Do you remember what it was like to be in camp and thrown into a situation where you are essentially forced out of your comfort zone and you have to figure out how to make friends as quickly as possible? For me, I felt like this was something I wouldn’t need to do after getting to college. I was over having to go through ice breakers and try and make friends hoping people would like me but little did I realize that I was willingly putting myself in that situation all over again when I decided to come and volunteer. There were a few hundred of us brought together in this training center in TaoYuan and after registering, we all went to our rooms to get to know the people we would be hanging with.
We were broken up into “Teams” would be the people we would teach with and some other people who would be in teaching in a similar region. I got into my room with five other girls, three of which happened to be a part of my group that I would be teaching with. I really got lucky because I got to meet some really fantastic people that I would end up bonding with for years to come. During the week that we were here, I had to learn more about communicating in Chinese, creating lesson plans, learning songs that we could teach the kids and games that we could play with them.
We went through activities every single day that involved role playing, learning more about how to interact with students and getting to know our teams a bit better. This also involved doing things to break us out of our shells and feel more comfortable with our group.
*Photo courtesy of my teammate Jennifer*
During this time, I really started to get to know more about Taiwan and some of the things that I was not quite so prepared for. During this experience, I got the chance to actually utilize a squat toilet. As it was my first time in Asia, I had never really quite mentally prepared for squat toilets and let’s just say there was really nothing to quite prepare me for it. In the school we were training at, I realized it was very common to only have one western style toilet and all the rest be squats. So if you weren’t willing to do your business in the squats, you would be out of luck. I tried so hard to time everything perfectly so that I could utilize the western style toilet but eventually I had to face my fears and use the squat. You get can get used to it….
Along with that, I quickly learned more about the fact that you have to bring your own toilet paper where ever you go just as a common practice to be on the safe side. If you didn’t prepare then you would also be out of luck. So I learned some very valuable lessons at the training about how to be a better teacher but also some lessons on how to better prepare for exploring the country.