As she sat on the plane headed towards HsinChu, Taiwan, Wei Jing was filled with excitement and was brimming with curiosity about her AIESEC Global Volunteer project. She was to volunteer as a teacher at Sha Keng Elementary School. As she touched down at Taoyuan Airport, she was very glad to see an AIESECer from National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) waiting there to pick her up and bring her to her destination. Along the way, Wei Jing found the AIESECer to be friendly and easy to befriend as she kept sharing about the culture of Taiwan and her unique experiences with previous exchange participants, just as Wei Jing was about to embark on her own journey towards learning more about herself and the world.
Wei Jing had quickly realised that in order to adapt to a new environment where she was constantly encountering new situations, she had to be brave. Upon reaching the school, she was shocked to find that there was only one eatery and one convenient store in the vicinity. She was also assigned to live in the school for a month and a half in a small room in the consultation room. The living space was very dark at night and she felt unsafe being out of the room.
Eventually, she decided to muster up her courage and speak out, asking if one of the teachers could take her in and let her live with them for the next month. Fortunately, one kind teacher willingly invited her to stay with her family at her house. This changed her entire programme to be more memorable and meaningful. Had she never spoken up, she would have continued to stay in the consultation room for the rest of her stay in Taiwan and might not have enjoyed her programme as much. As we can see, being brave does not only help you better adapt to your environment, but also enhances your experience for you to get more out of it.
She also came to find out that being a teacher required a lot of patience. This was the first time she had to prepare a lot of teaching materials for her lessons every day. It was challenging to design and conduct lessons apart from having to handle her students. Some of them also had difficulties coping as they had their own personal problems which needed more patience on her part when comforting them. Through this, she had further enhanced her interpersonal communication skills as she was required to empathise and sympathise with both students and teachers alike.
Power of Language
From her teaching experience at Sha Keng Elementary School, Wei Jing had witnessed the power of language first-hand. The English teacher at the school had restricted her from using Mandarin to speak with the children. She had found it difficult to communicate with the children because the students would not understand what she was saying to them, even if they tried their best to listen to her, because she spoke in English. It was through this experience that she had completely understood the importance of bilingualism and the power it holds. If the students had understood English and were at least bilingual, they would understand her and lessons would have been a lot more efficient.
Lessons on the World
Through her AIESEC Global Volunteer experience, Wei Jing learnt that the world is not such a scary place after all. If you look around the world and explore enough, you will find kind people at different corners of the world.
Once again, the power of language stood out to her. Language can act as a bridge to connect very different individuals and ultimately connect the world through building relationships with one another. In her case, had the children understood English, the language would have facilitated not only communication with each other, but also mutual understanding and respect- two important values that form the very basis of friendship.
Finally, Wei Jing learnt that while the obstacles we face in our journey to achieve our goal- be it a personal achievement or an aspiration to change the world, may seem endless and our goal may seem incredibly daunting at times, if we look on the bright side and take time to trust the process and enjoy our progress, we will eventually get there. Just as she did.