12 Oct, 2018
10 : 00
This week we shine the spotlight on new arrivals the Ellison family: dad Clive, mum Sonia, and children Mila and Logan. We speak to Clive about work, family, the lucky number 11, and the perils of online shopping.
Please introduce yourselves, and what brings you to Beijing
My wife, Sonia, is originally from South Korea, but she grew up mostly in Brazil and is a native Portuguese speaker, as are our children. She went to college in the USA, and then began her career in the UN, moving into UNICEF. Sonia has just taken up a post as Chief of Communications for UNICEF in China, which is what brings us to Beijing. Fortunately, the law firm where I work relocated me to Beijing too.
I am originally from Liverpool in the UK. I worked in Hong Kong in the 1990s but spent most of my career in a legal firm in New York City.
Sonia and I met in New York. I was living at no. 111 West 111th Street at the time. We married on the 11th of November 2011. Our little girl Mila was born on the 11th December 2012. All these elevens in our life… it’s an auspicious number for us. So on the 11th of every month, Sonia and I take each other out for a meal. We’ve done three of these in Beijing now.
What do you most enjoy about living in Beijing?
I’m really enjoying being in this totally different world. It’s hugely stimulating. The forms of transport here are extraordinary and crossing the road is a real art. I’m having fun trying out all the transport – Mobike, subway, I’ve even borrowed a tuc tuc! I have got completely lost a few times, but I love the adventure.
Is there anything that has surprised you about living here? Anything you didn’t expect?
The last time I was in Beijing was in 1999. My memory of the city was incredibly dated, so I was bowled over when I arrived here this summer. It’s changed a lot.
I wasn’t expecting online shopping to be such a challenge. It took us ages to get online and get our payment sorted out. Finally, Sonia managed to order two apples. When it arrived, they gave us two boxes – with 24 apples in each. We were offloading them onto other people for days!
What do you miss the most from home?
Sonia misses cold cuts. As for me, I try not to think about it too much. I suppose I miss the familiarity of home, but that’s really part of the adventure of moving abroad. I just like to stay busy and not think about what I miss too much.
What do you hope to bring home with you from this experience?
I think this will be a great thing for Mila and Logan. An international, multicultural experience, the chance to learn a new language. It’s all good.
For Sonia, it’s fantastic professional experience. UNICEF is growing in China and the Chief of Comms role is a brilliant opportunity.
I hope to gain cultural experiences living here – something uniquely Chinese like Kung Fu or calligraphy classes. I want to make the most of my time here, and spend it doing things I would never do back in New York City.
Why did you choose YCIS Beijing?
We like how YCIS Beijing integrates Western and Chinese experience into their teaching. It generates a truly cross-cultural environment. The Chinese programme seems really strong and central to the curriculum rather than added on – so I hope that Mila and Logan will be able to develop strong language skills.
(To Mila) What has been the best thing about school so far?
Playtime! I’ve made two friends already. No – three friends. Actually more! I lose count.
(To Mila) What would you like to be when you grow up?
I’d like to be a vet... But I don’t like cats. A vet but not for cats.
(To Mila) What is your favourite thing to do in Beijing?
Ice skating! At the moment I just ice skate indoors. But in winter, I would like to ice skate outdoors.
We warmly welcome the Ellisons to YCIS Beijing, and wish them all a happy and successful year ahead!