David Emes joined our projects in Shantou BoB
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
I loved teaching the younger children – although tiring at times, they were immense fun and it was richly rewarding to see them learn and laugh, as cliche as it may sound. I found that the weekly excursions were unexpected, varied and exceeded my expectations without fail. I was glad to bond and live with the other volunteers, and have become lifelong friends with many of them. I found that the teachers at the school were more welcoming and friendly than I could have expected, and were friends as well as colleagues. The group trip to Yangshuo afterwards was also fantastic.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
I enjoyed doing activities with the younger children and organising plays for the bilingual festival. It was also warming to have some of my older students challenge me. I loved the excursion to ChaoZhou, which I felt was beautiful and lots of fun. Using motorbikes in Yangshuo was unforgettable.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
Immersion in Chinese culture has made me take up regular Chinese lessons, and I have made plans to return and work in China next summer, and hopefully live there one day. Teaching has given me a valuable skill and made me more patient and compassionate. Meeting the BoB staff and the other volunteers has boosted my confidence. Overall, the trip has allowed me to become immensely more relaxed and appreciative.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
Probably the people I met whilst there, although this is rivalled by the stunning scenery of Yangshuo.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Absolutely. I would recommend it because it provides a gateway to a career in China, and a useful professional qualification. It is also free and all logistical aspects are made very straightforward. I would also recommend it because it combines meeting people, being challenged, doing something rewarding, cultural exchange, holiday in another part of the world, and partying. However, I would caution my friends that not all of the partner schools were necessarily as good as Shantou BoB, where I went. Having talked to volunteers at other locations, many of the partner schools seemed to be more activity camps than English schools, were distanced from the city, were less organised and fostered less of a loving spirit than BoB.