it is also about learning, connecting, and discovering everything from new things about yourself and your values to the diversity of culture and life in Taiwan, America, and abroad. In being an international program, AID offers a uniquely open and friendly environment that promotes growth and bonding between volunteers, teachers, and students. It connects students from all over the world in a place of heritage and appreciation, which opened my eyes to the culture of Taiwan. Having never gone to Taiwan myself, I was a bit apprehensive about spending a month abroad, alone, with no relatives or contacts in the country, but AID—as well as the local residents—made the transition easy. I don't think I'm wrong when I say that some of the nicest people I've ever met were people I met on this trip, and I don't think I'm wrong when I say that AID is, in itself, both an experience and community.
Chen, Justin (陳仕傑)
This program was very eye-opening for me, especially as someone who hadn't been in Taiwan for about 12 years. I realized how important it was to learn a second language, not to also mention how bad my Chinese was compared to others. I often envied those that were fluent in Chinese, as it felt as if they were following others down a road that I couldn't follow them onto.

In America, one often thinks of Asian children through an alien-like stereotype. They look different, they speak differently, and they are typically better off in terms of intelligence. While some of those things might be true, what I’ve come to realize is that we are all human. We make mistakes and we all have flaws. It just so happens that some families send their children to cram school while others don’t. Learning is all about being exposed to certain content and letting it seep into your head, and although some can do this better than others, if you want to learn something, you need to apply yourself in ways that allow you to do so. Two weeks of teaching is not enough time to fully ingrain our knowledge into the children. I would have been perfectly fine with teaching children for 3 weeks and having forfeited the tour all together, even though the tour itself was also very nice.

Roan, Vallan (阮允頎)
When I first arrived at Chientan, I had zero expectations. All I knew was that as a relatively quiet person who rarely initiates conversations, it would take a lot of effort on my part to connect with the other friendly, wonderful volunteers. The first night, I met my seven group mates; despite the fact that we were all Taiwanese-Americans and seemed to be high on the tryhard and goody-two-shoes (we played the most boring "Never Have I Ever" in the history of the game) scale, there were also so many differences between us that opened my eyes and introduced me to people from different states and with different hobbies and interests. One played League 24/7. Another was a bubbly, outgoing half-Asian. There was a hockey player from Minnesota (naturally) who described, in detail, the fights he had been. These differences went on and on. There were a plethora of similarities too. However, to me, the one thing that stood out the most was clear; our love for singing. Our singing skills varied from tone-deaf belter to heart-melting choir singer. I still remember jamming out to songs in a room, singing "What Makes You Beautiful" probably a hundred times, and karaoke on the bus. To be honest, lesson planning during the first week, at least for our group, was a little lazy and inconsequential. Naturally, I was a little concerned about teaching the following Monday and felt like a token high-school procrastinator.

Our bus contained four groups, all of which were going to schools in Nantou. Since our school was the closest, we got off first. I can still clearly remember the moment our school came into view. The "oohs" and "aahs" did not only come from the eight members of our group. The moment we stepped onto school grounds, the amazing DongHai volunteers were there to help us carry our suitcases. That gesture was only the beginning of two weeks of being coddled by those volunteers, who essentially acted as our parents, even though some of them were younger than us.

On the first Monday, we met the children: thirty-some small, adorable kids. My fourth grade class only contained nine students, and every single one was warm and welcoming, nothing like the awkward introvert that I am. For some reason, I felt like the kid. During the very first break, two girls, whom I would later realize were best friends, each grabbed one of my hands and pulled me to their desks. We played "Rock, Paper, Scissors" until the bell. At some point, throughout those two weeks, each student grabbed me and asked me to play with them, whether it was "Ring Around the Rosie", dodgeball, basketball, or Uno (I played a LOT of Uno). Additionally, since the area around the school was a really tight-knit community, many children lived extremely close to the school, and every day after school, some students would come back to school, often by bike, and ask us to hang out with them. Toward the end of the first week, we even started walking some of the kids back home!

As for the teaching, I probably wasn't as prepared as I should've been. The bit of time sandwiched between my shower and my bedtime was dedicated to brainstorming vocabulary related to the theme for the following day, drawing up vocabulary cards, speeding through powerpoints, and googling activities to keep the kids preoccupied. To be honest, the kids seemed really bored when I was teaching; they especially did not enjoy learning vocabulary, and had a hard time retaining words and sentences they had learned the day before.

Despite this, I wasn't concerned. As Zena, our teacher, had emphasized many times before, our duty for two weeks as teachers was not to stuff as many English words into our students' brains as we could. Instead, we strived to build connections and cultivate a passion for learning in these kids. I sincerely hope we were able to make an impact, and I hope the children had as much fun as we did. On the day we were to leave, I woke up at 7:45 am to three students starting right at me. With the exception of one person, everyone in the group was still sleeping. One of the kids giggled and told me they had been there since 6:00 am because a group mate had tricked them and told them we were leaving at that time. 6:00 am. They came to school at 6:00 am to see us off. It was so hard to leave. It was so hard to let these kids go. Some of them made me pinky promise that I would come back to visit some time. I don't know if I can. If I never see them again, I just want to make sure that they don't forget us, because I will surely never forget them.
Ho, Lauren (何正雯)
I am extremely grateful for the experiences I have gained through the AID Summer Program. In four short weeks, I have formed lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories. While the first week of training had some difficulties due to jet lag, looking back I am thankful for our speakers and their useful lessons regarding lesson plans and classroom management. Ultimately, I cherish many of the memories made with my group at Chientan.

The next two weeks were spent at Houbi Elementary School in Tainan. Since we only spoke English during class, it was difficult to connect and communicate with our students right away. However, our students caught on little by little and began to understand us more each day. Seeing this learning process firsthand is unlike anything else I have been a part of, and I am very grateful to have been able to influence my students’ ambitions to learn English. Reflecting back on these two weeks, I am grateful to have had this opportunity to not only inspire my students, but also be inspired by their passion and hard work. In these two weeks we also went on a weekend tour, which allowed us to experience more of Taiwan.

The last week was spent touring central Taiwan. This week was definitely very tiring, with early morning calls and late night bed checks. While the meals weren’t always the greatest, I embraced the long days and countless memories made with my teaching group. In the end, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the AID Summer Program.
Bai, Tianning (白天寧)
The AID program was overall a good experience. Things might be rough in the moment sometimes, but looking back at the big picture, I am thankful for the time I had in Taiwan. The training week was as expected. We spent a lot of time in classes/lectures listening to guest speakers talk about how to best interact with kids and keep kids engaged through various games. We also spent a lot of time with our teaching groups to brainstorm activities. Training week (and the teaching weeks) is a lot of prep work—unless your teacher already planned out the two weeks, you and your teaching partner (or hopefully your entire teaching group) will need to come up with two weeks’ worth of full-day lesson plans. Then, after creating the plan, you’ll need to go back in to refine the details and begin making PowerPoints and props for activities. Teaching weeks are obviously stressful and a lot of work. My teaching group spent several hours every day (typically 4pm-12 or 1am) discussing lesson plans and making PowerPoints/preparing for the next day. It definitely gets easier once you get used to the schedule though. I felt like I got a hang of teaching/lesson planning around Thursday or Friday of the first week. Then, the tour week was interesting. You spend a lot of time on the road and walking around. You’re usually led around each destination by tour bus (~30 people per bus). We also got “group time” after being led around, but those group times were notorious for being short. We would typically get 20-40 minutes at each location to roam around independently/buy whatever, and then spend another 20-30 minutes standing next to your bus counselors, waiting for 2-3 people who didn’t show up at the meeting time like they were told to. Also, you’ll room with random people sometimes during tour week.

Wang, Erin (王嫣翎)
Coming to Taiwan has always been an incredible experience, but having the opportunity to be an AID volunteer and teach at Gaoyi Elementary made this one of the best and the most memorable summers I've ever had. It was an amazing experience that gave me an insight into life in Taiwan as well as a chance to teach English to children in remote areas.

Training week at Chientan was really helpful for giving us ideas or tips for teaching. The classes could drag on sometimes, but having practice lesson activities helped break up the monotony and helped me when we made our real plans. However, the first two days were really confusing! We basically had free time the entire time for both days. I wish we could have met our teacher during that time or gotten some more direction for lesson plans so we could have done more in that free time and stress less later.

Teaching week was undescribable. It was amazing, brilliant, and definitely surpassed my expectations. The people at Gaoyi treated us unbelievably well, and there were a lot of resources that I didn't expect (specifically the Smartboard and students' tablets). I regret not practicing with the Smartboard before we started teaching, because we had no idea how to use it until a kid showed us!

Teaching the kids was definitely an experience. At first, I was expecting my class, fifth and sixth graders, to be rowdy but with passable English skills. Instead, they were mostly quiet and knew some English but couldn't really structure sentences without help. We were supposed to pretend we didn't understand or speak Chinese, which we succeeded in until the second week. It was hard to explain things, but not impossible; it just took a little more time. However, I feel like we would have benefited from having someone translate for us, whether it was one of us using Chinese or a teacher who could stay in class and help. After we started using Chinese, it went a lot quicker, and the kids would approach us more during break time, too. The weekend tour was also a lot of fun; it was really great to spend some time just relaxing, and since it was just our group we could take our time together rather than having to rush to places to meet up.

Tour week was overall pretty cool! I was kind of disappointed that we spent more time on the bus than at certain places (especially the Hakka Cultural Museum, where we stopped for a picture and ten minutes that got used as a bathroom break...) but it was so cool to see places around Taiwan. I especially liked the performance at the Ten Drum Cultural Village! I also really liked visiting the Presidential Office Building, since we got to learn a lot of culture there. I think it would have been cool if we could have talked more about cultural things during the tour, even though it was also nice to look around on our own.

Overall, coming to Taiwan as part of AID was just incredible. I really feel like I made an impact during teaching despite the short two weeks we had. I hope that my kids were inspired by us to learn English, and that they can keep up their studies and maybe even come to America one day!
Fu, Cheng-Hao (傅政皓)
Where to even begin? These last 2 weeks have brought so much new stuff into my life, and I'm a little sad to see it go. There were so many memories that were made, all the way from the first time we ascended the 36 turns up Taiping mountain, to when we made ice cream with the kids. I won't pretend like it was a smooth ride, and it sure had its ups and downs, but to say it was rewarding would definitely be an understatement.
As an aspiring professor, I had always wanted to have the chance to teach a classroom in an official setting, so this program was an excellent chance for me to try my hand at my future career. It really opened my eyes to how difficult, yet rewarding, teaching could be. There was the constant fear of the kids not finding my lessons interesting or just not understanding the material as I was teaching it. It was never bad, but I was always worried that I was not doing a good enough job of being a teacher or mentor.
With that being said, teaching these kids has brought me so much satisfaction and fulfillment, and it feels like every downside was met with dozens of upsides, in the form of their progression and their energy both in and out of their classroom. I think it all culminated in our last day, where more than a few tears were shed.
Overall, I loved participating in this program, and I would definitely do this again!
Chiang, Jeremy (蔣佳叡)
I had the privilege to spend 4 weeks in Taiwan this summer teaching middle school children English. It has been a wonderful experience of fulfillment through service as well as an unexpected, unparalleled personal growth. From the start, the AID staff was always on hand to make the whole operation run smoothly, from room assignments to meals to tours. From the moment I was at Chientan, I was greeted with smiling faces from AID blue shirts and soon to be friends. During teaching, my group became very close as we got to know each other on a deeper level. It was a truly wholesome experience to be able to teach the children with my friends. During the first day of class, I can recall many students expressing their hate and distrust of us. After all, they had likely been forced to come to this camp, and we were just barely high school graduates teaching them. However, as we actively tried to make learning English fun with activities and games, the students warmed up to us. By the end of the camp, many of them refused to leave, and they continue to practice their English with us through writing letters and social media. AID was such an opportunity for growth and fun, and I would highly recommend the program for anyone that is thinking of attending or just wants an opportunity to spend the summer doing service with friends

Ni, Alyssa (倪新娜)
Participating in A.I.D Summer 2018 has truly changed my life. I have made so many friends and unforgettable memories with people from all around the world that I would never have been able to meet without the help of this program. Not only that, but having the opportunity to touch and change the lives of the students at the remote elementary school my team and I taught at. I have learned so much about myself and gained lifelong, important skills like how to adapt to the environment I am placed in, as well as how to work well with others. I was also able to explore parts of Taiwan I never have seen or known of; these were some of the most beautiful and breathtaking sights I have ever seen. Not to mention the amazing food and overall Taiwanese culture that we were exposed to during this trip. Everyday was a new adventure that I will forever cherish, I truly feel so lucky and blessed that I was able to take part in this. I genuinely believe I grew so much as a person within this one month and would recommend A.I.D. to anyone who has the chance to do this program.

Mitchell, Calum (王愷仁)
I flew into Taiwan with a small sense of dread. I had never been gone from home for such an extended period of time and my lack of Chinese speaking skill worried me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to teach well enough and that I would waste my students’ opportunity to learn English. Upon arriving in Chien Tian, I was anxious but excited to meet some of the new people. I had never been around many Asians in my life because of my high school’s demographic so it was cool to meet people of my ethnicity. It turned out that these new people from hundreds of different places around America would end up becoming some of my closest friends. I came in thinking that teaching would be the main experience of AID and a tedious one at that but the time I spent with my group mates during after will be what remains with me my whole life. The teaching wasn’t lost on me, however. The time I spent learning how to work with my students and understanding how to convey new words without the help of Chinese taught me a lot about leadership, teamwork, and cooperation. I am truly grateful for the opportunity AID gave me to learn more about myself and Taiwan.

Wang, Luna (王雪嵐)
I had no idea I was eligible to apply for the summer AID volunteer program until around January when my mother found the list of requirements–I thought I wouldn't be old enough. And to add onto that, originally I had considered going on a choir tour to Greece. But all is said and done (and during the program!) I had no regrets about not going to Greece. Choosing to apply for AID, go to the program and spend a month with other overseas Taiwanese youth around my age without a doubt ranks among the best decisions I've made, and the best way I've ever spent my summer.
Not only did I have the opportunity to engage with Taiwanese kids and possibly touch someone's life as a volunteer teacher, I also had the opportunity to meet, collaborate with, learn from, and spend wonderful times with other peers who loved and had a connection to Taiwan. Before everyone met in Taiwan, I was among those that talked to other volunteers online. There, I met three of the people I hope to be friends with for life, three people that have changed the way I view my world and added such warmth and color to my life.
It was also fantastic getting to know the country of my mother more, and I also improved my Chinese. I love Taiwan deeply, and not just the food–I love browsing the shops, whether in a mall or at a night market, I love talking its people, I love the culture, I love the convenience, and I love its beautiful natural scenery and mountains.
I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the AID program, get to know all the remarkable people I met, better my understanding of Taiwan, and affect the lives of local kids.
It is not an understatement to say that AID (or the people in it!) is the reason I can come back to school my senior year with a different attitude: I work harder to discipline myself in focusing at school and at home on my work, and I'm much friendlier and open to talking to other people. Even though I used to be extremely shy, at AID I managed the courage to talk to a person I'd never talked with before–he was on my bus, but I had never had a reason to talk to him except that I was curious. It was truly a milestone for me.
AID is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I will never forget, and its impact will stay with me as I progress through my last year of high school and proceed to my first year at college.

For the first picture, that's the sunrise from floor six the last day of the first week at Chientan. Yes, I woke up around 4:50 to get the picture.
The second picture is of me and the three guys I met on this trip that have changed me in remarkable ways.
Yea, Ariana (葉曉津)
The two weeks I taught my kids were one of the best times I've ever had. It was a lot of hard work: some days I would be up until 1 am figuring out lesson plans and some days the kids weren't focused at all. Regardless of my hardships, it was totally worth it. It was my job teaching the kids, but they taught me a lot too. They taught me the importance of patience and encouragement. By the end of my time at my school, I missed the kids, my coach, and everyone at the school.

I am especially grateful for my coach, Ida, and my teammates for keeping me sane through it all. We bonded through all the late nights working and I really could not have done any of it without them. Their belief in me helped pushed me to do my best. I am also super thankful to the school and their welcoming staff, always making sure we had the necessary school supplies and we were fed with delicious food. One member of the staff, Yu Cheng, was especially caring to our needs, making sure our house was in good condition and delivering breakfast and dinner to us. I will forever be grateful to all of these great people.
Spencer, Carianna (黄凱莉)
I am without a doubt, forever grateful for this experience. Some people were bored during training week, but because I was able to find a group that I loved hanging out with, it felt like it went by too fast. Not all of the classes were helpful, but we did use a lot of the game/activity ideas that we learned from one of them. As a Taiwanese-American kid, who has grown up at a 98% white school, being this surrounded by other kids with my shared culture was life changing. But that wasn't even the main part of the month. Once we got to our school I knew that it was going to be one of those experiences that I would cherish for the rest of my life--if I could go back I would!! I slept in a kindergarten classroom with the rest of my group, and although the mosquitoes were terrible, the room arrangement only made us bond more through late-night mosquito swatting sessions and being close to one another, as if we were all college roommates. The students were so full of life and fun to be around, and even though I didn't get much sleep, they made me love standing in front of them each day. I really miss the friends and kids I met this summer, but that's just a testament to how amazing my time was. Also, the counselors during tour week were amazing! We actually got pretty close with one of the counselors on our bus and it made the week so much better.
Lua, Albert (賴昞翰)
The A.I.D. program has been an amazing experience for me. For two weeks, I had the opportunity to spend time with a group of twelve students in the mountains of Nantou County in Taiwan to teach them English. I had the chance to see what school is like in Taiwan and also step into a teacher’s role and bring an American way of teaching to students in Taiwan. Over the two weeks, I bonded with all twelve of my students over learning English and sharing various cultural differences between two countries: Taiwan and the United States of America. While I was a teacher on a mission to help them learn English, it was really a chance for Taiwanese students to have a different perspective on learning English and inspire them to continue studying it. In addition, outside of the classroom, I was able to spend some time with the students and learn about their lifestyle as well as share with them my life as an American. In the end, having to leave them left me heartbroken, but hopeful for an opportunity for me to come back and visit them or for them to come to the United States of America to visit me.
Guo, Janice (郭允寧)
This summer spent in Taiwan has truly been one of the most meaningful of my life. At the start of this program, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was psyching myself out with all the what if’s in my mind. What if I couldn’t construct a worthwhile teaching plan? What if I was stuck for a month with people I couldn’t stand? What if…? But then the day actually came when the program started, and it blew all of those worries out of the water. It’s amazing how close a group of people can get from living together for just a month. The time we spent together may have been short, but I’m sure the impact they’ve had on me will last forever. The actual teaching was also quite the experience. The school that I was placed at existed in an incredibly rural area in Nantou, which meant bugs galore. The first day that I got there, I felt so displaced. Compared to the comfortable reality of air-conditioning and well-managed facilities my suburban life consisted of, this was a drastic change. By the second day, after the initial shock had worn off, I had grown a bit more accustomed to it. When I got to meet the children I’d be teaching, they were all incredibly sweet, albeit loud and mischievous. Never having been especially fond of children, I really didn’t expect myself to get so attached, but by the end of the two teaching weeks I was incredibly saddened that I’d have to leave. The school felt very much like a second home in which our teaching group existed like one big family. My greatest takeaway from this experience is the fact that the best moments oftentimes arise from the most unexpected situations. I would encourage the next year’s lot of students to take risks, enjoy the moment, and, as long as no one comes to harm, bend the rules a little. This opportunity is one that comes around not all that often, so make the most of it!

Wang, Benjamin (王彥斌)
The AID Summer Program has been one of the most profound experiences in my life. Over the course of one month, I fell in love with everything about it – the people, the process, the places – and I had never expected to. It has brought about a new sense of motivation to my life, and has taught me countless lessons that serve me for a long time to come.
Initially, I had been quite nervous to participate in this program. Going to a foreign country to teach children for a whole month? Just that thought made me anxious over how many things could go wrong. What if I couldn’t teach the kids anything? What if I didn’t get along with my group? What if the children hated me? These were all worries that I had going into the first week of training.
During the first week, everyone lived at Chientan Youth Activity Center, which was where the teacher training would take place. During this training camp, participants would learn the basics of teaching a foreign language in classes taught by a number of different teachers, and would also begin to write or refine their lesson plans. These classes were fairly effective in preparing us for what we would see when we began teaching, but they by no means covered everything, so there were still a number of things that we had to adapt to once we got to our schools. The time that we were given to work on our lesson plans were particularly helpful since they allowed us to know in advance the general outline of what we were doing. It also helped to compare lesson plans with other people in our group and to work on the chemistry between teaching partners.
I believe that AID did a very good job with putting groups together. Most of the groups that I met got along exceptionally well, and mine was no different. On the first night, we were already bonding over a game of cards, sharing stories and laughs with each other after only meeting an hour earlier. The boys in my room also got along very well. We had tons of fun listening and dancing to music, as well as watching the World Cup on TV.
The two weeks of teaching were some of the most rewarding and frustrating times of my life. We arrived Friday afternoon so we had the weekend to get accustomed to the school. The people that were taking care of us at the school were super nice and helpful, and even went as far as to buy us a washing machine before we arrived so we could do our laundry.
As we began teaching, we encountered a number of problems that we had to overcome. Meeting the children was fun, as they were eager to meet us and were very playful and loud. Once we started teaching the next day however, issues began to arise. Some of the children were able to keep up and understand the lesson, but many were not able to grasp what we were teaching, and some chose to be rowdy and not pay attention. As the week wore on, there were moments where it was extremely satisfying to ask the class a question and to have the entire class answer back, but there were also moments where it was very frustrating to ask a question and get a bunch of blank, uncomprehending stares in return. My partner and I had to learn that patience really was the key in these situations, and getting mad at our students would not solve anything.
The more days we taught, the more we were able to get through to our students. When we first began teaching, there were students who refused to answer our questions when we asked, and refused to participate in class activities. As the days progressed we were able to coax them out of their shell and get them to answer questions and participate.
These two weeks were not just all about teaching though. During the break in between class periods, all the teachers interacted with the students and played games with them. In addition, we also joined the students during their physical activities in the afternoon. We played tag, “Duck, duck, goose”, and badminton. We also had to teach our kids a dance for their final performance at the closing ceremony, which was an interesting experience because we had to choreograph the dance ourselves.
All in all, the two weeks of teaching were the highlight of the program for me. There was a lot of preparation and revising that went into the planning, and a lot of patience and adapting that went into the teaching, but we were able to effectively teach our students a foreign language and build meaningful connections in the process. This teaching program has made me realize that I can actually make a difference in someone else’s life, just with a little bit of effort, and this has motivated me to seek more opportunities to do so in the future.
One last bit to touch on the tour week after teaching. The tour week was fun in that I was able to hang out with my group and meet other people while traveling across Taiwan, but I feel that the tour itself was not the best. Too many stops were crammed into this period of time, and it felt as though we just spent the whole time on the bus traveling instead of actually exploring the places we visited, since we only got about 30 minutes to an hour max at each stop. There were exceptions, of course, such as the Feng Shia Night Market in Taichung, where we were able to spend over two hours exploring, but that only happened at one or two sites.
The AID Summer Program has changed me as a person. The lessons that I have learned from participating in this program will continue to shape who I am for a long time to come, and the connections I have made will last a lifetime. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in such a special experience, and hope that I will continue to make an impact like this wherever I go.
Tsai, Hope (蔡弘杰)
"No expectations, No disappointments." the advice that the speaker gave us during training week was really crucial as I prepped and began to teach at the school. When i volunteered to teach the lowest level class, I expected to have a class of the youngest kids, but this was not true. Instead, my partner and I were told that the school administration had placed many of the children with behavioral issues in our class. So instead of having a class of 7-8 year olds with no English experience, we had a class kids ranging from 8 to 12 years old, each with a much different english background. With this in mind, we had to change how we taught the students. We found that we could not teach the topics we were teaching since we had many older kids who already learned it before or had english tutors, we couldn't just focus on the kids who hadn't learned or focus on the kids who knew, so in turn we designed more interactive activities and games to keep their attention focused on the lesson, so even the people who already knew most of the vocab we were learning could review and stay interested. Although i made a mistake of setting expectations that were not met, I learned a lesson and was able to adapt to the circumstances and what we were given to teach the students and hopefully give them a good impression and good experience in learning english. However, what I most enjoyed out of this whole experience is the amazing friends I made on the trip and how the bond that was created in a book storage room somewhere out in rural Taiwan remained strong even weeks and months after our time together had ended and how we continued to video chat weekly and continue to bond and communicate.
Lee, Erika (李芳妤)
I honestly did not expect to feel so overwhelmingly emotional on the last day of class. As every day passed, I was so caught up in teaching and managing the students that I did not realize the bond that was slowly forming. The kids at times were very loud to the point that migraines formed, and afternoon classes were always a drag, but everything was worth it in the end. When reflecting on my experience, the reason why it was worthwhile beyond the teaching was thanks to the director and our mentor Sophia. Taiping village received us so graciously and generously. They gave us their food, their love, and most of all, their kids. Sophia and the director's family worked tirelessly to ensure our comfort and to provide learning experiences, whether it was on our weekend trips to the Taiping Bridge and Kaohsiung or observing the classroom and giving us feedback. It was nice to return to interacting with the simple yet sweet mindsets of these kids for two weeks. The teamwork between teachers was sometimes helpful and sometimes exhausting to coordinate and balance. In the end, I would definitely come back to do it all again, and I will for sure be back to visit Taiping.
Lau, Jasmin (劉子萱)
Overall I enjoyed my time and experience at Taiwan Summer AID! I had lots of fun especially being with my roommates/group while meeting new people. The first week at Chien Tan was very long and tedious though it bought me time to get to know my group. Staying there, listening to lectures also prepared me for my 2 weeks of intensive teaching for remote areas. Learning with my peers excited me to teach in Ping Tung. After arriving in Ping Tung I was welcomed with open arms by teacher assistants, director, teachers and my host family. With the help of the teacher assistant, director and teacher I have learnt so much more about teaching and life in Ping Tung, in addition to my classes in Chien Tan. Though the first day of teaching was a bit rough, my partner and I soon discovered the power and knowledge we held to the children. Gradually as each day has gone by teaching became more and more natural and impromptu. I no longer felt that pressure or unsureness of my teaching ways which helped bridge a stronger, tighter, connection with my students. Alongside teaching, traveling has made an impact on my love for Taiwan. As mentioned many times in classes at Chien Tan the goal of this program is to peak the interest of english to students in remote areas, bridging the gap between inner and outer city schools. Another goal is for the volunteers like me to experience Taiwan in a way where it can touch our hearts. Well in conclusion for me, I truly have felt the positive energy, environment, activities with others that has defiantly made Taiwan Touch my Heart.
Clay, Jodie (陳昱绮)
This experience has showed me that there is nothing to worry about when meeting other people and that you should put yourself out there. I use to be on the more introverted side but now I would consider myself more extroverted. When teaching our children it seemed better to use both Chinese and english. Pretending to not know English put a divide between us and the children. Having a bond with them even though if it had to be done with Chinese would make them more engaged to learn more about english because they would look up to us and want to be like us. Some students were more advanced and were quicker learners than other people in our class so it was difficult to continue the information while somewhere very behind while some where way ahead. It was difficult to keep it fun but not sound too repetitive. So keeping them active really helped keep them engaged and not think the repetition was boring. In all, this gave me lots of leadership skills and it was a lot of fun especially with a teaching partner. At this age I think I would have been too nervous to lead a class of young students by myself so having that extra person at my side that i could lean on made the entire trip lot more enjoyable. I really made friends for life and we still keep in touch via FaceTime. I appreciated experiencing the culture because I could experience it with people my own age together.