Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Just One Week

The question that I’ve been asked the most while serving as an English teacher is: "Do the kids even learn any English in just one week?"

If you think about it, it’s hard enough for a child to learn a foreign language at school plus do well in their other studies now imagine how difficult it would be for them to learn something new in just five short days.

It’s not about how much English they learned, if they increased their skill, if they speak more fluently if they understand more etc. while all those things are great, and some children actually do show signs of improvement other students don’t and that’s okay. Other than teaching English we come here to show love. To give them the love that they may be lacking in their homes or the love that they have never received in their lives.

More than just a teacher we can be their friend, someone they look up to, someone they admire, someone they find love in, someone that listens to them, someone they feel safe with, someone to play games with them, someone who gives them attention or someone who cares for them.

Sometimes kids come into our school with terrible attitudes but after they see that there are people here who love them after only knowing them for a few days they leave the school with a change of heart. So even if our children forget the English they learned in these five days I know for sure that they will never forget the amazing teachers that showed them love and kindness.

As Christians, we are commanded to love others. Leviticus 19:18 (ESV) says, "love your neighbor as yourself" for this is the way they will see His love through us. My goal each time a new week comes around is to show and give these kids the love that Jesus has for us.

It makes my heart glad when Friday comes and I hear the children singing the English songs I’ve taught them or when they’re playing games and I hear them say, "Don’t give up!" a phrase from the English lesson "Determination" but it also makes me glad when I see a child that walked into the week with a grumpy attitude and ended the week with a happy heart because all he/she was missing was love. Maybe five days are too short for them to learn how to speak great English, but five days are not too short for them to receive love, kindness, and joy.

During one of the weeks of camp, we received a school that had quite a lot of disobedient kids, but one stood out the most to me. As each day came, I made it my purpose to go talk to him, ask how he was doing, and simply giving him a high-five each time he passed by. Little by little I started to notice how much his disobedient character was changing to one that enjoyed class, loved having conversations, and ultimately enjoyed that week at our camp so much that when he left he gave me a hug saying “Thank you, Teacher Julie. I will miss you.” This made me so so happy, knowing that he left our school not only new knowledge but also with a heart that received a lot of love by so many.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." – John 13:34-35 (ESV)


Juliana (also called Julie) Pinilla is eighteen years old. From New York City, she just graduated from high school and is currently taking a gap year by serving in Taiwan. Growing up in a family with six siblings and being the third oldest, she has loved taking care and teaching her younger siblings. Her dream was to one day become a teacher and now she is pursuing that dream by teaching English in Hualien, Taiwan. You can find her either journaling by the beach or spending time with Brownie, the school dog. She hopes to show the love of Christ through her actions and words to everyone she meets.