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Christopher | China
I was extremely lucky to be placed with a Coordinating Teacher who I can truthfully say was one of the best teachers I have ever seen, and someone who I will strive to be like throughout the rest of my teaching career... I cannot overemphasize how happy I was with the supervision/assistance that I received while in Hangzhou; along with my coordinating teacher, every single person on the staff made it very clear that they were always there if I needed help with anything, whether it be creating a lesson plan, wanting to observe a class they were teaching, applying for future jobs, or even something as simple as finding a good place to eat lunch.
The most rewarding experience was walking away knowing that I taught at least one thing to almost every student who I came in contact with. I cannot speak for every international school, but the students in Hangzhou were definitely some of the most eager, hard-working, and all around wonderful people whom I have ever had the pleasure of working with. When I state that I know that I taught at least one thing to every student, I am referring to the fact that almost every student in the classroom took time out of their day/after class to come talk to me about something either related to my unit plan or just related to my life in America in general.
Advice I would give future COST student teachers:
First and foremost: do it! You may be having a lot of inner debate about whether or not the COST program is a good idea (I know I did), but please believe me when I state applying for the program was one of the greatest decisions I ever made, from both an educational perspective and just a life perspective in general. I realize that this will vary from location to location, but be prepared for internet connectivity that is far from what it is in America. I’m not sure if this is something common in countries other than China, but struggling to connect to local wi fi is a problem that continually occurred (on a daily basis) throughout my entire trip. Again, this is something that differs based on where you are placed, but anyone who hopes to access resources that we have all come to rely on in America for our lesson planning and general teaching ideas (google, twitter, etc.) should definitely look into acquiring a VPN before they leave. Luckily my CT notified me about this before I left the States, otherwise I would have had almost no internet access. You obviously should judge the situation before deciding what to do, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try to communicate with people around you who may not speak English as well as you, or at all. I was initially a little intimidated by the idea of being in a completely new place full of people who couldn’t understand me and who I couldn’t understand, but I found that 99% of the people I encountered were very understanding and were willing to at least try to help in any way that they could.