12 Jan, 2018
10 : 00
Our Beijing Moms series returns this week with the story of Fatima Akbar, Secretary of the Parent Organisation and mother of three lovely children at Yew Chung International School of Beijing. Originally from Pakistan, Fatima’s family has come to view Beijing as their new home, as they’ve adopted the fast-paced lifestyle of the capital city and all three of their children speak Chinese.
In talking with Fatima, she shares stories of her family’s experience in Beijing, including one of their most memorable moments, and also offers encouragement for parents who wish to join the Parent Organisation (PO) and become more involved in school life.
Please introduce yourself and your family.
Hi, I’m Fatima, from Lahore, Pakistan. I’m business graduate, currently a housewife, and Secretary of the Parent Organisation at YCIS Beijing. I have three children – 2 girls and a boy. My husband works for a multinational company. It’s our third year in Beijing.
My son, Rayyan Akbar, is 12 years old and is a Year 8 student, while my daughter Mishal, is 6 years old and is in Year 2. She’s a sweet and caring girl who loves making friends with everyone. Amal, my youngest child, is 3 years old and hasn’t started school yet. She is more Chinese than any of us, as she was a few months old when we arrived in Beijing, and she feels China is our home. All of our children can speak and understand English, Chinese and Urdu, our national language, which is a source of pride for us.
I like to experiment with different hobbies, and designing dresses and cooking have always been my main interests. I frequently hold cooking classes with my friends in Beijing to keep this art in practice. I also hold exhibitions with my friends to display art, handicrafts and embroidered dresses from Pakistan.
What first brought your family to Beijing?
My husband is an engineer heading the plant operations of a multinational packaging company called Tetra Pak here in Beijing. Before this, we have also lived in Tehran and Lahore.
What is most exciting for your family about living in Beijing?
Before moving to Beijing, our perception was that it would be challenging because of the language barrier, yet our thinking changed when we actually moved. This city is as exciting and fun-loving as we are. It has so much to explore. We have also made a number of friends here who give Beijing a homely feel. The culture is rich and absorbing, while everything is unique and new to us.
What changes have you and your family experienced during your time here?
Beijing has transformed us in a positive way, as we have all endorsed the fast pace of the city and become more efficient and active in all respects. The school community in YCIS Beijing has particularly enhanced our family life. We are glad that our children are growing in such a dynamic environment.
Could you share one of the most memorable days you’ve had as a family in Beijing?
One of the most memorable moments of our stay in Beijing was when my son won a medal in an inter-school debate. It was a proud moment, and then we realized how Beijing and YCIS had enhanced our son’s confidence level. I feel proud to see him growing into a mature, intelligent, young boy.
How did you learn about YCIS Beijing?
Before moving to Beijing, we began our search for schools. We searched online for the available options, and we found YCIS Beijing as one of the leading schools. Since my son would be entering Year 6, we were looking for a school that had a focus on academics as well as art-related activities, and we found YCIS Beijing to be the best to cover these aspects.
Why did you choose YCIS Beijing for your family?
YCIS Beijing has a reputation for outstanding academic results. Apart from academics, the Bilingual Programme was an added advantage. The Character Education Programme at YCIS Beijing is also rare to find in schools these days. Moreover, my daughter had to start from ECE kindergarten, and we were really impressed when we saw the newly built ECE Learning Community space.
What is your role in the Parents’ Organisation (PO)?
I’m working as the Secretary of the Parents’ Organisation. I help to collaborate with parents at YCIS Beijing, coordinating the meetings and encouraging parents to actively engage with other parents.
What have you gained personally by being a part of the PO?
It gives me immense honour and pride to be a part of PO. Working for the Parents’ Organisation has helped me grow as an individual. It’s always good to learn from each other when we work together and helps to boost our confidence. It gives a sense of community fellowship when you mingle with other parents.
What advice would you give to parents looking to get more involved in the school community?
The Parents’ Organisation is an ideal platform for parents to get connected with the school community. It doesn’t require a lot of time or effort, it’s just a medium through which you can all share your talents or hobbies and get involved in different activities with respect to your own time, availability and comfort level.