joined our projects in Hangzhou Echo English – Rainbow Campus
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
For me, the most enjoyable moments of my trip happened in the classroom, or during free time with other foreign teachers. In the classroom, I really got to know my students, and came to care for some of them. For example, I had one girl in my class who I think was unsure of me for the first few days. On the fourth or fifth day of class, she started to be more friendly and smile towards me more often. It was not long before she was hugging me and interacting with me more often. A day or two before the end of the program, she gave me the picture she had colored. I enjoyed spending time with my students and connecting with them. In addition, during our lunch breaks, my fellow teachers and I would walk in the area around our campus, looking at the shops and trying new things. It was fun to explore, as well as to get to know new people.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
In my home stay experience, my lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities were severely limited to the point of almost being non-existent. One day my host family took me to West Lake, but we only walked around for about 30-40 minutes before we stopped for green tea and then left for lunch. They then took me to a movie later, which I found very interesting due to similarities and differences between similar American movies. Another day, my host family took me to another attraction near West Lake which was like a walk through the woods, but we only walked for half an hour before they wanted to turn back. We walked along the river in the evening several times. However, other than that, and several times eating out, there were almost no activities or excursions offered to me. I did not go to the Chinese lessons offered by the school because I was required to travel, which I thought too difficult and time consuming. In addition, I was given the feeling that my host family might be upset if I took time away from the child's English lessons every night. I was given the feeling that I was only staying with the family to give the child lessons every night. The most memorable excursion I had in Hangzhou was at Qinghefang Street, where my host family dropped me off alone, but I was able to explore and shop for about an hour or two.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
While I have learned a little bit about teaching, especially teaching English as a foreign language, I think that I have benefited the most from the many difficulties and challenges I have been presented with during this experience. They have made me a stronger person. In addition, I think they have made me more resourceful and resilient for the future.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing about my experience in China was probably getting to meet new people and learn about a different culture. Looking back, the best part of my trip was getting to know my students, as well as the other teachers I was working with on my campus.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I probably would not recommend this program unless someone was already specifically interested in teaching English abroad in China. My chief reason is that I felt that the program and my campus was severely unorganized, which resulted in stress and anxiety for the participants. I had expected help and a better transition into the teaching experience. I had not expected to just be thrown in the classroom. I know it is not the case for some of the others that participated in this program, but overall, I was fairly dissatisfied with my experience. The school was very unorganized and did not properly prepare me for teaching, and although my host family was very nice and courteous, I was never really made to feel part of the family.