Emily Folwell ('10) | Teacher Education
Elementary education major
from Abilene, Texas
Emily Folwell had traveled abroad, but Beijing, China, was like no other place she had been. "My eyes were opened in many aspects of my life," she says. "I was able to grow as an independent adult, finding my way in a foreign place. I also grew as a Christian."
Q&A with Emily
What was the experience like for you?
In China, Christianity is illegal. I was able to think about all of the things that I take for granted in my little Christian bubble, here in Abilene, Texas. As a future teacher, I was able to experience what an actual teacher does on a daily basis in his or her classroom. The teaching aspect of the trip was time intensive, but as the weeks progressed it got easier and easier. With every lesson that I taught, I felt more and more confident in my abilities. I am and will continue to be forever grateful for the experience!
What was your favorite part of the experience?
One thing that stands out to me the most is our visit to Sheppard's Field orphanage. Sheppard's Field, which is a Christian organization, takes in children of all ages from other orphanages that cannot provide the appropriate medical care for those children. Some of the children have just been dropped off at the front door. That was a heart-breaker for me. A common physical disability among these children is cleft palette. There was a physical language barrier between the Americans and the Chinese children, but there was a common love for life and for others. One of the greatest blessings that I received from our time with the children was their innocent and child-like faith. Often times I would hear them humming or singing the words to "Jesus Loves Me" in Chinese. This made me realize that God truly is everywhere and His love surrounds all people!
What were the greatest adjustments to being in a different culture?
There were many "staple" items that I am used to having here in the United States, but was unable to have during the five weeks that I spent in China: a dryer, ice, shower curtain, etc. To be honest, there was not a whole lot of a culture shock. It did take a while to get used to the Chinese people staring at us. Many times at large tourists attractions, such as the Forbidden City, Chinese nationals would come up to us and want their picture taken with us. I guess that was because they were not used to seeing Americans, especially in a large group like us. When we were all together, we really stood out from the crowd!
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I learned to have confidence in myself and to not be afraid to try new things, even when they may seem like totally crazy ideas that will probably not work out. I learned to push through when times are tough and to not let myself give up, especially as a teacher in the classroom.
What would you say to someone considering participating next year?
I would have to say, GO! It is an opportunity of a lifetime! It is a great way to experience the life of a teacher before actually being a teacher. I went to China standing about 4 feet tall and I came back standing about 10 feet tall figuratively speaking. I was able to validate my calling and desire to be a teacher.
Serving Local Schools
- Shannon Wilburn CEO Just Between Friends
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- Casey Lewis Orr ('08) Elementary Education
- Greg Oglesby ('11) Teacher Education
- Adrienne Carpenter ('08) Spanish Education
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- Caleb Reid ('05) Secondary Education
- Garrett Hines ('06) History/Education/Art
- Amy Perez ('07) Teacher of the Year
- Erin Gray ('08) Graduate Fellow at TSU
- Juane Heflin ('84) Morlan Award Winner
- Justin Schofield ('09) Secondary Education
- Laura Hollifield ('09) Math Education
- Sarah Peters ('12) Special Education
- Lindsey Rogers ('01) Theatre Education
- Ashley Henderson ('10) Elementary Education
- Gustavo Villanueva ('00) Ministry/Education