My name is Max and I am one of the volunteers of Xubo Art. I am 20 years old and after graduating the German high school in 2012 I wanted to take a year off before I am going to the university. I was very interested in Asia so I planned to spend time there and divide my journey into two parts: I started traveling around for three months in South-East-Asia from Singapore to Vietnam. The second part was a volunteer work as an English teacher in China. I searched for programs and organizations that offer such things and I found OpenDoorInternational and its partner organization Xubo Art in China. So I arranged a volunteer work in Suzhou and Mianyang for three months.

My China experience started in Shanghai where I arrived from Bangkok. After a (very) short introduction I spent the rest of the week in a flat of Xubo in Shanghai and then went off to Suzhou with another German volunteer. Suzhou is just about an hour away from Shanghai so I spent most of the weekends in the bigger city. In Suzhou we lived in a little apartment that was part of the school building. There were already two other volunteers teaching. That was the reason for some several problems we had to face at the beginning of our work because it was not organized that well. But Xubo helped us where they could and so most of the problems got solved.

The teaching in the suburb Luzhi we stayed was very much fun. I taught the second and third grade in English. The other volunteers and I had surely no problems with doing that. The teaching methods are very simple and completely different to German ones. That has to do with the size of the class. 45 pupils in one classroom is totally normal and that means as a teacher you are not able to focus on single students. You have to educate and teach the whole class and hope they will be able to follow your speed and pay attention. If the children were not motivated there is no chance for them to learn something because no one would be there to explain it another time.

The lessons were mostly about learning by heart so if you would have asked 100 students the question “How are you?” you would get 100 times the answer “I’m fine thank you! And you?” No doubt they can spell English words better than I do. The everyday life was often pretty much the same but very fun though. The kids loved foreigners and we were always welcomed there. After nearly every lesson the volunteers had to sign the school books. They were very excited about us and were very interested in our lessons. We played games with them, used PowerPoint presentations or taught stuff from theirs school book of course and sometimes made a German part when there was time left. All in all the lessons were always nice and every time an experience. After school we often played basketball with the sport teachers of our school. Like ping-pong basketball is really big in China and nearly every student carries his ball.

The life outside of the school was not always easy but interesting though. I really enjoyed communicating with other people who neither speak German nor English. I ran out of money so I only saw Suzhou and Shanghai but these two cities were just awesome. I stayed at the east coast for 2 months and saw a lot of stuff, I have been to really cool but always really adventuress places.

While I’m writing this I am in Mianyang in the province Sichuan 1800 km west of shanghai and having the last month of my journey. Till now I like it here better than in Suzhou because the school is way smaller and feel more integrated into the social life.

To put it in a nutshell I can say that I will never regret this volunteer work. It is so much fun, the lessons are great and the students love you anyways. So If you want another experience than just traveling then do stuff like this. And you will surely have enough free time to see everything you want to.