Campus Ambassador: Anna Duff
In summer 2018, Anna Duff joined one of our projects in Fuyang, Anhui, and is now a Gotoco Ambassador at the University of Oxford, helping more students learn about opportunities in China and continuing to promote cultural exchange.
Read on below to learn more about her experience with Gotoco!
Anna Duff—University of Oxford—Fuyang, Anhui 2018
I’m Anna, a French & Linguistics undergrad at Oxford. I spent two months in China with Gotoco last summer, the first teaching and the second travelling. TL;DR: best experience of my life so far, without a shadow of a doubt.
I’ve yet to meet someone who has heard of Fuyang, East China. If you google it, you’ll find images of places that aren’t really there and descriptions of attractions that don’t exist. I think it goes without saying, then, that I was not in for any kind of artificial, tourist-heavy, or Westernised experience. Teaching and living in Fuyang was cultural immersion at its absolute best, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I taught English to 8 – 14 year olds 6 days a week, gaining a TEFL qualification by singing and dancing to throwback pop songs, inventing language-based run-around games, and having many a conversation about who’s in your family and how you get to school. I couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin and I’d never taught English before, and yet, at the end of 3 weeks, the relationships I had developed with my students were strong enough for us to part in tears. Almost every evening there’d be a family eager to host us for dinner, offering the kind of experience you simply don’t get when you go on holiday. They wanted to learn about my life and culture and thanked me for my teaching efforts with the kind of authentic Chinese cuisine that puts your Friday night Chow Mein to shame.
I didn’t think twice before accepting Gotoco’s offer to pay for 5 nights away in Yangshuo at the end of my teaching placement. Yangshuo is the most beautiful, most exciting place I have ever found myself in. It was surreal to go to sleep each night realising that you’d just shared lifelong memories with a group of people you only met for the first time that morning. We swam in any water we came across, ate whatever the waiters chose to give us, bathed in mud pools in the depths of caves, rode mopeds through the countryside, sang Karaoke in the city and played Dou dizhu on the hostel rooftop until sunrise.
Every Gotoco participant I’ve met has had a completely unique experience, but the testimonials are all the same: rewarding, inspiring, unforgettable.
Since coming back to the UK I’ve joined the Gotoco team as a Campus Ambassador here in Oxford. This is the perfect way for me to spread the word about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I hope I can inspire more people to take the chance I did this time a year ago!