By Mary St.Aubin, a member of the SkillCorps® Nanchang China July 2018 team

My name is Mary St.Aubin, and this is my second trip with SkillCorps. I currently have the privilege of being in Nanchang, China at the Huicong Center for Autism. Professionally, I am a special education teacher who works with self-contained students with Autism at the elementary level. I was very excited to be a member of this team, as the Huicong Center for Autism is a large school setting that works with students with Autism in individual and group environments. I was curious to learn the difference between a classroom in China and the one I have back home.

Before arriving in country, I knew there would be several challenges to overcome, one of which is the language barrier. We are very fortunate to have amazing interpreters and SkillCorps members who are fluent in Mandarin, but not being able to understand any of what is being said in session without translation is difficult. I was worried that I would miss so much by not being able to ask the teachers questions directly or understand their responses myself. How would I help them to learn?

All of my worries faded away on our first day in center. We spent all day observing teachers and students in a variety of environments. Of course, everything needed to be translated, but what I realized is that between the words was something more beautiful than a well-spoken lesson. To describe the “differences” between our classrooms would be material things. While I sat in those observations all I could notice was what is the same; a passion for learning and a love of children.

My biggest take away from this experience so far, is that It doesn’t matter that we don’t speak the same language. We share a passion and love for educating students with Autism. Our language is universal, and it is much more connective than words.