Austin Kalasky joined our projects in Nanchang Longre
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
I really enjoyed interacting with my students. Despite not having anything in common on the surface, we quickly bonded and realized we had many shared passions. I looked forward to working with them each day and seeing their progress.
I also really enjoyed exploring Nanchang and getting to know some of the other employees at the school in addition to some expats living in the city.
My time in Yangshuo was also a highlight, though my travel there and first day were quite stressful. Staying at Monkey Jane's gave me the chance to do and see a lot of things that the average tourist would not be able to. I didn't get to interact with too many gotoco people there (given my early arrival in the summer) but I met a lot of great people that made my time there memorable.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
The highlights of the lessons were talking with and learning more about my students. Classes were generally 3 hours with a 20 minute break in the middle. Lots of times I skipped taking personal time during the break to instead hang out with the students.
In Nanchang, we were able to ride the ferris wheel, visit Tengwang Pavilion, and hike at Lushan mountain, amongst other things. I also spent some time walking around and interacting with shop owners which was quite fun.
In Yangshuo, I hiked a waterfall and another (very steep) mountain. I also enjoyed riding a motorbike through the city and county side. I had the chance to spend time with some people from different countries (in addition to China) which added to the cultural experience I had.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
The overall experience benefited me immensely. Traveling, living, and working in China has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I gained a lot of confidence during the trip, especially when traveling by myself in Yangshuo. My (limited) Chinese language skills also expanded during my time there which was great. I also met many unique people who are now good friends.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing about my experience in China was the personal growth. I learned a lot about myself while in China, things that I probably wouldn't have learned had I stayed in the USA for the summer. Most importantly, I learned that teaching abroad is a career that I would like to pursue.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
In general, yes, though it depends on the friend. For anyone that has interest in different cultures I would definitely recommend the program, even if they don't think they have an interest in teaching. I experienced a lot of personal growth during my trip, so I would also recommend the program for someone who isn't 100% sure what they want to do after college.