David Parton, Oxford University
David joined our programme in the city of Chongqing in the summer of 2015, please read on for his feedback.
Can you tell me about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Generally exploring Chongqing in my free time, exploring China, engaging with the culture and speaking with and getting to know locals and Chinese people, have been my most favourite part of my time here. One particular moment – going to a local hot springs spa – was particularly enjoyable and something I will not forget.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
Highlights of my time in China include travelling around Chongqing, visiting museums and local landmarks, visiting the old town and commercial districts, visiting lots of temples and religious sights, tasting local cuisine, visiting the nearby city of Chengdu and going to its panda bear sanctuary. Whilst I have not been to Xi’an and Beijing at the time of writing, upon my completion of my teaching, I will be travelling to both places which I am certain will be highlights, as they will be dedicated entirely to tourism.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
Yes. I would say the experience has broadened my mind to the culture and way of life of the people of China. I have had the great experience of learning about not only the history and traditions and China – something I think would have been the majority of my learning in some of the more rural schools – but also how China is a modern, exciting, world-leading economy, market and society; breaking down pre-conceptions I previously had. I have learnt so much about China, which has also allowed me to question my own understanding of my own culture, in a constructive way.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing about my experience has been speaking to Chinese people. It has been so enlightening and I have found that this is how you actually really learn a culture. Listening to the language, trying to understand the language, and hearing peoples’ experiences, stories, hopes and ambitions, values and beliefs has opened my mind to what China is really like. This has been a truly wonderful experience and the most insightful.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Absolutely I would recommend participating to a friend. Not only have I made friends with people at Oxford through the scheme – friends that I know I will stay in contact with post-China – but also I have met amazing friends from outside Oxford, who have vastly added to my experience. If you are truly intrigued to understand a country at the other side of the world, this is really a fantastic way to do it. Teaching has been extremely rewarding as I have learnt as much from the students as they have from me.