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October 9, 2018

Skyela Bussey ’20 finds goodness in the challenges on Asbury University’s China Study Abroad program. 

Since I was eleven years old, China has been on my heart. So, when I found out I would be able to go on Asbury University’s China Study Abroad program and complete the required Intercultural Studies internship in China as an English teacher, I was ecstatic.

When we arrived in Xi’an, I was ready to get started. I imagined myself as this brilliant teacher, ready to “mold and shape the active minds of today’s youth!” What I didn’t know was that this internship was going to be very different from what I was expecting. I didn’t realize how much I would be needed. I was scheduled to teach all day on Saturdays, as well as during evenings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On top of this, I had to find the time to balance all of my classes, maintain solid relationships with the team, keep up with my Chinese homework and maybe even sleep.

I was officially overwhelmed!

It felt like I was attached to a bungee cord — any time I thought I had made some progress in God’s plan for my life, it would be whipped back. It seemed like everyone else had time to study, rest and meet new Chinese friends while I had to uphold my internship responsibilities. Why did God bring me here on this study abroad program if all I was going to do was miss out on what everyone else was doing? It wasn’t fair. Yet, it was good.

What I did not expect was how rewarding it would all turn out to be.

In particular, there was one specific student who stood out to me. He struggled to pay attention in class. When all of the other students were sitting in their seats doing their work, he was completely disengaged. I kept trying to ask him to pay attention, but nothing was working.

I decided to assign a creative project for the next class that consisted of putting together a book of all the vocabulary, drawing and writing out everything that we learned from the unit. I was surprised. He was so focused on this assignment. He went above and beyond — he even made a table of contents! After class, I went and spoke to his mother, telling her that he is a smart student; he just needs to be given the opportunity to show it. My Chinese teacher suggested that this student’s mother was probably very discouraged about her son, thinking, “Why is my son different from everyone else?” My teacher then encouraged me saying, “He’s very lucky to have a teacher like you — someone who can sense that he’s struggling and give him exactly what he needs to be able to be the best that he can be.”

I went into my classes planning to teach my students like the brilliant teacher I imagined I was when, instead, my students taught me. They taught me of patience, adaptability and love. They just wanted me to love them for who they were. I am honored to have received this opportunity to teach English in China and be here with Asbury’s China Study Abroad program. Yes, I was overwhelmed, but I gained such an enriching experience that has helped me become a better person — I wouldn’t trade it for the world.