Rob Loveridge, Cambridge University
Rob joined our partner at Zhuoyue College in Yangshuo in the summer of 2015 as a seminar leader. Zhuoyue focus on providing English training to a wide range of students that come from cities all over South China to enjoy the clean air and great outdoors
Can you tell me about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
Trip was great all round. I’ll keep the classroom stuff to the following question. In terms of the travel and overall experience, I loved the community feel to the Zhuoyue School and the fact that you become close to the staff and very close with the other volunteers. Highlights include many of the generic tourist attractions: moon hill, Li River and Yulong River cruising, mud caves, secret beach, light show and just cycling around with the stunning karst landscape in general. I also loved the swimming down by the school at Zhuoyue and the evening dinners at Mountain Nest or Giggling Tree, as well as Yangshuo with its vibrant nights and, of course, Monkey Janes.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
Clearly I’ve dealt with outdoor activities above. Lessons were fantastic, teaching the foreign exchange students off to America was a great experience, particularly as they all genuinely wanted (or needed) to learn for their time in the States. The transformation in the students in terms of confidence was excellent and social events we made for them such as an American BBQ, and a ‘party’ were really special, as well as some of the special speech events that they threw for us.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
The teaching experience was excellent and has developed skills such as communication and creativity by a significant margin. Of course, the addition to the CV for something more than just ‘going to China’ is most welcome, but doesn’t even cover the opportunities presented by the experience for self-development. Becoming a seasoned traveller after my voluntary work was also great for me.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
The people, stunning scenery… it’s a tough one to pinpoint. Even being surrounded by alien but elegant characters the entire time was quite something. For me, the very best thing was probably those long days getting lost cycling in the surroundings that seem to have come from another world.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
Very much so, as the opportunity offers a valuable skillset and is very rewarding if taken seriously as well as offering all the obvious benefits of being a fantastic travelling experience and offering a great introduction to China in a controlled environment.