It’s hard to believe that we’ve almost hit the halfway mark for the Zhuhai program. Even though I’m getting the hang of things, it’s still pretty hectic and busy. Each week is jam-packed with meetings, lesson planning, and teaching. Due to the drastic time difference between the U.S. and China, we spend our evenings/nights teaching so that the students can learn in the morning. This means that during the day I have the luxury of spending time with my family… and studying for the MCAT. Although this is definitely convenient, it also means that my days can oftentimes feel overwhelming. From morning till night, I’m busy doing something. By the time Friday hits, it’s truly a relief to be able to just relax for a day.
Even though I sometimes feel overwhelmed, I mostly feel grateful for the opportunities and memories that DukeEngage has provided me with. Almost every day after teaching, I find myself racing downstairs to tell my parents about all the funny and crazy things that happened. I’ll show them screenshots of pictures that the students drew, videos that Hsiao-mei has recorded of us, and even parts of my lesson plan. I’ll share stories of how Dale can’t control his love for chicken, how the students laugh at my terrible pronunciations of their names, and how sweet the students can be when they’re thanking us and calling us “beautiful” and “great” teachers.
It’s crazy to think that even though each of us teaches 14 periods a week + 1 baobaoban, each of the students only receives one lesson a week. From teaching the same lessons 15 times a week, I have learned a lot about how to become a better teacher, group member, and teaching partner. I can’t help but sometimes feel guilty about how much I have personally benefitted from this program. As our time passes quickly, oftentimes I wonder if I am doing enough in these lessons. Are the students actually growing more confident in their English speaking skills? Am I doing enough to connect with them as a teacher? Are the lessons and concepts that I teach going to stick with them after this summer ends? Then I have to remind myself that it’s not possible or realistic to see leaps of progress with just 8 English lessons. The importance lies in the interpersonal interactions that we have with them. They might not remember how to say “extracurricular” or what “hockey” is, but I hope they will remember having fun while playing English games with Teacher Kelsey from Duke.
I’m also reminded of the lessons that I facilitated as a preceptor during the academy, especially the focus on working “with” the community. Luckily, the DukeEngage Zhuhai relationship with our community partners is one with strong communication and a long history. Hsiao-mei and Sara have been regularly talking with the teachers at Zhuhai and Nanping to relay observations and suggestions. This next week, I’m going to focus on having the students talk in complete sentences and writing out things to provide a visual cue. I hope that we continue to learn from and communicate with the teachers in Zhuhai as the program progresses!