Ni hao, my name is Valerie Barboza and I am an upcoming junior studying Mathematics with a teaching certificate. I am spending eight weeks as an intern at the Huixin International Office in Shanghai, China, where I am one of two teachers to five amazing students (Derrick, Stark, John Deere, Micue, and Lucy). I teach the students Canadian history and English Second Language (ESL) reading and writing. Yes, you read that right, Canadian history. These five students are all incoming high school sophomores and will be finishing their high school years in Canada as part of an international program that their Chinese school provided. After the five students have spent a whole year together in the international program, they will be moving in separate home-stay families and different schools in Canada. This summer is crucial to creating a smooth transition into the student’s new life in Canada.
The schedule is set up where the students have six classes; two history, two science, one ESL reading and writing, and one ESL listening and speaking from 9am to 4pm, Monday-Thursday. The schedule on Friday is two science and two history classes with a fun activity in the afternoon. With the fun activities, the students, teaching assistant, myself, and the project manager have gone to a chocolate factory, went to a karaoke/game place, and got a chance to make coffee at a local Starbucks with a history lesson about coffee. Unfortunately, this is the last week that I will be teaching the students since the summer program only lasts for four weeks. The next four weeks of my internship will be dedicated to working on education administration for the international schools that the office is partnered with.
During the first week of being their teacher, the students were extremely shy and did not answer questions and talked very little. However, as the weeks continued, the students became comfortable around me and would have conversations about favorite movies, video games, and much more. As someone who does not know Mandarin, it can be extremely difficult when I want to talk more or listen to their stories but cannot, since the students feel more comfortable talking in Mandarin than English outside of class. The cultural and language barrier that exists between the students and I become a struggle at times but we all try our hardest to meet in the middle which is all I could ever ask for from these students.
The students have done so much more for me than I have done for them. To the students, I have taught them Canadian history and improved their reading and writing abilities but, in my perspective, the students have been a constant reminder as to why I want to teach, and they ignite my passion with every answer they get right and every topic they become interested in. Every day the students make me laugh and smile so much and along with never knowing what’s going to happen in the class, it is always exciting. Each day is always different with them and never constant. As the week will go on, it will be incredibly sad to see them go, but I know that they will move on to bigger and better adventures in Canada and have amazing opportunities to grow academically and in many personal aspects.
In the future, when I think of Shanghai, I will not only think about the places I’ve visited and food I’ve eaten but about the lives of five students and how I spent my summer with them. Teaching is a career that I want to pursue and Derrick, John Deere, Stark, Lucy, and Micue will always be my first class. It has been an incredible honor to teach them and in turn, they have taught me the wonders and beauty of teaching.
This post was contributed by Valerie Barboza, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
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