Ella Brown joined our projects in Xijie Foreign Language School (3 weeks), Dahuwai School (1 week), Xiamen (1 week)
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
One particularly enjoyable moment for me was waking up early and walking up to see the sunrise in Yangshou – it was a fantastic view and unlike any landscape I had seen before. Another moment that especially stands out for me is when we went camping on an island in Xiamen with the children. We played English games on the beach, had a BBQ and then camped in tents. I was certainly not expecting a night like this when I signed up for the programme, but it turned out to be an experience I would not forget!
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
Highlights of the lessons were definitely when students who started with next to no English ability would become confident enough to volunteer answers and stand up and speak in front of the class. Knowing that they have really learnt something during the summer school gave me a very rewarding feeling. I enjoyed all the different cultural activities we did as they were things that I have never experienced before. Some of my favourite cultural activities included bamboo dancing and of course dumpling making! I am a very outdoorsy person so I enjoyed all the outdoor activities, from visiting towns to hikes, bike rides and even bamboo rafting.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I think first and foremost it has really helped improve my communication skills. Explaining tasks and teaching in the lessons, chatting with the children during the outdoor activities, communicating with the Chinese leaders and just general communication in my time off have all really helped me become a more effective communicator. I think gaining such a great insight into a very different culture also helped me appreciate the differences between my life and the lives that the people I met lead out in China. Recognising these differences is really important and makes me appreciate the value of certain things that I potentially would not have done to the same extent before this trip.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing about my experience has to be the wide range of people I met and the different groups of children I had the pleasure of teaching. All of the Chinese teachers were so interesting and helped me learn lots about Chinese culture. The children were active and enthusiastic in all the lessons, and it was very rewarding watching their English improve over the course of the summer school. I have never felt so welcomed in a country and everyone I met was so helpful and willing to share their culture with me.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would definitely recommend this experience to a friend. It is an opportunity to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, try lots of new things and experience a culture that is so very different from the one you are used to. By putting myself so far out of my comfort zone and taking the step on my own, I have become a more confident and well rounded person.