Alumni Spotlight: Teri Calvin

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Global Volunteers in China?

Teri: A friend of mine invited me to join her in China with Global Volunteers. We both had volunteered previously and are adventurous travelers. I researched Global Volunteers internet site, talked to their representatives in St. Paul, MN and communicated with other volunteers with Global who had volunteered in China. I took the plunge, which was rewarded with an awesome experience.

Teri volunteering in China with Global Volunteers

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Teri: Our volunteer day began at 7:50 a.m., when we were taxied to Xi’an Biomedical Technical School. We began teaching at 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon with several short breaks. The afternoons were spent preparing the curriculum for the next day. The volunteers and the host Country coordinator, Wang Bioli, would share lunch and dinner daily. It gave us an opportunity to review our experiences and address any concerns. We learned about the culture and language from Bioli and tasted authentic meals, such as a Dumpling Feast, Hot Pot, a Muslim meal and traditional noodle dinners. Our scenes were awakened.

For two weeks, Monday through Friday, I taught conversational English, pronunciation, and comprehension to students with various levels of English understanding. I tried to adjust my teaching experiences to meet their needs. Most of the students were Han Chinese from various provinces. However, one group, were Uyghurs from Xinjiang province. These Muslim students had their own language and customs, including dietary requirements. The Uyghur students are learning Mandarin, the Chinese national language, as well as English.

Teri visiting the Old Xian City Gates

How has this experience impacted your future?

Teri: The administrators and students were warm, friendly and eager to share who they are. They were also very interested in Americans and our way to life. It was a living experience of a cultural exchange. We were treated with courtesy, curiosity and warmth throughout China.

I do believe that World Peace does begin through mutual international understanding, which is one of the philosophies of service with Global Volunteers. I am eager to learn more about the language, customs, history and the people of China since I have returned and have devoted my reading to such a task. I felt that I made a “difference” and I was gifted with a rewarding experience.