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With one week of teaching under my belt, I must admit that this has been one of the most hectic and exciting weeks of my life. It has been a pure joy meeting the students and teachers in China, and I cannot wait to continue growing our relationships with each other. In every classroom, I have been a part of thus far, everyone involved seems genuinely happy to learn from others’ ways of life. While our schedules may look exhaustive on paper, every session has been enjoyable. In fact, the most difficult part of the schedule is ensuring that every event has been entered into. my calendar correctly. This is because Zhuhai, China is twelve hours ahead of Durham. As a result, all times are converted to EDT; however, my home is in CST. Therefore, I must remember to move everything forward one hour.

Simultaneously, other challenges have appeared throughout this first week. Since all the programs are virtual this summer, our classrooms are held via zoom. All of the students are in the same room on multiple devices, so naturally, there is a lot of background noise at times. Furthermore, wifi on either end of the call can become weak due to the multiple devices, screen-sharing, and many other applications being used. This forces the already difficult task of making online classrooms comfortable to be even harder for both teachers and students in this early stage of the program. I have found that it is a little more difficult to foster relationships with others online rather than in person. This is especially true when placed in zoom rooms with people who have many differences in their cultural upbringings. One aspect of classroom etiquette the students valued that made holding discussions difficult was remaining quiet throughout sessions. Often times the questions we prepared for them will go unanswered even though the students may understand exactly what we are saying.

This picture is of my partner, Elise, and I greeting our students during our first ever class!

While these first-week issues may sound like a lot, our team did a good job of working through them collectively. A slideshow was created by one of my peers to help facilitate basic classroom communication. For example, one slide translates for students how to ask us to repeat ourselves. Also, fun activities and games were strategically created and placed within lesson plans to enhance student engagement. Most importantly, towards the end of most classes the students were much more warmed up to speaking with us. Overall, I would say the first week was a success, and I cannot wait to proceed with the practices that worked well while actively working with my group members to improve the areas where things fell short.