To describe my overall experience in one word, it was AMAZING. Being able to travel and see the world from another perspective was one of the best opportunities I have been given. Venturing around Taiwan, meeting new people, building relationships that will last a lifetime, trying new foods, learning a new language and discovering new cultures and customs are all reasons why I did not want to leave and loved it so much. It was absolutely unforgettable.
The most valuable learning experience I encountered is the importance of education and valuing every moment. In their culture, I learned that they take their studies very seriously and work hard everyday to ensure they are ahead of the game. My students sometimes have class from 8am-8pm and are always so focused on their studies that there isn't much time to enjoy living in the moment or being a kid. At first they would express their feelings about English class, most weren't so thrilled so I was glad I could come and try to make it the best experience for all of them in any way I can.
The most memorable experience I had was being able to spend time with such generous and kind hearted people and seeing the growth of all my students in their English abilities towards the end of my experience. It was absolutely rewarding and allowed them to be more open minded about learning English not viewing it as hard and impossible to learn. I still keep in touch with my students through social media so they can still practice their English with me!
What did you not expect?
Something I didn't expect was how emotional I was towards the end of my journey. Everybody in Taiwan was so kind and willing to go out of their way to help me in any way that they could, even strangers. The kindness from strangers touched me and made it so hard to leave because of how wonderful Taiwan is. It's the people here who make it wonderful. I felt so welcomed and appreciated being here. Hearing life stories from those who live in Taiwan, how much they love their jobs and helping others made me more appreciative for what I have. I was able to leave and have a different view about life in general and realize how much beauty there is in the world.
What advice would you give?
Advice for other students who want to study abroad, do not be afraid and put yourself out there. Be willing to try new things. Take time to reflect and enjoy every moment that comes your way. The people in Taiwan love and appreciate foreigners coming because they want to share the beauty of their country and people, show that you care also. Sometimes you may feel tired but to the students it means more than anything to have you there with them. Like I said earlier, it was the most absolutely rewarding experience ever and you will never forget it.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience has impacted my life in so many ways. Moving to another country whose first language you do not speak and having to teach students was challenging at first but very rewarding. This allowed me to grow as an individual and an educator. I became more culturally aware and open minded as I learned more about their culture and values. Being an Asian American, I was able to relate with my students some parts of my life at home which allowed me to create good relationships with my students through our similarities to show we weren't so different after all.
How did you learn about this experience?
I first learned about this international opportunity when I first started the Elementary Education program here at Iowa State. Later on, I heard more about this opportunity from Ann Pierce and Dr. Crawford as my semester of student teaching started to approach. I attended an international student teaching abroad fair to see all the locations available and once I stopped at Taiwan's table, I knew right away that it was my first choice and I wouldn't change a thing!International Connections