The student becomes the teacher

Cindy Wei doing yoga

My name is Cindy Wei and I’m in my in my third year of Kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. I had an incredible co-op term at Centennial College, where I worked as an Anatomy/Physiology Tutor. My experience was eye-opening and very rewarding. I interacted with nursing students from all around the world in 400 one-on-one appointments, had the opportunity to initiate a weekly yoga class, and facilitated group Learning Circles, engaging over 170 students with innovative learning activities. I was even able to launch two teaching websites.

My favourite part of the term was initiating weekly Anatomy Yoga classes. I was a competitive figure skater for five years, training over twenty hours a week, but decided to leave my skates at home in BC while I went to university in Ontario. While it was hard to walk away from skating, I tried to find activities to fill that opening. I started with several inspiring, fun, explorative shoe tag yoga classes in the PAC before realizing that my background in figure skating made yoga quite easy to pick up. I completed a year-long training program, spending every other weekend in Northern Waterloo, learning about the philosophy, history, anatomy, and psychology of yoga, and received my 200-hour certification in January 2017.

I used my certification to instruct stretching classes that incorporated course material, helping students energize and revise. I look forward to advancing my certification. My next goal is to enhance my aerial silks techniques and choreography, and work toward an instructor certification in aerial silks.

In my position at Centennial College, I found that students were very open, receptive, and kind. I often find myself reserved and timid around people that I’ve never met before, but this experience helped me become more courageous, confident, and sociable. When I learn, I dislike being “told” material, falling behind, and then playing catch-up. In order to truly grasp the material, I need to think, to discuss, to explore the material at my own pace. When I ran Learning Circles, I did everything I could to bring this type of active learning to my students, whether it be through Jeopardy games, fun quizzes, and other interactive activities. Once I began constructing relationships with my students and seeing “regulars,” I felt like I had a lot to learn each day.

Of course, there were many moments where students would ask me questions that stumped me, and I learned to admit that I didn't know the answer – but I was willing to help them find out, and eager to explain it once I understood.

After work, I established the Anatomy Academy website, and produced twenty detailed physiology tutorials for my YouTube channel, Anatomy Academy. It was very gratifying to produce. Throughout high school and university, I have had some exceptional science teachers who explained challenging concepts in simple, understandable methods. I wanted to do the same for my students at Centennial, particularly since they had a large amount of material to comprehend in a short amount of time. There was an Ontario college strike during my work term, which put a “pause” on a lot of learning, and pushed the academic schedule a couple weeks backward. This caused some frustration amongst students, staff, and myself.

To advise and inspire fellow students and young professionals, I created MERCUNA, a website focusing on time management, interview tips, and more. Creating the website allowed me to think critically about the reasons why I do certain things. Why do I want to study abroad? What motivates me in university? Why is it important to make a great first impression, and how can I do that? This gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into these important scenarios, and read up on other people’s advice before creating my own lists of tips.

Throughout high school, I often felt lost, confused, and disoriented. I was exhausted from answering the “what are you going to do after high school?” question, and didn't have any university mentors who could guide me through some difficult choices. There are so many ups and downs, and by creating MERCUNA, I learned that there is so much of university life that isn’t revealed to high school students. I hope the website can steer some high school students in the right direction and provide sufficient information to help them make their own informed decisions.

Cindy Wei presnting a powerpoint about Co-op


You can keep up with Cindy on Twitter, and her personal blog.

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