How Aaron got to Israel!Written by Scott Dreyer
At DreyerCoaching.com, we are all about "celebrating success." One of our recent success stories was Aaron, a high school student in Hsinchu, Taiwan, who was chosen to attend an exclusive, prestigious summer program in Israel! What I found remarkable, is that the applicants had to write essays-- in English AND Mandarin Chinese! More than 200 young people applied, and only twenty--that's less than 10% for you non-math types out there--were chosen as finalists to go to Taipei for the face to face interviews, in English. Of those twenty, only TEN were chosen to go--and Aaron was one of the ten! It's a big deal! It's such a big deal, it scored Aaron the first spot on our DreyerCoaching.com Hall of Fame. Check it out, and see if we can help you too make YOUR dreams come true!
While discussing his entry into this program, Aaron told me his time with DreyerCoaching.com had been very helpful. He said his writing classes helped him with word choice, grammar, structure, and flow. Plus, he said the simple act of going online for his class with me each week had boosted his confidence and ability to carry on a conversation in English. So, his essay skills helped him get one of the 20 finalist spots, and his interview skills and poise landed him a spot among the final 10. What a wonderful success story!
However, for this post, I'd like to share with you his essays and some articles about the experience. Enjoy and be inspired! Don't be jealous of others! Be the best YOU that YOU can be!
Aaron's English Essay:
Dear application evaluators, my name is Aaron and I would like to apply for this year's event regarding the International Youth Leader Convention in Israel. From the very beginning, I have shown great interest in this program, but due to age restrictions, I was unable to dedicate myself in formulating such applications. However, now that I have reached 15 years of age, the urge to apply for the position has never been higher. In this self-introduction, I'd like to discuss my motivations for applying this through my interests, extracurricular activities, and overall expectations/aspirations as to what I would hope to obtain in the ten days that the event provides.
To begin with, there are numerous activities that I indulge myself in. For instance, badminton. I began my "career" with this sport from fifth grade and has enjoyed it ever since through the few times that I've been the team captain chosen to represent my school. Not only has it kept my body healthy in past years, it has also strengthened the bonds that I have with my friends, for which I'm grateful for. In addition, despite its uncommonness, attending debate competitions has recently become one of the activities that I appreciate. My friends and I recently went to NIFTy, a nationwide debate competition, and surprisingly got second place for our efforts. This sparked my love for debate, which resulted in NSDA being on my to-do list for the future.
As for extracurricular activities, Model United Nations along with Key Club scores the top spot. Starting from being an admin in 8th grade to representing Germany in this year's PASMUN conference, MUN served as a gateway to the world for me. In this rather daunting activity for first-timers, MUN allowed me to work with other delegates for hours to formulate feasible solutions to the various issues at hand. In the seven conferences that I've been to, the plight of human trafficking in the Middle East to the question of Palestine (which is surprisingly relevant to the program) has been the most interesting to me; through rich debate and discussion, I learned that every nation has different views in regards to any issue, and it is my wish that in this year's convention that I get to experience these different views first hand. Key Club has also played a big part in my school life; it has taught me valuable lessons such as responsibility and perseverance. Leading the club in beach cleanups in Nanliao and endeavoring in efforts to beautify my school has shown me that life can present many challenges, but as long as one perseveres, success will follow.
There are multiple causes that motivated me to apply for this position and also a few aspirations that I have for the program. One being the student exchange program that I attended last year: I went to Fremont High, a distinguished high school in Cupertino, California for ten days to participate and experience the excitement that American high schools bring while also demonstrating the art of calligraphy that I have learned in recent years. However, with this event, I wish to do more than to just enjoy the environment. I'd also like to share the many feats that Taiwan has achieved in regards to environmental protection while also socializing with Israelis in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of life in the country.
To wrap up, I sincerely hope that I would be chosen for this event in order to contribute my efforts to shine light on Taiwan as a progressive and innovative nation. Thank you.
Aaron's Chinese Essay:
TRULY AMAZING: Here is Aaron's post-trip evaluation. He did fine as it is--until you keep reading and realize he did the whole thing in Chinese too! This young man is fully bilingual to basically a native speaker level in both English AND Mandarin. Wow!
International Convention for Environmental Leadership in Israel: Post Event Report
In the seven days and nights that we were in Israel to attend the International Convention for Environmental Leadership as the delegation of Taiwan, friendships were made and memories were kept. I, Aaron Chen, embarked on this journey along with my nine other delegation members and two teachers. Through hours of hard work in preparation for the conference, I am proud to say that our overall performance during the convention was applaudable. From the never-ending laughs to the sleepless nights, I'm sure that everyone had fun and would not hesitate to call each other friends in the days to come.
In addition to all the academics, participants of the entire congress also visited renowned cities such as Jerusalem and Nazareth. The following five photos will not only demonstrate the things we saw, but also the entire experience that made this trip unique.
- Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv (8.12.2017)
In less than 24 hours after we've landed in Tel-Aviv, a number of our respective host families took us to the Carmel Market, one of the most renowned tourist attractions in the area. Under the blazing yet pleasant sun, the seven of us quickly congregated, enthusiastically discussing the major differences that can be discerned upon the first few glances. What we all noticed was the unique dress code that some of the people had: there were people with small round Jewish hats on their heads and certain individuals clad in complete Jewish outfits with a black suit and a Jewish top hat. This definitely surprised us, but what topped that off was the fact that we met the Austrian delegation who've also landed just a few hours ago; they would later become one of our closest friends in the environmental leadership program. After greeting each other and asking a few opening questions, we parted from one another and officially began our travels.
Through the crowded entrance and into the bustling market, there were three elements of Israeli life that stood out to me: food, art, and patriotism. First of all, food. From the perfectly stacked spices to the all-you-can-grab sweet shops, the "souk" was interesting to say the least. As customers lined up to scoop up their desired goods with a small shovel, I was fascinated by how diverse and vibrant all the food was. There were bicolored croissants and spiked pear-like fruits, both of which lit up my eyes upon examination. Secondly, the art. Tiny ornaments and elaborate painting lined the walls of the market. Upon squeezing our way through the walkway, we saw artists utilize their craftsmanship abilities to create glass sculptures and proprietors shout their punchlines to attract customers to their funny shirts. One of the shirts said "My Mom is My Google," which cracked me up almost instantly. Finally, the patriotism. Even though traces of this element were present all throughout my sojourn, it was the clearest in the premise of the market. People were waving flags proudly, selling Jewish phone cases, bargaining for Jewish key chains, and as mentioned before, wearing small Jewish hats. Following some thought, I concluded that it was necessary for Israelis to be to some degree, overly patriotic. This was because of the multiple threats that the country faces from all sides; it prompted them to bond tightly, hold on to their core beliefs, and never let go.
For that, I have gained tremendous respect for Israelis. The picture taken upon is dedicated to them, the ones who've kept the Jewish faith alive and would continue doing so in the days to come.
- HaKfar HaYarok (8/13 – 8/18)
As the sun rose from the horizon and the roosters croaked in the distance, Maya, my host, woke me up and took me to HaKfar HaYarok, the school in which the event took place. Upon entering the village with my suitcase and overly stuffed backpack, I realized why the English translation for HaKfar HaYarok was "Green Village": it was due to the lush green trees, the strong camaraderie, and the cheerful animals that roamed about freely. For me, not only did this discovery pleasantly surprised me, the two elements showed the major contrasts between Israeli schools and Taiwanese institutions; they enabled me to gain a whole new perspective on education as a whole.
HaKfar HaYarok had plenty to offer, from endless sceneries of pure green to the never-before-seen harmony between the students, the school was more of a happy playground. This was even more evident in the program; the heated discussions during MUN and the participative audience lectures elucidates my understanding that schools are meant for both learning and enjoyment, not dead memorization. In addition to the teaching methods, the environment also played a crucial role in the difference of attitudes that the students had. Peacocks and rabbits and cats and cows dotted the campus, gracefully going about their respective daily routines of brushing their feathers or attacking others for territory. Of course, with every cute animal comes a caring soul willing to allocate time and energy to ensure the animal's survival; this natural obligation of animal protection that the students had bonded them together, which had a positive effect on the overall atmosphere during the span of four days that we marked our stay. Finally, what I would say differed the most from Taiwanese traditional schools was the spirit: the attitudes that people had towards the beginning of each day. In Taiwan, students are greeted with mock tests, weekly tests, and monotonous lectures while Israeli students begin each day with interactive lectures and outdoor activities that focus on having fun, not timed runs or class rankings seemingly engraved on the bulletin board. Overall, these dissimilarities helped me realize what I can help my classmates understand, and prompted me to live the few short days I had in Israel to the absolute fullest.
3.Shabbat Meal (8/12)
It was a sunny Friday morning; all the shops on the streets were open and ready for a big payday. Maya and I began the day by in the neighborhood mall to look around to check if it sold the cosmetics that my mom wanted to have desperately. What struck me as interesting was the difference in how people greeted each other: on normal days it was "shalom," but that turned into "Shabbat shalom" on Friday. I asked the locals about this phenomenon, knowing it had to be some kind of occasion. One bearded muscular man responded with telling me that Friday was the day in which God rested, which is why the people should also rest, stay with the family, and prepare themselves for the busy days to come. Anyways, I didn't find the cosmetics, but I wasn't devastated. We then left the mall and went to grandma's house for the Shabbat meal.
To be honest, I never expected a grandma's house to be all that elaborate, never mind a wall of wine and a giant flat screen TV. But in the moment that I stepped foot into the apartment, I saw everything that I thought was far-fetched. The room was capacious, the interior felt welcoming, the kids were enjoying rock paper scissors, and above but, everyone spoke near perfect English. After greeting one another with "Shabbat shalom," we sat on the dinner table and watched the grandpa press against the wall and opened a closet-door like door, revealing the countless bottles of wine, including beer, scotch, whiskey, etc. He cheerfully poured a bottle that he explained to be one for Shabbat meals into the adults' glasses and gave us some sprite just so we won't dehydrate. Then began the meal.
The meal was both flavorsome and eye-opening beyond belief. From the hummus to the cold fried vegetable to the delectable steak, the occasion was like no other. Inside the one-of-a-kind atmosphere between the family members, I actually felt that I was included in the conversations. This was when a revelation came to me: family is like no other; it bond people together much tighter than religion. It is the core of all human beings. And for that, I truly enjoyed the experience.
- Gala Night (8/16)
Into the third and final day of the conference, my team members and I attended the Gala night, an event in which all the delegations are required to perform something that is symbolic of their hometown, along with the delegations from five other countries. Into the venue, there weren't too many surprises for anyone except for the Israelis and guests. This was because before the event, we ran through the entire performance once and the finale twice. Either way, we were still pumped to see all the different cultures that are to come during the span of the event. Firstly, the house entertained the school orchestra, which by the way did a phenomenal job, then we had the former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) speak as well as other influential figures provide us with their inspirational words. In all honesty, we weren't the best audiences among the crowd because during that time, we were all scrambling to finish up our preparation for the play that we decided to perform. Luckily, the order of performing delegations was in alphabetical order, which meant we were the last one to perform. This gave us ample amounts of time for us to finish up while we enthusiastically watched the other delegations perform their seasonal dances, sing Ode to Joy, and enable us to have a great time. After our Taiwanese-standard acceptable performance which the previous acts ensued, all the delegations were instructed to approach the stage and sing "Imagine," which was the finale, by John Lennon, a songwriter, and singer who co-founded the Beatles. Because we were all well-rehearsed, the performance went on in harmony. With an Israeli student with a beautiful voice leading our somewhat disorganized bunch and the instructor trying his hardest to keep us in line, the finale was a great success. People laughed, people smiled, people hugged, and people cried. It was one of those moments where you don't want to let go, it was also one of those moments where you would cherish forever.
- Jerusalem (8/17)
Out of the few short-lived days in the trip, I would say the second to last day was by far the best. For the entire duration of that day, we visited Jerusalem, the city that many influential works such as the Bible and Torah mentioned many times. After a grueling 90-minute drive to the site, we began by visiting the market. While the attraction didn't seem like it was meant for tourists due to the lack of ornaments and collectibles, it provided us with the unfiltered and uncensored Israeli way of life. In addition to the three main elements that I mentioned above, another unique aspect about the place was the people. The similarities were striking; we saw customers bargaining ferociously with proprietors, kids holding food bags while parents laugh, and managers shouting at the top of their lungs to attract heads. Despite few downsides to this souk, I was able to pick up some magnets and small decorations for my friends back here in Taiwan while also trying my first shawarma, a delectable Israeli chicken sandwich topped with a salad and some fries.
Soon after our visit to the market, we continued on to one of the most sacred sites of many religions: the Old City of Jerusalem. Even though I acknowledged the holiness and importance of the premise, I didn't expect to be so surprised by the compound. Everywhere I looked, I feel like I've seen it before. Then it hit me: the pictures on my history textbooks were taken right here! This immediately boosted my energy and encouraged me to listen intently to our tour guide and make mental notes on the information that she gave.
I had a blast in the Old City. But that joy turned into deep thought when we reached the Western Wall, a site where mainly Jews go to confess their sins and formulate wishes for themselves. With tight security and military personnel guarding the area, it quickly changed our mood from a cheerful one to one of caution. As we entered, we discerned many Jewish individuals clad in either complete black suits or fitted with a round Jewish cap. Without hesitation, we decided to follow them to the Western Wall itself where many are reciting the Torah and placing little notes into the cracks between the walls.
I myself wrote a little note that said, "Don't fear what's about to come. Embrace life,"
I thought of my work as pretty inspirational, but I completely took it back when I saw four of my delegation members come out with tears dripping from their eyes. It was only hours later that I realized it was not the atmosphere that pulled their heart strings, it was they themselves who reflected upon their lives and thought of all the good and the bad. For that, I gained massive respect for everyone in my representative team; I will be proud of them forever.
- For self improvement
- Be more vocal in the chat room with my delegation members
- Way of improvement: improve my confidence through ways such as but not limited to leading clubs events or taking on roles of responsibility within the classroom
- Be more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the conference
- Way of improvement: taking initiative in the classroom by volunteering to participate in community service activities.
- Be more conversational when awkward silences arrive during conversations
- Way of improvement: Engage in conversations with people more often to obtain more social knowledge and opinions on prominent issues today.
- Be more vocal in the chat room with my delegation members
- For the event as a whole
- Better plane schedules
- Everyone had to rush to the plane; I had to sprint just to catch the plane. To be honest, I feel like we'd all be fine if we paid a bit more money to stay one more night. We missed the Dead Sea.
- Better wifi sharing device
- Only 3-4 people could connect to it at the same time, the speed of the device was slow too.
- Better plane schedules
- Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv
- HaKfar HaYarok
在寄宿家庭2天後我搬到HaKfar HaYarok 高中學校宿舍，印入眼簾的是翠綠色的校園，溫暖熱情的各國高中生代表與自由漫遊在校園的各式動物，對我來說，這個開放包容式的校園氣氛，讓我獲得全新的教育觀。
每個星期五，是猶太人傳統的安息日。在平常的日子朋友互相問候打招呼稱作 “Shalom”，但在星期五安息日就互稱“Shabbat Shalom”。我問當地人關於安息日的由來，一位有大鬍子的男子告訴我，星期五是神休息的日子，人們也應該休息，留在家裡，為繁忙的日子做好準備。
- Gala Night
A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer
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