2019 AID Summer
志工感言 (Reflection) >> Vancouver
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Chang, Allen (張書瑋)
I am extremely glad I was able to travel to Miaoli to teach the elementary students there English. Initially, I was nervous about signing up for the AID Summer 2018 program, but throughout the experience, I realized I had nothing to fear. Going back to Taiwan and meeting amazing people, I was lost in the days we spent together, and after our journey had ended, I only looked back and told myself, it was a great summer spent. After spending only a week in the training camp, I had made friends with my teammates and many others who were to spend their time in Taipei or in Alishan, and during our last week together, we would laugh and enjoy each other’s stories about our respective schools and the colorful personalities of our students.
Describing the joy my students had brought me is hard. After only two weeks, it felt as if I had painted a wonderful mural that I did not want to part from. Superbly enthusiastic individuals, each student had their own key traits that set themselves from the rest. Although at times it felt as if there was nothing we could do to stop the energetic students, under our teacher advisor's watchful eyes, we were able to keep the students relatively in order and engage them in our own creative activities.
In all honesty, although I always went home tired in the two weeks of teaching, I can say that it was an experience that I would gladly relive as many times as possible.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the staff for the constant help they gave me in the AID Summer program!

Peng, Yi huai (彭翊淮)
Over the past month of working in this program, I have discovered many great things and learned even more. Although this camp is quite strict with its volunteers, I understand it is a necessary precaution. Indeed the orientation week was quite boring and uneventfull, but I did learn a few good tips and tricks that I later applied to further enhance the qualities of my lessons. I believe;however, that the most fruitful part of this trip is my time with the children. I believe that teaching them english also taught me many other things. I had a fun time with them through teachings, games, lessons, and being with them in general. After the school ends, we will always have a meeting on how our days went. Even though there are plenty of obstacles everyday, at the end most people would go home with a smile on their faces. Not to mention out time after each day ends is the most interesting as the teacher would often take us out to places so we could further explore taiwan. I really enjoyed my time at aidsummer as i made plenty of friends and experienced a lot more than i could've. This is definitely an epereince i wouldn't forget.
Wu, Yi Ting (吳奕廷)
Attending AID 2018 was the best decision I had ever made. It had not only allowed me to broaden students' horizons but also taught me some unforgettable lessons. One week before the program started, I was hesitating whether I should actually go or not. I was not a risk-taker, I was scared of all the unknowns I would be facing. I had no experience in teaching English; I was scared that I will teach the students the wrong things, wrong grammar, etc. Most importantly, I didn't know if I will get along with my teammates.

Now thinking back to the four fun weeks I had. The first week of training had been mostly fun and tiring (except that one time when the teacher wouldn’t let us answer the question even though he promised that we would be next in line..). Working with my teammates 24/7 had really strengthened our bonds and allowed us to come up with a better way to cooperate with one another. During the two weeks of teaching, we faced many challenges such as, the students didn’t know what we were talking about 99% of the time, the students could not read English, the students were swearing and not cooperating, etc. Fortunately, we were able to come up with resolutions quickly.

After attending AID, I found out how hard it was to be a good teacher. It was hard to get close to the students while wanting them to behave in class, especially when we couldn’t speak Chinese to let them understand us more. By the same token, I also realised that we never knew what we were capable of until we’d done it. I was very grateful that I was given this opportunity to meet new friends, give back to my country, and lead kids on a road they had never experienced.

Now, I just want to say, "GOOD THING I CAME."

Chen, Veronica (陳芍茹)
Coming into the program I was exhausted from university and work and was not expecting much. However, I was completely blown away by the experiences I have gained from being in this program and from those around me. The middle school at which I was teaching welcomed us with open arms. Despite the school being a foreign place, it had quickly become our home. Although making detailed lesson plans late into the night and having to wake up early to teach was arduous at times, the smiles we saw on the student's faces and the bonds we created with them through teaching was worth it and will be unforgettable. As for my teammates, they have become people that I am so close to and can share anything with. I was genuinely surprised by how well we all clicked and how much love we have for each other. I can say with certitude that I have been deeply inspired in one shape or form by the teammates, TA's and students around me. As someone who was not expecting this much, I can definitely say that do not have any regrets attending this program. If I could do it again, I would.
Cheng, Vivian (鄭薇薇)
After volunteering at Sanci Elementary School in Tainan, I feel like my eyes have been opened to another world. I didn't realize until the first week of teaching how low the children's English abilities were, and upon realizing how severely we overestimated their English abilities, had to change the lesson plans completely. But as we taught these kids, we got to know them as people, and their stories. We learned about life in their tiny town, and we learned a lot about the people who lived in them. As well, my partner and I were very different people, and our styles of teaching were drastically different, she being much soft-hearted and more like a kindergarten teacher than me, and I being much much much more stern. It resulted in a lot of compromise for both of us, and there was a lot of having to fix up mistakes made in the first few days. It taught me a lot about working together as a team, and taking a step back to look at what was going on, and having the courage to speak up about what I thought wasn't going right. This experience has taught me a lot about sharing what I have, and being grateful for what I have, and I think it has made me a better teacher than before I began this.
Chen, Samuel (陳宇勳)
There has always been a beautiful reciprocal relationship between the teacher and the students. Both have the ability to learn and teach new things to one another. This harmony is what makes being a teacher so enjoyable. Fortunately, teaching for two weeks was sufficient enough for me to experience it myself. I introduced the world to my students, and in return, they showed me what Taiwan had to offer.

Teaching as a group, however, isn't always easy. When working with others, each person has his or her own different personalities and characteristics. And this is what makes teaching a challenging task. But fortunately, as the leader of my team, I was able to overcome this obstacle by assigning everybody particular tasks based on each individual's inner strengths. As a result, there was a comfortable teaching environment and a more efficient lesson plan.

After the program ended, there was one student who was eager to meet with me before I left for Canada, and of course, I didn't hesitate to say yes. We bought drinks, we chatted and we compared each other's lifestyles and life goals. Out of the blue, he made a hand gesture in the air and asked me what it was in English. And I replied, "That's a jellyfish. Jelly-fish." He just nodded and carried on with the conversation. Although that question was rather unusual, on the inside, I felt so proud of him. Two days before departure, he said he wanted to meet with me one more time. And so we did. We bought drinks, we chatted and said our final goodbyes (for real this time). One of the most difficult things I had to do.

Taiwan, I truly appreciate the life-changing opportunity you have provided for me. You certainly have touched my heart. And for that, I thank you.
Kuang, Joy (鄺筱涵)
This past month of July has been a month of learning, experiencing, and growing. It was a month of many firsts. First time flying back to Taiwan without any other family members, first time rooming with other people, first time being so immersed in American culture, first time working with students outside of Canada, first time staying with a home stay family, first time meeting so many people I want to meet again even though I’ve only known them for a month.
Our school, Xingang Junior High school, was a bit different in that we taught different morning classes each day, and two afternoon classes for a week each. This meant that we did not get to interact and connect with the students for two weeks like most other groups in the program. However, this arrangement allowed us to interact with many different students of all different kinds from grades seven through nine. Even with the extra limited time we had with them, it seems that we were still able to bond with the students, because at the end of each teaching week when we revealed our contact information to our week long afternoon students, all thirteen of us volunteers would get a flood of Facebook friend requests, even from students who we had only taught for two periods in the morning. While I am sad to say that I cannot match every name, face, and Facebook profile of the students from our morning classes, I do remember them as they were in the classroom. There was a student who named himself Michael Jordon, a student who referred to his friend as “Glasses,” because they did not know each other’s English names, a student who made me an origami flower, and in every class, a student who would help us operate the TVs. While we had the same PowerPoint and general plan for every morning class because no morning class would be taught by us volunteers twice, each lesson was different for us because each was received by a different set of students.
In the afternoon, our classes consisted of ten students who were not usually in the same class. In fact, in our second week, many of the students had not met each other before because they had just graduated from different elementary schools. While our first week of students were very open and willing to speak, the second week was harder as the class was quieter as a whole, and took longer to begin communicating with us. The contrast had seemed huge on the Monday of the second teaching week after the first week’s closing ceremony only two days before. In response to this difference, we changed up some plans, added some ice breakers, and slowed down our pace. Even though they were a grade younger, my teaching partner and I still stuck with not using any Mandarin though, just as we had the first week. Although point systems were involved, both sets of students worked hard to avoid using Mandarin when we played games and such.
Although this is a volunteer teaching program, there is much more than just teaching. There is a cultural exchange, between us foreign volunteers and the students, between us and the coaches, teachers, and home stay families, and among the volunteers as well. In addition to learning about teaching methods and lesson planning, being the only Canadian in my group, I learned more about American culture than I ever thought I would. Right from the first day of the program, everyday was so packed with memories that it made graduation seem so far away already, even though I had just flown and signed in at Chien Tan on my last day of high school. Taiwan is no longer just the place where my extended family lives, but the place where I met entertaining students, the most considerate teaching coach, welcoming home stay families with cute kids, and last but not least, irreplaceable group members.

Chen, Cynthia (陳星采)
This experience of volunteering in Taiwan was pretty rewarding for me. There were some ups and downs as there always is in life, but still, I had fun. I learned a lot about working with a group and how to live with people. I enjoyed working with the kids and fostering their interests in English. I also am pretty happy with the way my partner and I improvised when our carefully mapped out schedule didn't work out the way we wanted it to. Apart from the teaching experience, I also really loved having the opportunity to explore Taiwan. It was a chance for me to go to places I'd never gone before, and to have adventures I would never have gone on if not for this program. I honestly wish the tour could have been longer but overall it was the best part of the AID program, hands down. To be perfectly honest, teaching isn't my favourite thing in the world and I'm naturally very introverted. However, I think AID has helped me to come somewhat out of my shell and forced me to engage with people. I made some pretty good friends through AID and had some pretty amazing times.
Chen, Ethan (陳世軒)
Thinking back upon the past two weeks, I feel blessed to be have been able to attend a school with such an amazing group of students. At first, it felt kind of awkward to teach the students, especially when they kind of stared at me blankly during the first day or two. However, they soon began to regard me as not just their teacher, but also as a friend and perhaps a brother that they could approach without fear. I soon began to understand them better as a student and also as a person, and it was at this point where we began to become more than just teachers and students but as friends. As this occurred, I began to look forward to class more and more often. Not only has this experience opened my eyes to the fun and pains of being a teacher, but it has also been a life-changing experience for me because it has not only opened my eyes to how truly remarkable Taiwan is as a country but also to how hospitable the people are. Growing up in Taipei City, this perspective, the one from the outlook of a foreigner, was completely foreign to me. Now, coming back as someone who had not lived in Taiwan for a long time, to be able to immerse myself in Taiwanese culture after having lived in Canada for 11 years, painted a brilliant image of the country in my eyes.
This program was great, and this was due to the amazing people in it, the counselors, the other volunteers, and the friendly staff and teachers. I feel honoured to have been selected to be a part of this program, to have been able to share these experiences and create everlasting memories with newfound friends.
I look forward to coming back to Taiwan in the future not just as a tourist, but also as a friend.
Wan, Joy (萬欣)
This program provides a great amount of experience, both sublime for a resume and an unforgettable memory. I remember during the first week at Chientan, one instructor told us that the kids would find out where we live, go there, and not leave. I laughed about that but little did I know, it was true. On the day we were getting ready to leave for the tour, ten of our students came to our minsu and sat in the lobby. Whatever we did or said, they would not listen or leave. They sat and charged their electronics even though it was not their house. They insisted on taking our possessions, saying they were keeping them as souvenirs. We thought of them as disrespectful as they were overstaying and making a racket, however, they were just there to see us off and help us move our luggage. As they biked away after we said our last goodbyes, I realized that I might not ever see them again.
Throughout the entire two weeks of teaching, though all six in my group knew how to speak Mandarin, we never spoke it. It was to challenge the students to speak English, too. They somehow found out we could and kept pestering us to while we stood our ground, trying not to further expose ourselves. This all built up to our closing ceremony where we waited until the end and sang a full song in Mandarin. Little sounds of surprise and excitement escaped from the crowd, as well as hiccups and tears.
Thank you for the providing me with such a life-changing experience, new friends, free food, accommodation and tour. I am truly thankful.
Yang, Christine (楊子恬)
What did you learn about yourself? What was your most memorable part of this summer? How has this experience shaped you? These are just some of the questions that I faced after returning from my month long trip in Taiwan, one that I will likely remember for the rest of my life.

Aside from being my birthplace and home for the first two years of my life, the thought of Taiwan had never brought any meaningful memories before this summer. It was a place that I saw as my distant origin, but one that I only felt connected to through family. Not only did this month of AID change that for me, but it also helped me to grow as a person through the experiences that we went through.
When I first discovered my assigned school, it wasn't a very pleasant surprise as I panicked over the idea of a rural school with no air conditioning. “How am I supposed to survive?!” I asked myself while agonizing over all the city schools that fate had decided weren't for me. It took a while to accept the reality of it all but once I had, I realized that this was what a once-in-a-lifetime experience was all about. I would be able to go to Taipei city anytime I wanted in the future, but this was my one chance to go out of my comfort zone and into a small school in the mountains.
I am forever grateful for all the people I met and friends I made during my time in Taiwan. Our team of volunteer teachers, though made up of six very different individuals, all became close friends by the end of the summer. We screamed over cockroaches together, complained about the food together, zapped a record amount of mosquitoes, stayed up late making PowerPoints, and dealt with each other's weird sleeping habits. Living conditions were not the best for us and though we often complained, I believe that by going through it all together, we ended up strengthening our bond.
Our students though quiet at first, quickly became enthusiastic through encouragement and revised lesson plans. After the first day of teaching, we realized that our skill level expectations had been too high and that the students’ attention spans were also limited. I am thankful for our leader who reminded us that our goal was not to create fluent English speakers in these two weeks but to create a lasting impression of English in the minds of our students. Having this goal in mind helped us to redirect our teaching style, focusing on fun, English-applying games that could inspire kids to continue learning in their future studies. Besides being our students, these kids also became our friends during our time together. They would joke with us, tease us, eat lunch beside us, and laugh with us. Despite all the bugs, bad weather, and bitter melon dinners, I wish those two weeks at Fengshan Elementary School never ended.

And yes of course, what have I learned from all this? I think I learned independence, I learned adaptability, and I learned patience. But I also learned that friends can come out of people you never thought you would talk to, your eyes can be opened by first opening your mind, and happiness can be found in helping others.

Wu, Tiffany (吳妤)
During these 4 weeks, I made unforgettable memories, lifetime friends, and gained one of the most valuable experiences in my life. I will never forget the wonderful friendships I've made with everyone at aid. Teaching at Shakeng was also one of the most life-changing experiences that I will ever have. It was a small school of 25 students that were pure and innocent. As the school was small, it seemed like a big family all together. Growing up in Canada, the interactions between my classmates and I when I was younger, was much more different than what I witnessed in this school. The older kids would take care of the younger ones and the younger ones would take care of each other. As innocent as these children are, they are the bravest children I’ve seen. Sitting on the quiet basketball court in the peaceful, rural area of Taiwan after an energetic day with my students was a good relaxant, especially when I got to look at the night sky with my whole group. The weekend of our teaching week was also a memory that would be carved to my mind for the rest of my life. The two 替代役 at our school , Mike and David, made the weekend tour and teaching days extremely fun and exciting. We went out to night markets, din tai fung, a waterfall, and had the best food I've ever tasted. From the first day we got to Shakeng to the last, saying goodbye to Mike, David, and the students was a bitter-sweet experience. It was a sad moment to leave the school, but I've also made the most amazing memories that I will cherish.
Hsu, Marianna (許婷涵)
During these past two weeks in Fengshan Experimental School, I have created some of the most unforgettable moments of my life. At first, I was unsure how I would adapt to the teaching environment as well as how I would be around my students. However, it turned out to be the exact opposite. On the day that I arrived at my school, the staffs were very friendly and welcoming, making us feel at ease. On the first day of teaching, my teaching partner and I attempted to use only English in the classroom, which was met with blank stares and demands of translation. Most of the students were very nervous to speak English. Even when I told them to repeat after me, they would only mouth the words and not make a sound. However, day by day, the students became more comfortable being around my teaching partner and I and were more eager to participate in class activities compared to the first few days. After the two weeks have passed, it was bittersweet to leave Fengshan as I got to see my students grow and develop. I am so proud of how much they have succeeded in a short period. Leaving the students and teachers from the school was hard since they had all been so kind and welcoming ever since my group got there. Through this experience, I got to form new friendships with other volunteers from all over the world. Living with my small group allowed us to bond, from being complete strangers to friends to leaving this trip as a family. All and all, to everyone that I have met in a span of a month, I am so glad I got to know you guys, and I honestly would never trade this summer for anything else. Thank you all for the memories that I will never forget.
Fung, Brian (馮偉)
This summer in rural Taiwan teaching English really opened my eyes as I got to see and experience the lifestyle that students and families with disadvantages go through everyday. I taught in rural Kaohsiung in the Hakka community and was exposed to the Hakka culture which was amazing. I got immersed in their routine as well as getting the opportunity to experience and do hands-on activities such as Hakka blue dye and Hugua carving. The students in my class and my co-volunteers classes' were all so sweet and we created a bond with them. The two weeks went by slow yet fast, especially the last few days where we prepared for the closing ceremony. I still remember the first day we met our students, they were all very shy and did not want to speak or participate much. As well, many of them spoke mandarin amongst themselves even though one of the rules was "English Only in Class". However, as the two teaching weeks progressed, all the students opened up and were more willing to participate and try in class. There was also less side conversations of mandarin since they were more intrigued in the class material that we were teaching. My partner and I worked well together and we both saw progress and improvement in all of our twelve students over the course of the teaching weeks. Thinking back now, it was amazing how they grew and learned, even if it was a little.

Some things that were sub-optimal over the month that the program took place was the logistics. Especially during training week, there were strict rules, very minimal food, and no Wi-Fi in the building. It was very hard for many of us to adapt, especially since we had to share a room with six people during training week. The main issue I would say is that there was a little too much training. The days were long and we barely got any downtime or rest, especially introverts who needed more time to themselves - did not get this time. Overall, the training week was very draining - physically and emotionally. Which was probably not the best heading into the two teaching weeks. However, I was able to pick myself up a little bit to really put myself out there and do my best teaching my students. I feel like I really made a positive impact on them in regards to learning English and their interest in English. Therefore, I am glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this program to teach students in rural Taiwan as it was eye opening for both myself, my group members, and our students.