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Abridge Academy

About

Abridge Academy is a social enterprise based in the UK, offering fully-funded teaching and cultural exchange programs in Asia for students and young people as well as accredited online TEFL courses and cultural activities. Our aim is to "bridge East and West through education" - reflecting our commitment to promoting cultural understanding and language exchange.

We offer two programs - the EduCamp (summer camp) and EduCare (homestay) programs, as well as our online Language Buddy (English conversation tutoring) and accredited TEFL programs. Unlike other organisations, our in-country programs are fully funded (including flights or an allowance), thus making them more accessible to students and young people. Additionally, we provide full pre-departure support and TEFL training, ensuring you are fully prepared to make the most of the opportunity.

Founded
2017

Reviews

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Jessie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a really fun time on the program for many reasons. Teaching lots of enthusiastic kids helped me develop my leadership skills and gain confidence which has been helpful elsewhere in my professional life. I also really enjoyed getting to know the kids and having them teach me Chinese and dance routines amongst other things. Aside from this there were a lot of extracurricular activities including a waterfight, and it was a lot of fun getting to know the other teachers with whom I went on trips including to central Beijing and the Ming tombs.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
There were some great snacks in the store next door including dried tamarinds. my meat eating friends also tried chicken feet.
Response from Abridge Academy

Hi Jessie, thanks so much for your lovely review - really appreciate it :) It's great to hear you enjoyed your time in Beijing and it helped you develop useful transferable skills! Wishing you all the best with your future plans ~Katie

Luke
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a great time in Shanghai!

You have so much support whilst preparing for the camp including visas, flights, preparation for class resources (chemicals, experimental apparatus etc.) etc. The other teachers and camp leaders were very welcoming and accommodative. One of the best perks was that I got to a tour around Shanghai and got to go to Disneyland!

It also gives you great experience for your CV - whether or not that's for future teaching roles (such as temporary supply agency work as I'm now doing) or the transferable skills gained.

I also had the opportunity to travel around some cities in China for a few weeks afterwards which allowed me to try a whole host of new foods, learn some Mandarin and meet some great people! As my flights to Asia had already been paid for, this meant that any onwards travel was significantly cheaper.

Would highly recommend to anyone!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was surprised by how often I'd be approached for a photograph - it was great, I felt like a celebrity!
Response from Abridge Academy

Hi Luke, thanks so much for your wonderful review :) It's great to hear you enjoyed your time on the Shanghai STEM camp, you were a fantastic camp teacher - really appreciate your excellent work and contributions to the program! ~Katie

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Meg
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I met some lifelong friends on this trip and learnt more than I could possibly imagine. Teaching and staying with a family in China helped me to get to know the culture on a level I otherwise would not have, it is an incredible place and as a student of History and Politics, this trip has done wonders for my degree! In fact, I loved it so much that my entire final year studied have been geared towards Chinese history and politics. Some highlights: getting caught in a monsoon walking back from a restaurant, hiking through the mountains in Outer Mongolia, and eating so many dumplings I thought I might explode!

What was your funniest moment?
When we had a waterfight with all the teachers and students!
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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Shanghai was incredible. The experience of running my own classroom and of trying to instill in students a curiosity about economic ideas was extremely rewarding. The trip also made traveling around Asia financially viable when it would have otherwise been impossible. I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity to build relationships with people on the other side of the planet, surround myself with a different culture, develop my ability to communicate intricate concepts using simple language, and all while being paid. I recommend every student consider it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make the most of being in Asia, plan to travel around and see the place with the cost of flying out covered.
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Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was an amazing way to immerse myself in Chinese culture, meet new people and experience teaching in a completely new environment. Even though the school was located a bit of a way outside the center of Beijing, transport links were good and there was plenty of time outside of teaching to explore the local area and the city. Besides this, there were numerous cultural activities organised for us, from calligraphy to tea ceremonies, and all the participants lived together in the school which meant there was always things going on with which to fill your time. After the program, I took the opportunity to travel down through China to Hong Kong with a group of other participants which was an amazing way to see more of the country - would highly recommend!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open to new experiences and expect to be pushed out of your comfort zone - it's so worth it for the memories you will create!
Response from Abridge Academy

Hi Julia, Thank you so so much for your kind review - great to hear you enjoyed your time on the Beijing camp! I know Jessica [camp director] put a lot of effort into organising those cultural activities last year, so I'll pass on your lovely feedback to her too :) Wishing you all the best with your studies ~Katie

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Katie Prescott

Having studied, volunteered and taught in China, Katie set up Abridge Academy to share her passion for genuine cultural exchange. As a qualified teacher, she hopes to inspire more young people to consider teaching as a career, as well as promote language learning more generally. Katie loves to travel and is always looking for new opportunities to offer our international exchange programs worldwide!

What is your favorite travel memory?

There are so many memories I could share for this! Probably one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences came from my year abroad in Harbin, North Eastern China (a rather industrial city I wouldn't particularly recommend!). There, I got to know a local Chinese family who basically adopted me as a second daughter - inviting me over every weekend and always looking out to make sure I was doing ok (including a rather crazy Chinese hospital experience I've attempted to block permanently from my memory...).

One of my favourite memories with them was a trip during Chinese New Year to visit their family restaurant in Tianjin, a full day's drive away, where we spent a wonderful week exploring their favourite local sights. It was incredible to be invited to be part of their family Chinese New Year celebrations, a truly local experience I don't think any group tour could replicate. I am still in contact with the family five years on, and have met up with them almost every year in China or the UK.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Abridge Academy has been a huge growth opportunity for me personally - before setting up the company, I had relatively limited experience in business and hadn't anticipated just how many additional skills would be required in addition to my teaching/ travel related expertise! Over the past few years, I have learnt everything from website design skills (our website is 100% created by myself, check it out haha!) to marketing and crisis management.

Additionally, running Abridge Academy has really changed how I view the world - as a student, I was often quite self-centred and focused on my personal achievements, always striving to achieve the best grades for myself. Over the past few years, I have begun to measure my success more by the achievements of our incredible team of interns and volunteers, finding ways to support them in order to achieve more together. As a social enterprise, we measure success not in terms of profits but instead by analysing our social impact, and this change in mindset has been critical for our growth as an organisation.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Some of the best stories we have heard are not of huge adventures or crazy "only in China" moments (although there have definitely been plenty of those!) but instead smaller, more personal experiences. Just a few weeks ago, one of our former 2018 summer camp volunteers (who has since returned to join our new language buddy program) shared a sweet video sent to her by one of her previous students, who still remembered her and invited her to come back to teach them again. Seeing the impact these more personal connections can have is incredibly humbling, reminding us of the importance of our programs to the children they support.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely the homestay program! I have always been more closely involved in our summer camps and online training courses, which is where my expertise lies. However, I would really love to go on the homestay program as it offers a much deeper insight into the local culture, and of course the free Chinese classes would definitely be welcome (my language skills are already going a bit rusty!!).

During my time studying in China, the best experiences always came from befriending people I met and becoming part of the local community, and what better way to experience this than living with a local family?! Our homestay participants always return with incredible stories of their experiences - from randomly appearing on a Chinese fashion show to being invited on a spontaneous trip to the other end of the country! While the program is definitely challenging in many ways, it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience which I would love to join if I had the chance.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Abridge Academy prides itself on being a small, community-focused social enterprise offering a more personal experience. We work in close partnership with local schools, community groups and educational organisations to offer the very best experience for our volunteers. As a social enterprise, our mission always comes before profits - we are passionate about developing cultural relations, promoting language learning and inspiring the next generation of teachers.

For this reason, our programs offers participants the highest level of training and support, ensuring they are fully prepared before they go. We are the only major China summer camps organisation offering fully accredited and specialised TEFL training - something we have invested significantly in as part of our commitment to quality education. We also provide the highest level of travel funding and scholarships in the industry - including a full travel grant (worth the value of a flight ticket) as standard for all internship volunteers, and a range of full and partial scholarship programs.

Finally, something I personally feel very proud of is the incredible community of volunteers, alumni and supporters we have. Even through challenging times such as the current coronavirus situation, they have come together to share experiences and offer their best wishes. Last year, over 50% of our applicants came through friend recommendations, clearly demonstrating the power of this community and their passion for our programs.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The most important advice I can give is to listen to your customers and always consider their point of view. The current coronavirus situation has definitely highlighted those organisations who have built a positive relationship with their customers and those (no names!) who have suffered serious PR disasters due to poor communication or refusing to issue refunds.

One factor which has really helped Abridge Academy thrive is building this positive community of people passionate about our programs and who really understand us as an organisation. By listening to your customers and keeping good lines of communication open, almost any issue can be overcome - this year, despite mass coronavirus-related cancellations, every message we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants thanking us for our support and understanding despite their disappointment. Although we offered everyone a full refund, many have instead opted to postpone their place until next summer, which is definitely a positive sign.