30 Mar, 2018
10 : 00
In this week’s edition of Beijing Moms, we feature Frances Zhou, a new member of the Yew Chung International School of Beijing community and mother of three lovely daughters in ECE and Primary school. Originally from Ningbo, Frances spent more than ten years in Australia and the United States before returning to China to better expose her daughters to Chinese language and culture while completing an MBA programme at Peking University.
In speaking with Frances, she shares stories of her family’s experience so far in Beijing, what she feels are the benefits of living in China, and why she chose YCIS Beijing for her daughters.
Please introduce yourself.
After growing up in China, I spent 10 years in Australia where I completed my post-graduate degree, and I also lived in United States for a time after that. Our family came to Beijing while I’m enrolled in an MBA programme at Peking University, but as we haven’t been here long, we’re still getting familiar with the city.
What do the girls think about Beijing?
The girls like Beijing because everything is new for them. We lived in Shanghai several years ago before moving to the US, but Beijing is quite different from Shanghai. Shanghai is more financial, whereas Beijing is the political and cultural center of China, so it’s been great to expose the girls to this new side of Chinese life. They’ve also enjoyed their time at school, which has given them a better experience of Beijing as a whole.
What aspects of living in Beijing does your family most enjoy?
Because the girls’ first language is English, they’ve enjoyed learning Chinese and getting to know the culture of China. They also enjoy having friends from all different parts of the world. Back in the US, their friends were all from the local area, but here, they have friends from Singapore, the UK, Australia, etc., providing them with more of an international perspective.
Out in the city, we like to go ice skating. Where we’d been living in Florida, it’s always hot, so the girls have enjoyed experiencing the cold weather and going to ice skate. During the upcoming Easter vacation, we’ll get the chance to travel around the city even more – we look forward to visiting the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
What do you feel are the benefits of your daughters growing up in China?
We’ll eventually move back to the US, but I’d like the girls to be fluent in Chinese before doing so. They should be able to read and write Chinese as well as I can. And I want them to know about the 5,000 years of Chinese history and to understand traditional Chinese culture. These things will be very beneficial when they grow up because there will be less cross-cultural barriers for them.
Though they could learn to read Chinese and to appreciate Chinese culture while living in the US, it’s the small, detailed aspects of life here that they’re able to experience which helps them to see the differences between East and West.
How did you learn about YCIS Beijing?
I was referred by my friend. I did know about YCIS beforehand, because there are several campuses in Shanghai. We originally planned for the girls to attend YCIS Shanghai, but then when I began my MBA programme, we decided to move to Beijing.
Why did you choose YCIS Beijing for your family?
I looked at a lot of schools. Of course, the referral from my friend was important because I trust that friend and her daughter was a student here for several years. But ultimately, one of the primary deciding factors was that if the girls went to another school, there would only be one prevailing school culture. Some schools are American schools, others are Canadian, or British, or Australian, etc. But YCIS Beijing is bilingual and bicultural, and it’s very important for me that the girls are able to learn Chinese.
Also, the other schools are near the airport, and I don’t want my daughters going so far away.