Natalie Harris joined our projects at Richwood School, Winnerway Group in Dongguan in the summer of 2017. Please read on to hear more about their experience:
Please can you tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
I really enjoyed getting to know the children and also getting involved in afternoon activities with them.
The school’s water fight was one of the highlights of the week and it was great fun playing around with the kids who were spraying everyone with water in glee.
I really loved going for a meal at the start of the trip with the whole group and school principal. The food ordered was delicious and it was a good opportunity to get to know the people that you were to be spending the next few weeks with.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
The highlights of the teaching experience was the lessons. Seeing the children who were very shy at the start of the lesson really getting involved in activities at the front of the classroom in front of all the other kids was fantastic. It was great to see their confidence build up over the few weeks that we were teaching and made you feel that not only were they taking a real interest in learning English but that they also enjoyed your lessons.
The enthusiasm of most of the kids was brilliant and made you really feel like you were doing something worthwhile.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
The overall experience has made me very much at ease with travelling independently as well as staying with a group of people that I’ve never met before. This was a unique opportunity to be immersed in Chinese culture and I was given a great chance to practice my mandarin. I ended up being my group’s translator which, although a bit taxing at times, did mean that I got to speak a lot of Mandarin. The nature of the trip has made me more flexible as a person and more open to change. Although I did not choose to go to Dongguan, it was very interesting to stay in a city that is not ‘touristy’ and really experience the day-to-day lives of local people.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The best thing about my experience in China was going to Yangshuo as I was able to do caving, swim in mud baths, go cycling in the countryside surrounded by mountains, bamboo rafting and finally hiking to a secret waterfall. These are all experiences that I would never have normally had and I’m very happy that I got the opportunity to visit this part of China. Monkey Jane was a brilliant host, very knowledgeable and she was really keen to guarantee that we all had a great time in YangShuo.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would recommend participating to a friend because the teaching itself was really fun and the staff at the Richwood school were all very friendly and very accommodating – a pleasure to work with. I also really enjoyed the trip to Yangshuo – it was an action-packed trip full of adventure.