Charles joined our programme in Yangshuo (Zhuoyue English College) in the summer of 2017, please read on for his feedback.
Please can you tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Now that I’m back in England, I really miss the weather, the food, the students, the fellow teachers and the location itself. It was truly a great experience and I feel that I have learnt a lot and made some great friends from all over the world. I enjoyed forming a bond with my students at school, participating in the school-organised activities and travelling with the other foreign teachers in our off-time on the weekends. The location was really breathtaking and also very peaceful as we were a 15 minutes drive out from town. I would thoroughly recommend visiting.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
As you taught the same class for longer, the students begin to understand you better and you also realise what the students respond best to; you really do form a bond with them. I enjoyed the outdoor activities, such as archery, fish catching and pottery. The highlight for me was probably the Friday afternoon games session we had every other week. We normally had games of dodge ball, splat and musical statues going on, but this all usually ended with a huge water fight which was good fun.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I feel like I’ve gained more experience in how to look after myself in a foreign country. Whilst I have been to China before, it has always been to visit family and as a result I’ve always been pretty shielded. However this time I had a lot more independence and as a result I now feel more confident with my Mandarin and travelling on my own accord with other foreigners. From teaching I feel like I have learnt to be more patient and also how to take the lead – since as a teacher the whole course of the lesson lies with you.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The people really made the Summer Programme for me. The students were great and you make really good friendships with the other foreign teachers and the Chinese teaching assistants. I feel like I now have friends that I can get in contact with all over the world. It really makes your time much more enjoyable, whether that be teaching or travelling in your off-time, if you spend it with friendly people who are in the same situations as you. This really made my experience in China so enjoyable.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Yeah I would definitely recommend this Summer Programme to a friend, simply because I think they would also have a great experience doing this. The teaching, whilst testing, is really fulfilling, the students are a good laugh and the location is truly unique. I feel if you have an interest in coming and travelling around China, this programme could be a good place to start. Despite having been to the country some 7 or 8 times, I felt I learnt a lot more about the culture coming here and doing something more meaningful than simply just being on a family holiday.