Hello again! If you have not read my previous blog, then let me give a brief introduction to who I am and what I do. My name is Valerie Barboza and I am an upcoming third-year mathematics major in Shanghai, China for an internship. My internship for the first four weeks was with five students, teaching ESL (English Second Language) and Canadian History. For the past three weeks, I have been doing educational administration tasks such as reviewing teachers’ contracts, creating lesson plans, and doing demonstration lessons for incoming students to international school programs.
Do not be fooled by the title because although it’s an internship in Shanghai, depending on the company, interns may go on business trips to nearby cities. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a business trip to Beijing, in which I had to give a demonstration lesson to an international school called Chaoyang International School that is associated with Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). To put this in perspective, Beijing Foreign Studies University has been the university in which 400 ambassadors and 1,000 counselors of China graduated, meaning that multiple government officials have attended BFSU.
I have done multiple demonstration lessons in the past, but this weekend was different. For this school, I felt more nervous than I had been before. I believe it was because I was in a different city with new co-workers and the Dean of the College attended the lesson. As well, this was the deal breaker for the parents to decide if they wanted to send their children to Chaoyang International School. This school gives high school students the opportunity to attend one year of high school in China and finish their last two years of high school in the United States or Canada. This international program is not the only one in China and a new campus of this school was being built. This means that the impression of this school was extremely important.
To provide more background information, the international school was still being constructed but everyone had believed the construction would be done this past weekend. Since the campus was still being built, we were unsure if the demonstration lesson was going to happen since we didn’t want the parents to be in a campus that wasn’t fully constructed yet. However, the parents insisted that they still wanted to visit the campus and talk the program coordinators about the possibility of their children studying abroad.
My co-workers and I headed towards the new campus being built and prepared to set up the meeting. While the twenty of us finished setting up the meeting rooms, we had enough time to be given a quick tour of the new unfinished campus by one of my co-workers. The campus was wonderful and provided the students many resources since they are given labs for engineering, biology, and chemistry classes. In addition, the students will have some courses be taught by BFSU professors and have access to their libraries and databases.
After the tour, a few parents arrived and our team of twenty gathered in a large meeting room to answer any questions that the parents had about the abroad programs and to provide tours of the campus. This soon became nerve wrecking since the only person who could translate Mandarin for me was talking to a parent and another parent was trying to ask me questions. I tried to think back at everything I learned in Chinese class, but I froze. I suddenly became calm again because her son, Jack, started to have a conversation with me in English. Since my focus was on the students and making sure their questions about the international programs are answered, I wasn’t as nervous anymore. As Jack and I talked about his favorite subjects in school, I realized that the room becomes flooded with nearly 70 people, almost 30 of them are students.
I noticed my co-worker was approaching me and she informed me that I will need to give a demonstration lesson and I became nervous again. I was under the impression that the students would be separated from the parents, that the parents would be given a presentation about the international programs while I gave the lesson in another classroom. In addition, the worksheet I had prepared for the students wasn’t printed out in time. As I notice all the things that were going wrong at this point, I walked to the front of the room and waited for my USB drive to connect to the computer. My demonstration lesson was based upon a video and after what seemed like forever, the video began to play. As the video played, I could feel myself stumble upon words that I hadn’t even said yet and I was thinking too much about what questions to ask them. I shook off the feeling because I had done this lesson before and I knew exactly what questions to ask the students and how to get them to respond. After the video was done, I began to ask questions, call on students, and replay the video. I was getting answers from a variety of students and participation among the group increased whenever a student provided an answer. Suddenly, the parents and co-workers that I was so worried about disappeared and my focus was only on the 30 students in front of me. I was able to have nearly all the students participate and everyone said something, which is a goal for any teacher.
Afterwards, Jack informed me that he really enjoyed my lesson and how he wants to attend the same university that I do – University of Texas at Austin (can’t wait for a future longhorn!). In addition, he was also explaining to me his struggles with learning English as a second language as he knew answers to certain questions but forgot how to pronounce the words in English. I still applauded him for trying and we worked on the English words together. After departing ways from Jack, I heard from my co-workers that the parents were extremely satisfied with the campus and are considering on sending their children to Chaoyang International School.
The take away from this experience is that there will be multiple times in which you will be uncomfortable and nervous, especially being in a different city with another language and not knowing the outcome of the business trip. However, this changes once you do the job that you have been doing for the past seven weeks. That’s the purpose of a business trip, to prove to yourself and to your company that the internship has prepared you and given you the opportunity to use your skills during moments such as lessons. During this lesson, I wasn’t an outsider in the back of the room that couldn’t understand anyone, I was in the front of the room and all my attention was on the students. I did exactly what I want to do in the future, which is to teach students and have everyone participate. This past weekend was an unforgettable experience because I succeeded when I thought I wasn’t going to do as well as I wanted.
Despite moments of worry and nervousness, it’s best to remember that your business put you on the trip for a reason – to listen, to learn, to represent the company, and to show the skills that you have been working on for nearly a whole summer. This will be my last week in Shanghai before I depart from the internship, but for anyone who has ever considered doing an internship abroad, please apply whenever the applications open! An internship abroad is a completely different experience than anything else and a whole summer is given for you to grow in your future occupation. Through this internship, I have learned that something that seems as small as giving a lesson creates a strong impact such as, students coming to a new school, finishing high school in a different country, and creating a change in a student that now wants to attend the University of Texas. Most importantly, this internship has taught me that my profession as a teacher will create change in the world and it all started in Shanghai, China.
This blog post was contributed by Valerie Barboza, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
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