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    The Danninger Family Swaps a White Sand Christmas for Snow and Skis


    21 Dec, 2020

    10 : 00

    • Markus Danninger, a managing director with a financial services firm, spent several solitary months in Beijing awaiting the return of his Covid-stranded family. They reunited in a whirlwind of cheer mid-September and now plan to celebrate their first Christmas in Beijing. It will make a change from a white sand Xmas in Australia, which has monopolised most of their winter holidays in recent years.

      Quest for a New Beijing AdventureHaving moved to Beijing 10 years ago with Emil, their 13-year-old (now in Year 8), the family was not new to the city. They had visited a year prior to the move, and Julia, a stay-at-home mum, was returning to Beijing after an earlier stint as a student there and time travelling in Taiwan, Shanghai and Singapore. When the Beijing opportunity popped up, they embraced it with open arms. “An open job posting within Markus’s company and a quest for a little bit of a new adventure brought us here,” says Julia.

      The three children, Greta (10 years old, Year 6), Alma (seven years old, Year 3) and three-year-old Gustav have settled in well. Said Julia, “It is a fascinating, ever changing city with a lot to explore and experience.”

      But with the spread of Covid-19, as with so many others, the family had to remain apart for a long duration. Julia and the children were abroad, and had to adjust to online learning. For Julia, YCIS Beijing “helped structure the days and kept the kids busy.” Although the time difference was another challenge, the recorded lessons did the trick.

      The Danningers, who have been a part of the YCIS Beijing community since 2013, were attracted by the school’s well regarded bilingual programme. “Emil attended a bilingual kindergarten and most of his friends were Chinese,” says Julia. Therefore, enrolling him and, subsequently, his siblings, in a school that fosters both Western and Eastern education, was a no-brainer.

      With a supportive school community made of teachers and peers, and with the children happy to be back on campus, the family considers this a huge blessing.

      Christmas up over, not down underNormally at this time of year we would be enjoying jolly Christmas concerts thanks to the Performing Arts Department and fun bazaars arranged by the Parents’ Organisation. On an earlier occasion, Greta even had a part in “Elf Jr”, a hit musical.

      However, due to current restrictions, the family will try something a little different. Wintering in Beijing will make a change from the Australian sun. “We are actually looking forward to a cool and crisp Christmas this year,” said Julia.

      From ice-skating in Houhai Lake and skiing in Nanshan, the family is looking forward to experiencing a real White Christmas this year.

      Offering encouragement to other families, the Danningers have this to say: "Stay positive, be curious. There is something new to learn every day."