Alumni Comments 2018

**D.G. from 2018 Nanjing program:

SUGGESTIONS for future teachers:
  1. EVERYTHING you (Sally) told us was perfect. ESP about shoes to toss and change often.
  2. Bring extra change of clothes because you sweat like a pig.
  3. Laundry services may or may not be available so bring big suitcase of clothes.
  4. Bring your own lotions, shampoos, products because you'll miss it after 2 weeks.
  5. Bring lots of hand sanitizers and handkerchiefs.
  6. Don't bring huge bag of school supplies. Kids wanted song, conversation and FUN!!! I stressed about "lesson plans" WAY too much. There are MANY materials already available in staff room and your fellow teachers are a GREAT resource.
  7. Be prepared for HEAT and HUMIDITY beyond your expectations, esp for spoiled Californians.
  8. Buy a good quality UV umbrella IN CHINA AS SOON AS you get there. It rained at any time and the sun was unbearable. American umbrellas are NO match for Chinese rain and sun.
  9. I regret not bringing videos about myself, my school and my town. I thought it would be too narcissistic but the kids wanted to KNOW everything. They loved when I told them stories about my travels and my own boys.
  10. GO in with an open mind and NO preconceived notions and you will have the experience of a lifetime.
  11. Drink more water than you think you need, then double that amount. Great weight loss program :-)
  12. Don't hang out in a clique, get to know everyone. EVERYONE has something new to offer you.
  13. This is a GREAT trip and experience, but it should NOT be your first big trip out of the country. A month is a long time to be in a place SO different from home. It's easy to get stressed out and get homesick. Travel to Mexico and Canada first.
  14. This is a physically demanding trip for various reasons. It's not for the faint-hearted or anyone who is NOT active at home already.

**G.P. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

This program is just wonderful and very helpful to the students. The opening and closing ceremony was just wonderfully planned. I love how students had their Dance-Elective class and were able to perform for everyone and believe it was really effective to only have these students perform. Personally, I only had problems with technology, but made it work using my USB-flash drive. As this is my first time participating in this program, I thought everything just ran very smoothly

I love how the school site assisted us with everything we needed. There was a lot of support from everyone at the school site. My English and regular classroom teachers always made themselves available, walked around and talked to the students if students needed to refocus and participate during each activity.

Tour guide was excellent. Tom took really good care of us during our stay in China. He was always respectful, very professional and very knowledgeable about the history of China. He always made himself available for everything we needed. Because of the language barrier, always having someone available with us at every hotel, made me feel safe and less intimidating to communicate with others.

Suggestions/advice for future teachers: This is a wonderful program where we get to learn about the history and culture of China. However, it is very difficult when you are traveling non-stop for four weeks. Also, having to roommate with somebody you do not know, also makes it challenging, but at the same time rewarding; because you meet colleagues from around the country and from China and are able to share ideas and strategies you can bring back and use with your own class. If you want to have an enjoyable experience while you are in China, you have to be really open minded and take every experience as it comes, including the food and accommodations at every hotel you stay. You have to keep in mind that we are a guest in China and can't expect everything to be the same as if you were in the United States.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to be part of this amazing program. Hope to do it all over again in the near future.

**A.S. from 2018 Nanjing Summer Program:

  1. LISTEN TO THE TOUR GUIDE! Not only is it disrespectful to talk to one another when he is speaking, but you miss vital information, like when and where to meet, and when and where one can/cannot take pictures (that was a big problem with a couple of folks in the temples). And honestly, would you tolerate it if your students kept talking while you are teaching?
  2. Get cash in advance. You will rarely be able to use a bank card. Even Apple pay is scarce. And you cannot connect a US bankcard to WeChat pay nor Alipay. Oh—get WeChat before you go. It’s like what facebook and twitter were meant to be before they got all commercial. And pretty much everyone in China uses it to message or phone call (data and/or Wifi—works whether you have a VPN or not!!). Teachers like to create groups to share news and arrange get togethers while on tour…
  3. Make sure your equipment works before leaving the states: laptop, flash drive, HDMI adaptor, the works. And have your materials downloaded and saved to the hard drive to a flashdrive before leaving, as well. We are told this every year for good reason.
  4. Plan paperless. There’s a projector in every room, and an ELMO in most. The less you have to do on paper, the easier planning (and teaching) will be.

**M.D. from 2018 Nanjing Program:

I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your program. The experience was above and beyond what I had expected. It is something that I will always remember. The Chinese children were so wonderful to work with, the teachers and administrators were great, and the school was beautiful. I learned so much from being there. I hope the students learned a lot from me as well. If you'd have me again, I'd love to join you next year too.

  1. Organization of the program in general - The overall organization of the teaching, sightseeing, flights, hotels and meals was wonderful. The roommate choices seemed to really work out well. The timelines before the program made it easy to plan and get everything done that was needed.
  2. Management of the program on the school site - Sally did an amazing job of managing the program. There are so many students and teachers, that there could have been problems, but everything ran very smoothly.
  3. Service of tour guides - Our tour guides were so great. I enjoyed their knowledge, personal stories, and patience with our group. I feel like I know so much about China now because of our guides. They also inspired me to want to learn more.
  4. New hotels in Hangzhou and Beijing - The hotels were great. The hotel in Nanjing had very dirty carpet and mold on the bathroom walls, however the location was the best. It made the dirty carpets bearable because the location near the lake was amazing.
  5. Suggestions/advice for future teachers:
    • Advice for future teachers would be to take in every experience and adventure.
    • Make sure to really let the experience sink in and appreciate where you are. The history, people, culture... everything is amazing!
    • Prepare lessons & power points, brings things to give the students, be energetic, prepared to be exhausted, know that sometimes you might only find one or two things to eat at a meal (if you're picky like me), but know that you won't starve, be open-minded to everything!

Sally, thank you again for allowing me to join your teaching team. I will always be grateful to you for the amazing experience and I hope that we can do it again together.

**D.K. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

Excellent, as always! Great tour guides, hotels, excursions, buses, flights, etc. Everything ran very smoothly.

I love the new kindergarten classrooms! They are better than what I have back at home and the technology is amazing and they have air conditioning! We were treated like celebrities. The teachers were great, the kids were wonderful. Our support staff was great about getting us anything we needed and making copies as necessary. The tour guides were friendly, knowledgeable and patient.

Although I missed the old Suzhou hotel, the new ones were very nice, especially the second one. It was great being so close to the school. We actually walked "home" from school a couple of times. Both hotels had excellent locations and were near shopping and the subway. I wouldn't mind having the second hotel for both weeks if it were available. The Hangzhou hotel was also excellent. I would have loved to stay there for more than just the one night. Excellent location: we went out to walk along the river the night we arrived. I noticed the museum across the street from the hotel but we weren't there long enough to go.

Suggestions/advice for future teachers:

  • Pack light... there were many teachers who had bought so much in China that they could not fit their stuff into their luggage by the end of the month!
  • Don't pack an umbrella from home, buy one cheap as soon as you get to China... but don't wait until it rains or you will pay 4 times as much (although still cheap compared to US).
  • Don't bother packing lots of snacks from the US; you can find most American brand snacks at convenience stores, grocery stores and even Wal-Marts.
  • Get a VPN before you leave home to access the internet (YouTube, Facebook, etc.).
  • I only pack a few pair of socks and then buy disposable socks in China super cheap (pack of 6 for less than $2 next door to the school and at Wal-Mart-type stores). It is cheaper than having to pay to wash your socks, plus saves room in your luggage.

**B.S. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience! I will always cherish the amazing people and places of China! I think everything was just about perfect - I have absolutely no improvements to suggest. Your organization skills and lovely manner were the cherry on top of a perfect experience. Thank you SO MUCH for everything! I LOVED it from the first day to the last.

**C.S. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

The program was very well organized. All travel arrangements were done for me, from airline reservations, hotel accommodations, food, and touring. I just had to focus on teaching.

The management of the program at Suzhou was wonderful. We were promptly picked up from our hotel every morning, schedules were provided and followed daily, lunch and snacks were served, and suggestions were provided for things to do during our lunch break. There were several cultural activities that took place over our teaching time. My favorite was the painting.

Our main tour guide Tom was excellent. He gave us lots of information on China and the places we were going to. He had a good sense of humor and was able to deal with all our different personalities. The tour guides for Xi’an and Beijing were very good as well. During our time at school, both Jeremy and Devin were very helpful with computer issues and suggestions of what to do for dinner each night. Jeremy accompanied our group to visit Tongli on our day off.

Hangzhou or Beijing. These new hotels were very nice. The rooms were new and clean, and the breakfasts offered many good choices. Having stayed in two different hotels in Suzhou, the second one, Frangrans, was vastly superior in location, cleanliness, and food.

My suggestions for future teachers are to bring more materials than you think you will need. Create more lessons than you think you will use. Leave half of the clothes you pack at home. Don’t spend all your shopping money too early. And prepare to have the experience of a lifetime. Also, you need to be flexible. Things will not always go the way you want it. Roll with it.

**J.J. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

I cannot begin to express how completely amazing China was! I tell everyone that they have to go in their lifetime to visit. Everyone was so respectful! Your father was so supportive to all of us North American teachers. I want to go back next year and a teacher I work with would like to apply also. Will you be sending former teachers an email in advance as a reminder to apply or do we check the website for application deadline?

The program was very well organized! Tom, our tour guide to Suzhou was friendly, respectful, and very helpful!!

For future teachers:

  1. There are many mosquitos and they loved my legs! Bring mosquito repellent and hydrocortisone cream for the itching.
  2. Bring cold medicine (just in case).
  3. I did not bring denim jeans and wish I would have brought one pair for the bus and air-conditioned buildings.
  4. Umbrellas are sold everywhere out there, so no need to bring an umbrella.
  5. Always check with the tour guide prior to getting a massage in the hotel. (Xian experience).

Again, I cannot thank you and your father enough for the amazing opportunity and opening my eyes to a beautiful culture!! It was the experience of a lifetime and I cannot wait to go back!

First time strangers, second time friends!:)

**A.L. from 2018 Nanjing Program:

    Suggestions/advice for future teachers
  1. All the information provided through the website and your emails is thorough and detailed.
  2. I do travel with my coffee mug that ended up very helpful during breakfast because the coffee glasses could be too hot and small in Nanjing's hotel.
  3. I also travel with my thermal water bottle that I was able to refill at the cold drink dispenser in Shanghai's hotel but, most of the time, it ends up more convenient to buy the chilled bottled water on the tour bus upon returning from sightseeing.
  4. I could have done with less shoes skipping the hassle of getting the perfect pair of Crocs before leaving since I found a nice and cheap pair at Walmart in Nanjing.
  5. I had no problem doing my own laundry even under such humidity because I figured out a way to accelerate the drying time for shoes and, some heavier fabrics, squeezing them with a towel and aiding with the hair dryer. I decided to bring back to school the hangers I bought rather than leaving them in the hotel just for future teachers convenience because they are inexpensive.
  6. Finally, once I arrived to the hotel in Nanjing where I was going to stay for two weeks and, saw that the shower walls were not as clean as I wanted them to be, I bought a cleaning spray and aided with one of the complimentary toothbrushes, got rid of the mildew for the rest of my stay in all three hotels. But these are all minor details
  7. There is really not much else to say except that I wished I had invested in one of those wet towels that seem to keep you cool at places like the Forbidden City because otherwise buses, hotels and, teachers workrooms are very cool and comfortable.

It has been a wonderful experience. I feel that every little detail has been well thought, organized and taken care of. Thank you, Sally, for all the hard work and time you invest prior, during and, afterwards to give life to this exchange program every year. I look forward to have the opportunity of being chosen to participate next year.

**C. H. from 2018 Nanjing Program:

Thank you again for granting me the opportunity to participate in this program. It was a phenomenal experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My review is listed below:

The Summer China Program was one of the best experiences of my life. The program was very well organized and easily adaptable. I do wish after traveling from place to place we had more of a resting time because I know towards the end of the program our bodies were drained from being on-the-go consistently. Other than that small part, everything was perfectly planned and fit our schedules to a T. The management of the school site were amazing. They were very kind and eager to assist us in anyway possible. I felt very welcomed on the Nanjing campus. Our tour guides were helpful and informative, but during the first half of the trip, one of them wasn’t as patient with us as he could have been. With being a foreigner in a new country, it’s normal to want to stop and take pictures but most of the time we were being rushed to do so. The new hotels in Hangzhou was BEAUTIFUL! I was so impressed with the view that we received, but the WiFi wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I could not connect my phone the whole time there. I didn’t so much admire the hotel in Beijing. My roommate and I had to swap rooms because the first room’s air conditioner did not work, and the second room had bugs in the bathroom. My suggestions for future teachers are definitely to PACK LIGHT! I thought I packed light and still had to leave some things behind. You’re going to be a doing A LOT OF shopping and you will bring back tons of things that you wouldn’t think of. I would definitely say to not overload on classroom supplies and try to see if you can put things on a flash drive because it was easier to share and instruct lessons off of that. Lastly, bring a towel for your face and wear comfortable shoes and clothes! China was SCORCHING and there is a lot of walking that goes along with trip. Have fun, relax, and be accepting of the differences that you’ll notice. The culture is amazing and the people are lovely! :)

**D.K. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

I hope you and your family are well and enjoying the excitement of back to school activities! Your email requesting feedback got away from me, so I may not hit all the categories you requested.

The overall experience was excellent. Travel arrangements, flights, tours, buses, guides were all excellent! Tom, our main guide, was really effective in handling our group of strong and outgoing women! LOL He was very organized, had good leadership, shared interesting information about China, and also a good sense of humor. He coordinated efficient check in procedures at every hotel by collecting our passports in advance. Our rooms/keys were always conveniently ready upon our arrival.

Mr. Mao provided leadership and a sense of security for us all. Love the pearl earrings he bought me (us)! Can't say enough about Jeremy. He did extra tours for those interested, and was always an involved participant during the school day and beyond. Very patient and considerate even when some people seemed a bit demanding.

The technology at the school was more updated than my experience two years ago. The flash drives I took worked with no problems. I had a few DVD's to use, and was not able to use them. DVD's are pretty much obsolete there, as they are becoming in the US like old VHS tapes. I had plenty of material to use with both the kindergarten and first grade classes that I taught. The kindergarten English teacher was really supportive and enthusiastic about the summer program. The first grade teacher (young, new teacher) seemed a bit overwhelmed and burnt out, but we had a good relationship. Only a couple students in the first grade class had any crayons/markers so I purchased some at the market nearby for the class. In Nanjing all the students had them. I didn't do a lot of crafts, but some of our activities required crayons/markers.

One lesson activity the students seemed to enjoy required listening, speaking, and allowed for movement. I took "bingo dobbers" and incorporated those into some of the activities, and those were a big hit. For example, I put up two large pieces of paper and students had to put a "dobber" mark on the correct answer for them. Which do you like better? Bananas or Apples? One paper said "bananas" and one said "apples" and the students would walk to the front and say, "I like bananas better than apples" and put a dobber mark on the paper. Then I counted, and said "Fifteen students like bananas better than apples." and " Fourteen students like apples better than bananas." We would also count the dots together aloud.

The kindergarten classroom was a really nice facility and brand new.

My kindergarten class was in the closing ceremony, so that was a lot of fun! They did great.

**D.K. from 2018 Suzhou Program:

I hope you and your family are well and enjoying the excitement of back to school activities! Your email requesting feedback got away from me, so I may not hit all the categories you requested.

The overall experience was excellent. Travel arrangements, flights, tours, buses, guides were all excellent! Tom, our main guide, was really effective in handling our group of strong and outgoing women! LOL He was very organized, had good leadership, shared interesting information about China, and also a good sense of humor. He coordinated efficient check in procedures at every hotel by collecting our passports in advance. Our rooms/keys were always conveniently ready upon our arrival.

Mr. Mao provided leadership and a sense of security for us all. Love the pearl earrings he bought me (us)! Can't say enough about Jeremy. He did extra tours for those interested, and was always an involved participant during the school day and beyond. Very patient and considerate even when some people seemed a bit demanding.

The technology at the school was more updated than my experience two years ago. The flash drives I took worked with no problems. I had a few DVD's to use, and was not able to use them. DVD's are pretty much obsolete there, as they are becoming in the US like old VHS tapes. I had plenty of material to use with both the kindergarten and first grade classes that I taught. The kindergarten English teacher was really supportive and enthusiastic about the summer program. The first grade teacher (young, new teacher) seemed a bit overwhelmed and burnt out, but we had a good relationship. Only a couple students in the first grade class had any crayons/markers so I purchased some at the market nearby for the class. In Nanjing all the students had them. I didn't do a lot of crafts, but some of our activities required crayons/markers.

One lesson activity the students seemed to enjoy required listening, speaking, and allowed for movement. I took "bingo dobbers" and incorporated those into some of the activities, and those were a big hit. For example, I put up two large pieces of paper and students had to put a "dobber" mark on the correct answer for them. Which do you like better? Bananas or Apples? One paper said "bananas" and one said "apples" and the students would walk to the front and say, "I like bananas better than apples" and put a dobber mark on the paper. Then I counted, and said "Fifteen students like bananas better than apples." and " Fourteen students like apples better than bananas." We would also count the dots together aloud.

The kindergarten classroom was a really nice facility and brand new.

My kindergarten class was in the closing ceremony, so that was a lot of fun! They did great.

**A.H. from 2018 Nanjing Program:

Suggestions/advice for future teachers
  • Make sure to take waterproof shoes, and/or shoes that you are willing to leave behind. They have squat toilets, so you may accidentally get pee on your shoes, and sometimes it just pours and your shoes are bound to get soaked.
  • Also, I recommend that you take an adapter that plugs into the wall in order to be able to charge your phone without a problem.

**L.P. from 2018 Nanjing Program:

I felt this program was very organized from the airport in LA to the entire time in China. The schedule was clear and I was happy there was always someone to answer my questions about the schedule. I really like the teaching schedule and the girls helping in our teacher room. They were a lifesaver!

Advice:
  • I would advise the teachers to bring less as far as paper work for students. This type of teaching is Communication at its finest.
  • Plan on being engaged the entire class period, no down time. Activity Based Learning should be the name of the teaching program, this would also save on suitcase packing weight. I only used about 1/2 of what I brought because I revised my lesson plans to fit the desired outcomes I wanted. I was really surprised at the amount of English that the students knew. They were excellent at writing and reading English, the actual conversation in English was what I taught and that is the part that needed to be worked on.
  • Go for it, China was the best experience I have had. Life changing, having a different perspective of education, culture and communication was so valuable. I love beautiful China and the Chinese people. My heart fills with joy when I think about the summer I spent in China.

**L.O. from 20118 Suzhou Program:

  • Touring the first week, teaching 2 weeks and touring the last week worked well. It was exhausting but a wonderful experience.
  • Teaching for 40 minutes and a break worked well and gave teachers time to go to the bathroom and organize materials.
  • The tour guides were great! They knew the history, area, and informative. Tom allowed us to use his Wi-Fi.

Suggestions/advice for future teachers: Teachers need to understand that they will be touring in a bus and if they have issues with car sickness they need to bring medication with them.

Thank you so much for the opportunity. It was challenging at times and also rewarding. I learned a lot, fell in love with the students and made new friends. I visited places that I never thought I would see and had delicious meals three times a day! Mr. Mao always made sure that we had what we needed and took care of us when we were ill.