Lucy Jarman joined our projects in Xi'an English House
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Living together with 4 other Gotoco participants in an apartment in Xi'an, outside the tourist areas, was nice. We got to know our local shopkeeper and restaurant workers and could practise our Chinese with them, sometimes much to their amusement as all of us started learning only when we arrived in China so we weren't very good!
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
I went to a shooting range with my class of 8 year olds as an end of course treat for them. A highlight because it was so utterly bizarre – the students didn't actually have a go at shooting, but we were given a 20 minute show-and-tell presentation of lots of different types of guns by one of the staff, and I also had very fancy traditional Chinese tea in a side room with some other English teachers who happened to be there too. A summer school also came along, doubling the size of the group, and I taught them all directions and commands under the gaze of many teachers and parents (maybe) who were there too.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I am certainly more relaxed about travelling by myself. Walking through security for my flight out of the UK was the most nervous I have ever felt, yet after a stay in Yangshuo I had a taxi, bus, taxi, train, metro, border cross, metro, walk to get to my hostel in Hong Kong and could do it all without too much worry. I am happier talking to strangers, as being landed in a foreign country with nothing familiar somehow forces you to make connections with people around you very quickly. I feel generally more relaxed about things that I have to do. On occasion I had no information about the class I was about to teach until about 15 minutes beforehand, yet somehow it all muddled through and worked out fine in the end, despite being a rather worrying situation to be in beforehand.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
Meeting lots of other people travelling for all sorts of different reasons, and proving to myself that I can be confident and overcome any challenge I face!
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would for a friend wanting to travel and see another culture and have a crazy adventure, but I would not for a friend wanting to teach English. I had relatively little teaching, despite being there for 4 weeks, so haven't gained much experience. Another Gotoco girl I spoke to had teaching 6 days a week from 9-5 which was exhausting for her, and they didn't have a huge amount of support. It worked well for me, but it wouldn't work for all of my friends.