Tianjiabing Senior High School, Year One, Class 9 students hosted a farewell party for Ameson Year in China (AYC) cultural ambassador, Sofia Goldberg during her last week at the school. Students from her classes, fellow teachers, and student representatives from other classes came to wish Sofia goodbye before her travels back to the United States.

Sofia’s students will never forget the way she started each class with an enthusiastic “Hi guys!” Her students would echo, “Hi Sofia!” in return, as class got under way. Her classes were always filled with excited chatter and laughter.  Throughout the year, Sofia challenged her students with rich and diverse lessons that were fun and engaging. Her class was an unforgettable moment in these students’ high school career.

The event incorporated some of Sofia’s favorite activities (soccer games and singing), several goodbye speeches, and a photo slideshow.  The speeches were thoughtful, the photo slideshow was sweet and funny, and the games and songs were silly. But, near the end of the evening, when students presented Sofia with several gifts to take back home and thank her for her for a great year. “I knew it would be hard to hold back tears,” said Sofia

Each gift was extremely thoughtful, but one gift in particular stood out to Sofia. A representative from one of Sofia’s classes gave her a box of letters from the class, along with a beautiful set of colored pencils and a water bottle. She told Sofia, “I know you love to draw and I know you always have a water bottle on your desk, I chose these gifts because I want you to remember us whenever you are drinking water or drawing.” There were plenty of hugs and I miss yous during the ceremony. In return, Sofia left her personal contact information with her students so they could stay in touch.

This school year flew by, but the impression that Sofia left on her students will stay with them for a long time to come. According to Sofia, her Year One students really outdid themselves. “It was a privilege to work with such motivated and sincere students all year and truly touching to be thrown such a heartfelt farewell party during my last week. I will never have an experience quite like this again.”

The goal of the AYC program is to provide college educated, open-minded individuals with the opportunity for career development and personal growth as they spend an academic year teaching and making a difference in schools across China. Stories of the bonds formed between students and AYC teachers like Sofia have not only helped promote the program throughout the country, they serve as proof that AYC is succeeding in its goal to provide a forum for meaningful exchange between Chinese and Western youth. It is exactly this understanding from one-on-one interaction and education that will improve relations between countries and nations in our increasingly globalized world.