My AYC Experience
by Sarah Sanchez
#Giveayear #GrowinChina #Teach&Learn
What does it mean to spend a year of your life in China? For me, it started out meaning that I would be away from the ones I love for a longer period of time than ever before. Thoughts of missing my family started to really sink in at the San Antonio International Airport and throughout the day’s travel to LAX then finally, Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. Then, the meaning of my trip changed. It started to mean much more than just “being away for a really long time”. I began to meet like-minded people; people with similar passions and drives. A special education major, just like myself, people in international affairs, business, media, theatre, global health, all here spending a year in China to teach English. Soon I would find out that this was just the beginning of the most amazing experience I have yet to have in my twenty-six years of life. An amazing experience because I am in a beautiful foreign country overflowing with people who speak various dialects of a language very different from my native tongue. And, I am going to be teaching the future generation of this country and inevitably the world.
As orientation began with guest speakers like Gwendolyn Cardno, the Deputy Director of the American consulate in Shanghai, Mr. Jiaqun, and other leaders in the Ameson, AYC program, I had possibly the most significant realization of them all: I am an ambassador from the United States and soon to be foreign expert in China, helping to build the relationship of these two great countries. The significance of what I am doing here is so much greater than I could have imagined before I stepped onto Chinese land. Everything that we ambassadors do to further the education of our pupils in China will eventually, in some way, affect the future generations in America as well.
Aside from the professional growth that I am undergoing, I also anticipate the personal growth. Growth that can only come from experiences such as the one I am in now. I arrived less than a week ago and I’ve already learned so much more about the culture than I did reading about it in my preparations for this journey all year. The Chinese are kind, helpful, generous and funny. Although, I look forward to learning mandarin so that I can delve deeper into this new culture, I also appreciate how the people I’ve done business with or met in the city have gone out of their way to cross the language barrier. Using technology to speak and translate then laughing together as translations in both English and Chinese are a little off. Being stopped at the train station by people of all ages who want to take a picture with the tall dark skinned and pale skinned Americans. To me, this shows a sense of respect and endearment that they might have for us and I want to reciprocate that type of acceptance and respect right back.
The AYC experience is worth every sacrifice that is made when packing up and leaving the ones you love behind for a little while. Get to know the other people who come from all around the United States and the UK to accomplish goals of educating themselves and others. Get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and give a year to grow in China, to teach our future generations of the world and learn something new about you.