Thursday, 10 June 2010

Jack in China introduces the Summer 2010 programme

Jack the Changing Worlds representative based in Yantai has gaps in his summer programme. He writes:
Dear David,
I am sending you information about our Program Information Package of Chinese Summer Program to learn Chinese mandarin language and culture in Yantai University for your persual.
Hopefully you could send over a few volunteers for this cultural and language immersion program in July/August.
Please let me know if you have any queries. Please launch this program at your site asap. Thanks.
For English video on Yantai University, please refer to the following video links:
For English video link for Yantai City, here is the video link at
Hoping th is is ok and helpful. Please feedback. Thanks. Regards.

The summer programme includes:
Chinese Summer Program 2010

Conversational Chinese Mandarin

Dates: July and/or August

l Chinese Listening and Speaking;
l Chinese Reading and Writing;
l Tours and Visits to Chinese ancient relics and heritage cultural sites in Yantai.

Schedule and Timetable
4 hours per day, Monday to Friday

Program Placement:
Yantai University, China

Accommodation Residence: International hostel on campus in Yantai University, China.

Program Fee:
USD2600 per student for four weeks.
Including the followings:
l Accommodation on campus for a single room with all beddings, the simple furniture, air-conditioner, the private bathroom, TV, phone, internet access.
l Tuition fee;
l Internet cost;
l All textbooks and DVDS,
l Airport service at Yantai.
l Local city tours upon arrival
l Program orientation and supervision
l 24/7 emergency service in case of any need.

The Program Fee does not include the followings:
l The round-trip airfare to and from China,
l The visa application fee for entry in China, and the visa renewal cost within China;
l Overseas insurance and medical cost if any;
l Any other personal costs such as the busfare, taxi, phone bills and drinks etc.

l Program is conducted on one-on-one basis by private tutoring with tailored courses specifically designed to meet the need and requirement of each individual candidate.
l The dates for arrival and departure are flexibly designed as per the convenience of each individual candidate.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Katie reports back from Dubai

Katie went to Dubai with Changing Worlds back in September 2009.

She completed a eight month work placement with us. Katie clearly had a wonderful time away and this is her report back on her whole experience:
Outdoor Educational Experience - Dubai 2009/10
For my gap year 2009/10 I flew to Dubai and undertook a 7 month placement in outdoor education. The experience was fantastic and I gained a great deal of knowledge in the outdoors field.
On average we spent 5 out of 7 days outside of Dubai in either Al Dhaid or Kalba. Our desert camp was situated in Al Dhaid. It had two huge barasti tents, 12 8-man tents for the kids and 12 cabins for the instructors and teachers. It was a lovely spot and ideal for the kids as they could run about and have a sense of freedom. The huge sand dunes around the camp were great for sand boarding and we had an on-site high ropes course and climbing wall. The only concern in terms of health and safety were the inhabitants of the desert; mainly the ‘three S’s’: Snakes, Scorpions and Spiders. Vigilant safety checks were performed every night and every morning and so the risk was considerably reduced. Didn’t stop me shaking my sleeping bag every night though!
In the heat of the day the desert can be quite difficult to work in, but we all learnt to manage and before long coped really well. The climate of the UAE required a lot of personal drive to work through the conditions. It was extremely hot in the day and humid at night. It definitely aided character building because you have to remain enthusiastic and energetic when all you want to do is siesta! It’s difficult in the first few weeks but you soon become acclimatised. In the winter it became more pleasant and bearable and even got to a point where it was cold at night.
Half the days and all the nights were spent at the desert camp and half the days were spent in Kalba. Due to my lack of qualifications I did not get the chance to belay and therefore wasn’t needed a great deal in the desert. On occasion I was required to help out with desert activities such as assisting in putting on harnesses, ensuring the health and safety of the children and occupying them when their involvement in the activity was not required but the majority of my working week was spent at Kalba.
Green Turtle have two desert camps; one at the back of the campsite and another at a location a few miles away. At the second location facilities were similar but an added bonus was the advanced high ropes course and the outdoor swimming pool. The opportunity to use this site depended on the school’s wishes. One school asked that we hike from camp 1 to camp 2. I had the opportunity to lead a hiking group and it was a great walk. The best bit about walking to camp 2 was knowing that a cool swimming pool lay at the end. I enjoyed supervising swimming because often we were able to swim ourselves.
In Kalba we have an ideal location to run kayaking, canoeing, fishing, survival and beach game activities. The mangroves around the coast of Kalba (the East coast of the UAE) provided a beautiful ecosystem and a great educational environment. We would take the students on river trips and teach them about the importance of caring for these areas as it will not be long before such areas are no more. When you think of the UAE you think of buildings, sand, desert etc. but the mangroves offer a whole new perspective on the country. The trees, the water and the wildlife combined, create a different setting to which the students are used to and this in itself is a rewarding experience.
My role was quite an important one because as time went by I was given the opportunity to take my own sessions. At first I copied the other instructor’s structure but as I developed my skills my lesson structure took its own shape.
The common choice for schools was 1 desert day (rock climbing, high ropes, orienteering, teambuilding), 1 Kalba day (canoeing, kayaking, beach games, fishing) and 1 day of working with horses (on this day we partnered up with another company called Hoofbeatz and the students had the opportunity to groom and interact with horses.)
Most weeks involved the same routine but occasionally schools asked for a variation in the programme. On such days we may add sand boarding, tug of war, survival skills, bush craft or raft building to the itinerary. When the weather became too hot for the desert we organised dhow cruises, trips to a falcon shows or the wildlife centre. The schedule depended on the school’s wish and Green Turtle were amazingly flexible in catering for the school’s need.
Occasionally a school would require us to facilitate a duke of Edinburgh (or equivalent) expedition and I was involved in the majority of these - I even walked part of the silver D of E with one group! My favourite moment on a D of E was lying in the back of a pickup and falling asleep under the stars.
One thing I have loved about this placement is the way in which I have been given responsibilities like every other member of staff. I was worried to start with, that because I was a gap student I wouldn’t be made useful, but it was quite the opposite. The other instructors and the senior members of staff all made me feel like a member of the team. In fact the only difference between myself and the qualified staff was the fact that I didn’t belay and wasn’t in charge of the day’s decisions.
In our spare time we went back to Dubai and were able to spend it as we pleased. We stayed in a hotel on our days off. Not just any hotel, but a fancy one with plush rooms and a fully fitted gym/ sauna and pool. Definitely definitely not what I was expecting when I left for Dubai. Usually after a full week’s work we were so tired that we ended up relaxing by the pool at the weekend. For the energetic ones the weekend was spent rock climbing or hiking.
There are plenty of sights in Dubai that I was able to visit. We went to Old Dubai, the Palm and many shopping malls and souks such as Madinat Jumeirah. We did our daily shopping in the second biggest mall in the world!
I went camping in the mountains of the UAE on a few occasions; mainly at work when facilitating the D of E but also in my own time. The mountains are beautiful and offer yet another side to the UAE. You can drive up the middle of some of them with rocky mountains stretching high on either side. On numerous occasions I have slept outside on the ground by the camp fire. This was something not only brand new but a challenge in itself; I am not a huge fan of creepy crawlies! You learn however, to forget the pests and admire the nature for what it is. I will never forget these moments because they have shaped me into a new hardened up character that will no doubt be beneficial in the future.
Dubai is an amazing place. I would go as far as to say it is out of this world. Everything is so extreme. The buildings are the biggest in the world, the Burj Khalifa is the biggest building in the world and there are even talks of building the seven wonders of the earth. Dubai really is an extraordinary place. Having said this when I was there was still definitely evidence of it being a third world country. The politics in which the country is based on are crazy. The social system leaves something to be desired as well.
Culturally Dubai doesn’t really give a feel for life in the middle East as only 20% of residents are local Emirates. The other 80% are expats from all over the world. I found Kalba on the other hand to be much more of a cultural experience. It was an extremely friendly fishing village and we found we were welcomed there with open arms. The fishermen would help us when we were in need and likewise anything we could to do to help (such as fetch them a bottle of water) we did so willingly. We had a restaurant there that we regularly ate at. I never tasted Indian cuisine so good. Highly recommend. The restaurant is called ‘restaurant’!
The people on my course were amazing. We became so close so quickly. This was partly because we were living together and partly because it was necessary for us to work as a team to be successful instructors. We didn’t really have any problems with each other but any issues that did arise were quickly dealt with.
Unfortunately with being underage, opportunities to meet new people on nights out were scarce. However the teachers of each school varied in personas and so it was great to meet a new mix of people each week. No school was ever the same.
Kids also varied from school to school and so the ability to adapt quickly was necessary. I feel this is a major skill I have gained as I can now teach a range of ages and personalities and change my teaching style accordingly. Confidence is another quality I have developed. Standing in front of a group of young people and speaking out was quite a challenge for me in the beginning but soon became more natural.
My advice to anyone wishing to undertake this placement is: Go for it! If you are interested in a career in the outdoors this is a perfect opportunity to get a feel for what it will be like. Most companies do not employ without qualifications, yet Green Turtle allow you to gain experience in the field even though you’re not technically working for them. Even if you’re not intending to go into outdoor education this placement allows you to develop skills you may not even know you possessed. Simply living it rough in a tent for a night might be a lifelong character building experience, it was for me. My second piece of advice - and one that I myself was given previous to leaving for Dubai - is to live each day to the full. Really make the most of each day because you only get out of it what you put in. The experience is really what you make it.
My advice for David... When I first applied for the placement I was given a lot of information and the reactions to my emails were quick. The interview process was excellent and I liked how I found out very soon whether I had been accepted - This was fantastic. However after about a month I felt like the communication fell a little and I was left wondering what preparations I needed to make next. I understand that these things were probably stated in the meeting that I didn’t manage to attend but even so, that meeting was scheduled quite close to the departure date. I think if we had an additional pack of information halfway between the interview and the induction day then we would feel a little more confident about the up and coming trip. For most gap students moving away to a brand new country is quite daunting and so they need to feel like they are being supported every step of the way. Having said this, going to a brand new country and settling in for myself was a huge experience in itself so it wasn’t detrimental that I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. This is purely a piece of advice from me to you that may or may not benefit gap students in the future. Whilst I didn’t mind either way, some people will want to know exactly what to expect.
Overall this placement has been fantastic and if I had the opportunity to go back I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I have gained many skills and developed on the qualities I already possessed. I was able to push personal boundaries and consequently I have become a stronger person. I can now take this experience away with me and use it to progress in outdoor education. It has been an enlightening 7 months and has shown me a career path that I never knew existed. I can now advance up the outdoor educational career ladder with this experience as a strong foundation. My sincere thanks to David, Graham and everyone else who has made this possible.

Thanks Katie for your feedback.