Alumni Comments 2012

Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for all of your efforts for SCTNTP. I will forever treasure my entire experience in China. The tours, teaching, and the opportunity to live and work with so many amazing professionals has been an experience I will never forget. None of this would have been possible without your unique talents and insight. Please let me know if I can be of any service to you or anyone in the program in the future; it would be an honor.

I loved handing over my school materials upon arrival in Shanghai and receiving them on the opening day. The school administrators were very nice and appreciative of our efforts. The opening day was wonderful. We were treated like celebrities, but it was a very long day, 12+ hours; the next day of teaching came fast. The rest room was an unexpected pleasure. Most of us would rest after planning and lunch and be refreshed for the afternoon session. I liked the breaks between periods and between sessions. I felt I had enough time to plan and prepare. The farewell dinner was very special, and our farewell gift was beautiful. Attention to anyone who was under the weather was immediate.

Food at the school was good, lots of choices. I loved the different types of ice cream at the afternoon break. Fruit delivered to the workroom was good. It would have been helpful to have a couple of knives to cut fruit.

Accommodations were fine everywhere except for Beijing; all hotels were 3 star. I felt very safe in all of the hotels. Our Nanjing location was wonderful. I loved our proximity to the park, subway line, and shopping/eating areas. Breakfasts in the hotels were good, especially in Xi'an.

I loved Nanjing! We felt like it was home. The people in the city were extremely nice and helpful. We enjoyed the little noodle shop around the corner, along with the massage place. The park was the highlight. We rented boats, went for tea in the teahouse, people watched, and strolled. It was a cultural delight! Sally made sure we knew where to go and how to get everywhere. I will never forget my “hair washing” treatment on the food street as long as I live; it was the best massage ever. The local Walmart is a must shop; I bought a silk comforter there and lots of snacks. In Beijing, the Great Wall is beyond awesome (go left); we enjoyed our free day in Beijing at a hutong and the Hong Qiao Pearl Market.

Our tour guides, JJ and Eric, were great. They kept us informed of timelines for each day’s activities and facilitated wakeup calls to our rooms. They had wonderful personalities: they were caring, honest, funny, and were very knowledgeable. I liked when they would share stories and information during the bus rides. They also explained cultural practices and beliefs. They also were extremely attentive and accommodating regarding individual and group needs. No request or question was ignored. JJ recommended the cultural show in Hangzhou at an additional cost. So glad I went; it was the best live performance I have ever seen anywhere! When we were at some of the attractions, it could be difficult to hear because we were a large group. Sometimes, I think I might have liked to rent a tour headset to get more information when I was exploring on my own, like at the Forbidden City and TerraCotta Soldiers.

My constructive suggestions for future teachers:

  • Don't waste your energy freaking out before you go; it is the most wonderful, amazing 4 weeks of your life! You told us everything to expect regarding the conditions; if you don't think you can handle any of the conditions, don't go, or don't complain if you do. It IS hot; you need very light breathable clothing and comfy shoes. My croc MaryJanes served me well, and I could wash them. A travel clothesline is a must have.
  • My students loved ESL songs that I downloaded from YouTube. The classroom sound system was top notch. Enchanted Learning was a great resource. Keep picture books simple for elementary students. Scan books ahead and use the projector. The document camera was a great tool to use so that all the children could see how to complete an activity. It also helps with classroom management. The school provided photocopies if needed. There is also scissors, glue, tape, markers, post-its, and more. I wish that I had a folder and a bluebook for each student because they really did treasure their projects and class work.
  • Embrace the diversity of your group. Be flexible and share ideas and materials. Bring your room teacher something special; mine was awesome and I wished that I had brought her something more like what I brought for the administrators.

Heartfelt thanks,

Joyce P.

Nanjing 2012

I feel that everything is very well organized and at this point, the program runs like a well-oiled machine. It is obvious that you and the Chinese staff members have worked extremely hard over the years to set up this program and you've paid attention to every detail. Everyone is accessible, approachable, and responsive.

I was completely satisfied with the food we received at school. There was always a great variety, so if there were dishes I did not find very appealing, there was still plenty more to choose from. Suffice it to say, I never left school feeling hungry! The baked goods and extra fruit were always a nice treat.

Most all of the hotels were comfortable and ideally located, but would not recommend using the same Beijing hotel again. Loved all the cities we visited, but I really enjoyed Hangzhou (since I had never been there before), Xi'An, and of course, Nanjing. I appreciated getting to Shanghai since I had never been there before. Obviously, Xi'An and Beijing are the highlights for people who are visiting China for the first time and are "must see's". Otherwise, I personally enjoy the smaller cities that are much more manageable and easier to navigate. I would love to visit Suzhou sometime. Tour guides, Sherry and Eric, were good; JJ was EXCEPTIONAL!!!

My suggestions for future teachers:

  • This program is everything it advertises itself to be. I feel that Sally portrayed everything with complete accuracy and honesty. I remember laughing when reading sections of the application form, but everything is rooted in the absolute truth! If you have any type of dietary restriction, peanut allergy, MSG intolerance and/or don't think you can deal with eating Chinese food (not talking Panda Express here!) for almost a month straight, this is probably not the program for you. If you can't tolerate oppressive heat and humidity, this is not the program for you. If you are not in extremely good physical condition (e.g. can't handle lots and lots of walking, climbing multiple flights of stairs several times a day, or if you have respiratory issues), this is not the program for you. If you expect things to be the way they are "at home", this is not the program for you. If you can't deal with squat toilets, this is DEFINITELY not the program for you and you should probably steer clear of China and most other Asian countries! There were a few times during the program when I caught myself thinking, "Oh, this is what Sally meant when she said ________." Reading it is one thing; experiencing can be something completely different, so you need to be brutally honest in terms of what you're truly able or willing to deal with. The actual teaching can be challenging and exhausting, but what you receive in return is way more than fair. The accommodations in Nanjing and two weeks of travel were top notch.
  • If you had to pay for everything you get, you'd be paying thousands of dollars. Like in all other areas of life, you need to be open minded, respectful, and flexible. Remember that you will be traveling with, working with, and essentially living with a large group of very diverse people (emphasis on GROUP and emphasis on DIVERSE), so it's always good to keep in mind that what you say and do has the potential to impact the experience for more than 30 other people. While there are opportunities to stake out on your own, this is a group experience for the majority of the time. If that's not your cup of tea, you might investigate alternative venues for traveling to and teaching in China.

Once again, thank you for everything Sally and take care.

Lisa H.

Nanjing 2012

I just got back from China and wanted to thank you for your wonderful program. I had a great time in China. The month flew by so quickly and it now seems like a dream! Everything was excellent! I really appreciate all of the planning you had to do to make this program so successful, not only at the school, but also in all of the travel arrangements: flights, hotels, tour guides, places to visit, etc. The kids and teachers in Suzhou were fantastic. I was sad when the two weeks were up.

I can't wait to someday go back to China.

Once again, thanks for everything!

Dwayne K.

Suzhou 2012

I wanted to let you know what an incredible experience the China trip was for me! A trip of a lifetime and one I will never forget! We had many wonderful times together and luckily hundreds of pictures to remember them by!! I'm just sorry that we never got to meet you! Brandi and I are both very interested in applying for the program again next year and I'm sure, with our experience, would even do a better job! Also, there is an excellent teacher at our school, Edie Aitchison, who will also be applying.

The administrators at Suzhou were very welcoming and helpful. I adored Maggie and it was so sweet of her to accommodate us on tours on our time off. The ESL teachers in the classroom were great and things went much more smoothly when they were in the room! I think it would have been more helpful if we had a schedule of when they would be with us, that part was a little confusing. Other than that, the school was very organized and a beautiful place to work!.

The food at the school was delicious and plentiful! When we returned to our school, we told our Principal that we wanted a two - hour lunch! I really appreciated that the refrigerator was always stocked with waters and cokes. There were even snacks in-between meals!

The accommodations were lovely in all of the cities (except Beijing which of course you already know!) and they were much nicer than I ever expected. Speaking of Beijing, even though the hotel was not very nice, the staff that worked there were very accommodating and helpful, so I did not find it as bad as many teachers may have. I was very happy that all the hotels had safes in the rooms as we had so much cash on us. I loved how they all were close to shopping, restaurants, etc. The hotel in Suzhou was the best, which was fabulous as that was where we were for two weeks. The room was huge, which made it very comfortable for Brandi and I to work on lesson plans in the evening. I loved all the cities as they were all unique! I was so grateful that we got to visit so many places in such a short amount of time. I'm wondering if the four days in Beijing could be shortened for more time in Shanghai or Xian. I would leave off the tour of the Olympic Stadium. If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be Suzhou, which is so beautiful.

The service of our tour guides was excellent! Each and every one of them was constantly talking and sharing historical information and answering our questions. Not only did I love learning about the history, but also about the culture of China today. They were patient and kind with us, even at the end of the day when we were hot and tired!

My suggestions for future teachers:

  • Everything I read on your website from other teachers was exactly correct and helpful! I had the right amount of clothing but would even bring less next time. I had a small enough purse but with my cell phone and other items it got heavy and I got tired of moving it from shoulder to shoulder! So, next time, I would have a light backpack and keep my money and passport in front of me (in pouch under my shirt for safety). I forgot an umbrella, but it was easy to purchase! I was so appreciative that our large suitcase was transported to Beijing and we only had to have one suitcase. As far as teaching, my ESL word cards were perfect and did not take up much space. I would bring more books next time, the children loved being read to and leave them at the school.

Best regards,

Corinne P.

Suzhou 2012

I felt like a rock star while at the school site. Faye and Jim did an amazing job catering to our every need. Sally was great about checking in with us everyday on the bus ride to and from school. The nap room, and the medicines for people who were sick were a thoughtful addition. I also appreciated that the room had an ample supply of water, and that it was adequately air-conditioned.

I really enjoyed the cultural classes. Sometimes we were tired after teaching, but having the opportunity to be a student and explore our creative side was great. The painting was my favorite, followed by the martial arts. (My painting will be hanging in my classroom here in Colorado) The knots were a bit difficult, and the instructor did seem that she had to actually tie most of our knots.

The food at school was good. It was cafeteria food, but there were always several dishes that I liked at every meal. The bakery items were also really good. I don't think that this needs any improvement.

I enjoyed all the cities, but Hangzhou was my favorite. I loved the history here and visits to the Buddhist Temple, West Lake, and the Tea Plantation. I liked the feel of this city the most. My favorite tourist site was seeing the terracotta warriors. This was amazing, and I kept having to remind myself that I was really there. I also was amazed to be at the Great Wall.

JJ was amazing, and it is largely due to him that the tour was so memorable. He had a gift of blending history with his own personal stories of his family and experiences. He also did a tremendous job of being patient, and keeping everyone together. There were always a few stragglers, and he was always patient and kind, and he counted and searched for the stragglers. He also did a great job gauging his audience, he knew we wanted more time at the terracotta warriors and the Great Wall, and he adjusted the schedule accordingly. In addition, he always seemed to get us to restaurants and sites on time, and there was very little waiting around. He was efficient at using our time. He didn't roll his eyes once, or appear frustrated despite the number of bathroom stops we needed to make. He was GREAT!!!!

Eric also did a good job. He didn't seem to have as much experience as JJ, and between the two of them we had a great experience in Beijing. I appreciated Eric's sense of humor, and he too worked very hard to meet our every need. The hotel in Beijing didn't meet the standards of the previous places we stayed. Eric and JJ listened to our concerns and did the best they could to improve the situation. Eric sat with us at breakfast several times and patiently answered all of our questions about his life and experiences. He was very open and gave us some great insights into his life.

Sherry, the tour guide in Xi'an did a nice job, but I think that she got on the nerves of some of the other people on our trip. Personally, I appreciated her stories and the history she provided.

My constructive suggestions for future teachers

  • I think it is great that you emphasize the importance of being flexible. Traveling with 32 strangers, and teaching in a new culture requires flexibility and a sense of adventure. This is the first time I have ever participated in an organized trip or taught in a foreign country, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences I have ever had. There were aspects that were challenging - primarily dealing with the heat, but I am a better person and teacher as a result of my participation in this program. If you need someone to chat with prospective participants as you conduct interviews next year, I will gladly be a resource for you.

That is it, I had a great time, and find myself looking back nostalgically as to what I was doing last month at this time. Thank you for an awesome summer!

Amy R.

Nanjing 2012

I thought things were on-the-whole handled well. Some teachers voiced concern that the Chinese administrators, Jimmy and Maggie (?), weren't available most of the time. But that wasn't problem.

I liked the food a lot. Plenty of variety, lots of vegetables, few sweets. Any craving for "American" food was satisfied at dinner if I wanted it.

The Holiday Inn Express was the best as far as the quality of hotel went, a great way to start the trip. The hotel at Nanjing has the best location- close to the park, shopping, subway stop, etc. It was a perfect choice. The Xian hotel has a good location as well. The Bejing hotel was a huge disappointment. I can deal with just about anything if the AC works well.

Nanjing by far was my favorite city because there were lots of things to do during our free time and it was relatively easy to get around- taxi, subway, walking. The tour guides were exceptional.

My constructive suggestions for future teachers:

  • Be prepared for the heat and humidity- but you warned us about that already. Maybe a suggestion that they ditch the stereotype of the obedient Chinese student and understand that they'll need a good discipline plan from day one. Also, to remember that this is a camp and therefore gear the instruction with that in mind- develop more camp-like activities.

Thanks again for a wonderful experience,

Paul H.

Nanjing 2012

I found the entire experience to be amazing. I am thinking about teaching again in a few years. Thank you for all of your support throughout the entire process.

I appreciated that any needs we had were met very quickly such as the bathroom floor issues and when I was sick I was able to see the doctor right away. I felt very well taken care of. The food at school was good and there was a nice variety.

Hangzhou was beautiful, I loved it. Nanjing was very comfortable and interesting. I would have liked to spend some more time in Shanghai.

I think that you covered things pretty well on the website.

Julie P.

Nanjing 2012

I must thank you for this incredible experience. You went to great lengths at any time to help everyone in any way possible. We knew we were looked out for, and your guidance made Nanjing feel more accessible and enjoyable. What an amazing opportunity to experience a slice of life in China as well as some of the world's greatest sights. We had a great group who were able to support each other and enjoy exploring together.

The role of the cooperating teacher is key. The more engaged and actively involved the teacher is, the better the experience for the visiting teacher. The schedule is a bit challenging with arrival time for Elem teachers- have to run toget to first class, and big gap in the middle.

There were lots of thoughtful touches such as the nap room and loungers, bottled water and sodas, wi-fi, for teachers. I felt they worked very hard to make us comfortable! Overall the food at school was good. Favorite dishes were the eggs with tomatoes, and the potstickers. It seemed like they went out of their way for us with "bakery" and A/C in the room and a western toilet adjacent.

I feel like Nanjing was home and special because we stayed there longest- highlights: Xuanwu Lake proximity- I went there early each morning, neighborhood shopping and massages, lots of food nearby, Nanjing Tombs- all the experiences of daily life there.

Hangzhou- West Lake, the cultural show, pagoda, Buddhist and Taoist temples- so historic and beautiful.

Xian- terra cotta, and riding bikes on the city wall, Muslim Quarter, Bell Tower- amazing history.

Beijing- not my favorite to visit, but incredible sights, Peking duck, and fun acrobatic show.

A highlight was riding a bike on the city wall in Xian! We squeezed this in the last morning before bus pick up. JJ was there early to watch our bags. 3 of us went- leave a 200 yuan deposit, and they rent them for very little (45 yuan?). We rode 45 minutes at 8AM when they opened and had the wall to ourselves! Fantastic!

My suggestions for future teachers:

  • Bring extra photo cards for your camera!
  • Tell them about the local cleaners- cheaper than hotel and they did a beautiful job- (walmart shirts aside!)
  • Bring a variety of electric adaptors for computers in class, and hotels- there can be a variety of situations. Hotels had hair dryers. An umbrella and fans are useful items there that are fun to buy there.

Tracy A.

Nanjing 2012

Management of the school was great! It struck the right balance between providing us with needed support and letting us take the lead as the "teacher of record." I know a few teachers had challenges with their students, but I had no such problems as I treated my students as I would if they had been in California: a little private chat outside to remind them of their duties as students. After the chats, the few students who were off track got back "on the train!"

The food at school was absolutely outstanding! The food there was better than what we had at the restaurants!

Tour guides were marvelous and so helpful; I especially enjoyed how JJ was always counting the teachers to make sure no one was falling behind. American teachers are not an easy lot to deal with, yet, JJ masterfully "wove the needle" between accommodating our demands and keeping us in line with the predetermined plan. I vote that he should be hired by the Chinese government to serve as their future ambassador to the U.S.!

I hope to apply again in the future.

Best,

David P.

Nanjing 2012

I would like to thank you first off for giving me the opportunity to participate in this program. It was an amazing experience. The only disappointment I possibly had was that I did not get a chance to meet you.

There is so much to write about the experience, but I will try to be brief and to the point on items that may help the program in the future. I really had no complaints. Everyday, I felt so thankful for the experience and felt we were receiving a lot more than we were giving to the program. It was so organized down to every detail, which really made everything run smoothly.

Teaching was a pleasure; schedule was good; facilities were beautiful; workroom, break room, sleeping room were all sufficient and air conditioned and very nice; school personnel and teachers were so friendly and helpful and welcoming. What I would have liked is more interaction with the Chinese teachers as a whole. During the breaks the Chinese teachers went to their break room and we went to ours. There was no mingling really outside of the class. I would have thought they would want to practice their English with us or lesson plan together or even go shopping with us or something. I also would have liked more feedback on what I was doing in class, and suggestions from the Chinese teachers on what they would like to see more of, asking questions, giving input, opinions. I would also have liked to have had short meetings with all of the Chinese and American teachers every couple of days to express what went well, what needs improvement. We were just all winging it pretty much.

I went prepared with thematical units with different activities concerning the theme. I would do things a little different next time expanding on the themes with more challenging activities. I also want to add some comments about the students. My 7th grade students were awesome. They participated, were respectful, fun, enthusiastic, humorous and funny at times, creative and very personable.

The food during the whole trip was excellent, nutritious and abundant. I am really missing it. Accommodations were outstanding. The hotels were wonderful and the rooms were spacious. The one and only complaint I had was with the hotel in Beijing. The hotel itself was very nice, but the location was not good and I am sure you are getting more feedback on that.. The tour guides were excellent, professional, punctual, informative and very helpful.

Thank you again for this enriching experience. I would like to return next year if possible. Could you let me know the process for returning teachers. Do I need to redo the application?

Sincerely,

Robin U-O

Suzhou 2012

The management at the school site went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and welcome.

They were so good to us and between Sally, Jimmy and Efae all of our needs were met. The technology was less than I had hoped for. I had problems with the CD player, hooking up the document camera and connecting my laptop. They did what they could to help us out, but it was difficult at times. Lewis was very helpful pre-trip as well.

The food at the school was good. Even though I didn't love all of the dishes in China, I never went hungry because there was such a variety of foods. The hotel accommodations in China were okay. They were comfortable enough, but I would say that the cleanliness standards can't match those of America. Except in Beijing where we were directly across from a train station that attracted some transients, and was far from everything, all of the other locations were GREAT. Especially in Nanjing by the park and by the massage parlor and close to downtown and the Westin. It's hard to say which city was my favorite. I really got attached to Nanjing and felt very comfortable there as I learned my way around. Hangzhou was gorgeous and very peaceful. I loved the city of Shanghai, but wonder if the smog would have been worse without the rain.

Future teachers should understand that this is a very fast paced trip. We did work very hard and it was extremely humid. There was so much to see that there was little down time. However, I loved it and feel like it was the opportunity of a lifetime. It is important to be flexible. Except for the air in Beijing and Xi'an, everything was much cleaner and safer than I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised. I highly recommend this trip for anyone who is fortunate to be chosen to go.

Laura C

Nanjing 2012

The management of the program on the school site was great! I would do it again. The food at school was great! - - -I would also like to add that the Dumpling Dinner Banquet in Xi'an was amazing! My room in Nanjing did not have issues. I really liked the location - Access to lake, subway, city strip, grocery store, 2 Star Bucks and able to cross the streets underground.

I enjoyed Shanghai shopping, the boat cruise on the Huangpu River, and the boat cruise of West Lake. My Huge highlight was meeting Mr. Yang Xinman who was one of the farmers that discovered the Terra Cotta Warriors, seeing the Warriors and climbing the Great Wall. The Terra Cotta Soldiers took my breath away and also made me sob on site. Over 700,00 Asian slaves built these 8000 soldiers to protect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife. Most of them were put to death to keep the site a secret. Their skeletons were unearthed near the mausoleum. It is painful to know the history of its origin but the craftsmanship and beauty is breathtaking. Our tour guides were professional and deserving of our tips.

Constructive suggestions for future teachers:

  • I know we were prepared to be hot and really hot, but my roommate was not prepared for all the rain.
  • Just something I noticed was that some packed footwear for only classroom teacher use. I was handing out bandaids like crazy to a few people with blisters on their feet due to inappropriate shoes for major climbing excursions. (I'm happy to give out bandaids).

Gail B.

Nanjing 2012

I want to thank you for the opportunity to be in your program. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Management of the program: The administration and staff of the school could not have been more supportive and welcoming. There was an immediate response to any requests.I had prepared a very academic approach - my fault. Then I changed direction with mini projects.

Food was okay and definitely better than the food served at my school. Accommodation was good. The least favorite was the hotel in Peking. The tours were gre

Suggestions for future teachers: Many students knew about money, government, weather, etc. Projects would be more meaningful and fun.

Sally, once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking me to China.

Sincerely,

Irene K.

Nanjing 2012