Perry Dunn, Cambridge University
Perry joined our programme in the town of Yangshuo in the summer of 2015, please read on for his feedback.
Can you tell me about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Exploring the rooftop bars, Yangshuo’s spooky abandoned hotel, the people, the ceaseless hubbub… actually, maybe not that one… swimming in the rivers, past dead rats, floating along looking up at the super-moon, bonfires, cycling to Moon Hill, Moon Hill itself, mud pools in deep caves, running under the thirty-five degree beating sun, ‘musculating’ in the park (Ricardo being stared at in awe by an assembling crowd), Sunday brunch, street food, TV tower at 4am, the children’s fashion show, the five-year-olds singing ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ complete with actions. The people, again; fellow volunteers, the teaching assistants, the children, when they weren’t trying to sleep during lessons. Oh, and the ten-hour overnight bus-ride; actually a fun experience by oneself.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
Many ‘ancient’ Guilin shows which were essentially walks past endless stalls selling various souvenirs. (They didn’t really impress.) The really enjoyable activities were the school’s BBQ – wish we’d had another – and us doing things on the weekend (see above). Shangri-La was a cool place, with all that blossom. I’d recommend Oral getting the students outside exercising more so that they get tired, sleep at night, and concentrate during the day!
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
It tested the imagination. It tested endurance. It could have been made a heluva lot easier by having even a little guidance/input from Oral rather than simply being thrown a simple textbook, but then that’s what made it so challenging. Other benefits: loved the group of volunteers out there, and loved eating around the corner by myself from time to time and attempting to converse with the vendors and patrons. Benefited from increased patience and tolerance, although that sounds bad, doesn’t it? But it’s true. A versatile teaching style was developed.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Personally I think it’s best to reveal these opportunities to friends but not to recommend them, since the experience is very particular to the individual, the location, the school, the … many variables.