Nadine Bedwan joined our projects in Julong Foreign Language School
Please you us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
The most enjoyable moments were bonding with the students and other volunteers. There was a nice outdoor pool near my campus that the volunteers would go to often which we were fortunate to have. Otherwise making connections with children from such a different culture and bridging that gap was really great. I was also in a location that made it easy to appreciate the natural beauty of China every day on walks to class which was amazing. I went to Yangshuo at the end of my program which was also super great, I'm very glad that was an option otherwise I never would have thought of going there.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
I honestly did not enjoy the lessons too much. It was overwhelming at this was my first experience ever teaching and I felt like I was thrust into it with minimal training and direction. The Chinese teachers were more directive than helpful and reprimanded me when I did something wrong. The classes had roughly 40 kids in each who would get super unruly when they couldn't follow and the Chinese teachers often left us alone with them. I did enjoy doing the other activities with the kids however like their table tennis, badminton, swim and golf lessons. It was a fun release and way to bond.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
I would say the experience has benefited me in the way travel almost always benefits a person, by opening them up to new things and different ways of life. I made good friends with the other volunteers, got to explore China, and form bonds with people totally different than myself without even a common language. Teaching also had its high points, as when I realized some students actually got the lesson and I was making a small difference.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
Being in China as a whole was amazing, navigating the country through trains and buses and dealing with all the unforeseen challenges and adventures. I got to visit a country that is amazing beautiful naturally and has amazing cities, get to know the people a little bit, see how friendly and open they are. So many things are so different than in the west and learning them firsthand is really unforgettable.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would recommend to a friend based on the type of experience they are looking for. Experiencing China and getting to be there for an extended period of time is so great, the one thing I would warn them about is that the schools are often located in remote areas quite far from cities or even villages and they and in my case and cases I have heard they are new constructs so not much history to explore. However I have recommended the program to a friend interested in teaching and travel.