The Most Unforgettable Summer

Week 3 of the camp I really saw my students bloom!  Through the speech and drama competitions, I saw so much improvement in my students’ English speaking ability.  I will never forget how funny and outgoing my students were, and how much their confidence had grown. They became so comfortable with the rest of the teachers and I, all they wanted to do was speak English and learn as much they could.

Besides the class competitions and lectures in the morning, our teacher, the other volunteers, and I decided to make the last week more fun.  We mainly focused on having more games, activities, and even go play outside, so we can be in a different environment. So Monday, we went to the popular Lover’s Hill and played games outside the entire time.  It was such a beautiful and sunny day! We had a kite, Frisbees, balls, and funny truth or dare games.  I was so happy to see my students have so much fun, all while practicing their English.

Although I was so proud and happy to see all the progress my students had accomplished during the camp, I was so sad that the last two weeks was when my students and I got closer.  Literally almost all my spare time was spent having lunches, dinners, and going to KTV with them.  All I wanted to do was spend time with them, and the days were going by so fast!  My students and I would be having fun at KTV or in class, and we would look at the clock and be so shocked at how fast the time was going.  So many of them even told me how they wished the camp was longer, and that there was not enough time.

Those last couple days were so sad, especially since my teaching partner left a day early, so the students started saying goodbye sooner. I cried three days straight, as the students would bring in gifts and tell us how thankful they were and said bye to us. After the party on the last day, a group of students and I went to Peking University and had lunch.  Afterwards when we finally had to say goodbye, I was hysterical.  I was crying so much all my students were surrounding me, wiping my tears and hugging me. At the end, my student Emma held my hands and told me “don’t be sad, because this means better things will come in the future”.  Although I was sad to leave them, I knew she was right.  All of them said “it’s not goodbye, but see you later”, and they were so right. As I saw them ride their bikes away, I knew I would never forget them and I would see them in the future.

Whenever I look back at this experience, I will see my students’ happy faces saying hello to me every single day. I will remember riding my bike back to the empty campus from KTV with them, going down the hill late at night screaming, singing, and doing tricks on our bikes.  I will see them dancing during the afternoon activities and remember them always trying to teach me Chinese words (even though I was so bad at it). Seeing my students go from being shy the first couple days to seeing their beautiful personalities come to life at the end of the camp makes me so happy, and is something I will remember the rest of my life. Through this experience, I am happy to say that I discovered my passion for teaching and made lifelong friendships with the most wonderful people in the world, my students.


Michelle Zarate

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