Please can you tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
I really enjoyed meeting other foreign teachers from different parts of the world, because I knew I wouldn’t have met them otherwise. It was also really nice to live with them in one place for an extended period of time and get to know the area, and having time to travel around and go on day trips. It was also really exciting to be given my own class and have the freedom to create and carry out my own lessons. I also enjoyed joining in with activities with the children to build the rapport with them in the organised activities outside of lessons.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
The highlight of the lessons was seeing the children improve over the time they were with us. It was also really nice to see them enjoying activities that I had planned, especially when we were making things like postcards and they were excited to show them to me at the end. Having them work in teams and helping each other out and cheering each other on was also very enjoyable. Highlights of the excursions was being able to have real conversations with the children and trying to relate what they had learned in the lessons as practice, to reinforce what they learned and to show them how they had improved.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I am far more experienced as a teacher, having spent time in a classroom with my own class and having to plan new lessons for them every day. It has improved my confidence as a teacher and also working with other people. I also have more confidence in myself and my ability to get around in a foreign country without speaking the language. It was an extremely interesting linguistic experience and demonstrated to me the importance of language in relations between people as well as logistics. It also allowed me to meet different kinds of people and gave me the opportunity to make new friends.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing was staying long enough in the area to begin to feel like a local, to know where things were and to build relationships with the people I was working with as well as other people in the town, such as some of the market sellers. It was so interesting to be fully immersed in the culture and really nice to have an experience completely different to life in England to give me a different perspective and become more broad-minded. This includes meeting and making friends with people I wouldn’t meet in my ordinary life in England.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Yes, I would recommend it to a friend because I think it offers experiences that you wouldn’t gain any other way. It’s different to experiencing a country on holiday. It offers such a rich experience – not only does it give you the chance to teach and have so much independence and freedom which is such a hugely challenging and rewarding thing, but also gives so many personal experiences that you wouldn’t have anywhere else – of the culture, of new people, and of living somewhere that is completely different from being at home.