Alumni Comments 2011

First I want to thank you personally for all the work you did to make this program happen. Most of us would never have had the opportunity to travel to China had it not been for your initiative. I know I would not have searched the possibilities to work and travel in China for the Summer. Such a daunting task. Again, thank you.

I think the program was great. The tour was organized. The hotels were of a 3+ to 4 star quality. The restaurants we ate at were very nice. The service was great. The people were friendly and nice. The tour guides were all friendly and professional. The buses were comfortable and all air conditioned. I feel that the tour agency and you went out of your way to have us experience as much of Chinese culture as possible within the 10 days of touring. I've been on many tours before of Europe (EF) and these tours were often unpredictable, i.e. some did not do enough to show the culture, others were too ambitious where I felt exhausted. I truly feel, that the Chinese tour was well balanced.

As for the teaching part, I personally had a good relation with my homeroom teachers. If I needed them, I could count on their help. I generally didn't need them, as I was the one teaching. I used the teachers only once to explain "battleship", a game which is complicated to understand. One thing that did bother me somewhat was that many of the students did not seem that motivated to learn, even though I felt that my lessons were informative and entertaining. I suppose this is due to this being a two week Summer program, and the students were there to learn other things as well, such as Chinese and Math, which may have had more importance than learning English.

Secondly, I would like to suggest that there be a good source that all teachers use to teach the various grade levels that is uniform, at least for the first period, leaving the teachers the second/third period to teach with materials we brought with us. All the staff I met, Mr. Gong, Mr. Wang, Jimmy and the copy room lady, were friendly and nice.

The program was A+ quality. That the airfare, hotels, food, tours, admissions to the numerous places we visited, flights to Xi'an etc. were included in the price of the program makes this a very profitable program for teachers who want to experience China with the only obligation of teaching 11 days. I would like to participate again in the future, not next year but within the next three years.

Again, Thanks for everything.

Michael M.

2011 Nanjing Summer Program

I feel that the program was a huge success this year. It was evident that the school officials put a great effort into making sure that everything ran smoothly. From day one I was able to tell that a lot of time and dedication had gone into the organization of the summer program. We were able to meet with the classroom teachers and discuss classroom setup as well as available technology. I also feel that the grade level assignments were well suited to our teaching expertise and profile. The Chinese teachers also played an important role in assuring the success of the program. They were very extremely supportive. I really appreciated the help I got from Becky, Susan and Sophia. I was also appreciative of the fact that they felt they were learning effective ESL teaching strategies from me. In addition, Maggie, the program coordinator, was very helpful, friendly, and supportive. And while I'm at it, i should say Mr. Mao took very good care of us. He was sensitive and catered to our every need and made every effort to fulfill our requests. Jason was also very helpful translating, channeling resources to us, or just answering questions

As far as the food at the school, I have nothing but positive feedback. It was plentiful and was served promptly everyday; always included a variety of meats and vegetables. I especially liked the fish and the chicken. Oh and the afternoon snacks

By the way some of us loved going for a foot massage after lunch ( a five minute walk from the school, top notch and inexpensive). I miss those.

I thought the accommodations were always adequate, comfortable and conveniently located. The hotel in Suzhou was within walking distance of the old section of the city, most of us loved strolling down the streets there in the evening. The only drawback about the Suzhou hotel, where we stayed the longest, was that we had to pay for internet service, unlike at other cities. I really didn't mind that because we were able to use the internet in the teacher's room at school. it would have been nice to get a special rate or something like that though in order to stay in touch with family in the evening or on weekends.

I really enjoyed the tours. They were very well planned and the guides provided outstanding service. They took very good care of us and were attentive to all our requests. I would have a hard time choosing my favorite city. I liked all of them. if I had to pick a favorite I might say Hangzhou. I loved the abundant greenery that seems to be found everywhere you go. One of the highlights of the tours was the Terracotta Warriors museum. That was a thrill. We loved Beijing also. Exploring Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden city was so exciting. However nothing will surpass the excitement of climbing the Great Wall.

I really enjoyed working and traveling with the group of teachers. They acted very professionally and showed a lot of dedication. A lot of effort was put into class preparation and there was plenty of collaboration among all of us

I wish to express my gratitude to you and to Mr. Mao once again for the opportunity to gain such significant insight into the Chinese culture. I feel that I have broadened my understanding of the Chinese people as a result of this and my previous experience in China. Thank you so much. I hope I am afforded an opportunity to do it again in the future.

Ariel L.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

I thought the school was very well managed. The administration seemed to do everything they could to "take care of us". I really felt we were treated so special by the school. Any changes made to the schedule were given to us with enough advance notice that we were able to adjust without a problem.

The food was okay at school. I know the kitchen did their best to "Americanize" the lunch menu, and we appreciated that. I did choose to bring my own lunches most days during teaching.

The accommodations were excellent. The Holiday Inn in Shanghai was beautiful, and both hotels in Nanjing were great. My favorite was the Grand Metro in Nanjing, which did feel like home after 2 weeks, and was in a wonderful location. All of the hotels had pretty good breakfasts, no complaints there. It would have been nice to have wireless internet in our hotels, especially for lesson planning purposes, but it seems that the Chinese hotels haven't gotten around to that yet. We are spoiled with it here in the U.S., but my roommate and I made it work! It wasn't really a problem.

The tour arrangement was fantastic. Everything was planned out for us ahead of time, and was very, very organized. The tour guides were great, and JJ was the best, as to be expected. I do think future teachers should understand that these tours are organized far in advance, and that the tour guides don't have a lot of flexibility in the schedule. I did not have a problem at all with the tour schedules. I think we were very lucky to have everything set up for us.

Although it wasn't quite our first stop, Hangzhou was a great place to start our trip and get a feel for China. The city was green and beautiful. The day we went to the pagoda and took the boat ride on West Lake was one of my 2 favorite days of the tours (Great Wall was the other). I also loved Nanjing, because it felt like home since we spent the most time there, and it was nice to know our way around a little bit.

Lori M.

2011 Nanjing Summer Program

I couldn’t have been happier with all and everything that you did, planned, and made happen. It was a wonderful experience, one which I have recommended to many of my teaching colleagues. It was such an excellent teaching experience for me. The teachers and admin at SIFLS were so helpful and appreciative. The food was great, but too much. I think that I gained a few pounds. The hotels, guides, and tours were perfect. I loved Suzhou the most because of the connection with the people, the students, the other teachers which afforded a more personal and up-close experience. My only complaint would be that of the pollution. I could have supported the heat and humidity, but the air quality was and is tragic

Ann C.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

Marbella and I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for giving us the opportunity to experience such a great country that is China. We greatly enjoyed every minute we were there, from the flight to Seoul all the way to our last meal in China. We were not happy that we had to return.

Jason and Mr. Mao were both amazing. They are both exceptional human beings and treated us like royalty and beyond. They, and the whole experience itself, went far beyond our expectations. We both love China and it's people. We are looking to take Chinese classes now and hope to get back there soon

Teaching in Suzhou was awesome. Everyone, from the principal to the cleaning ladies, was a pleasure to be around. We loved our students and instantly connected with them.

You did a great job putting the program together. Thank you again.

Jose and Marbella

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

School management was excellent! Things were organized and if there were any changes we were notified immediately. Everything went smooth.

I was not used to the bony fish but the taste was great. Overall, the food was good and plentiful. Mr. Mao always made sure we had enough to eat.

The accommodations were very good. After a night of getting accustomed to the firmer beds, the rest of the stay was pleasant. The tours were enjoyable and would love to go back.

The air conditioning in the rooms would have been nice if they were cooler. This is minor though, the experience was great and would love to work for the program full-time. My wife and I both enjoyed it greatly and have only positive comments about the program.

Thank you very much for the great opportunity,

Jose S.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

This was my first trip to China. I was very impressed with SIFLS. The administrators of the school were very accommodating and helpful. They were visible on campus and in our classrooms. The overall management of the school was excellent!

I am vegetarian and I was able to find many delicious dishes for both lunch and dinner at SIFLS. We had tasty warm dishes and we were spoiled with delicious desserts and fruit at all hours of the day.

I was very pleased with the Gloria Plaza Hotel. It is a great location and within a short walking distance to historic Suzhou and to the shopping areas. I had plenty of room to shower and to plan my lessons in. It felt like home.

The tour arrangement was excellent. I enjoyed every part of the tour. I also appreciated the scheduled free time in each tour so that we could go and shop and experience local life. The tour guides were very professional, fun, and knowledgeable. My favorite city was Suzhou. I fell in love with that city. I want to return there in the near future. Hangzhou was also really nice as well as X'ian. I liked all of the cities but Suzhou was magical.

I appreciate the diversity in the group of teachers that were chosen to teach in Suzhou. We were all very different from one another but we learned from one another and we were able to collaborate very well when we were planning our lessons. I liked working with a small group of teachers because we were able to bond and in the end we were like a family. I really don't have any constructive suggestions. I would like to return to Suzhou next summer. Thank you very much for the opportunity to experience this wonderful and unique experience.

Marbella A.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

I believe the school is very well organized and goes above and beyond to make sure we are taken care. If they can provide some additional information of where the student levels are it would be great to be a little more prepared. If the teachers could have some kind of contact with the local teachers before we arrive, I think it would help because they have knowledge of the students in the classes.

I honestly did not have much because of my personal preference to eat elsewhere, but they do a great job to accommodate the best for us. I feel that there was plenty of options where to eat in or around the school and highly appreciate all they did for us.

The tour arrangements where great!! I learned so much about China's culture, food and history that I'm thinking of going to teach out there in an American School, if I get an opportunity. I do feel that we could use some additional leisure time to be able to get to know more about the local traditions. In Xi'an I was able to take a TUC TUC taxi and he took us through the back streets where the locals live and I felt that was the real China for me to be able to experience how people live day to day. I do understand not everyone want to do that, so if there was more evening opened it would give different opportunities to explore the cities.

Overall, the program is great. It has many things to offer and the country is awesome. I always felt safe in China and the people where very nice. I have a greater understanding of what it feels to be in another country and not understand the language. It has given me a different view on how I will teach my immigrant students and greater understanding for those who don't speak our language in our country.

Once again I would like to express my gratitude for all your program does and giving me this opportunity. I have made many new friends and hope to return another summer with the your group in the future. I went to China without reading any guidebooks or reviews I wanted to experience the real thing, with the locals and learning from the tours. I came back home with so much knowledge and much more than what I expected to encounter in the month stay. I will cherish those moments and take with me the memories of your great country.

Oscar G.

2011 Nanjing Summer Program

The management at the Suzhou School was absolutely top notch. I especially liked how we were able to rotate groups and teach four different classes of students. I also enjoyed the noon day culture classes and after school activities that the school offered the teachers, such as the boat ride down the canal, visiting Embroidery town, and touring the lake area. I could tell a lot of thought had gone into making our experience in Suzhou meaningful. Because of this, I got a much better feel for Suzhou than if I had explored the city on my own. Please THANK the individual responsible for this extra planning, because it greatly enhanced my experience in China.

There was a wide variety of food offered at lunch and always enough to eat. I appreciated the snacks that were provided for the teachers throughout the day, especially the apples and bananas. The availability of cold bottled water in the refrigerator was also appreciated. Unfortunately, once or twice, I was getting things finished up in the teacher workroom and missed eating lunch because they started cleaning up the food earlier and earlier

The hotel we stayed in while teaching in Suzhou was located in a “wonderful” part of the city, which allowed us to conveniently explore Suzhou in the evenings. We couldn’t have asked for a better spot. I would definitely keep the same location for future groups. The rooms were large and comfortable, and the breakfasts at the hotel had a wide variety of choices. The only complaint I ever heard from anyone about the hotel in Suzhou was it didn’t provide free internet. I solved this problem by emailing home during lunchtime while I was at the school; though, it would have been nice to have access to free internet in the evening to get last minute teaching ideas to supplement my lessons for the next day. If I could have chosen free internet with a less convenient location versus this location, I would still have chosen this location. On a positive note, not having access to free internet encouraged everyone to go out and explore Suzhou in the evenings, rather than sit at their computers.

Most of the tour guides were great, but it was difficult to hear the tour guide we had in Beijing. This was a little disappointing when we got to The Forbidden City, Ming Tombs, and Great Wall. (I think she may have been nervous and a little shy.) The tour guide we had in Xi’an was excellent.

My favorite city was Suzhou, and my favorite part of the trip was TEACHING! The major reason I would return is to be able to work with the students again. That was the part of the trip that touched my life the most! Thank you so much for the opportunity.

This has been a life changing experience! I have fallen in love with the children I teach and have enjoyed learning more about this wonderful country. Thank you once again for providing such an incredible experience. Coming to China this summer has literally changed my life and the way I see the world.

Anita B.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

I thank you again for the wonderful experience....again...in China. I can't even decide which time has been the best, they have all been adventures that I will never forget, and I hope to do it again and again.

The management of the school was good. The teachers were good to work with, and were very helpful. I liked the way we switched 1/2 way thru and could use our same lessons over again. That made it easier. I appreciated how they would have people like Jenny take us out at night to do things. Very helpful.

The food at the school was okay. It was the same thing the kids ate, cause I went to eat in the lunch room with them one day. We were NEVER hungry! There were always snacks and drinks for us!

I loved where the hotel was in Suzhou. Next to shopping and the old city, and I met some nice ladies dancing in the evening. Great place to stay. I was quite disappointed in there being no free internet at the hotel, but made it thru ok. It would have been very helpful in planning lessons to have it available at night.

Diane T.

2011 Suzhou Summer Program

The school seemed very efficient and orderly. The teachers were extremely helpful and accommodating. I was impressed with how positive everyone was and how they seemed truly concerned with making us feel comfortable and welcome.

I have the impression that the cafeteria staff went to extra trouble to serve us excellent meals and I appreciate that. The food was very good, and the room for the teachers to eat in was also very comfortable. The fact that they provided us with all the water and Coke we could drink was very hospitable.

The tours really kept us hopping! We didn't have a single moment to get homesick. I liked that we were kept so busy. JJ is an amazing tour guide. He has a way of being personal yet professional. I felt that I learned a great deal about Chinese attitudes and outlooks from JJ. Hangzhou was absolutely the most beautiful city. I loved the greenery and the walk along the canal. The night market was great fun. But my favorite city would have to be Nanjing, simply because of the park and lake at XuanWu. We spent a great deal of time there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Everywhere we went, the people we were friendly and helpful.

Susan P.

2011 Nanjing Summer Program

Overall management of school: I personally felt like everything was very well organized! I knew what was expected of me and our schedules were clearly laid out. The Chinese teachers, for the most part, were very helpful and very sweet and kind! The children were pretty well behaved and the bells and expectations were clear. I loved the school staff and management and really appreciated the beautiful workspace that we were given, along with all of the wonderful cultural classes!

Food: I thought the food was delicious! I wasn't used to the MSG (the oil stuff), but other than that, I loved it. I am a vegetarian and I never went hungry. There were TONS of vegetable options! I also loved the food staff. You could tell they always wanted to make us happy and would throw a little American flair in daily, in the form of french fries or muffins. The food was plentiful and varied!

Accommodation: Again, I LOVED the accommodation. Maybe because I have traveled around the world with a backpack and tent and the occasional hostel, but these were the NICEST hotels that I have EVER stayed at! The breakfast was yummy, the rooms were clean, the beds had silkworm comforters, and the locations were perfect for walking to local restaurants, massage spas, and walking/running around the beautiful lakes for exercise!

Tour arrangement: For the most part, the tour arrangements were great. I definitely would have liked more time at the amazing sites (Great Wall, Soldiers, etc) and LESS time at the sales places/factories (pearls, jade, etc), but I understand that money needs to be made. JJ and the last guide were extremely friendly and knowledgeable! I loved them! I was so grateful that we got to see and experience so many cities and places! I never could have done all of that on my own!

Hangzhou was my favorite city. I loved the low-key, laid back pace and the beautiful west lake. That being said, I loved all of the cities and all that they had to offer!

I really got so much out of it and am truly grateful!

Natalie B.

2011 Nanjing Summer Program