In early June, Educational Ambassadors, host schools, and local Education Bureau representatives gathered together in Cangnan (苍南).
The accomplishments of the year were shared, key host schools and EAs were awarded with prizes for their commitment to excellence and education. Several others received awards for their Chinese language ability, and outstanding impact throughout the program.
Key speakers for the event included the Wenzhou Education Bureau's Vice Director, Mr. Wu, current EAs Anais Alvarado and TJ Berry, and Ameson's Director Lica Zhang.
Jilli Leonard, program manager and alumnus was another guest speaker. Excepts of her speech are included for the EAs who weren't able to attend.
"... In the past ten months, you’ve climbed mountains. Or as I like to call them “Stair masters of death”. And you’ve each got an amazing pair of calves to show for all the stair climbing and walking you’ve done this year. You’ve lived abroad during the most unpredictable presidential election, and have had to learn how to explain the unexplainable: … the electoral college. And Donald Trump. You’ve eaten Baozi and Jiaozi, and have developed a pallet for MSG, oil, fish bones, and the fat of meat. And a special kind of lighter fluid: baijiou.
Specifically, some of you: Led mock trials, held book drives, entered public talent shows, beauty pageants, and Chinese language competitions. You traveled across 11 different countries in Asia alone. You’ve given away a huge number of stickers, candy, and pens. During winter, you became “Santa’s Helpers”. You got First Aid certified, got a lot of tattoos. You’ve learned yoga and tai chi, how to drink tea, and danced with old ladies in the park. I’m honestly not sure how much sleep you’ve gotten the past 10 months…
But more than all of these accomplishments, you’ve gotten a huge leg up on people your own age back home… you’ve had exponential personal growth. You have dug in, and become experts in Flexibility, Adaptability, Cooperation, and Adventure . Living abroad makes you realize who you are at your core, and while that can be uncomfortable, you have come out the other side; independent and resilient. You’ve learned how to create community; you’ve foraging together through China, and the refining process has bonded you together. It is amazing what happens when you a group like this comes together. In part, AYC is a chance to share ideas, ask questions, get support and help each other move forward in meaningful ways. Our beautiful to be a sort of temporary migrant, and together share stories of success, struggle and celebration. And this group certainly knows how to celebrate!
All of these skills and experiences will propel you forward as you advance in further careers and continued travel.
In conclusion, you blew any expectations I held for the year out of the water. Please give yourselves a big round of applause. I am honored and thankful you let me be a part of your AYC experience."