Campus Ambassador: Rhys Jones
In summer 2018, Rhys Jones joined one of our projects in Beijing, and is now a Gotoco Ambassador at the University of Bristol, helping more students learn about opportunities in China and continuing to promote cultural exchange. Read on below to learn more about his experience with Gotoco!
Rhys Jones—University of Bristol—Beijing 2018
My name is Rhys and I am a Politics and International Relations student at the University of Bristol. I spent a month in China on a Gotoco programme in Beijing and visited the neighbouring countries of South Korea and Kazakhstan as part of my trip!
I was placed in at an experiential learning summer camp in Beijing, the beating heart of China. Beijing is one of the world’s great metropolis’ and is home to a plethora of impressive UNESCO world heritage sites. In Beijing, you see the historical China walking hand-in-hand with its exciting new present. In the city, and China in general, you can feel the energy of a country and a culture on the rise. Teaching in Beijing was such a fantastic experience, you really feel like you are in the middle of it all!
I spent my time with 6 – 8 year olds helping them with their activities, and providing opportunities for them to practise English. Every day is a little bit different, but some of my favourite activities included a game of quidditch, a massive water fight which gave the kids an ample chance to bombard us counsellors with sponges and water balloons, as well as a traditional tea ceremony, and flower arrangement. With the focus on fun, the kids really started to pick up English without even knowing it, which was very rewarding.
Before arriving, having no knowledge of Mandarin, and being placed in a new working environment, I was a little nervous about what to expect. However, by the 3rd day I was comfortably dressing up as Elsa from Frozen and belting out “Let It Go” at the top of my lungs to the crowd of 50 or so children who found the whole thing, and perhaps my unconvincing costume, hilarious. That is the magic of the Gotoco programmes, the kids really make you feel welcome, as do the other counsellors and those who run the camp.
After work, there is no shortage of ways to occupy your time in Beijing. For me it was spent mostly wandering through the Hutongs, the small single-storey alleyways which cover the very centre of the city, and discovering new tucked away restaurants. It became a mission to try the cuisine of each province, something easily achievable in Beijing which is filled with all the cuisines of China. A personal favourite is the cuisine of Xinjang, where almost everything on the menu is to die for. A special mention however must go to Lagman, an amazing spicy noodle dish, and the Xinjiang lamb kebabs, Kaorou.
China is a haven for travellers, and you can spend time hiking on the great wall, walking through historic parks and palaces, or you can venture off into some fantastic landscapes. It is also a hub for travel in the region, allowing you to visit neighbouring nations with ease.
In summary, the trip is unforgettable, and GOTOCO makes the experience as easy as possible. I enjoyed it so much, I have joined as a Campus Ambassador at Bristol University and will be going out to China once more as a project leader—this time I am even bringing some friends with me. This experience really is for everyone!