On June 30, 2011, at 3:00 P.M., at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, I boarded the China Airlines airplane alone. I was ready to embark on an adventure to Taiwan, ready to teach English as volunteer teacher as part of the AID Summer teaching program.
I landed in Taipei, Taiwan to see my two cousins. Before heading to training as a volunteer teacher, I spent some time with the family, playing Super Mario on the Wii. They also took me to visit the night markets of Taiwan, where I tried some extremely delicious food as well as enjoyed the night view of Taipei.
However, sadly, my time with the family was cut short because I was required to go through training as a volunteer teacher. My family dropped me off at the Chientan Youth Activity Center in Taipei, where I met and shared a room with my future teaching partners: Karen, Emily Tiao, and Sonia. We spent our training time with the guys in our teaching group: Evan, Bo, Justin, and Richard. Training was tedious; we were required to listen to boring lectures and at night we needed to plan our lessons for the two weeks of teaching. We were relieved when the end of the week came, signaling the start of our teaching. We rode our bus from the Chientan Youth Center to the Nei Hu Elementary School in the Yunlin County, singing karaoke during the ride.
Yunlin was definitely not similar to Taipei; instead of the busy city life, there were miles of nothing but farmland, and very rarely did I ever see a car or motorcycle pass by the school. Yet for some strange reason, at first glance I thought Nei Hu was an extraordinary school. It seemed welcoming to all, a great learning environment for students. The hospitality of the school staff was incredible; they gave us all the supplies we needed such as uniforms, bowls, utensils, even paid for what we needed, and fed us extremely well.
I was supposed to teach the second class of students with my teaching partner, Justin. Our class showed so much enthusiasm and noisiness that continued for the rest of the two weeks, for they were very curious and very inquisitive. “Teacher, do you have this in America?” “Teacher, how do you say this in English?” were some commonly asked questions in class. They loved some of the classroom activities we did, such as scavenger hunts, games with lots of competition, and various movies. They enjoyed seeing their teachers make fools of themselves when I was taping vocabulary cards all over my teaching partner to teach the kids body parts. They loved our collaborative activities with other teaching members, such as our giant water balloon fight, making sushi together, and our big Halloween celebration. Their enthusiasm in singing the “Waving Flag” song from the 2010 FIFA World Cup always brought a smile to my face. I hope that even if they do not remember the English that we taught, they would at least remember the great memories that we shared.
On the last week, I tearfully said goodbye to everyone at Nei Hu, and together with my teaching group, I went on the tour that the AID Summer program had prepared for us. We went to so many different places, such as the Kenting National Park, the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquariam, the Dream Mall in Kaohsiung, the Meinung Folk Village where we painted paper umbrellas, the Anping Fort, the Lukang Temple, the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, the President Hall of the Republic of China, and the National Palace Museum.
I learned what a wonderful country Taiwan was with its beauty, history, culture, and of course, its people, and I grew extremely attached to Taiwan, wishing one day, I will be able to return to this amazing place again.
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