~by Michelle

Before I came to Bethany Home, my mind was filled with anxiety and curiosity. I was anxious of meeting the students there and curious about how they live their lives at Bethany Home. Knowing that the students suffer with learning disabilities, I was skeptical of what I could do for them. I was afraid that two weeks of volunteering might be a challenge for me.

The anxiety still went on as I arrived to Bethany Home. I followed my mother's foot steps walking into the campus as I sought comfort in this environment. The place was big, warm, and filled with laughter as the kids lined up beside the basketball court, waiting to learn basketball from other volunteers. Their laughter was so loud and happy; it made me wonder if I could also make them laugh the way they did. Soon after we passed the line, a girl came down the pathway and smiled at us. "姐姐好! ", she said happily. It was a shock that she would call us 姐姐 since she looked like she was at an age of 26, which leaves a ten-year gap between us. She was so excited to see us that she began to shake our hands and wouldn't let go. Her friendliness lightened up my anxiety, and immediately, a big smile appeared on my face.

師母 was nice enough to give my mother and I a tour around the campus. As we went deeper into the campus, that was when I realized that the campus owns a whole menagerie. There were cows, peacocks, pigs, turkeys, countless chickens, swans, ducks, ostriches, and a herd of goats. It's like their own personal zoo! We then visited the factory, a working place for students who have less serious learning disabilities. The teachers assign different jobs for the students in the factories. There are jobs such as farming, picking red beans, and making 洋釘.

In my first two days there, I went to different classrooms to look after the students with more severe learning disabilities. On my first day I went to a classroom that had a mix of girls and boys. I wasn't sure about what my job was, so I just sat there and observed the students. I realized that some students could not stop themselves from urinating, they didn't have self control. It was all the teachers' job to clean them and wash them. However, there were other students who had a better control of themselves. When the teacher tells them to go to the bathroom or wash their hands, they obey the teacher's order and do everything by themselves. The most amazing thing to see was that the kids with more control take care of the kids with less control; it was like they were being the teacher's assistants. It was quite interesting to see how each student take care of each other, because they knew that they all suffer from the same problem and somehow they knew that they had to help each other out. It's teamwork!

Starting from the third day, I worked in the factory with a whole bunch of different kids. They are less severe than the kids in the classrooms. They know what their jobs are or when lunch time is, they're just like normal people, but with some minor problems. I followed the teacher, who was responsible for farming, and she taught me how to 蓋竹筍 and told me to observe the kids and see how they do it. My first try was terrible! I couldn't grasp what they were doing and what we were trying to do! I watched the kids doing it so fast, like real experts. I thought that this place has a really good system of giving these kids jobs that they do everyday. The teachers have to give a lot of time and attention on these kids for them to learn well and safely. The jobs help normalize the kids and let them have the chance to live like normal people.

In the two weeks at Bethany Home, I have met so many different people and tried so many new things. It really has been a great experience meeting these kid. They taught the importance of tolerance and appreciation. I have to say that I felt like two weeks weren't long enough to spend time with them; they still have so much more for me to learn from. After spending two weeks with these kids, I became really close to them and it was really sad to leave them. Now when I see people like them in Taipei, I think about these kids and can't wait to see them again next year! Bethany Home has taught me so much and it was definitely worth the trip!













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