Kali-Rose Smith joined our project at Enjoy Expert English School in Lanzhou in summer 2017. Please read on to view their feedback:
Could you please tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Experiencing new and wildly different cultures is, of course, something that I will treasure for a very long time, and in particular the opportunity to visit Beijing and cultural sites including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square with my friend is something that I will treasure forever. However, perhaps even more so than this was the fact that I had the chance to observe and participate in the excitement and enjoyment of children of a variety of ages in their summer school. One particular memory that I will forever treasure is that at the graduation ceremony (which was wonderful and well-attended by grateful parents) I was given a small clay model handmade by one of my 6-year-old students, who had written “thank you Kali” on the bottom in English!
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
As I hope, following my degree, to become a qualified teacher, having the opportunity to teach a variety of age ranges (from pre-school to adult classes) was absolutely fantastic, and I feel that I genuinely made some wonderful friends in the teachers with whom I practiced English speaking. Not only this, but I was able to see individual students come out of their shell, learn new things and begin to identify words and phrases as well as becoming more comfortable in speaking English.
The school hosting us was incredibly generous and planned a multitude of activities and excursions, a particular favourite of mine being the residential trip that we took through 3 provinces to visit a desert and see a play demonstrating Chinese culture was wonderful!
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
Not only has the experience prepared me for a potential career in teaching, but it has made me much more persistent, tolerant and patient. Although being surrounded by an entirely different culture is a wonderful experience, it is also challenging and by being faced with such a challenge I feel that I have learned to have more faith in myself as well as grow as a person (as cliched as that may sound!).
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
It is incredibly difficult to choose just one “best thing”! Naturally as someone who hopes to be a teacher, the ability to go to a school every day, to teach different groups and age ranges and to plan meaningful and helpful lessons was wonderful. However, as someone who also loves to travel and experience new things, being able to visit cultural sites, try vastly different foods and lifestyles, and live with people for whom this is the norm was fantastic!
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Yes absolutely! Gotoco was helpful, thoughtful and consistent throughout the experience and provided an opportunity that I otherwise could never have dreamed of undertaking! Even if you don’t have any interest in the teaching profession, learning how to teach English as a foreign language instills some wonderful values and teaches YOU many a lesson that you wouldn’t otherwise get! 🙂