Kealan Daly joined our project at Yangzhou Global IELTS in summer of 2017. Please read on to view his feedback:
Could you please tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Meeting up with the other expats was very enjoyable and interesting, learning about how and why they’ve come to teaching English in China, each with their own story, in a city with such few native English speakers as well.
Teaching the students of course was extremely enjoyable, getting to know the feel of each classroom and the atmosphere and character the different students can bring. Seeing them appreciate your teaching was also extremely rewarding and inspiring as a teacher.
The off-time was enjoyable as well as I got to travel, meet up with other volunteer teachers and expats and enjoy Chinese food and nightlife.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
On the first day when all of the other volunteers arrived (three of us arrived a week earlier), we were taken to Slender West Lake, which was marvelous, a great first activity as it was a relaxed environment to get to know each other. Making egg tarts with the preschoolers was probably the highlight of the teaching, learning to deal with their energy especially in an activity that had the potential to be messy was very enjoyable.
On a three-day break I had, I visited Huangshan, and that was wonderful, the views at the top breathtaking and the steps up to the summits making the peaks insanely rewarding.
Visiting tea-houses was enjoyable in the off-time with the other volunteers, as was partaking in KTV.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I have a greater appreciation of China, firstly. Unfortunately, not much is known about China, as it is unfortunately orientalised, the general depiction or perception of it seems to be very characturised. By living there for two months and gaining first-hand experience with the country I certainly have a better understanding of China and a bigger appreciation.
I feel more accomplished as a teacher. Teaching the students and seeing them progress, and in turn, appreciate my teaching was ultimately rewarding and validating for me as their teacher, and has given me more faith in myself in this regard. Teaching is something I want to pursue as a career so this was a particular appreciated benefit. I feel I came back wiser, more confident in myself and has me motivated to look to pursue teaching abroad further.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing for me had to be the time spent with the people around me. From the owner of the noodle shop who sought out a spoon for me on my first day (as I was then unable to use chopsticks), to getting to know the other volunteers and where they are at in their studies and in life, to getting to know the other teachers over dinner or over a beer, to generating genuinely interesting conversation in the classroom, a journey is nothing without the people on the journey, and I am grateful for the people who made my experience as enjoyable as it was.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would certainly recommend it to a friend. It is a wonderful opportunity to gain exposure to a completely different part of the world and a different culture that is perhaps inacessible otherwise. There is opportunity for exploration, to make new friends, and gain invaluable experience teaching. It can help improve one’s worldview and perspective, through learning about all of the other foreign teachers’ stories, learning about the students’ stories and their plans for the future, and learn about their perspectives on things, which can differ quite substantially to one’s own. All the while one is developing an invaluable skill that will serve them well whatever they wish to pursue in the future.