Emma Derby joined our projects in Echo Education, Hangzhou
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
I stayed with a host family during my project and I really loved that. Their 4yr old son was an absolute delight, and really took to learning English. In the evenings when I had finished teaching at the summer camp, I would often play games with him and communicate with him in English. He picked words and phrases up very quickly, and I loved watching him lean over the weeks.
Another enjoyable moment for me had to be watching my class put on a performance for their parents at the end of the summer school. We had been practising the play Little Red Riding Hood, and they all did perfectly and spoke their lines amazingly well. It was such a change from the start of the programme where they didn't even understand the story.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese lessons that us volunteers got to take twice a week during our time in the programme. Our teacher was great, and I have been able to put what I learnt to good use whilst travelling around China afterwards.
She made the lessons really fun, and at the end of our programme all us volunteers performed the most embarrassing rendition of Chinese 'heads, shoulders, knees, and toes' to our host families.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I had virtually no teaching experience before I did this programme, I wasn't sure whether I would love it or end up hating it. Turns out I love it, it's actually inspired me to hopefully use my TEFL certificate to apply for a job in Asia teaching English for a year.
It's also had the added bonus of making me fall in love with China, a country that has a negative reputation that I don't think it deserves. I couldn't wait to come visit it, and my experience here has only made me want to come back for more visits in the future.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
Learning a different culture. I feel that by staying with a host family I got quite a good insight into what a typical family in China looks like. I learnt to love the food and the music, to enjoy the rather hot temperatures and praise God every time I found air-con!
I also like to think I've become quite adept at chopsticks, but I'm sure the locals disagree.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would recommend participating to a friend. I have really enjoyed my experience and I think gaining a TEFL out of it also makes it a very worthwhile experience.