Sweat was pouring down my face as I nervously clenched my hands and exited the airport. I was meeting my aunt, my mother’s older sister, whom I hadn’t seen in over five years. As I looked for her, my eyes took in the sight of Taiwan and all that came to my head was one word. Beautiful.
The tall buildings everywhere made a sense of familiarity wash over me. Smells I had forgotten about once again assailed my nose, it was utterly wonderful. I then caught sight of my aunt, she hadn’t changed at all since I last saw her so our reunion wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Sadly, it would be cut short because I was on my way to a volunteer program that I had signed up for that summer.
It was a once in a lifetime chance to teach young children English. It especially meant something for me because this is what I plan to do after I graduate college, go overseas and teach children English.
The buses in Taiwan are very big and come with sofa-like chairs for travelers to relax on and that is what we took to the training center I was to be at. We arrived thirty minutes later and said our goodbyes to each other.
Now comes the fun and hard part. I was immediately assigned a school and took off an hour later with six other people also there to volunteer. As we drove, we passed by many mountains, the view was breathtaking and the air was so fresh! We arrived at the school and our teaching days began.
Our kids were in the range of 5th and 6th graders, so I was expecting them to know a little English. However, as we started introducing ourselves, it became apparent that these children were very bright. I was amazed at their knowledge. The kids were very eager to learn and opened up to the seven of us very quickly.
Taiwan schools are very different from American ones. The main thing I noticed was that instead of hiring janitors to clean, they had the children clean and also in the mornings. That itself amazed me, seeing eleven and twelve year olds waking up hours early to go to school and clean! Two weeks passed by quickly and it was time to say our goodbyes. We had been to countless places, from hiking a mountain to visiting a winery, from going to night markets to enjoying nights of karaoke. These experiences have stayed with me even now.
I would never forget the trip I had to my native land or the chance of a lifetime to give the gift of learning to eager young children.
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