AID provides meaningful experiences, summer memories

by Rosalie Chan, Web & News Editor

After hearing so much about AID from my friend Caroline, I decided to apply for AID this year.  From what she said, it seemed like it would be a fun experience, meeting new people, traveling around Taiwan and teaching English to Taiwanese children.  I was very excited to begin the AID program, but at the same time, I was nervous.  What if I didn’t get along with my teaching group?  What if I can’t handle teaching children?  What if AID isn’t as great as I thought it would be?

Turns out, AID went above and beyond my expectations.  To say that it was a great experience would be an understatement.  Honestly, it was probably the best month of my life.

The first week at Chientan wasn’t that fun, but I really enjoyed bonding with my roommates and teaching group.  However, teaching was something totally different.  Our group taught at Chung-Wen Elementary School.  We couldn’t use Chinese at all, so at first, the children did not understand us at all.  We had to use hand gestures and talk really slowly, and still they couldn’t understand.  Throughout the two weeks, we taught different vocabulary words, without once letting our students know that we could speak Chinese.  Although this provided a barrier, this was good because in the end, the students grew more comfortable with listening to English.  Speaking only English provided them with an atmosphere where they learn not only vocabulary words, but other commands and conversational words.

Often, the students gave us headaches, and every day, our teaching group would walk into the principal’s office and rant about our students’ bad behavior.  During those two weeks, we had to give time-outs to misbehaving students, and we often had to yell at our kids to settle down.  But at the same time, they were a great group of kids.  They always wanted to play with us during breaks and tried teaching us Chinese.  I enjoyed having our students draw pictures and make animal masks, and once, we taught them how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  It was a culture shock to them because they thought the sandwiches looked so gross.  But in the end, most of the students actually liked the sandwiches.  It always made me happy when a student tried to use English words when speaking.  Did the students learn much English from us during those two weeks?  Probably not.  But they became more comfortable with it.  And yes, the teaching thoroughly left me exhausted, but it was definitely worth it.

I also loved that we lived with host families.  The first two nights were really awkward because we thought we couldn’t use Chinese, but once we found out that the kid in our host family was not our student, we gave up and started speaking Chinese.  From then on, we grew really close to our host family, and they became like our own family.  They were very kind to us, cooking amazing meals and taking us out to places for snacks.  I also loved the kids in our host family; we never knew what to expect from them, but they were really fun to be around.  In addition, my Chinese improved from talking with them.  After two weeks of living with them, I felt very sad saying good-bye to them, and I knew I would miss them so much.

The tour was a ton of fun.  I had a blast going around to different places in Taiwan and hanging out with people in my group.  During the month at AID, our teaching group became really close, and I found it easy to open up to them.  I just came back to the U.S., but already, I miss AID, my teaching group, students, host family and Taiwan.  I’m so glad I got to spend my summer at AID in Taiwan, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or teaching group.  I will never forget this summer.